Anise Cookie

In an attempt to make a healthy(er) cookie, I adjusted a recipe found in a Spanish cookbook (De Complete Spaanse Keuken.) This cookie has a nice crunch and is not overly sweet but flavorful because of the anise and whole wheat flour. A great company for a cup of thee or coffee.

 

Ingredients:

190 gram whole wheat flour

190 gram plain flour

1.25 dl olive oil

1.25 dl water

3 tablespoons anise liquor

40 gram sesame seeds

3 tablespoons anise seeds

1 tablespoon baking powder

125 gram cane sugar

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until you have a sticky dough.

For easier rolling you can cool the dough in the fridge or just get your hands dirty.

Roll small pieces of dough between your hands and flatten them into any shape you wish about 3mm thick.

Place the cookies on a baking tray lined with baking paper or dusted with some fine polenta.

Bake the cookies for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown on the top (the bottom will be darker).

Let them cool down on a baking rack.

Sourdough bread

Even though I make lots of bread, I don’t write about it so often. That is because I don’t use a recipe. The way I make bread is as following, and if you follow my hands you don’t really need a recipe, just some practice.

Take some of your sourdough starter and put it in a bowl.

For a big loaf I use about a cup of sourdough starter but if you like it more sour, you can use more or less if you don’t. Add water and flour to your starter so you’ll get a substance which looks like a thick porridge. Stir until all the lumps are dissolved, you’ll notice the dough will become stickier as you keep stirring it. Cover it with a damp cloth and set it aside.

It depends on the amount of starter you use and the strength of it how long you should wait. I generally wait until it is completely filled with air bubbles. You can make it rise overnight in the fridge as well, the slow rising will give the bread a more complex and full flavor, let the dough come to room temperature before you use it again.

After the first rise, add enough flour and salt, and knead with your hands until you have a soft and flexible dough. It shouldn’t stick anymore. You can shape it into a loaf, let it rise until doubled in size and bake it right away or, give it a second rise. Cut in the top before you bake it or else it will crack open in another place. Brushing the top with oil, or egg will make the crust darker in color.

You can vary with the shape, size and with the baking time and temp to get a thicker or thinner crust.

And voila, there we have a new bread again, not so hard, everybody can do it.

A different result you get when you bake the bread in a preheated Dutch oven or other type of oven proof dish. When you don’t make cut’s in the top you end up with beautiful cracks like on the picture.

Sweet Tahini, Chocolate Cake

My boyfriend complains sometimes that there are no good cakes in Holland while in Israel even the simplest prepackaged coffee cake is good, (a serious case of homefood sickness I believe) so I decided to make his favorite supermarket cake at home.

 

Sweet Tahini Chocolate Cake

For the dough

2 cups flour   (I used half all purpose and half cake flour)

1/4 cup water

½ package instant yeast

Pinch of salt

1 egg

1 egg yolk

½ package vanilla sugar

50 gram sugar

50 gram softened cubed butter

For the filling

3 tablespoons raw tahini

3 tablespoons honey

Juice of ½ lemon

150 gram pure chocolate

Mix the ingredients for the dough together minus the butter. Mix it into a soft and elastic dough for about 7 min and now add the butter.

If you have a machine that kneads for you, this is no problem, if you knead by hand like me you better flatten the dough first and put the softened and cubed butter in the center. Close the dough and knead it inside the dough. After a while it will inevitably break out a bit but that is alright, when it becomes to sticky/buttery, just put some more flour on your hands. Don’t lose hope, you will knead it in a beautiful buttery dough.

Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it to rise for an hour.

Now mix in a bowl  the honey, tahini and lemon juice. When well combined  keep in the fridge until you need it.

Cut the chocolate into little cubes.

Flour a clean worktop and work the dough with a rolling pin into a thin rectangle, a little longer than you cake tin. Let’s say you make it 2/3 mm thick.

Spread the tahini/honey mixture all over the dough and sprinkle the chocolate on top of it. Roll the dough like a Dutch pancake and you will be left with a long dough sausage with all the mixture inside.

