Thursday, September 21, 2017

Date Tahini Cake w/ Tahini Whipped Cream

Those of you who have make my date-nut bread, know there really isn't a need for another date dessert......but I had a jar of tahini, and I thought the sound of this combination might just be great.

I was right.

Dates, sesame.....a cup of coffee and the tahini whipped cream? Oh boy.

Don't skip the tahini whipped cream, it is amazing, and you can freeze the leftovers! who knew you could freeze whipped cream? Not I.

This cake is perfect for fall, and is very popular in Israel and other Middle Eastern countries.
It's almost like a rustic bread, rather than a cake.

Remember to use a mild flavored olive oil (I use Colavita).

Tahini Date Cake (adapted from Eat in My Kitchen):

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
freshly grated orange or lemon zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 cup tahini, mixed well
1/3 cup mild olive oil
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 cup sugar
4 large organic eggs
3/4 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped, plus a few chopped dates for serving
white sesame seeds for the top

Preheat the oven to 350°F (preferably convection setting) and butter an 8″ springform pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, zest, cinnamon, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the tahini, olive oil, milk, sugar, and eggs for about 1 minute until well combined (I mix it by hand, of course!).

Stir in the flour mixture and continue mixing until no traces of flour are left. Stir in the dates and pour the dough into the prepared springform pan.

Sprinkle the top with the sesame seeds and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden and spongy. Check with a skewer, it should come out almost clean. Let the cake cool for a few minutes and take it out of the pan.

Tahini Whipped Cream

3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp tahini

Whip the cream with the maple syrup until stiff, adjust sweetness to taste. Add the tahini and whip for a few seconds until well combined.

To serve the cake, cut it into large pieces, add a generous dollop of the tahini whipped cream, and sprinkle with chopped dates and additional sesame seeds.

To freeze the leftover whipped cream (who knew?)......lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and place dollops of the leftover tahini cream on the paper. Place directly into the freezer on the tray.

Let completely freeze (about 2 hours), then transfer the frozen dollops of cream to a container and freeze for up to 3 months.

Just before using (great for topping coffee), just take out of the freezer and let defrost 15 minutes.

This is complex and delicious! Loved it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fig & Orange Jam w/ Pistachios & Rosemary

The title of this jam has too many ingredients.

You might think so, but I kept adding things as I was making it and it turned out so good!

I found a big 2 lb. carton of California Mission figs at Trader Joe's for only $5.99. Bargain of the year.
How could I resist?

Fig season is only around another week or two in my neck of the woods, so why not glom up all the figs I can!

A fig jam it would be.

I added orange peel, lemon zest, cinnamon, rosemary and pistachios!
It may sound like a lot, but it was delicious!!!!

Feel free to add or omit whatever you like.

Crazy Fig Jam: (made up by crazy me)

2 lbs. ripe figs (I mixed turkey figs from my tree, along with Black Mission figs)
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 big lemon)
zest of the lemon
zest of a large orange (I had homemade candied orange peel, so threw that in instead of the zest)
pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup of pistachios ('s all optional, really!)
1 large fresh rosemary sprig

Remove the stems and cut the figs into quarters or pieces.

Mix everything together in a large nonreactive pot. I used a Le Creuset Dutch oven.

Simmer on moderate heat for 30 minutes, stirring everything once in a while.

Remove rosemary sprig.

Let cool and spoon into jars. This will stay in the fridge for 3 months.....the sugar acts as a preservative.

This is wonderful with roast pork; on toasts with ricotta; an accompaniment to cheese, or just eaten out of the jar.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Figs

I love to revisit cookbooks every few months.

I recently leafed thru Yotam Ottolenghi's JERUSALEM. I hadn't cooked from this book in a while.

Just when I thought I had made everything in the book, I came across this recipe for roasted sweet potatoes and figs.

Perfect timing.

Every few days I have a few ripe figs to pick from my potted tree.
Lucky me.

The original recipe wants you to slice chiles, which I never have on hand, so I used hot pepper chile flakes instead.
The results were great.

I omitted the goat cheese and added plain Greek yogurt to mellow out the sizzling green onion and chili oil.

