Category Archives: desserts

An Ode to Simplicity: Watermelon & Fresh Lime Juice

The best things in life are often the simplest ones. This is of course, also true for food. At friends’ Eliot and Rebecca’s last night, we had a great dessert composed of a winning combo: watermelon and fresh lime juice. Who Knew?

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Watermelons (from http://epicurious.blogs.com)

Turns out, watermelon has been around a long time. Packed with Vitamin C and A, and some good B  vitamins, evidence of this fruit and plant has turned up in the Nile Valley  as long ago as the Second Millenium BCE.

Mark Twain once said that watermelon was “chief of the world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat.”

Science Daily reports that watermelon may have a viagra effect, which the Jerusalem Report covered last week (reportedly setting off an unprecedented surge in watermelon sales in a country that already appreciates the fruit for its other delights).

Did you know that we are in the midst of “National Watermelon Month”? (Neither did I). Made up of 90% water, it’s no surprise that it’s a summer favorite and a favorite for those of us trying to shed a bit of our winter insulation. But have you tried it with lime???

Delicious Limes

Delicious Limes

According to the very trusted (!) Wikipedia entry on limes, the name for these little citrus fruits is derived from the Perian, “limu”, and was introduced to Europe during the Crusades. There are of course, many kinds of limes, but they are also a great source of Vitamin C, and have an “antibiotic” effect.

In several villages in West Africa where cholera epidemics had occurred, the inclusion of lime juice during the main meal of the day was determined to have been protective against the contraction of cholera. (Cholera is a disease triggered by activity of the bacteria called Vibrio cholera). Researchers quickly began to experiment with the addition of lime juice to the sauce eaten with rice, and in this role, lime juice was also found to have a strong protective effect against cholera.

So now, to the point:

Cut up some juicy watermelon into little chunks and squeeze fresh limes all over them. For a stronger flavor, you can zest the limes as well. It’s a refreshing, delicious and surprisingly nutritious way to end a meal (or begin one).

For specifics, see this recipe in the San Francisco Gate.

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Filed under Breakfast, desserts, Israeli, Middle-Eastern, Salads, sides

From Liat: Early Grey White Chocolate Chunk Muffins

 

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In an email sent last night at 12:59 AM, Liat Papular (above, center) reported on deliciousness on the web. The recipe below is from a great blog called “eat me, delicious” (now featuring chocolate souffle bars), a “vegetarian based exploration of food including lots of baked treats.”

These do indeed look delicious – check ’em out below.

 

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From eat me, delicious:
Earl Grey White Chocolate Chunk Muffins
Adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours

2/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground Earl Grey tea (or more if you dare)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup white chocolate chunks

Directions:
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground Earl Grey tea.
  3. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter together until well blended.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter.
  5. Stir in the white chocolate chunks. Divide the batter evenly among the muffins cups.
  6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
  7. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

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Yummy Strawberries

I made these strawberries for dessert after a big dinner party and they were a serious hit! They became an even bigger hit when my guests found out that I got the recipe from my 16 year-old niece who had just done a job-shadowing day with none other than Bonnie Stern!

Sari said, “They’re really good.”  That means….they’re really good. Sari says to use more chocolate than you need, so that way “you can lick the bowl…dip your fingers in it.”

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Ingredients

  • Baker’s White Chocolate 6 squares
  • 2 pints of strawberries – rinsed and dried
  • skinless, unsalted, roasted pistachios

Directions

  1. Make sure strawberries are “like really dry.”
  2. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler. Sari says, “be careful because you can burn the chocolate. watch it”
  3. Pulse the pistachios in a food processor or just crush ’em in a ziploc bag; “You don’t want to make them like sand.” Liat is throwing in her two cents (finally!) and offering “you want to make sure they’re kinda chunky.”
  4. Use a skewer to dip each strawberry in the melted chocolate
  5. Roll the strawberry tip (or as much as you want) in the crushed pistachios
  6. Lay out on parchment paper; put them in fridge to cool
  7. Serve same day

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Filed under desserts, Holidays

Zalabia: Middle-Eastern Chanukah Fritters in Syrup

As the Jewish holiday of Chanukah fast approaches (this year, it begins on the evening of Tuesday December 4th), recipes for latkes and other deep-fried delicacies will abound. Here is a recipe from our favorite – Claudia Roden – for “Zalabia” – deep-fried yummies, which she writes are from Egypt.

