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..........