Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cheese and Spinach Buns

Grandma Rachel was the personification of grandma-ness. She always made sure everyone was well fed, she always had sweet treats for us when we came to visit, and in later years she was very fond of telling me how wonderful and fun it is to be a young mother, ahem ahem (nehhhh, she wasn't hinting at anything... not at all... ).

These buns will always remind me of her. She always had a batch in her freezer ready to eat after a visit to the microwave. The original recipe didn't call for whole wheat flour or spinach, but I tweaked it up a bit, you're welcome.

Always play with your food !

This recipe is more of a "I have all this extra cheese in the fridge, I don't know what to do with it and it would be a shame to let it go to waste" kind of recipe, hence you can use pretty much any type of cheese you like, as long as you keep to a few general rules.
By white / cottage cheese, I mean a very soft cheese, with relatively neutral flavor and about 5% fat.
By semi-hard yellow cheese, I mean a semi-hard cheese with about 30% fat like Gouda or Cheddar (in Israel we also have Skandinavit, which goes well here).
Lastly, I used a rather salty feta, so there was no need for much added salt. If you're in doubt, just taste the dough before you let it rest.

Grandma Rachel's improved Cheese and Spinach Buns

makes about 35 buns

250g white cheese* or cottage cheese
200g  semi-hard yellow* cheese, grated
140g feta cheese, crumbled into small pieces
100g spinach, chopped into small squares
1 egg (L)
200g unsalted butter
200g all-purpose flour
150g whole wheat flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt*

*see explanation above

egg wash + garnish:
1 egg + about a tsp of water
sesame seeds
whole puppy seeds

Melt the butter and let it cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl mix all of the cheese together with the egg. Mix in the cooled butter.
In a different bowl mix both flours, baking powder and salt to a uniform mixture. Add this to the wet mixture and work everything to a fairly soft and sticky dough. Let it rest in the fridge for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment and make medium sized balls out of the dough. Make sure to leave a few centimeters worth of space between them, as they will spread out a bit. Beat an egg with about a teaspoon of water to make an egg wash and brush the little buns with it, garnishing with sesame and puppy seeds.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Keep in an airtight container or freeze them (they keep well for pretty much forever in the freezer and just 30 seconds in the microwave bring them right back to life).

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Flourless Almond Cookies and the Science of Deduction

Let's play a game.
Let's play murder.

?! I'm sorry, did I say murder? I meant to say cookies! Yes, cookies.
Imagine you have a list of ingredients for these absolutely brilliant cookies, but without specifications of quantities or method to make them. What would you do?

"Egg whites, sugar, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts." Their consistency is far from meringue, more like... macaroons! But more flaky than macaroons, much more flaky, and also quite soft. Put more ground nuts than the usual macaroon recipe and more sugar in the batter!

Batch 1 results: Batter too soft to handle with hands, cookies come out too dry with a consistency of a nutty meringue... not good. More nuts next time.
Batch 2 results: Still too dry, not good. Not good at all. What next? More almonds? more sugar?? Maybe there's something else that's not listed in the ingredients?? why aren't they soft?!

Narrow it down!
Whites, sugar, nuts...

Narrow - It - Down!
Whites, sugar, nuts... What am I missing?

Look at these cookies! Rough grain inside and easily visible on the surface... Covered with flaked almonds. Entirely.
Entirely covered with flaked almonds! bottom too! I hadn't observed that before. Who would go the lengths of covering it entirely with flaked almonds when the batter is so soft?! too soft to handle or roll in your hands? That would be a nightma... Oooh! That's because it isn't! It is not supposed to be soft at all.

Which suggests?
... I need to add more ground nuts, loads, loads more.


Off topic: or rather, sort of on topic - do yourselves a favor and go watch the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the BBC's Sherlock, this show is utterly brilliant!
And while you are at it, go do yourselves an even bigger favor and read the books!

These cookies have no flour in them, whatsoever. They are just perfect for Passover!

Flourless Almond Cookies

makes about 30 cookies

2 egg whites
200g granulated sugar
70g walnuts
70g hazelnuts
140g almond meal*
zest of 1/2 a lemon
about 1/2 a cup of flaked almonds

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer. As white foam starts to form, gradually add in 50g of sugar. Whisk until firm peaks form, that is the peaks are firm but the very tip folds back on itself when you turn the whisk upside down.

Grind the walnuts and hazelnuts in a food processor. Add the almond meal, lemon zest and remaining 150g of sugar and stir till the mixture is fairly uniform. Fold in the egg whites. The mixture will become a sticky dough at this point.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Make cookies using a teaspoon or a cookie scoop (mine says it holds 1 tablespoon, but I don't believe it) and roll each cookie in flaked almonds. Bake for about 13 minutes, until they just barely start to golden.

*Finely ground almonds - "almond flour"

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Zucchini, Potato and Marjoram Fritters with Sour Cream Dip

That's it ! I now officially have an M.Sc. in Physics! Awesome! This means I'll finally have more time to write posts ;)

But enough about me. The holiday of everything-that-is-fried is upon us and I am already fed up with Sufganiyot ( berliners / bomboloni / jelly filled doughnuts, match the name to wherever you are from ). I don't want to see another one of those for at least a year!

So instead of a laborious Sufganiyot recipe, I present to you my favorite fritters recipe! Or latkes, if you like to call them that... I don't, it sounds like something that is made out of plastic.

I find that the texture of these fritters is so much better when the potatoes are grated to a fine mash but the zucchini is grated to tiny sticks. You can grate everything into a mash if you really don't feel like working (but, come on, don't be lazy!!).

Happy Hanukkah / Christmas everyone !!

Zucchini and Potato fritters with Marjoram

25-30 tablespoon sized fritters

1 large zucchini (~170g)
2 medium potatoes (~450g), the waxy kind 
6 leafy stems of marjoram (each about 9 cm long)
3 garlic gloves
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp flour
oil for frying

for the dip:
200g sour cream
a little more than a 1/4 tsp of yellow curry
1/4 tsp ginger powder
a little chopped dill for garnish.

Peel the potatoes and grate them to a fine mash in a large bowl. Grate the zucchini to small sticks. Strip the marjoram leaves from the stem - hold the end of the stem in one hand and pull with the other down the stem so that you are going against the direction in which the leaves are growing. They come right off this way, add them into the bowl. Crush in the garlic, add the egg, flour and finally salt and pepper to taste. Stir till the batter is uniform.

Heat a large pan with a layer of about 1/2 cm oil on medium heat. Drop the batter into the hot oil by spoonfuls, frying until they are golden - light brown on either side. When you put the batter in, the oil should bubble gently. If it's bubbling violently it is too hot and you need to reduce the heat. Drain excess oil on paper towels.

Sour Cream Dip:
mix the ingredients for the dip together and garnish with some chopped dill.

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