Friday, September 08, 2006

Festive Saturday Morning Brunch

Well, as I mentioned last time I wanted to prepare a special Brunch for my parents, my very tiny way to thank them for all the help they have given me in the past year and especially in renovating my apartment.
The whole of last week I was busy planning, shopping and preparing for this Brunch.

The final Menu included:
Bruschetta Benedictian Style
Crumble de Courgettes aux Champignons (Zucchini and Mushroom Crumble) published in Clotilde Dusoulier Chocolate & Zucchini *this blog was the one which actually inspired me to have my own food blog*
Home made Raisin rolls
Summer Salad
Fennel and pomegranate salad (Israeli chef Israel Aharoni's recipe - there is a movie of the stages for those who don't understand Hebrew)

Cherry tomato and pine nuts salad
Baked baby egg plant
Tehinna with pine nuts
Plain white Cheese
Cottage Cheese

and for desert:
Yogurt Moroccan Style
Bread Pudding (Israel Aharoni)

Because there were so many dishes to prepare I had to pre-orgenize the preparations. I started with the Raisin Rolls on Tuesday, I simply froze them after they cooled down and took out some of them this morning, the rest are still in the freezer.
Raisin Rolls:
1/2 kg. all purpose flour
20 gr. dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
Vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup water or milk

Beaten egg and Sesame seeds for the coating

I learnt in a "yeat dough" baking class that the dry yeast should be mixed first with a bit of flour and milk (in room temperature) in order for it to start the fermentation process. The yeast this way start fermenting and raising because it is fed on the flour and being moisturised by the milk. Both the flour and milk serve as a catalizator for the leavening. While the yeast is growing:
Mix the flour, sugar and raisins together
Make a dimple in the mixture and pour in the oil the eggs and the vanilla.
After 10 minutes that the yeast has "worked" add them to the rest of the ingrediants and start kneading.
Once the dough is ready let it rest for 2 hours.
After 2 hours the size should have multiply.
Make little balls (ping pong size) and orgenize on a greased baking tin.
Let it rest for another hour.
Pre-heat the oven for 180c.
After an hour brush the balls with egg and scatter sesame on top and put in the overn until the rolls are getting golden and puffier.

As Clotilde suggests I prepared the zucchinis, the mushrooms and the crumbs the night bfore and in the morning I only baked it all together. The bread pudding I also prepared the night before and pre-heated before serving.

I woke up very early on Saturday morning and cut all the salads. I think the secret for a real good salad lies within the sauce and the little additions to the vegetables. So my summer salad consisted of lettuce, baby leafs vegetables and the additions were pear, walnuts and grated blue cheese. For the souce I used olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.
For the cherry tomatos I added fresh basil, black olives, pine nuts and garlic. The sauce consisted of olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.

Eventually the only thing I had to prepare on the spot was the Bruschetta Benedictian Style, and this is what I did:

I prepared the bruschettas a bit before the brunch and kept them warm.

Mix olive oil garlic and thyme, brush the sliced bread. Put on a warm skillet and fry from each side until the bread is toasted a bit.

Poach the eggs... Well, the first time I poached an egg it turned out really lovely, this time because of the pressure to have everything perfect it didn't turn out as nice but it was still tasty.

On a bruschetta place a peice of smoke salmon, on top of the salmon place the poached egg and on top of the egg pour hollandaise souce Serve warm!

In the next post I will write about the Tehinna which is the easiet thing to make, you just need to have a good tehina paste!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Five Things to Eat Before You Die

I have been planning to write my own entry about my "essential" 5 foods for almost a month now. As you notice it got delayed all the time and I simply decided to write otherwise it will never happen. Before I write about these 5 dishes I must say that Melissa Kronenthal initiative and blog The Traveler Lunchbox are superb!!! Beside the interesting foods and thoughts that one can read on the site it is such an interesting phenomenun to see how people from all over the world find a common language around such a basic theme. The food blogging world does not seem to be as virtual anymore, and I am very excited to be part of it.
So lets get down to business... My list contains 5 foods (it was very difficult to decide which ones to choose)which either my life wont look the same without, or else they contain a unique memory for me or I have eaten them in a special place. By the way since I read Melissa's initiative I have so many ideas for entries both about actual dishes and about restaurants worth mentioning.

