November 21, 2013 By 10 Comments
May 14, 2013 By 41 Comments
jelly roll pan (usually a 15x10x1-inch pan, regular or disposable). This is also the kind of recipe that you don’t want to attempt if you have just ran out of parchment paper. Last, but not least, do not over-bake: the cake needs to be a bit flexible and “springy” to be rolled up. After baking the cake, remove from the oven and loosen the edges from the pan with a knife, then turn it out the cake onto a large parchment sheet. Peel the existing parchment from the top (what was previously on the bottom of the baking pan) and discard. Now the tricky part: starting with one of the shorter sides, roll up the parchment with the warm cake inside into a spiral. Once the cake is all rolled up into the parchment, secure it with tape or by stapling the ends of the parchment, and place it on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Unroll the cake, spread with your preferred filling staying within 1 inch of the edges; then roll it up again, but this time use the parchment only to lift and guide leaving it on the “outside’ of the cake roll. Place the roll in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
December 13, 2012 By 11 Comments
Maize polenta is creamy, delicious and filling, and for centuries represented the main staple in the poor, everyday cuisine of a large part of Northern Italy. Once it cools off and hardens, it can be recycled into a variety of dishes, from a "pasticcio" with meat or cheeses, to a cake, to these savory fried sandwiches (a classic Jewish Italian recipe, and perfect for Hanukkah). If you don't like anchovies ( I LOVE them!), you can replace them with smoked cheese.
- 1 cup polenta (finely ground or quick cooking)
- salt (about 1 tsp)
- water to make polenta (follow instruction on the package, or about 3 cups)
- 12 anchovies (salt packed is better, but oil-packed is OK))
- 4-5 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil to make anchovy paste
- 1 clove garlic (whole)
- dredging flour
- 3 eggs
- olive oil for frying
October 29, 2012 By 6 Comments
The combination of hazelnuts and chocolate is wildly popular in Italy – I’m sure you have heard of Nutella! The original version is Gianduja - a concoction made of chocolate and hazelnuts invented in Turin during the Napoleonic blockade, when the precious cocoa beans had become scarce and the famous Piedmontese chocolatiers had to find a way to make them go further-. It didn’t hurt, of course, that their hazelnuts (from the Langhe area of Piedmont) were said to be the best in the world, and that Turin was the birthplace of solid chocolate. As you can imagine, the result was much more interesting than other hard-times-inspired products (such as the French chicory "coffee"), and even after the end of the blockade the Torinese kept enjoying their new delicacy, and named it “gianduja” after a local marionette character.
Besides enjoying the tasty combo in the form of a spread or in confections (the delicious gianduiotti - the first-ever chocolates to be individually wrapped!), make sure you try my gianduja puff cake! Ingredients 1 pound of puff pastry (home-made, or 1 package store-bought) 3 medium pears 5 ounces dark chocolate (I used 70 % Scharffen Berger) ½ cup ground hazelnuts 6 chocolate-flavored tea biscuits, or small biscottis 2/3 cup (scant) sugar pinch of salt 1 organic lemon 1 egg yolk 2 tablespoons butter, or hazelnut or almond oil 2 tablespoons milk (or non-dairy almond or soy milk) flour (to dust the counter) Directions Peel and core the pears, slice them thinly and combine them with the lemon juice, the sugar, and the grated lemon zest. Grate the chocolate and coarsely chop the cookies. If using butter, melt it in a pan or in your microwave. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry into a rectangle and brush the top with the melted butter or oil; top with the crumbled cookies, the drained pears, and the grated chocolate. Roll up the pastry as if making a strudel, sealing the edges and closing the ends. Brush the top with the yolk (mixed with a couple of tablespoons of milk or parve almond or soy milk) and bake in a pre-heated 250 F oven for about 30 minutes or until golden. Enjoy warm or at room temperature, on a cold winter night .
September 24, 2012 By 6 Comments
Redentore festival in July.
