Archive | September, 2014

Apple Pecan Baklava

19 Sep

I love baklava, especially made with pecans (I’m highly allergic to pistachios and not overly fond of walnuts, but you can use either of those or a mixture) and I also love apple strudel made with light, crispy phyllo dough.  I realized that combining the two couldn’t be bad and created this Apple Pecan Baklava.

If you don’t follow the tradition of not eating nuts for Rosh Hashana, this would make a lovely dessert for  the holiday — if you do, then just save this and make it for another occasion.  Enjoy!

                          Apple Pecan Baklava

apple baklava

  • 1      lb.  phyllo dough
  • 1/2  cup  butter or margarine — melted

                        Apple Layer

  • 2     lb.  Granny Smith apples — peeled, cored and diced
  • 2     Tbsp.  honey
  • 1      Tbsp.  cinnamon
  • 1     Tbsp.  flour

                        Nut Layer

  • 4   cups  pecan halves — approx. 3/4 lb.
  • 2   Tbsp.  sugar
  • 2   tsp.  cinnamon

                        Syrup

  • 2/3   cup  honey
  • 2/3   cup  sugar
  • 1 1/4   cups  water
  • lemon zest — from 1 lemon
  • orange zest — from 1 orange
  • 2  Tbsp.  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  Tbsp.  fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Apple layer:  Place the apples, honey and cinnamon into a non-stick skillet, stirring over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until any liquid has evaporated and the apples have softened.  Remove from the heat and add flour, stirring until it’s mixed in.  Cool.

Nut Layer: Place the pecans, sugar and cinnamon in the food processor.  Pulse until the pecans are coarsely ground.  If you start with ground pecans (3/4 lb.) just mix them with the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

Assemble: Melt the margarine/butter and use a pastry brush to coat a  3 qt. or 13x9x2″ baking dish.  Cut the phyllo sheets in half, then lay one sheet on the bottom of the baking dish.  Lightly brush with butter/margarine and repeat with another 5 layers of phyllo.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the nut mixture (about 1 cup) over the phyllo, and layer another 5 sheets of phyllo, continuing to brush each sheet with butter/margarine. Repeat the nut mixture and another 5 sheets of phyllo, then add all of the cooked apples, spreading them out in an even layer.  Top with another 5 sheets of phyllo, 1 cup of nuts, 5 sheets of phyllo, 1 cup of nuts and then top it off with the final 7 sheets of phyllo.

Use a serrated knife to carefully cut the baklava into pieces.  Traditionally, baklava is cut diagonally, so that the pieces form diamonds.  Make sure you cut right through to the bottom.

Place in a preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a dark golden brown.

Syrup:  As the baklava bakes, prepare the syrup.  Place all of the syrup ingredients into a pot over medium-high heat and stir. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Keep the syrup warm (on a very low element) until the baklava has finished baking. Remove the baklava from the oven and carefully pour the syrup through a strainer, over the baklava.  Once the liquid hits the baklava, it may start to boil and splatter, so be very careful.

Let the baklava cool for at least an hour before serving.  Can be made a day ahead.

 

 

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Honey Cake

18 Sep

Tipsy Honey Cake

Rosh Hashana means honey cake.  To start the new year off with a sweet bite, traditionally we serve and eat honey itself or items made with honey. In my family, we’ve always made a version of this boozy honey cake.  The finished cake doesn’t taste overly alcoholic, but it does add to the overall flavour of the cake.

What a list of ingredients! It’s long, but easy to put together and produces a moist and flavorful honey cake.  My favorite honey to use for baking is buckwheat. It has a stronger flavour that holds up to the other flavours in the recipe.  Having said that, over the last few years I’ve found it impossible to find buckwheat honey and have made it with several other types (most typically, clover honey) and it’s still delicious.

The cake recipes also calls for what we call ‘rye’ up here, but I’ve been told in the US is often known as “Canadian whiskey” or “rye whisky”.  You can use rye, whisky or rum.

honey cake 3

2 ¾ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup tea, brewed — strong and hot
1 cup honey
1/2 cup Canadian rye (whiskey)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup canola oil (or other light flavoured oil)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and ginger. I like to use a whisk to combine all of these ingredients.