This was fantastic! Perfect for fall.
And you know how much I love sweet potatoes and figs! The perfect pairing!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Figs (adapted from Jerusalem & the NYT):

4 small sweet potatoes, sliced into wedges
5 tablespoons olive oil
scant 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or balsamic syrup)
12 green onions (scallions), sliced thin (green parts only)
1 red chili, thinly sliced or dried hot pepper flakes
6 ripe figs, quartered
5 ounces soft goat’s milk cheese (optional, I used plain Greek yogurt instead)
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

Lay out the sweet potato wedges on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning 1 time to brown both sides.

In the meantime, heat the scallions in 3 tbsp of olive oil with the chili flakes for exactly 5 minutes, until sizzling.

When the sweet potatoes are done, pour the scallion chile oil over the wedges on a platter.
Drizzle with balsamic syrup and place the fresh ripe figs around them.

Dab with the cheese or yogurt and serve.
Delicious warm or at room temperature.

This would be a perfect dish to serve on Rosh Hashanah!

Happy Jewish New Year.
L'Shana Tova. שנה טובה


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Basic French Yogurt Cake with Figs & Plums

I am calling this a "basic French yogurt cake" because I use this recipe for many different loaf cakes all year long (adapted from Dorie Greenspan's original French Yogurt Cake recipe).

I change it up a bit each time, depending on the season and the fruit I am using.

Here, I used fresh figs from my tree, and 2 small ripe plums.

This is a simple cake and not too sweet, perfect for breakfast.

You can use all figs if you like, but I had 2 little ripe purple plums, and they were perfect with the fresh figs.

Here's how:

1/2 cup of plain yogurt (any type will do)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup of mild olive oil (I use Colavita)
1 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 cup all purpose flour and 1/2 cup of almond flour)
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt for good luck
2 ripe figs, sliced thin
2 very small ripe plums, sliced thin (divided)
2 tbsp honey for the glaze

Mix the yogurt, sugar, extract, eggs and olive oil until a pale yellow batter forms.

To the wet ingredients, add in the flour and baking powder. Carefully mix in some of the thinly sliced plums (feel free to add any fruit you like, just make sure you slice it thinly, or the fruit will sink to the bottom).

Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9" loaf pan.

Dot the top with thinly sliced figs and plums.

Bake 350F for 50 minutes.

In a small glass bowl, heat the honey in the microwave for 20 seconds.

Brush the top of the loaf cake with the warmed honey. Let rest in pan 10 minutes before inverting on cooling rack.

Stays moist and delicious for days (if it lasts that long).

I love this cake.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September Tomato Tart

Slow down.
I am not ready for apple season yet.

Tomatoes are at their peak in early September here in NJ.
I want to hold on to summer for as long as I can.

Winter is coming (I love Game of Thrones, btw).

Here is a simple French tomato tart that I make with store bought puff pastry.

I used heirlooms, but I think plum tomatoes (Roma variety) would be better because they have less moisture than the heirlooms do.

You can use a store bought pie crust, or make your own, it's more about the summer tomatoes here.

September Tomato Tart (adapted from Eileen's blog):

1 pie crust or defrosted puff pastry fitted into a tart pan with removable bottom.
4 tomatoes, sliced thin
handful of pitted kalamata or Nicoise olives
1 cup of Gruyere or Comte cheese, shredded
1 egg
2 tbsp of Dijon mustard
Kosher salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

Fit the pie crust into the tart pan.
Keep chilled in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Mix the egg with the 2 tbsp of mustard.
Spread this mixture on the bottom of the pie shell and sprinkle with the shredded cheese.

Add the sliced tomatoes and olives and sprinkle with kosher salt & pepper. Thyme is also nice with this tart.

Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over the tomatoes and bake the tart for about 30 minutes until your crust is golden.

Let the tart rest at least 30 minutes, so the juices from the tomatoes solidify.

This is perfect served with a side salad.

Savor the last days of summer!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas w/ Parsley & Mustard

I know we all like to poke fun of Gwyneth Paltrow and her "GOOP" nonsense and her "unconscious coupling" with her x-husband, but I gotta say, some of her recipes are just plain good.

They are super simple, nothing complicated, almost silly .....but her book It's All Good, is actually pretty great.

I have made almost everything in it, except for the flax seed and alternative flour (gluten free) recipes, and everything is GOOD. Simple, fresh and easy. My style of cooking.

