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Archive for December, 2008
This is based on the Date Cake recipe by May Bsisu in her book “The Arab Table.” The only modifications I have made here are the additions of crystalised ginger and ginger powder, which makes the cake into a hybrid of Jamaican Ginger Cake and Middle Eastern Date Cake. This is extremely flavourful and stays moist for as long as it lasts.
½ lb honey dates, pitted, coarsely chopped
½ cup crystalized ginger, fine dice
1 cup boiling water
½ tsp powdered ginger
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
Put the chopped dates and crystalized ginger in a bowl and pour the boiling water over top. Put aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F . Grease a 7″ by 11″ baking pan.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. The Kitchenaid helps here. Meanwhile mix together the flour, baking powder and powdered ginger in a separate bowl.
Mix in the baking soda and the vanilla to the bowl of dates and water.
Add the egg to the creamed sugar and butter and beat well. Add the flour mixture in a few additions, then blend in the date water mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out cleanly from the centre of the cake.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
The original recipe has a sugar, butter and cream icing poured over, but I find the cake already amazingly sweet and moist without that. Especially with some caramelized bananas placed on top. And ice cream.
Almond cookies from Siena, Tuscany. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Perfect with a cup of coffee (or a glass of vin santo if you have it). The apricots are not traditional but work well with the almonds, as well as adding a nice textural contrast.
Apricot and Almond Ricciarelli
150 g almond flour
2 egg whites
40 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
70 g icing sugar + extra for dusting the cookies
200 g granulated sugar
1 tsp almond extract
100 g almonds, toasted, rough chop
100 g dried apricots, rough chop
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Combine the granulated sugar with the almond flour. Add in the baking powder and the all-purpose flour. Combine thoroughly.
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the almond mixture into the egg whites. Add the almond extract, nuts and apricots.
Place some icing sugar in a bowl. Form one tablespoon of dough into a quenelle, flatten it to form the traditional almond shape and then press the top of the dough into the icing sugar. Place the cookies on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until crackly and golden.
This recipe has 3 separate components, but it’s not difficult and is really delicious.
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup water
3 T sugar
5 green cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
Put the apricots, spices and water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the spices and mash the apricots and remaining water to form a pulp. Stir in the sugar. Leave to cool.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Beat butter and icing sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Stir in flour, combining well. I used some english muffin sized ringmolds placed on a silicone pad. Butter the insides of the ringmolds. Fill the molds halfway (about 1/2″) with the shortbread mixture and pat down with the underside of a metal spoon. Bake for about 12 minutes until slightly golden. Leave in ringmolds to cool.
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 T cold unsalted butter, cubed
Cut the cold butter into the flour. Stir in the ots and the sugar to form a texture that resembles coarse crumbs.
Spread some apricot mixture on top of the cooled shortbread inside the ringmolds. Scatter some of the crisp topping on the apricot mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool and carefully remove the tart from the ringmold. A sharp knife run along the inside of the ringmold can help if there are any sticky bits.
1/4 tsp sea salt
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 small celeriac, peeled and grated
2 T pommery mustard
3 T hot water
4 T vegetable oil
2 T olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
fresh herbs, optional (I used some lemon thyme)
a pinch of cumin
cilantro stems, minced
sea salt / white pepper, to taste
If you enjoy a tuna salad sandwich then you will probably like this salad. Grated celery root in a flavourful mustard mayonnaise works nicely with the warm olive oil-infused tuna.
Mix the grated celeriac with the lemon juice and salt and set aside.
I usually make the mayonnaise with a stick blender. Place the egg in a cylinder that can hold at least 2 cups. Slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil with the blender on high speed. The emulsification should start to take place. Add the olive oil slowly, then the vinegar and hot water to thin slightly. At this point you can stir in the salt, pepper, cumin, cilantro and any other herbs you like.
For the poached albacore tuna: Heat about 2 inches of olive oil in a small pot on low heat. Ideally you will see a small bubble rise to the surface occasionally. Place 2 small albacore pieces in the oil and heat through until the flesh turns white. It should take about 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the tuna. I had pieces that were just under an inch thick.
Serve with some fresh greens and herbs. Watercress and purple basil are pictured.
Cumin-Red Onion Pakora
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup red rice flour
1 small red onion, sliced thin
cayenne, or hot sauce, to taste
2 tsp cumin, toasted, ground
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp baking powder
1 T lemon juice
water to make a thinish batter
Heat the oil for frying. Meanwhile mix all the ingredients except the water. Then slowly add the water until you get a batter that is not too thick, and not too runny. The pakoras I usually see in restaurants are quite dense and chewy. I made a thinner batter which made for a lighter result. The rice flour helps make the pakora crispy.
Drizzle spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil. When one side has browned, flip it over and cook the other side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and keep warm until ready to eat.