Cut the dough sausage lengthwise entirely through. Now swirl the two sides over each other while trying to keep the cut side up. I made about 8 swirls but you should just see how you come out (see the picture if this sounds a bit confusing).

Grease a cake tin and put the cake inside, tuck the ends under the cake a bit.

Let the cake stand for another hour until almost doubled in size and then bake it in a preheated oven on 180C for 35-40 minutes. It can be nice dark golden brown but if the top gets to dark, cover it with some tin foil.

Let it cool down on a cake rack. It’s very nice to eat when it is still a bit warm.

Short Crust Pastry

Short crust pastry, quiche crust,

 

Short Crust Pastry

300 gram flour

½ teaspoon salt

160 gram cold butter

70 ml ice cold water

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter in small pieces and add to the flour. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingers until fine and crumbly. (or use a food processor)

Add the water and work it into a dough without handling it to much. When it comes together, stop, and form the dough into a disc.

Cover with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 2 hours (you can keep it up to 5 days in the fridge).

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Oil a tart tin or a quiche form. Flour a worktop and roll out the dough until 2-3 mm thick.

Place the dough in the tin and cover with wax paper, about the same size as your rolled out dough. Place it on the dough and fill it with dried beans or rice to bake the crust blind for 30 minutes.

Take the paper and beans out and bake the crust uncovered for another 5-10 minutes.

Take the crust from the oven and leave aside to cool down.

Prepare your filling. This time I made a spinach, goat cheese quiche. The general rule to make a good custardy filling is to use one egg on every 250 ml of fluid. Be aware that the ingredients you use, in this example the spinach, onions and cheese also leak some fluids.

Because the crust is very heavy I kept the filling a little lighter and used milk instead of cream for the custard.

Savory Bread Pudding

This is exactly one of those moments where I save my old bread for. It’s Eastern, all shops are closed today and tomorrow and I forgot to hamster some extra food for to survive the holidays.

(I know it looks a bit like a mess in the picture but that’s what bread puddings are)

 

Savory Bread Pudding

Old bread

1 cup milk

2 eggs

4 sun dried tomatoes

2 pickled roasted bell peppers

½ red onion

1 garlic clove

1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano

Cheese ( I had some cow fetah and spicy yellow cheese leftovers)

Pepper, salt

Preheat your oven to 180C / 360F.

Cut the old bread in pieces and lay them in an oven dish. Cut the sun dried tomatoes, pickled bell peppers the red onion and the garlic clove and mix it with the bread.

Beat two eggs in a bowl and add the milk, oregano, pepper, salt and cheese. Mix everything together and pour it over the bread. It’s nice when the bread sticks out of the mixture with it’s head because those parts will become crunchy while the rest turns into a pudding.If you have some cheese left, sprinkle some over the top.

Let it rest for a couple of minutes so the bread can soak up the mixture; then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the mixture is set.

You don’t bake the onion and garlic before you add them to the bread and they won’t become entirely soft in the oven but that actually gives a nice flavor to the dish.

 

Sticky Chocolate Prune Cake

 

The plums soaked in cognac and the pure chocolate make for such a rich and warm combination that the giving away part might fall hard on you. The trick in getting a sticky cake is the baking time. You should slightly under bake it so the interior is not yet set. You can check the interior of the cake with a wooden pick; when it comes out not entirely wet but with some wet crumbs on it, that’s the sign to take it out of the oven. When the wood comes out dry, you are too late and I wish you better luck next time, you’ll get it right in your following chance.

This cake tastes best when slightly cooled but still a bit warm on the inside.

Sorry little ones, this is really a grown up cake. The cognac and the bitter chocolate are combined with a minimum amount of sugar with the result that the cake does not come out very sweet. This makes it great next to a good espresso or strong black coffee. (inspired by my ottolenghi cooking book)

Sticky Chocolate Prune Cake

8 dried plums without pits

250 ml cognac

100 gram cake flour

5 tablespoons non sweet cacao powder

100 gram pure chocolate roughly chopped

5 tablespoons caster sugar

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 heaping tablespoon date syrup

2 eggs

½ cup sun flower oil

100 gram cream cheese

Soak the plums in the cognac overnight.