So my Five MUSTS are:

1)My Lebanese grandmother's Sambusak Bjibne
2)My Lebanese grandmother's Meat filled Kube
3)My Mom's Argentinian Style Pizza
4)Filipino/ Pinoy desert Halo Halo
5)Deep Fried Ice Cream served in "Le Souffle" Manila Philippines

1+2) Writting down the recipes for my Gramma's dishes is one of the hardest things to do as she remembers them by heart and she never really measures what she puts inside.
However there is a very good Lebanese cook book I recently bumped into. I believe there are such books in English as well. It will take a while but I promise to translate the recipes from there and put load them to this will happen soon!
So why are these two dishes on my must list? Guess because first of all they are delicious!!! And second becuase for me they represent my home, my childhood and many memories of holidays and family get togethers. With each bite I can hear my gramma's stories about growing up in Lebanon, coming to Israel and raising a family here. Besides the memories in present times I ask her to prepare me these dishes whenever I have friends over or whenever there is a party at my house. These two are excelent finger food for any party. So she is happy because she has something to keep her busy (she is almost 80 now) and my friends and I are happy because both the Kube and the Sambusek is sooooo tasty!

3)My Mom's Argentinian Style Pizza
This pizza is not all that unique, however I chose to put it in this list because I love Pizza and this pizza in particular is a whole meal. And second because of the nice memories I have from this pizza. I think that my mother got the recipe when she went to college from an Argentinian friend. Whenever we eat this pizza we speak about this friend who later on bought a yacht and traveled around the world with it. But we also remenice on happy days in the 80's. A few years ago we went to Australia to visit family friends and they insisted my mom will prepare her famous pizza and even leave them extra sauce in the freezer because for them too this pizza is magical.
So what do you need in order to prepare it:

4)Filipino/ Pinoy desert Halo Halo
Anyone who visited the Philippines or a pinoy restaurant must have tried it. Halo means in Tagalo mix so it is a mix mix cold desert. The magic of it is the fact that there are so many flavours and textures in each bite. I don't know exactly what was in the Halo Halo's I've eaten but it was delicious. I chose to add it to my list because I believe it was one of the first exotic dishes I ate in my life. I was 15 and we just left Israel to live in the Philippines. For me it was the first time ever to leave Israel! We landed in Manila and the second day there we went to a [inoy restaurant. For desert I got the Halo halo, at first I was a bit suspicious but with each bite I liked it more. In any case, for me Halo Halo represents a period of 3 years which was very unique, and unforgetable. You can read more about Halo Halo here.

5)Deep Fried Ice Cream
This is my all times favorite desert which I used to eat in the Philippines and ever since we came back, and with all my travels I never ever ate a good deep fried ice cream like the one served in "Le Souffle"! I promise myself that one day I will master the preparation of this desert and try to reach the taste and shape of the deep fried ice cream served there! I guess I have such a poritive experience from this deep fried ice cream because it was the last perfect dish of a perfect meal. I highly recomand "Le Soufle" restaurant in Makati Metro Manila. If you ever get to Manila you MUST go to this restaurant. It is the best in Manila and I think it can be ranked very high in International level as well.

New Kitchen

I haven't written in quite some time because I was busy moving into my new flat. The feeling is just great and the flat came out to be very very cozy and pretty. Typical to a food/ cooking obsessed person the first place I organized was the kitchen. Last Friday I went on shopping for my "storeroom". I went to what known as the "Spices Market" or in its local name " Levinski Market" (located on Levinski St. In Tel Aviv). There are a few stores my parents and myself normally shop in because they provide good service and even better goods. I bought rice, oatmeal, dried corn, various legumes, nuts, dried fruits, grains etc. And all these little yet essential ingredients in every kitchen such as honey, soy sauce, Teriaky sauce, Tehina paste, olive oil and the list is long. Then across the street we went to buy the spices... this was an aromatic celebration that awaken our senses and opened our appetite (however,since we were too busy shopping we didn't have time to nibble anything and got to my flat starving!!!.
It is not the first time I leave my mom's kitchen, the truth is I left my parents' house when I was 20, however it is the first time I have my own renovated, suited to my needs kitchen. In University I shared the kitchen with 6 other people, and since I moved to Tel Aviv 3 years ago I always shared a kitchen with the friend I lived with. So it is the first time I live alone (without roommates, flatmates, or a partner)I am very excited from this fact.
This was just a short update and explanation why I didn't write in such a long time (although it seems as if I am writing to myself only...with the hope one day someone will read this blog).
Upcoming posts :
1) 5 Things You MUST Eat Before You Die (will try to take part in Melissa's project from "The Traveler's Lunchbox")
2) Festive Brunch - thanking my parents Brunch
So please stay tuned... It will take some time because I have so many recipes to translate and gather the materials for the 5 Things project.