Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Polenta Citrus Sable (Sand) Cookie Snaps

I have been obsessed, some would say possessed, with these Polenta Citrus Cookies, ever since I had them in this charming little patisserie in Israel this past summer. Perfumed by citrus zest, the added crunch of the polenta make these cookies sophisticated bites. Perfect for your next tea party with the girls, a part of New Year Eve's party bite size dessert spread, or just when it is dreary outside, and you snuggle with a cozy blanket, a book you cannot put down and a steaming cup of tea at the table right beside you. My guys will opt for a hot cup cocoa instead.
Citrus always brings back memories of home and Jaffa citrus. My escape from the orange groves, running for my life from the guard. My friend and I used to walk through the citrus groves as a shortcut. The scent of the white orange blossoms vivid in my mind. Sometimes the trees were heavy with beautiful fruit. We helped ourselves to some and the oils perfumed our hand and some peel got stuck in our finger nails. It was a tad like a splinter, uncomfortable. The innocent frolicking through the groves turned into a mad chase after, you would think by the persistency of the guard, criminals with a bounty on their heads. I was a sprinter but that guard had an impressive bounce in his step.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nankhatai - An Indian Buttery Cookie: A Guest Post by Magpie Recipes

I am so happy to re-launch my 2011 India Series with a line up of talented bloggers. First up is sweet Rose blogging over at Magpie's Recipes.  Rose is the co-creator of Kerala Kitchen, a cooking club for those who are in love with Kerala, a southern Indian, cuisine. I am tempted to share more about Rose but her writing below will unravel some fascinating food and history. I was mesmerized by this carrot and rice pudding. Look at the first two photographs, such a stark contrast though so complete. Brainstorming with Rose was a snap. We quickly settled on Nankhatai, a buttery, crumbly Indian cookie my mom used to make while we were growing up. My mom didn't use nuts and she used all purpose flour. It is probably one of the only Indian cookies that is similar to the traditional Western cookie. It is egg free like shortbread and a snap to make for the holidays. Without further ado here is Rose...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Finnish Pulla

Finnish Pulla is very similar to challah, only fragrant with a warmth of spices. I find it intriguing how Scandinavians pull cardamon, a spice native to India, into their bread baking. Just like the tradition of baking cookies around the holidays, I love the Christmas bread baking tradition. I am mesmerized by cookies, but I have written about my frustrations with these crumbly, buttery treats in my Meyer Lemon Butter Cookie Sandwiches with Jam post. At least with yeasted breads I feel right at home. Unlike the cookies, I don't need to find a rhythm, I immediately get into the bread baking zone. I meant to tackle Stollen, Panettone, Swedish Tea Ring and Finnish Pulla for a number of years now, so when I saw this recipe on Red Star Yeast's website, I couldn't resist making it my next baking project.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silent Sunday: A Tour of Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem

This is mostly a pictorial tour of Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, from my visit last summer. I wish I had more time that day to leisurely explore and photograph. It is a foodie and photographer's heaven. Rahmo restaurant רחמו is a must pit stop for its hummus and Iraqi food. The tables are always humming with diners, casual stop for the most authentic experience in the famed market that is a Jerusalem landmark. 
Just across the alley-street from Rahmo, you will find Hatzpuriya חצ'אפוריה (photo below), a Georgian bakery, Georgia as in a part of the former Soviet Union. Savory pastries filled with Georgian cheeses and other fillings. A great snack on the go. 
Just a curious tid bit Jonathan shared with me, Joseph Stalin was of Georgian origin. Born Ioseb Besarionis dze Dzhugashvili. Shvili is a commonplace ending to Georgian surnames in Israel. My findings came up with meaning of shvili as 'child of.'
Throughout Mahane Yehuda market you will find these murals painted everywhere. I am planning on going back on my next visit, hopefully, to explore the alleys, streets and do some more photography.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Baked Panko Sweet Potato Leek Pancakes (Latkes)

When Chanukah strolls around, if I can help it, I bake my potatoes latkes instead of, as traditionally done, frying them. Indian inspired latkes won't taste the same baked, with the gluten free chickpea flour in it. So certain recipes I will still fry in a little oil to achieve the best results. More often than not baked will be, if not identical, pretty close, and with a lot less hassle involved.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Doughnuts Article

This article has been months in the making. Countless emails, shot back and forth, across continents, and here in the US. Translation of recipes and measurements, switching from grams to ounces, cups and teaspoons, isn't as smooth or straight forward as one might think. Especially when it comes to baking, there is no rounding up. When 10 grams equals 0.35274oz you are faced with a quandary and need to find solutions around it. Often I did, but sometimes the recipe in metric was so perfect, that I had to raise my hands in defeat when it came to switching. Thank g-d, or whoever is in the skies, as I say on twitter, for a collaborative effort by the editors and recipe testers of The Washington Post Food section. The folks there are absolutely incredible! It was a learning and enriching process. By the end of it, I was dreaming doughnuts.
The first night of Chanukah, The Festival of Lights, will be celebrated at sundown this coming Saturday, Dec. 8th, in commemoration of the miracle of oil. During the rededication of the 2nd temple in Jerusalem, a small jug of oil was found, filled with enough oil to light the Menorah for one day, but the oil lasted for eight. Fried doughnuts are a symbolic food served during the eight day long holiday, but sometimes I am a rebel and bake them instead. 
Head over to The Washington Post article to find out the flavors we played with, get the fried and baked recipes generously shared with us by pastry chefs from Israel, and read the article with an interesting history of the art of pastry making in Israel, other fun doughnuts tidbits, tips and more delicious looking gallery of doughnut photographs. 
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the newspaper in print tomorrow, and join The Washington Post Food editors and writers at noon Eastern time tomorrow, Wed., Dec. 5, for a Free Range chat about Chanukah doughnuts, fruitcake recipes for Christmas and this year's best of in cookbooks. I will be one of the guests this week. Turn in all your doughnuts questions and musings early by clicking the Free Range Chat link above.

Thanks to Inbal Baum owner of Delicious Israel, a culinary guide company, for the introductions to some of the pastry chefs in Israel.

Other Doughnut and Fritter Recipes: