Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Budino

Budino- never heard the word before. Looked it up ( even though it said what it was  in Baked Explorations) and it is basically the Italian word for pudding or custard.
Surprisingly easy to make, the rich, velvety texture bears no resemblance whatsoever to store bought stuff. 

It really is a few moments in heaven as the rich, but not too sweet custard slides down your throat, and you get the slight hint of the bourbon /vanilla from the white pudding ( love seeing those specks of vanilla!) and the creamy softness of the milk chocolate.
You can eat it with or without the whipped cream- just looks pretty I think.

Grab the recipe here and enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Speculaas (better known as Biscoff cookies)

Today, I am the rogue baker. According to the recipe schedule for Baked Sunday Mornings, I should be making these. Alas, no one home to eat them, besides the fact that I am missing so many of the ingredients and was nowhere near the mood to go out and get them (like when else will I use a bottle of whiskey?!)
Since I joined this group of bakers after they had completed many of the recipes in the book Baked Explorations, I decided to go back and make one of recipes I've had my eye on for a while (one they'd already done). 

This cookie, called speculaas or speculoos depending on where you look, has it's origins in Holland or Belgium and is a type of shortbread flavored with warm, delicious spices. I first encountered  them years ago when flying and remember them being served as a snack after take off. They are made by the Biscoff Company, come individually wrapped, ( although now you can get them in a bulk type package- easier to eat the whole pack!!!) and as far as I'm concerned , one of the best tasting cookies I've ever had. The newest rage is this spread they've come out with- undoubtedly the most incredible, addicting, amazing thing in this world. The possibilities for using it are endless ( I'll have a few recipes coming up in future posts), but frankly, I'm happy licking it off the spoon while hiding in my closet so no one can see me devouring half a jar.
OK, back to the cookies. These are the "Baked" version of speculaas. They say it was the closest they could come to the original and I agree. Mine turned out a bit crispier than the original, but crispy is fine with me. There was a bit stronger presence of ginger, whereas the original seemed to have more of a stronger cinnamon taste. Doesn't really matter, because they are scrumptious. Great with a cup of coffee, tea or a nice cold glass of milk. Yum! Dipping them in the milk and having the milk taste like the cookies in the end! Trust me, try it.
One thing I loved about this cookie is how easy it is to make. No mixer required!  You can find the recipe here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookie

Ginger snap cookies have always been one of my favorites. Here, the combination of chocolate and ginger is a pleasant variation. They have that spicy nip of the ginger with the not overwhelming influence of the chocolate. The cookies actually come out looking more chocolatey than they really are. The consistency of the cookie is just right, not too soft and not too crunchy.

They are a great base for decorated cookies , which I so love to do. I used the opportunity to do some Valentine shapes and a few simple designs with the icing. While I enjoy the process of the decorating, I prefer to eat them plain.

 These are easy to make and you can cut them in  any shape to suit your purpose.
Here's the link for the recipe.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jerusalem Culinary Tour #3 Old City

Directly outside Jaffa Gate- what a welcome in to the Old City! A "must" to begin the journey inside the walled city!

The main street inside Jaffa Gate, this is the "tourist" market, where you can find typical souvenirs and religious items for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
In Hebrew "Termos" , in English, lupini beans ( don't worry if you've never heard of them before, I certainly hadn't!) Mainly found in Mediterranean countries, they a legume with a thick skin. They are sold here, cooked, salted and served in little bags for an "eating as you walk" type of thing. From my research I found they are native to Italy and their consumption most likely started with the Romans and eventually became a staple of the Mediterranean diet.
warm fava beans, also eaten by the bag while touring through the Old City

The temptations are endless!

One of the many sweets you can find in numerous shops

"Burma"- a roll of kadayif filled with pistachios and soaked in sugar/rose water syrup

"atayef"- a pancake type of dough, rolled over a filling of walnuts and cinnamon, then fried

"basbousa"-semolina cake drenched in a syrup of sugar and rose water

a variety of cookies

This was, unfortunately, the last in the series of culinary tours. I enjoyed every minute and learned so much. Now, it's time for me to branch out on my own and visit other marketplaces in Israel, each with it's own flavors, scents and interesting stories!