Here, I had some cauliflower and still have a ton of parsley growing in my what's a girl to do?

Let Gwynnie lead the way to make this super simple side dish.

I ate the entire bowl.

Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas w/ Parsley & Mustard (adapted from It's All Good)

1 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried
1 head of cauliflower, outer leaves removed and discarded, cut into bite-sized florets
1 tbsp of pimenton (smoked paprika)
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
kosher salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon seeded mustard (grainy mustard)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400F degrees and set the rack in the middle. Toss chickpeas, pimenton and cauliflower together in a large roasting pan with 3 tablespoons olive oil and a big pinch of kosher salt.

Roast, stirring now and then, until everything is dark brown and the cauliflower is quite soft, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together mustards, vinegar, and 1/4 cup of olive oil with a big pinch of salt and a few healthy grinds of black pepper.

While the chickpeas and cauliflower are still warm, toss them with the mustard dressing and the parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

September Baking: Plum Pudding Clafoutis

Each week there is something new in season at the farmer's market to get excited about.

This week it is plums!

I love baking with plums. I bought a few different varieties this time, but don't ask me what they are, cause I didn't pay attention.

I used a few different types in this DELICIOUS, super easy plum pudding.....aka "clafoutis" if you are French.

If you have some figs laying around, feel free to throw them in here too, they go so nicely with the plums.

Here's how:

4 ripe plums, pit removed and sliced
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (plus some for dusting the pan)
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 400F.

Butter a 2 quart baking dish or 9" pie plate and dust with granulated sugar to coat.

Lay the sliced plums on the bottom of the dish.

Whisk the rest of the ingredients to create a batter. Let sit 10 minutes (not sure why most clafoutis recipes say to do this....but I always do it).

Pour the batter over the fruit and bake in the 400F oven for 15 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 350F and bake an additional 20 minutes.
The top will be puffed and golden, then deflate as soon as you take it out of the oven.

Let cool a few minutes before digging in.
You can dust with powdered sugar if you like, but we just ate it for breakfast.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Last Call for Corn Chowder w/ Scallops & Chorizo

Get your corn now, before apples come in and steal the show.

I made this one morning and ate it for breakfast. I posted it on instagram and I got a million emails asking for the recipe.

So here is the recipe everyone has been asking me for. No long blog post about why you should make this or eat this etc.

Just the recipe.

Sort of Corn Chowder w/ Scallops & Chorizo (taken from my instagram account, after so many of you asked for the ask, I deliver!):

2 cups of fresh corn, sliced off cobs (obviously)
1 cup of chicken broth (boxed broth is fine)
2 tbsp butter
dash of cayenne pepper
pinch of salt

In a saucepan, simmer the corn for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a blender or food processor and puree. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Set aside. This is your corn puree/chowder.

small stick of chorizo, cut into dice (skin removed)
a few sea scallops
cherry tomatoes
chives and basil

In a nonstick skillet, heat some olive oil and cook the chorizo pieces for a few minutes until crispy. Remove to a plate.
Wipe out skillet (or your scallops will turn orange from the chorizo oil!).

Add in some new olive oil and sear the scallops for 2 minutes on each side.

Spoon corn puree into bowls and top with chorizo and seared scallops.

Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs.

There you have it! It is fabulous!


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Peach Panzanella & End of Summer Random Bites

Happy Labor Day!

Here are some end of summer random bites from my world in the Garden State (yes, New Jersey is known as the "Garden State", look at our license plates).

I made a PEACH panzanella making the usual tomato panzanella, but adding sliced ripe Jersey peaches in with the gorgeous tomatoes.

All you need is good balsamic vinegar and some fresh herbs and you have a delicious salad.

I have been grilling a lot of corn and fish this summer.

I made a simple chili lime butter w/ Trader Joe's Chili Lime Seasoning and some honey and lime juice.

Season the salmon w/ some of the chili lime spice and grill as you like.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter w/ the seasoning, honey and lime zest and juice (20 seconds in the microwave) and pour over the grilled salmon and corn!

So easy and so good!

and speaking of Trader Joe's......I finally tried their "Everything But the Bagel" seasoning.
I sprinkled it on my morning avo toast, and I am hooked.