Sunday, December 28, 2008

No pudding , no cheesecake

Puddings are not my thing- and besides, I have no one at home to even taste it ( the butterscotch pudding for Tuesdays with Dorie), and hence, my skipping a week's entry. As far as this week's recipe for cheesecake, we shall see. In our house, cheesecake is more of a warm weather dessert, especially around the Jewish holiday of Shavuot where cheese is the main ingredient in all dishes. That holiday doesn't happen until the beginning of summer, so I might just wait with that and substitute something else.

All said, that doesn't mean I haven't been busy cooking and baking! I attended a wonderful class this past week on breads and soups- how fun!! We made five different kinds of bread and 4 soups. I , of course, came home and had to try things out right away so I decided to go for two breads- one an antipasti bread and the other- lemon rolls( very interesting taste). I also made tomato soup with rice and nana( mint leaves)- yum yum!!

Unfortunately, everyone dove into the food before I had a chance to take a photo of it all- sorry about that- next time! But the recipes are here if you care to try- definitely worth it!

Antipasti Bread(makes 2 loaves)


1/2 kilo bread flour

15 grams dry yeast

360 ml. body temperature water( not too warm not too cold)

handful of fresh basil leaves chopped

30 grams sugar

10 grams salt

50 grams parmesean cheese, grated ( can be fresh or Kraft)

1 zucchini, 1 eggplant, 1 red pepper, lightly grilled

1. Put all ingredients except veggies into mixing bowl . Mix thoroughly and knead into a smooth dough, at least 10 minutes in a stand mixer using the dough hook

2. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size.

3. Pre heat oven to 200 degrees C. ( about 190 F.)

4. Divide the dough into 2 and roll each half out into a rectangle. Don 't knead the dough too uch or it will become elastic and difficult to work with.

5. Lay pieces of the grilled veggies on the rectangle and tightly roll in to an oval shape. Place on parchment covered baking sheet, cover with palstic wrap and let rise again until doubled.

6. For a crispy crust, roll in a bit of cornmeal before the second rise.

7. Dust the surfae with flour and make diagonal cuts with a sharp knife or blade. Bake at 230 C. for 15 min. then lower temperature to 200 C.

8. Cool on a rack before cutting.

Back with more later!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Buttery Jam Cookies

This week's recipe for Tuesdays With Dorie was a Buttery Jam cookie. The recipe called for apricot jam, but also mentioned that any other flavor of a thicker jam would be fine. I am an absolute addict of anything raspberry and I "just happened" to have some raspberry jam in the fridge(!) so I used that in the recipe. Hard to see in the pictures, but it gave the dough a very light pink tone and they came out really delicious! I am definitely going to try these again with other jam flavors. The cookie is soft, but not too soft and full of flavor . They were very easy to make and I threw them together in just a few minutes. That , for me, is a definite advantage!

Holiday time is just around the corner and I am off on vacation for two weeks beginning this Friday( yeah !!!!) I'm a teacher and this is a very needed break- the burn-out is a major factor in this profession. Here in Israel, we are getting ready for Hanukah and the kiosks and bakeries are filled with sufganiyot ( jelly-filled donuts). These days you can find them filled with everything from jelly, to chocolate to dulce de leche. All are yummy good- though they need to be eaten fresh- nothing worse than getting a cold, stale sufganiya!! I used to make them at home, but it requires deep frying and to be honest, the bakeries do so well, I can't be bothered with the deep frying. One noted point- there are enough calories in one sufganiya to cover an entire day's menu!! Happy Holidays to all!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Decorated cookies

These are the decorated versions of the sugar cookies. I had so much fun doing them. Between the two batches , chocolate and vanilla, I got over sixty medium sized cookies and another forty tiny sized.
Santa Claus is coming to town!
I packaged them in small cellophane bags. Tomorrow night , they will be handed out at our staff holiday party. Happy Holidays to all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies

This was a fun week for me ( other than the fact that I have been struggling with this post for over an hour now ). I so love decorating cookies and this was the perfect opportunity for me. I am always looking for excuses to decorate and make cookie bouquets and treats.
First I tried the recipe in the book "Baking:From My House to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. The cookies came out tasty enough but I wasn't too thrilled with the texture. Too soft for me- I like a crunchier sugar cookie- just my personal preference. I have dozens of sugar cookie recipes as I continue to search for the ultimate recipe that suits me. As I continued to look , I came across two more of Dorie's recipes, one for chocolate roll-out cookies and one for vanilla both on

I really enjoyed working with the dough and the cookies are delicious. Then the real fun part came ( actually I am still in the middle of the whole project, but I took some pics of the first ones to be finished)- the decorating. I use a combination of my own ideas and pictures from books and online. The trick is getting the frosting just right. This time I used both rolled fondant and a glace icing from a recipe by Toba Garrett. This is the recipe she uses on most of her amazing creations in her book Creative Cookies.

Glace Icing by Toba Garrett

1 lb. (454 gr.) confectioners' sugar
3/8 c. (90 ml.) milk
3/8 c (4.5 oz. or 126 gr.) light corn syrup
Flavor options: 1 tsp. concentrated extract, 1 Tbsp. alcohol or liquer, or 2-3 drops concentrated candy oil
In a mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the sugar and the milk first. The icing should be very soft and have a heavy-cream texture before you add the corn syrup. Add the corn syrup and mix just until combined. Divide the icing into several bowls. Flavor if you if you want. Add gel food coloring as desired to each bowl. Make sure you cover the bowls with plastic wrap to keep the icing from drying out.You can add more confectioners sugar as need to make the icing thicker.

Lots more baking has been going on in this house since my daughter is coming home from the army for the weekend and I want to spoil her with all kinds of goodies. Made some of her favorites like Half-Moon cookies ( or black and white, depending on where you come from) and alfajores.

That's about it for now! Back to cookie decorating!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Finished Product

Here it is- very easy and very yummy. We now have kumquat jam/marmalade for a while to come. Hubby tried mixing it in with yogurt and granola- said it was delish! Personally, I just like it on a crispy piece of toast.

I have sooooo many recipes that I want to try but I find I am now spending more time on the computer than in the kitchen baking. So... I have made a pact with myself-I'm going to work on all the recipes I have already before I go to the hundreds of others I find online. I will post what is worth posting and throw away the others. We'll see if the theory and reality become one!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kumquats and other stuff

mmmmm... the smell of kumquats cooking on the stove getting ready to make jam. my husband and i were out walking last night and came across a kumquat tree just dripping with fruit. we stuffed our pockets ( i love the smell it leaves on my hands) and came home to look for a good recipe for kumquat jam. interesting note- in hebrew they are called "tapuz seenee" which means chinese oranges. i love to eat them just as they are but the smell of them cooking is so amazing as it filters through the house. The recipe I found which is simple and straightforward is from Right now I am in the second stage, which is after letting them sit all night in water and finished boiling them until tender. They are now cooling and I will wait until tonite to do the final stage although the recipe says the next day. I think the entire day will be enough.

in the meantime , we are off to cycle to the beach for a lovely saturday morning
brunch. the winter simply doesn't want to appear here in israel. more to come..........

Friday, November 28, 2008

TWD Linzer Sables

I went cookie crazy today! My daughter came home after her first week in the Israeli army and I decided to totally go all out with baking and cooking. I used the opportunity to make this coming week's TWD recipe for Linzer Sables. I have made these cookies before but the dough was quite different- more of a butter cookie. They were easy enough to make and came out quite good, although I think I and the othermembers of the household prefer the dough without the ground nuts. That's just a personal preference. I filled them with raspberry jam which is one of my favorite things i the world ,so anytime I have a chance to use it in a recipe or just eat it- is fine with me!
I also made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies which have been a favortie around this house since the girls were young. I added a few peanut butter chips as well- couldn't hurt huh?
I spent the whole day making a big dinner so she could have some good home-cooked food after a week living in a tent with 16 other girls ( with a hole in the roof of the tent I might add- and it rained too!!) Dinner went like this: salad, homemade chopped liver, a yummy, thick pea soup, roasted chicken with whole garlic cloves and a sauce made with maple syrup(mmmmm!), zucchini with chunked tomates and a wonderful risotto I tried for the first time. It turned out so good and I can tell it will become a favorite around here. I took the recipe from Recipe Zaar for a classic risotto.
Dessert was a plateful of all the cookies and a quick pumpkin cheesecake I threw together ( at the request of my eldest daughter) using the last bit of pumpkin I had. ( canned pumpkin is a real rarity here in Israel, so when I find it I buy a few cans to have around but boy is it expensive!!!) The cake went home with her since it is a disaster for me to have those things around the house.
Now, I will never receive a prize for being a quiet , demure person, or one who holds her thoughts to herself. It usually gets me in a bit of trouble but as the years pass, I am learning to think before I speak and keep certain thoughts to myself. In this case I may be saying something that many people don't agree with, but I have to say it anyway. I waited for the book " Baking, from my house to yours" for a long time, since it came from overseas. After reading the blogs of people who participate in Tuesdays with Dorie, I was very anxious to begin. I have now baked a month's worth of recipes and I am very disappointed. None of the recipes have been anything to speak of; some things didn't turn out as they were supposed to and others- well, I just hope that maybe it was the specific recipes that were chosen and I have better ones to look forward to.
In any case - I just keep on baking, and chalk it up to a learning experience.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

TWD Twofer Pie

I go to all this effort to bake and come out with wonderful results. That's very nice- but then I always seem to forget to take a picture of it! The thought comes right after everyone has dug into the cake, pie or whatever. I suppose I could take a picture half eaten as well- at least people could see that it is being consumed!