Put the plums in the food processor and add the eggs, cream cheese, date syrup, sun flower oil. Mix it together into a smooth mixture.

Combine the flour, cacao powder, pure chocolate, salt, sugar and baking powder in a big bowl and add the wet mixture to it. Mix it into a smooth and thick batter. Grease a cake tin or make one out of aluminum foil.

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Pour the batter in your cake tin and bake for about 25 minutes. Try after 20 minutes with a wooden pick. There should be some wet crumbs on the wood when you take it out, only then you‘ll get a sticky cake. When you bake the cake to long,(when the wood comes out dry) it will be a bit dry, still nice but not what we were looking for.

Bread Idea

This is more of a bread idea than a recipe but since a lot of cooks are just searching for ideas, I decided to pass it on. To make these funny shaped breads you can use a basic bread recipe, either sour dough or simple yeast dough would do. I did not try it, but I see no reason why it would not work with buns as well.

These little breads don’t only look great but are also very nice to make into little toasts. When you cut them horizontal you will get perfectly round slices of bread which you can either toast or eat just like that.

But how did we get these funny looking breads? It’s quite simple actually, the only thing you need are metal rings. They sell special metal rings to make English Muffins but you can very easily make them yourself out of pineapple cans. I found out that tuna cans don’t work very well because they have only one side you can take off but pineapple cans on the other hand are perfect (could be entirely different in your part of the world of course).

You just take off both the bottom and top of the can with a can opener, clean it, grease it with oil and place it on a baking tray with baking paper. Divide your dough into small balls, a little smaller than the size of the can, and place every ball in a ring.

It’s time for the second rise so cover the rings and wait until the dough doubled in size (it really depends on your bread recipe how long this should be).

Preheat the oven and bake the breads in the ring until done. The breads will rise out of the ring and form in this special shape. They are very nice for a brunch or to serve next to a soup or salad.

Jerusalem Bagels

I had such a hard time finding a good recipe for Jerusalem bagels on the internet. I finally found one in my book of new Israeli food which is a good recipe, except for the tiny fact that the recipe does not contain salt…

In the times I forgot to add salt to my bread I was very disappointed, as the result it a bland and boring bread. The recipe I post here is the one found in the book plus salt, and I also use another method to shape the breads.  These bagels taste better when eaten right away, and are best fresh from the oven. The secret ingredient is powdered milk. I bought it especially for these bagels and it really makes a difference.

They are great to eat warm out of the hand with just some za’atar to dip.

The picture above was taken on September 2008 in Jerusalem, Jaffa gate, where these nice bagels were rested on the stones.

To make 3 big bagels

300 gram bread flour

10 gram fresh yeast

20 gram sugar

30 ml oil

1 heaping tablespoon powdered milk

180 ml lukewarm water

Sesame seeds

1 egg (to make eggwash)

Mix the first six ingredients into a smooth and slightly sticky dough.

Transfer it to a bowl, cover and let it rise until doubled in size

Flour your worktop, divide the dough into three equal parts and roll them into balls. Flatten the balls and press your thumb through the center to make a hole. Gradually expand the whole by rolling your fingers through the hole until you have a nice and thin bagel.

Put some baking paper on your baking tray and arrange the bagel in the oval shape on the paper. Remember that the bagel will double in size again so you should space them and also make sure the whole in the middle is big enough (as you can see in the picture, that’s where I went wrong a bit). Mix the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush the bagel with it, generously cover the bagel with the sesame seeds, the egg wash works as glue . (you can use much more sesame seeds than you see in this picture)

Cover and let the bagel rise again until doubled. Preheat the oven to 180C(350F). Bake the bagels for about 15 minutes or until golden with a bit of darker under sides.

Let them cool slightly before you attack. If you want them to be softer, let them cool down under a kitchen towel.

Chickpea burger in a half wheat pita

J

 

The pita:

125 gram white flour

125 gram whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

150 gram luke warm water

2.5 / 3 gram instant dried yeast

Dissolve the yeast in the water and let it come to work.