To purchase this book, click here.

I’ve copied and pasted the Q & A below, but you should check out the whole article here. Of course, recipes embody cross-cultural influences and often you’ll find many recipes for the same dish, each region claming it as their own and/or emphasizing the traditional tastes of their own locale.

The politics of the Palate.

If you click here, you’ll find the “Horesh Family Recipe index” (Horesh is a common last name of Iraqi Jews – and there are lots of good recipes here) . They list the Zalabia as being Iraqi Chanukah Fritters.

So whether these are Egyptian, Greek or Iraqi in origin – who cares? Enjoy!

There are many different recipes for Loukoumades, called Zalabia in Egypt. They are served soaked in sugar syrup or dusted with icing sugar. I use a recipe that is delicious although the fritters do not come out quite round. It is not an easy recipe but I hope you enjoy making it.

ZALABIA
Serves 6
For the sugar syrup
1kg sugar
500 ml water
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon rose or orange-blossom water

For the batter
500g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 packet fast action dry yeast
750 ml warm water (1 part boiling to two parts cold)

Light vegetable oil for deep-frying.

Directions

For the syrup, put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Add the rose or orange-blossom water and simmer a few seconds longer, then chill, covered.

For the batter, put the flour in a large bowl, mix in the salt and yeast, then stir in the water gradually, beating vigorously for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour, then beat the batter once more and let it rise again.

Make the fritters in batches. Pour little balls of batter by the teaspoon or tablespoon (they can be small or large) into sizzling but not too hot oil and fry until puffed up, crisp and golden, turning them to brown them all over. You may find it easier if you dip the spoon in oil so that the batter rolls off easily. Lower the heat a little so that the fritters have time to get done inside before they are too brown. The batter is light and produces irregular, rather than perfectly round, shapes. If the oil is not hot enough to begin with the batter tends to flatten out.

Lift the fritters out with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and dip them in the cold syrup for a few seconds, or let them soak up the syrup for longer. They are at their best hot, but are also good cold.

For variation, you can pour over the fritters honey heated up with about half the quantity water. You can also sprinkle instead with icing (confectioner’s) sugar and cinnamon.

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Filed under Cookbooks, desserts, Holidays, Iraqi, Middle-Eastern

An Absolute Must!: Rachel & Louis’ Apple Cake

I wrote not long ago, that I was pining for the Puopolo’s Pesto recipe. Well….I got it. And let me just say – it was worth waiting for (and lived up to the hype!) I need to be born Italian in my next life. In any case, I am sworn to secrecy (Louis is serious about this) and in deference to Helen & Lou Puopolo who perfected the recipe over the years (they even snubbed the Pesto they had in Italy compared to their own), I accept my vow of silence.

Having said that – Rachel and Louis quite simply exceeded expectations yesterday. It is actually a recipe that they found in the NY Times – which reprinted this recipe from 1973. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a bundt pan (and in an Italian kitchen no less!). All I have to say – this cake is heavenly. Pure perfection. Moist and rich, yet light and velvety. Rachel and Louis added pecans to the mix – and I am going to follow it word for word. I was going to make some apple pie for the Holy American Thanksgiving, but I think Teddie’s – I mean Rachel and Louis’ – Apple cake just bumped it out.

To see the NY Times article (with a gorgeous picture of this cake) click here.
1973: Teddie’s Apple Cake

This recipe appeared in The Times in an article by Jean Hewitt.

Butter for greasing pan

3 cups flour, plus more for dusting pan

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup raisins

Vanilla ice cream (optional).

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.

2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts and raisins and stir until combined.

3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Serves 8

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Filed under desserts, Links