In another bowl, combine the hot tea, honey, rye and orange juice.

Using either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream together the oil and white and brown sugars. Add the eggs, mixing them in one at a time. Add the vanilla and orange zest.

Add one third of the liquid and mix on low speed. Add one third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Repeat until all of the wet and dry ingredients have been incorporated.

Pour into a bundt pan that has been sprayed with vegetable oil and lightly floured. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. If the cake starts to brown too quickly, loosely tent a piece of aluminum foil over the cake for the rest of the baking time.  Let cool completely and then turn the pan over and carefully unmold the cake onto a serving plate. Typically, the bottom of a bundt becomes the top when you take it out of the pan, but I really like the way the ‘bottom’ of this cake comes out and always keep it on the top when plating.

Wrapped well, the cake can stay on the counter for a couple of days.  Freezes beautifully.

Honey Cake 2

 

Quick and Delicious (and easy!) Apple Strudel

9 Sep

Quick and Delicious Apple Strudel

I like a crisp, slightly tart apple for baking — a Pink Lady or Granny Smith would be my choice.  I love the addition of pecans for the flavour and the texture they add, but they are completely optional.  For Rosh Hashana, many people have the minhag (custom) of not eating nuts and the pecans can be left out and the strudel will still be delicious!

I use oil to keep the strudel parve, but if you want to replace it with melted butter, that would work beautifully.

Serves: 12

  •   2       lbs. Fuji apples — peeled, cored and grated (about 6 apples)
  •   1/3    cup raisins, seedless
  •  1/3    cup chopped pecans — *optional
  •  5       Tbsp. sugar, divided
  •  3       tsp. cinnamon, divided
  •   3       Tbsp. flour
  •   10     sheets of filo dough
  •   3       Tbsp. canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare the filling by shredding the apples into a mixing bowl.  If they are very juicy, squeeze out any excess liquid.  Add the raisins, pecans if using, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, flour and nutmeg and mix well.  Set aside.

Lay out one sheet of filo dough and lightly brush with oil.  Mix together 2 Tbsp. of sugar and 1 tsp. of cinnamon and lightly sprinkle the filo with some of this cinnamon/sugar mix.  Repeat with another 4 sheets of filo, oiling and sugaring all but the last sheet.

Arrange half of the apple filling in a row along the longer side of the filo – keeping it about 1″ from each edge.  Roll the strudel up, keeping the filling against the edge as tightly as possible.  Give the excess dough on each end of the roll a twist and tuck the dough under the roll. Place the strudel on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush it with oil.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar and use a sharp knife to cut diagonal slits every inch or so – just cut through the dough on the top of the roll, allowing steam to escape while it bakes.

Repeat with the rest of the filo and apple filling.

Bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes – until the strudel is golden brown.  Allow to cool, slice all the way through and serve.

apple strudel

 

Buttermilk Cheese Kugel

4 Sep

The High Holidays are fast approaching and it seems everybody I know is in menu-planning mode.  A good cheese kugel is great for lunch during Rosh Hashana or for breaking the fast on Yom Kippur.

I know a lot of recipes call for some sugar, but I prefer to leave it out of cheese kugels — leave it for the apple or other fruit versions.  I like my cheese kugel to have a little tang and will either add sour cream, or in this case, buttermilk to the recipe.  The topping is optional, and it is delicious without it, but perhaps just a little more delicious with it.

Serve with extra sour cream on the side or if you must have a little sweetness, some sliced strawberries in syrup.

buttermilk kugel 2

 

Buttermilk Cheese Kugel

375 grams egg noodles — wide

5 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup melted butter
375 grams dry curd cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt

Optional Topping
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
pinch salt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cook the noodles following the instructions on the package. Drain well and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, salt and cottage cheese. Pour this mixture onto the noodles and stir to thoroughly mix.

Lightly butter a 2 quart (liter)  casserole and pour the noodle mixture into the pan.

If you choose to add the optional topping, mix all of the topping ingredients together in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture on top of the noodles.

Bake the kugel in a preheated 375º oven for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the kugel has set.