Mix the flours with the salt, make a well in the middle and put in the olive oil. Then bit by bit poor in the water and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. When it becomes to tough to handle with the spoon; switch to use your hands.

Knead until you have a soft and flexible, not sticky dough (about 10min) Form it into a ball and cover with a wet towel or cling film. Put it on a warm spot in the house and wait until it has doubled in size (45 min – 1 hour)

Preheat the oven to 230C and slide a baking plate in the middle.

Press the air out of the dough and form it into 4 balls. Flour your worktop with flour and leave them for 10 minutes.

With a rolling pin (or glass) flatten the pita’s (1/2 cm) and with a swing put them on the baking plate in the preheated oven. I was able to bake two at a time in mine. Try to open the oven door only short, you want to bake the pita very hot and if you leave the door open to long the heat will escape. Also try not to take out the baking plate because then you will also loose heat, just be careful when you put the pita in the oven.

Make sure you have a clean kitchen towel ready.

Bake them for roughly 10 minutes. They don’t have to be brown really; they can have a little color but don’t over bake them. When you take them out of the oven with a spatula, put them on the towel and cover it with another part of the towel. Pile them up like that. They will sink in again, by keeping them covered they will become soft and you will be able to stuff them.

The Chickpea Burgers

300 gram Chickpeas (soaked weight)

2 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander

½ chili pepper (this is really to taste, if you like spicy feel free to use more)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 minced garlic cloves

½ cup bread crumbs

1 egg

½ finely chopped onion

Because I came up with this only a couple of hours before dinner I had no time to soak and cook dried chickpeas. If you plan up front you can use dried chickpeas. Soak them overnight or for 8 hours and cook the 1-2 hours until soft. Otherwise use canned ones.

Let them leek out so you lose most of the water, blend them with the parsley, coriander, onion, garlic, egg, pepper, salt, chili pepper, cumin, lemon in a coarse paste. It can be a bit chunky still. You can also add some whole chickpeas before forming the burger.

Mix this paste with the bread crumbs. It depends on how wet the paste is how much bread crumbs you need. I used about ½ cup to make a thick firm paste. Leave the mixture to set for 10 minutes, then check if it is firm enough to make burgers. If it feels still a bit wet, add a little more bread crumbs. Form nice small burgers and bake them in oil brown at both sides.

 

Chocolate Breaking Bread

Breaking Bread

 

These buns are also a little healthier than the regular ones, using soy milk and whole wheat flour, no sugar (But I did use syrup so that one doesn’t count). (I adopted this recipe from desert candy and changed some parts of it).

Chocolate Breaking Bread

1 cup soya milk

1 ½ cup non bleached flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon dried yeast

1 beaten egg

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon kitchen syrup (Zeeuwse keuken stroop)

¼ teaspoon salt

100 gram chopped chocolate (about 76% cacao)

100 gram dried (and soaked) cranberries

Warm the milk until luke warm. Stir in the non bleached flour until you have a smooth batter, mix in the butter, egg, salt, syrup, salt, yeast. Add the whole wheat flour in batches and stir everything together. Mix in the cranberries and the chocolate.

The dough will be very stick still but that’s alright, we’re going to handle it lightly along the way. Generously flour a clean worktop and put the dough on top. Dust the dough with flour and start folding it over with your fingers. Just use the tips of your fingers to press the dough and fold it over for about 5 minutes. You’ll probably have to add some more flour to it, just add enough so it won’t stick to your worktop.

Grease a bowl and put the dough inside. Cover it with cling film and leave it to rise on a warm spot until doubled in size (about 1 to 1 ½ hour).

Preheat the oven to 400F or 200C.

When doubled in size put the dough again on a floured worktop and cut in 8 pieces of the same size.

Grease a cake pan with butter and. Form the pieces into balls and place them in the cake pan, cover again and let them rise for about half an hour.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown, let them cool down on a rack.

If you like to give them a sweater touch, lightly brush them with sugar water 5 minutes before you take them out of the oven.