Saturday, 27 March 2010

Salted Caramel Matzoh Crunch with Chocolate

Passover is almost here. It feels it. The weather is changing and unpredictable, the clocks have been reset for summer time and the air has a festive flair to it.

It is a time for Matzo and Matzo meal cakes, cookies, fritters and snacks. Surprisingly, few snacks are on offer during this period that are both made of matzo meal and taste good. Those wishing to enjoy a decent sweet snack tend to use other ingredients over matzo as base such as marzipan, nuts or chocolate.

I think I know why. I think its about nostalgia. Once a year, during Passover, unidentified cookies appear on supermarket shelves. They bear strange name and are manufactured by unknown companies. This happens every year. The coconut and peanut cookies taste as they did when I was growing up. They are the taste of Passover, along with the Gefilte fish, and it wouldnt be one without them.

However, be that as it may and with the utmost respect for nostalgia, I cannot put them in my mouth. They taste awful.

This is a recipe written by Marcy Goldman over 20 years ago which I found about a year ago and put a pin in it, until now. It was worth the wait.

This is an insanely indulgent confectionery without the faintest flavor of nostalgia despite the fact Matzo spread with chocolate is what the Passovers of my childhood tasted of.

It has everything one can wish for: salted butter caramel, chocolate and the option to creatively customize it to a sin of your liking. Oh, and its dead easy to make.

Happy holidays.

Caramelized Matzoh Crunch with Chocolate

Recipe adapted from here

4 to 6 sheets of matzoh

200 Salted butter, cut into chunks

1 cup (firmly-packed) light brown sugar

1 cup dark chocolate (70%cocoa), coarsely chopped

Topping of your choice,

(I used

Roasted pumpkin seeds

Cinnamon sugar )

Line a baking tray completely with foil making sure it goes up the sides. Preheat the oven to 175°C degrees.

Line the bottom of the sheet completely with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.

In a medium-sized heavy duty saucepan, combine the butter and sugar, and cook over medium heat until the butter begins to boil.

Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and pour over matzo, spreading with a heatproof utensil.

Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the syrup darkens and gets thick.

While it's baking, make sure it's not burning. If so, reduce the heat.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chunks. Let stand 5 minutes, and then spread smooth with an offset spatula.

Now comes the fun creative part.

You can sprinkle with a mixture of seeds and nuts, I sprinkled a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds, but sunflower seeds, sesame, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds will also work. You can add raisins or candied orange peel for a fruit & nut combo or.

Another option is to omit the dark chocolate altogether replace it with white chocolate and sprinkle with roasted coconut flakes, or simply have it with the salted caramel.

Let cool completely in the refrigerator, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Poached egg on rice. Again

Not again. Yes. Again.

I have managed to catch yet another cold this winter. I say winter; I mean whatever one can call summer in March…

Whatever it is, its calling for comfort food and a good opportunity to visit an old favorite, good old Poached egg on rice. Nothing beats this favorite.

Ever since I discovered the Japanese method for cooking rice that’s how I cook mine. the seasoning part I do my way. Cold pressed sunflower seed oil is magical, with a dominant flavor of sunflower seeds its not suitable for cooking, only seasoning. Mixed with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice, the rice is ready to receive the egg like bread awaits butter.

This is my chicken soup, porridge and comfort all in one.

Poached egg on rice

Serves 1

1 cup short grain rice

1½ water

1 fresh egg, at room temperature

2 Tbs Cold pressed sunflower seed oil

1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sea salt, to taste

White peppercorns, freshly ground, to taste


Put the rice in a heavy duty medium sized saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes without lifting the lid. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Transfer the rice to a large bowl. Add the oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper fluffing the rice using a spatula. Cover the bowl and prepare the poached egg.

For instructions on how to poach an egg check out this link.

place the poached egg on top of the rice and drizzle with tahini. You can also add caramelized onion, sautéed leek and fresh ginger, grated parmesan… the rice is your oyster.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Sabich on Sourdough Bread

Every once in a while a dream can come true. It sounds cheesy, I know. But I don’t mind it. One of my dreams came true. I dared to dream a pretty ridiculous dream and it was a matter of before the dreamy seed turned to a reality in full bloom. Just in time for spring.

Like the a good run of Tetris, for one moment everything fell into place.

This is my way of thanks.