Many Italians believe that the raisins and pine nuts in savory dishes (as in our stewed carrots, or our spinach frittata for Passover, and dishes with salt cod) always betray Jewish origins. However, Saor was known in Venice long before the expulsion of Jews from Spain, Portugal and Southern Italy, as witnessed by a recipe in the Libro per Cuoco, compiled by an anonymous Venetian at the end of the 14th century. Obviously it's still possible that the recipe was introduced by some Jews who passed through venice before the expulsion, but it's not the only explanation.Venice after the Crusades (1069-1270) had become the most prosperous city in Europe thanks to international commerce. At the peak of its power, it had more than 3,300 ships: the merchants would bring spices from India and China, olive oil from Southern Italy and Greece, sugar from Sicily, unusual fruit from North Africa, and Venetians in general were experimenting with culinary “fusion” like nobody else in Italy or Europe! The fact that it made fish last for weeks without refrigeration made the Saor a huge hit with the Venetian merchants/mariners, who spent months at a time at sea. As to the Jews, they might have known it from the countries they had to leave, and may have contributed to its increasing popularity in Venice. Besides featuring some of their favorite ingredients, Saor could be made in advance and eaten cold for Shabbat and the holidays! HERE IS A STEP-BY-STEP: INGREDIENTS
- 2 lb. large sardines, OR small soles; scaled, cleaned, gutted (heads off! 🙂
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup olive oil for the marinade
- more olive oil for frying
- 2 lb. white onion, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
September 24, 2012 By 3 Comments
Bollo is a sweet-but-not-too-sweet bread with raisins, candied zest, and/or anise seeds (depending on which city you live in), served in many Italian and Sephardic communities to end the Yom kippur fast. Its name means simply “cake" in Spanish and Portuguese, a sign that we need to thank the Iberian exiles for yet another yummy treat! In Venice, we are literally handed a slice as we are walking out of synagogue at the end of services, on the steps. Obviously, even a piece of cardbord would taste great accompanied by a tall glass of lemonade after 25 hours without food or water! However, this cake keeps being served over and over all through the fall holidays, upon entering the sukkah and until Shemini Atzeret. By then, we are usually stuffed, and I still love it - especially with jelly, for breakfast. The Bollo is also one of the key elements of the “Tavola dell’Angelo” (the Angel’s table), a ritual table setting that several Venetian families prepare on the eve of Yom Kippur in their homes. The table is dressed in white, and decorated with harvest symbols such as pomegranates, flowers and corn. Jewish ritual objects, like prayer books Kiddush cups and candlesticks are also present. Finally, many families use sprouting wheat grains to write auspicious messages such as “Shana Tova”, or to draw symbols (like hands with the fingers spread out for the priestly blessing). The center of the festive table are always the bollo and a cup or pitcher of water: a tease to humans during the long fast, these treats are in fact strictly reserved to a mysterious "angel", in case he/she decides to pay a visit: Yom Kippur is, in fact, the holiest day in the Jewish year, the “Shabbat Shabbaton”, and... you never know! If you happen to be in Venice around the fall holidays, don’t forget to try the bolo from the local kosher bakery, Volpe . You can also pop into the Giardino dei Melograni kosher hotel (by the Hosteria del Ghetto kosher restaurant) and check out their beautiful Angel’s Table. But back to the Bollo....
- about 5 cups flour (a little over 1 lb of 00 or all-purpose)
- 25 gr fresh yeast, or use dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (mix 1/2 cold water and 1/2 very hot water)
- 1 scarce cup sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 3 large eggs (if they are quite large, use 3 yolks and 2 whites)
- 1/2 cup mild olive oil or seed oil
- 1/2 cup raisins, plumped in warm water or brandy and drained
- grated zest of one lemon
- 1 1/2 tbsp candied lemon or orange zest (optional) OR aniseeds (optional)
- 1 shot brandy, cognac or grappa
- 1 egg yolk or more to glaze the surface
September 13, 2012 By 8 Comments
In Italy, "Miele" (honey), is classified as compulsively as cheeses and olive oil - by area of origins, type of flower, and depending on whether pieces of honeycomb were included... we have strawberry-tree (corbezzolo) and Eucalyptus honeys from Sardinia, chestnut honey from Piedmont, millefiori (thousand flowers) from Tuscany, orange blossom from Sicily, acacia from the Pre-Alps, and many more. Every fall, I take a trip to Zebar's or Eataly where I stress out about which kind will grace my cake this Rosh HaShana!
Rather than blaming this on my all-Italian obsession with ingredients, you should try for yourselves! After all, when the Almighty promised our forefathers that they would be freed from Egyptian bondage, the Promised Land was described as "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus. 3: 17, etc.) - and not with "milk and sugar"!
In this cake, the orange balances out any excessive sweetness of the honey.
- 4 medium/large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup oil (canola oil or 1/2 light olive 1/2 almond oil)
- about 300 gr (3/4 a medium/large jar) liquid honey
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1 1/2 cup 00 or all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp orange liqueur (like triple sec) or brandy
- zest of one organic orange
- 1/4 cup of the orange juice
- 1 package (16 g) baking powder
- a pinch of salt