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Posts Tagged ‘almonds’

HomeMadePhyllo_First

Growing up, one of our family favourites was Rétes (Hungarian Strudel) and my dear Mom made Hungarian delicacies like Káposztás Rétes (Savoury Cabbage Strudel) and Túrós Rétes (sweet Cottage Cheese Strudel) and even sometimes but not often, Almás Rétes (Apple Strudel). Mom’s favourite was Káposztás Rétes (Cabbage Strudel) and although as kids we couldn’t stand it, I often find myself craving the savoury flavours of this treat.

My dear Mom always told stories as she was cooking or baking, stories about food, of course! The one story that has resonated with me all these years is that Grandma (Nagymama) made her own Rétes dough! The story goes that Nagymama laid a clean, white sheet on the dining room table, dusted it with flour and stretched and stretched and stretched her homemade dough until you could read newsprint through it. I always imagined an enormous dough (like this) on the table! Mom never made strudel dough that I recall, by the time she was a homemaker, ready made, frozen dough was already available and so much easier than making it yourself. I have used ready made Phyllo more times than I can count on all my fingers and toes, but I’d never made it myself. So you can well imagine why homemade phyllo dough is on my bucket list.

Recently, we invited dear friends to the cottage and I thought homemade Baklava would be a lovely dessert over the weekend and a great excuse to make homemade phyllo dough. I chose Baklava because if the Phyllo didn’t work out as well, the syrup would ‘hide’ its flaws, unlike Rétes. The recipe I followed is here (why reinvent the wheel?) but I can tell you right now that using the pasta maker is not nearly as satisfying as rolling by hand. A marble rolling pin (or something really heavy) would be helpful…I had a rolling pin made by one of my dear Mom’s friends many years ago and I paid the price by bruising my palms and fingers!

Bucket List

Homemade Phyllo Dough

This recipe makes 25 sheets approx. 25 cm x  41 cm (10″ x 16″)

I allowed the dough to rest overnight.

The recipe instructions indicate to take the dough to #9 on the pasta maker (mine is a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with attachments) but I recommend to take it to #8 and do the rest by hand. I also tried rolling it entirely by hand (see photos below – only took about 12 minutes each) and it wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated but it did bruise my hands badly). Between each number of stretching the dough by pasta machine, keep rubbing a little flour to both sides of the flattened dough, this is how the correct texture is achieved. Believe me, you will know when you feel it.

I also found that rolling the dough through each pass on the pasta maker a couple of times instead of just once results in a finer dough.

Baklava

Yields:

  • 17 (4-sheet) baklavas
  • 11 (2-sheet) baklavas
  • 4 left over sheets (freeze for later).

Ingredients:

  • 21 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 120 g hazelnuts
  • 200 g almonds
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Roast both nuts on 163° C (325° F) for 18 minutes or until most of the skins have separated from the hazelnuts (almonds may or may not separate).
  2. Using a clean tea towel, rub the hot nuts until most of the skins come off. Separate skins from nuts.
  3. Chop both hazelnuts and almonds roughly and combine with sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.

Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Combine  first three ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir well, set aside.

Baklava assembly:

  1. Preheat the oven to 163° C (325° F).
  2. Divide the dough into 40 g dough portions.
  3. Lightly flour a large, clean surface and roll out to approximately 25 cm x 41 cm or 10″ x 16″ sheets. Continue to roll all of the dough like this until you have rolled it all out. Cover with a lightly damp cloth and a jelly roll pan to protect it from drying out.
  4. Take one sheet of phyllo and lay it length-wise in front of you. Brush generously with the melted butter. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the nut mixture per sheet. Continue for 2-3 sheets.
  5. Taking the long end, begin to roll the phyllo tightly. Brush the finished roll with melted butter.
  6. Cut into 5 cm or 2.5″ lengths (or smaller equal lengths). Place cut side up into a lightly buttered pan, it doesn’t matter if they touch. Continue until all the dough and nut mixture is exhausted.
  7. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool completely and then pour the syrup over The rolls and allow to rest for a few hours.
Phyllo40g

I found that 40 g made the perfect sheet size.

Phyllo_1

A relatively damp and somewhat elastic dough (not nearly as elastic as pizza dough)

Phyllo_2

You can roll to 9 in your pasta maker, but honestly I did not find rolling by hand difficult.

Phyllo_3

OK. By saying “I did not find the rolling difficult”, what I meant was “not difficult as I was rolling” but the next day, my palms were bruised from the shear pressure I had to put onto the rolling pin. You may wish to roll with a marble rolling pin.

Phyllo_4

For some reason, my Nagymama (grandma) always said the dough has to be thin enough to read a newspaper through it, I figured a nut panel would suffice!

Phyllo_5

This is one of the rolls of Baklava.

Phyllo_6

Cut rolls into 16-17 equal lengths and place into a greased pan. It’s OK if they touch because the dough has been greased sufficiently so they won’t stick.