I seem to have a soft spot for Sabich. This is truly odd since I have never once in my life stopped at a sabich stand and ordered one. It is also strange since the Sabich is mainly prominent in the centre of Israel, not exactly my childhood terroir.

And yet this is my second post on the wonders of the delightful combination of eggs, eggplants and tahini on bread. In fact, now that I’ve made it at home I have no interest on sampling the street version. I will keep this fantasy unfulfilled for a little while longer. When the time is right.

I made this for Saturday brunch the other day. the local version of eggs benedict I sliced 2 pieces of homemade sourdough bread and piled everything on top of them. It's what Saturdays should be.

Feel free to add or remove the toppings, keeping the key ingredients: carbs, eggs, eggplants and tahini.

Sabich on sourdough bread

(Serves 2)

1 medium sized eggplant

Crushed sea salt

Freshly ground white peppercorns

Ground Sumaq (available at any spice shop)

A few thyme sprigs

A dash of Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

4 medium size sourdough slices (or any dark bread)

Honey (Clearly the secret ingredient)

2 hard-boiled eggs

Chopped pickled lemon (optional)

A handful of chopped parsley

A handful of chopped mint


Sriracha (any other hot chili sauce will do)

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Crushed sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground white peppercorns, to taste

1/2 lemon

Begin by oven roasting the eggplant.

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Wash the eggplant and dice into small cubes. Place in a roasting tray and toss with the sumaq, thyme, salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil.

Roast in the oven for 20-35 minutes, until the pieces are a light brown color.

This can be made up to 3 days in advance, if kept covered and refrigerated.

To assemble the dish spread a thin layer of honey on the bread slices. Slice the eggs into 5mm thick pieces and place evenly on the bread.

Scatter the roasted eggplant and pickled lemon, and generously drizzle the tahini.

Sprinkle the chopped mint and parsley and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and chili sauce.

Squeeze the lemon on top and serve with a glass of Arak or Vodka.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Spicy Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

It’s a rainy Saturday. Finally. The setting is ideal: It’s the final days of February, and not a heat wave in sight. A monsoon is happening outside and I get to sit in my PJ’s at home, dry and warm. Just me, the blessed Internet and whatever I have at hand to cook. Some weekends are just about that.

Hmmm. What do I have to play with? The cupboards are pretty empty as I didnt go to the market this week. We're talking a few sweet potatoes. Thats it. Its all that I needed.

A while ago I found a treasure trove at my parents’ house. Among the vintage cookbook was also “The NY Times Bread & Soup Cookbook” by Yvonne Young Tarr that came out 34 years ago.

Its divided by types of cuisine, and each chapter lists short typical breads and soups recipes, including some risqué recipes such as Frog legs soup, a hot cucumber soup (that’s under the ‘diet’ section) and sheep’s head broth. They don’t make cookbooks like this anymore; few ingredients, several guidelines and an inherent simplicity that is true to the recipes' identity.

I decided to take a trip down the ‘American Plain & Fancy’ chapter and make a spoon bread. Spoon bread is not really bread, but more of a moist though solid savory pudding, apparently prevalent in parts of the Southern US.

Slicing a piece with a knife wouldn’t get you far, hence its name ‘spoon bread’.

The easiest recipe ever, any cookbook that takes me half way across the world in no time without leaving my house in search of random ingredients is on my good side.

Spicy sweet potato Spoon bread

Heavily adapted from

“The NY Times Bread & Soup Cookbook” by Yvonne Young Tarr

(Serves 4)

1 large sweet potato

2 Tbs butter (I used clarified butter)

2 Tbs cold press sunflower seed oil

1 Tbs sugar

¾ Tsp grated nutmeg

¾ Tsp crushed white peppercorns

½ Tsp mace

¼ Tsp cinnamon

2.5 Tbs whole-wheat flour (can be substituted for a gluten free recipe)

1/8 Tsp salt

1 egg


A handful of pumpkin seeds

A handful of flax seeds

Scrub the potatoes and boil until tender but not to soft, as whole chunks are always a pleasant surprise to stumble upon.

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Peel and mash with the butter and oil. Add the sugar, spices, flour and salt and mix thoroughly.

Beat the egg and stir into the mixture.

Pour into a buttered pan and sprinkle the seeds on top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in its pan on a wire rack.

Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

Update: this spoon bread is even better topped with a slice of anchovy.