In any case, the pumkin-pecan pie chosen for this week's TWD recipe was lovely to look at and even better to taste. I must say, I was becoming a bit skeptical about the recipes in the book, since the last few I've made were quite unimpressive- even nasty tasting.

The crust that Dorie uses did not work at all for me. I prefer using all butter. I went ahead and tried her recipe with a combination of shortening and butter and it just didn't work for me. I had to throw it out! Ouch! It was probably a mistake of some sort that I made and not the recipe , but I went back to my old standard that has worked so well for me over and over again. The recipe comes from Marcy Goldman's Better Baking site-

The filling was delicious. I took the pie to a staff Thanksgiving dinner last nite and it was the first to go. I will definitely make this again!

This week my youngest daughter will be entering the Israeli Army. My baby is flying from the nest! The house will seem strange with just the two of us here. On the bright side- more time for baking and another group of tasters for my baked goods. I am looking forward to sending her back each week with a box of yummies. Until next time...........

Monday, November 17, 2008

TWD Arborio Rice Pudding

I love the fall. The weather is finally cooling down and the night air is crisp. This is the time of year I sleep the best.
I have never tasted rice pudding before. Yes, it may sound unbelievable, but true. My mom never made it and I never really had the craving to try it. So this weeks recipe from Dorie's book was a perfect opportunity. After some searching I found the right kind of rice and began the task- a really easy process but for some reason, it just didn't turn out the way it ws supposed to. All went well until I put it in the fridge and waited and waited and waited. It barely thickened and the next day was still a bit soupy. I probably would add less milk next time- but there will not be a next time. Just not my " cup of rice" if you know what I mean. Maybe puddings in general are not my favorite thing- I'll take a rich cake, cookie or cupcake anytime! The taste and texture were strange for me and the rest of my family. Very , very sweet - and let me tell you- I love sweet, but this was sort of sickening. Chalk this one up to experience!
Wherever you are in the world- enjoy the season, be it fall , summer or spring!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Lot's of work for a fairly dull tasting cake. I used dried cranberries since I had no raisins in the house. It  was a good substitution- probably any dried fruit would be good. I think if I were to make it again I might make a few changes. My husband ( the main taste tester in the house!) said it was good. He suggested adding some sort of syrup over it other than butter . Maybe a sugar syrup or even maple might be interesting.
I wasn't sure I would get to this recipe but I was determined to try. I am glad I made the effort since I look at every recipe as an experiment. I can say the experiment was successful- whether I use it again or not is a different story.
Next week's recipe is for a rice pudding which, believe it or not, I have never tasted in my life. I have never seen the arborio rice here in Israel but after reading up on it a bit, I may try and substitute sushi rice. Looking forward to the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Just in time for the staff party!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

First TWD recipe November 4, 2008

I don't know if I have been officially added to the TWD group but I went ahead and made the recipe for last week anyways. I decided that in the beginning, at least, I will follow the recipes to the word and see how they turn out and then alter or adapt them for my use according to the results. Since I live in Israel, some of my ingredients may be a bit different or unavailable and I may need to do some substitutions. Of course I will always note this when reporting on the recipe. The rugelach were easy to make and turned out really yummie. I made half of the batch with nuts and half without ( for those few in my family who shy away from nuts). Both were delicious- took extras to work and they were gone before I had a chance to put the dish down. I can always be sure of an enthusiastic , but truthful, group of tasters at work! They will certainly let me know what was good, what wasn't - needed more of this or that, less of this or that! Ok- on to the kugelhof!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Back to routine

Daughter's wedding is over! Out-of-town ( country!) guests are now gone and I am finally getting back to a somewhat regular routine. I've done so much baking and cooking inthe last few weeks for this wedding, I thought I would be ready to take a break. Now that I have received a copy of the book , "Baking- From My House to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan, ( I had my Mom bring it to me from the States) I am ready to jump in again and try some new things.
The wedding cookies were a big hit and I am so glad I made the effort to do them. Of course, as things go with me, I forgot to take even one picture of the over 150 decorated cookies I made! Unbelieveable! Oh, well.... that just gives me another reason to make more.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wedding cookies

These are just a few of the practice cookies I've done in preparation for my daughter's wedding. After having tried a few, I've decided to make cookie favors for each guest in the shape of a
wedding cake. All white with their initials in the middle.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

August 23, 2008

Well, here goes. This is my first attempt at blogging. Let's hope I'm doing everything right.
Looking forward to connecting with others who love to bake and decorate cakes and cookies like I do. I have this dream of leaving my present job and spending all my time baking and creating yummy things . Maybe someday it will happen. In the meantime, I will continue to bake in my spare time, hone my skills and enjoy writing my thoughts and ideas here.