Baklava_Beauty

The finished product, with a little extra honey drizzled on. PS, that silver tray comes from my Dad’s side of the family, it’s probably over 100 years old!

 

Notes:

This is quite a damp dough and it’s a bit sticky but don’t worry, you’ll be stretching and rolling additional flour into it to give it the correct wet/dry ratio.

The dough only becomes difficult to work with (breaking, cracking) when it dries out; make sure you have a lightly damp tea towel to cover any rolls or sheets. I also used a 10″ x 16″ jelly roll pan to cover it.

In hindsight, I should have used only 2 or 3 (not 4) sheets per roll. Next time I think I’ll sprinkle the nut mixture on each sheet and not just the end — I have adjusted the recipe above.

I was 100% sure I would not be making this recipe again because it’s so inexpensive to buy ready made, but in reviewing the ingredient list I may have to resort to making it myself as there is one or two ingredients that gross me out.

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We survived another Doran weekend; these weekend are full of gluttony, laughter and somewhat excesses but most of all, they are full of friendship, love and stories. And laughter, A lot of laughter. We decided to spend this weekend at the cottage because our dear friends hadn’t been up for quite some time, plus we wanted to share our new found excitment in the renovations with them! September weekend weather can be hit and miss and we had both this time around. Sunny or not, it was damn chilly and we had the heat on more than the windows open. Fall is definitely the the air. And as luck would have it, I forgot my shoes at home, so the majority of the weekend was spent in flip flops and borrowed socks, thank you T!

I always like to serve a little nibbly with cocktails; drinking on an empty stomach can be dangerous so when I came across these flavourful little nibbles, I was all over them. A touch of heat, a touch of sweetness and a lot of texture, these will surprise you with how easy they are to eat!

Spiced Nuts_0930

They are not sticky at all.

Honey-Spiced Almonds

Makes 3 cups (recipe adapted from Epicurious)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups whole almonds, skin on
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp black and white sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 300° F (XXX° C). Line a baking sheet with a silpat® sheet or parchment.
  2. Sift the spices and salt together and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the almonds and roast for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the honey and stir well. Sprinkle the spices over the sticky almonds. Add the sesame seeds and stir well to combine.
  5. Turn out the almonds onto the prepared cookie sheet and flatten to one layer of almonds. Bake for approximately 15 minutes (watch so it doesn’t burn), turning at least once in the process.
  6. Cool completely and serve.
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The sesame are a nice little touch.

Spiced Nuts_0933

The almonds crisp up very nicely.

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My lovely friend Zsuzsa blogged about this cottage cheese dough and I knew I had to try it. It truly makes a wonderfully flaky pastry and I encourage you to try it. I made these with almonds as a friend’s daughter is allergic to walnuts and it was incredible. I have another tub of cottage cheese in the fridge waiting to be made into another batch. By the way, I used fat free cottage cheese and it worked out remarkably. I also made half of the dough.

Rugelach

Please see Zsusza’s recipe here.

Better than Croissant dough, because it's not that bad for you

Better than Croissant dough, because it’s not that bad for you

Makes 24 small Rugelach

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup small-curd cottage cheese (I used fat free)
  • 1 cup unsifted flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Directions:

  1. Spoon the cottage cheese into a sieve over a bowl lined with a unbleached coffee filter; drain for at least 2 hours, or overnight
  2. Remove 1/2 cup of the cheese for the dough; reserve the rest for another use.
  3. Pulse the flour and salt just to combine in a food processor (this is why you need not sift it). Add the butter to the flour pulsing on and off until the butter seems to disappear into the mixture.
  4. Add the cottage cheese in bits to the mixture pulsing to combine until it becomes a relatively loose dough ball.
  5. Divide the dough into four equal portions and shape each into a flat disc and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Rugelach Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of cottage cheese dough
  • 1/4 cup strained apricot jam
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 egg yolk for glazing

Rugelach Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F
  2. Once the dough is refrigerated and cooled, lightly flour your rolling area. Roll each portion into a circle about 25 cm or 8 inches in diameter. Cut into 6ths like a pie.
  3. Combine the chopped almonds with 2 tbsp sugar.
  4. Brush the dough with 1/4 of the apricot jam, sprinkle 1/4 of the almond sugar mixture on top. Starting with the wide end, roll each 6th into a little crescent, pinch the ends a bit and turn into each other. Brush with the whisked egg yolk.
  5. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper (you will thank me because the jam will melt out and make a darn mess on your baking sheet). Bake 20-25 minutes until golded. store in an air tight container. These freeze particularly well. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

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I got off to a slow start this year due mainly to the fact that my cold just didn’t want to give up, even though I was doing everything right, like my Chicken Soup, Kelly’s delicious alcohol free Hot Toddy and lots of ginger tea with honey. And I still have a slightly lower octave voice but I’m feeling a lot better!

