Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jerusalem Culinary Tour # 2 - Mahane Yehuda

One of the many crowded streets in the market

Some of the most fascinating places to visit in Israel are the marketplaces, the "shuk". Every town and city has its own shuk, some are open every day , some just on certain days of the week. You can usually find a myriad of items for sale, from foods and spices, to kitchenware and gadgets, automobile paraphernalia, toys- really almost anything you are looking for.
Of all the markets I've been to, I think Mahane Yehuda, the main market in Jerusalem, is at the top of my favorites list. Although I had visited there many times before, this tour pointed out the rich history and almost storybook- like tales of the past.  It is truly a feeling of walking through live history. Although the market has been updated in many ways, such as a roof covering to protect from the weather, the essence of the streets and alleyways has remained the same. I could imagine the same scenes; different times, different dress, but still the enchanting atmosphere filled with the enticing smells of exotic spices, rich colored fruits and vegetables so fresh, they still have the soil of the earth on them, hot baked pitot and breads, trays of mouthwatering pastries and candies of all shapes and sorts imaginable- in short, a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds!

freshly baked challot for Shabbat
pita dough waiting to be formed into balls

a tabune for making pita and the balls of dough ready to be baked

rolling the dough and flattening it out

almost ready to bake
placing the dough onto the hot tabune walls

an endless array of spices

laundry day

amazing wall art on Agrippas Street- I purposely photographed it with the real street on the side so you could see the contrast

more wall art- so alive!

The day was too short to take in all that the market has to offer, so I know I will be back with a more educated view, an appreciation of the people and traditions and a very large bag to carry all the goodies I intend to buy!
For more detailed information on the shuk, click here

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings- Sunday Night Cake

Okay, so we post on Sunday mornings and this is called a Sunday Night Cake. It was actually made on Saturday morning so I'll call it a Saturday Morning Cake! It is so easy, peasy and so delicious that you can really make it 1-2-3 in the morning and have it for breakfast if you want.

This is the kind of recipe I love- easy to put together and very adaptable to a few little changes here and there to make it your "own". It calls for sour cream- didn't happen to have any, but did have a container of buttermilk that needed to be used. I substituted the same amount and I'm sure you could use yogurt as well.
I played around with the pan too, using these adorable little mini loaf pans I found. I have a problem going into stores that sell paper goods- I can't walk out empty-handed! Better have them on hand than have to look for something at the last minute. These are great for gift giving or if you just want a little cake and not have leftovers.
The original recipe calls for a chocolate frosting. I'm sure it would be great, but I preferred without and just a dusting of powdered sugar. The frosting sounds delicious and for another occasion, I would give it a try.
This cake has delicious cinnamon undertones- not overwhelming at all. Next time I will play around with the spices and see what interesting tastes I can come up with.
Even if you don't consider yourself a baker, I highly recommend trying this recipe. It's great to freeze and pull out at a moment's notice, and most important, easy and really yummy. I had a hard time stopping at just one piece!
You can find the recipe here.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bridal Shower Cookies


I haven't done any cookie decorating in quite a long time. I love to do it, but just don't have the opportunities to make them. No one to give them to, no special occasions, and I hate to see them go to waste. Now, after making this last batch for a friend of my daughter's, I realize that I need to do more- and for one good reason- it makes me feel good. It's really the only creative thing I can do (and it's not really creative since  my designs are just copies of the amazing things I see other people do- I have no imagination whatsoever!). Anyways, I am going to try and do more in the near future- just because.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffins

 I wasn't sure about the combination here, but I've learned in baking, as in life, that one needs to take chances sometimes and go with what isn't so familiar. It can only lead to a sincere learning process and discovery of things that we may never have known, whether for the positive or the not so positive. When we learn something new, even if to realize that it is something we don't want to incorporate in our lives, then the learning was a success. My, my, how philosophical we are today. And all because of some muffins!

So what did I learn here? That I love pistachios (although I knew that already) and I don't use them enough in my baking. The combination of lemon and pistachio is so right.. who would have thought?! I am definitely a "texture" eater- besides taste of course, I am always looking for the texture of food. Texture can make or break it for me. The texture of these cornmeal muffins "makes" it for sure. Best eaten warm right out of the oven with a little slab of butter melting over the top, but also good warmed up later in the microwave (just a few seconds is all you need) or oven. These are great breakfast muffins or for that matter, great anytime muffins.

You can find the very simple recipe here. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings- Banana Foster Fritters

I am not a fan of frying. I AM (unfortunately) a fan of  eating the fried foods. But for the sake of eating, I will overcome my aversion to the actual "means" to "justify the end"! However, I pick and choose my frying missions very carefully. For instance , you will never find me frying chicken or french fries at home. Just too much mess and work. Rather eat it out!
Now doughnuts are another story altogether.They are sooooo much better homemade, and you get them hot and fresh out of the pan. Nothing like it, believe me!
I was doubtful of this weeks task for "Baked Sunday Mornings". I've never  had banana fritters (or any other kind of fritters for that matter) and  the idea of filling my house up with frying smell was not at the top of my list. As it happens, my husband came home one day last week with a very large bunch of bananas- I swear they had just been cut off the tree. A gift from a friend who lives on a moshav not far from us. Okay, now you can see from the picture that they were no where near ripened- I had to find a way to ripen them quickly in time to write this post. I found all kinds of advice, from paper bags with an apple inside, to putting them in the freezer. I didn't want to freeze them, so I tried the apple deal, without the paper bag ( didn't have one).
Fast forward... it is now Sunday morning here in Israel, so I still have time until this afternoon to post. I just finished making the rum dipping sauce... OMG! That in itself is enough. It absolutely goes on the list for things to have in the fridge for pancakes, over ice cream, mixed in with plain yogurt.... spread on toast???!! Whatever, it's just GOOD!
Now I will attempt to find the ripest 3 bananas in the group and see if I can mash them enough to make the batter. BRB....
Found two ripe bananas, mashed them up  and mixed them with the dry ingredients. The batter was a bit dry with only the two bananas , so I searched my cupboards for ideas and found a snack size container of no sugar added applesauce. Perfect! Did the trick. I scooped the fritters with a 2 tsp. cookie scoop and got 20 little fritters from the recipe.
Done! Not as bad as I anticipated. At all! As a matter of fact, the whole process was quite easy. I think you could make everything ahead of time, refrigerate the batter and just toss them in the oil when you are ready to serve. Only takes a few minutes and its a wonderful change for a dessert.

As I said, the dipping sauce is delicious and the fritters came out yummy in my opinion. I think it's a treat that both kids and adults alike would enjoy!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings-Malted Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème

This was an "iffy" one for me. I 've made quite a variety of recipes from the "Baked" books and must say, I have loved them all. Not having a lot of experience with puddings or custards, and not being too sure about the malt flavor, I plunged into this recipe, determined to give it the old college try. Since this was a first timer, I decided not to play around with the recipe and do exactly what I was told. (not always an easy thing for me!)
Suffice to say , it worked out just perfectly- they did exactly what they were supposed to do. The real test for me was the tasting. No one in the family has really ever tasted the malt flavor- not even whoppers or malt teasers- they were just never one of our choices in candy. No special reason, just weren't.
I decided not to tell anyone about the malt and do a "wait and see".
I served them for dessert Friday evening to the family. I loved it.The crunch of the crushed Whoppers on top added to the creamy texture of the custard was heavenly. No one "didn't" like it- some felt it was overly sweet for them. I like sweet- even overly sweet. It was smooth, creamy and had a delicate , yet rich flavor. Not too much malt to take over but just that hint that gave the custard that extra zing. 
You can find the recipe here. Not difficult to make and a lovely dessert for guests.