My Hungarian blogging buddy Zsuzsa suggested I post a list of my baking again this year, so here you go, my friend! I will also snap a few photos and post recipes in the days to come. Previously posted recipes are linked back, unless the photos were gross, in which case, I redid them and posted them again with a little twist!

Here is this 2012’s round up:

Now I bet you’re wondering where on earth did I get this gorgeous cookie mold; my dear friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytails was lovely to give it to me as a gift last June (shame on me for taking six months to make these gorgeous cookies with them). I know some of the bloggers (Betsy’s recipe, Sawsan’s recipe to name a couple) I follow have posted some very tantalizing recipes for ma’amouls, but I lacked their ingredients so I needed to find a recipe for which I had everything in my pantry. Plus these shortbread cookies have a lot, and I mean a lot of fat in them, so I searched and searched for a slightly lighter version. I made Bethany’s recipe with minor alterations and I also halved the quantity not knowing if we would love them. The dough is melt in your mouth shortbread dough, but it’s also a bit crumbly. The filling is lovely with the right amount of spice; before you jump to conclusions about the powdered sugar, I read somewhere that the date filled cookie is never sprinkled with powdered sugar . I will make these again, and I you’ll see how I’ve changed them up.

Ma’amouls

Please click here for original recipe, Bethany gives some great instructions.

IMG_3635_BLOG

Apparently the traditional ma’amoules are not dusted with powdered sugar.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 425 g semolina
  • 100 g potato starch
  • 225 g of butter, melted
  • 125 mL orange blossom water (I substituted water with a few drops of orange essence)
  • 100 g of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 1 ma’amoul mold

Date Filling Ingredients:

  • 125 g dates, pitted
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 25 g of almond flour
IMG_3634_BLOG

I was lucky that mine did not crack. Picture perfect.

Directions:

  1. Combine the semolina, farina, cardamom, sugar and butter together.
  2. Slowly add the orange water a tablespoon at a time, kneading it into a soft sticky dough (it shouldn’t stick to your fingers). Cover the dough and let it sit 2 hours.
  3. Prepare the filling while the dough rests. Add all the ingredients to a food processor container and process until smooth
  4. After it has rested, knead dough one more time and then divide into two or three even balls. Roll out each ball into a rope with a thickness of 2.5 to 3 cm. Cut to about 2.5-3 cm and roll into a ball.
  5. Flatten the dough using the palm of your hand on the counter and spoon a small size ball of filling into the centre. Lift up all sides and form into a nice round ball. It was suggested to roll this in some additional semolina before you press it into the mold, but it was greasy enough and the mold released it quite quickly.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven 200° C / 400° F until the sides are slightly brown in color. It will vary depending on oven — I baked mine for 20 minutes. Cool and serve.

No one will kick you out of bed for leaving crumbs!

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We’re still on vacation, and on our last night in Lyon we tool a wonderful cooking class; our chef-host had a beautiful fig tree in the back yard, and we ate fresh figs right from the tree! Although I prepared this post well before we left, I thought it appropriate to post before I return. I do hope you’re all doing well, know that You know that I miss reading about what you’re cooking and that I’ll be back next week with lots of stories!!

One of our dear friends brought us a package of fresh, beautiful figs as a hostess gift (I love my friends!). Coincidentally I had taken out a portion of goats cheese from the deep freeze, so this salad was literally staring me in the face. A quick weeknight meal. There are no directions or quantities, do what your heart dictates, you can even throw in some crispy prosciutto or don’t make it crispy. It’s simple and wonderful. I sautéed the onions until they were soft and then I poured in about 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and cooked it down until it was the consistency of syrup. You can use this to dress the salad…it doesn’t need much.

My salad has fresh figs, quartered, toasted sliced almonds, goats cheese, caramelized onion, balsamic dressing, arugula (rocket) and spinach.

It’s kinda like the kitchen sink salad

Fresh Figs, Goats Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Walnuts on Arugula and Spinach

I’m posting this from our little apartment in Paris in the Le Marais … Correction: Montmatre district. Here is a little peak. Cheers!

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The three desserts were a hit!

From left to right: Coconut Lemon Cake, Fig Tart and Sellou

The fig tart and the orange cardamom cream was the perfect combo of spicy and sweet. The pastry was flaky and rich. The coconut lemon cake, was moist, a little crunchy, and very lemony. The icing was glaze-like, just thick enough to hold the toasted coconut.
The Sellou were shaped in small muffin cups, Resembled marzipan with a little crunch and unexpected perfume of lemon zest and cardamom. I had wanted a little pyramid, but I didn’t have time to get to the market to my favourite kitchen shop to treat myself to a new tool. I dusted the tops eith icing sugar like freshly fallen snow. We served the trio with espresso. JT wants me to make all three again. That makes me very happy!

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