Basque Red Berry Pie

I came across this recipe in an Israeli cookbook, about eight years ago. It was love at first sight. I happen to love fruit cakes of almost any kind, and the rustic, homey look of this cake was so attractive, that I immediately knew I had to make it. And I was not disappointed.

Fast forward a couple of years, I decided to bake it as a gluten free version, to sell at my gluten free bakery for Thanksgiving. Between the home baked look of the pie, the red berries (I added cranberries, too), and the fact that it was so fit for a Thanksgiving meal, this pie was a real hit among my customers. And you couldn’t even tell it was gluten free.

So, I thought it would be nice to share the original recipe with you all, so this year you can have this pie at your Christmas table.

Ingredients:
Dough:
3 ½ cups (500g) flour
1 ½  teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ cups (300g) sugar
2 ½ sticks (300g) cold butter
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

Filling:
¼ cup (60cc) water
½ cup (100g) sugar
21oz (600g) frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
Zest from one lemon
1 egg yolk + 1 teaspoon water

Preparation:
In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and cold butter and pulse. Add the eggs and pulse only until the dough starts forming.

Divide the dough into two pieces – one piece of about two thirds of the dough, and the other piece of one third. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and flatten it to a disc. Refrigerate for one hour.

In a sauté pan, combine ¼ cup water with ½ cup sugar. Melt the sugar and bring to a boil. Add the mixed berries and lemon zest and sauté for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, chill and strain. (Keep the liquid to use as syrup in some drinks.)

Remove the dough from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Grease a 10” pie pan.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the larger disc of dough to about 14” in diameter and place it in the pie pan. Do not trim the edges. Pour the filling on the dough and spread it evenly.

Roll out the smaller dough to a 12” circle and place on top of the berries. Pinch together the ends of the two doughs. Make a hole in the center of the pie to allow steam to come out.

Brush the top of the pie with egg wash made of 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the dough has browned.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of sour cream.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Unorthodox Homemade Preserves Making

My way of making jelly, or more accurately, preserves, does not entirely follow conventional jelly making, as you may find online or in books. I follow my grandmother and my mother’s methods. So far, it worked out for me. So what do I do?

Ingredients: with most fruit I only use two ingredients: fruit and sugar. No pectin, no citric acid and no other flavorings. Sometimes I add 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice if the fruit in question lacks tartness.
There are some preserves though, such as quince, rose petals, eggplant and other out of the ordinary jellies and chutneys, that require additional ingredients like water or spices. But for most fruits, adding only sugar does the work.

Quantities:  I do not use exact measurements. I cook by eye. Generally, my fruit to sugar ratio is about 3:1, sometimes 4:1, depends on the sweetness of the fruit. I love my preserves not too sweet and with a hint of tartness.

Cooking: I cut the fruit into 1 inch pieces, place in the pot, and cook on medium-low heat. I pour the sugar on top of the fruit without mixing it in. The fruit needs to cook slightly and start extracting some juice before sugar gets to the bottom of the pot. If you have sugar on the bottom while the bottom is still dry, you risk burning the sugar. Once there is enough liquid in the pot (about 1 inch), I stir in the sugar, cook uncovered and stir occasionally. To check for doneness, I spoon out a little bit of jelly, let it cool for one minute and see if it holds its shape. I actually don’t like my jelly on the thick side, but rather only mildly thick. This way, I can also use it to accompany desserts such as cake or ice cream.

Canning: another significant rule I do not follow is the sterilization of the jars before filling them with the preserves. I just never found it necessary. I pour the preserves into clean jars as soon as I turn off the heat, while the preserves are still very hot, and I close the jars with the lid immediately. The heat creates pressure in the jar and seals it. I’ve had sealed jars of preserves in my pantry for months, and they turned out perfectly fine when they were eventually opened. This method is not scientifically proven, but it works for me. You are welcome to try it and let me know how it turned out.

Here are pics of my Italian plum preserves. This is probably one of my all time favorite preserves, and since the season for these plums is so short, I buy a large amount as soon as I spot them, and use them to make these amazing preserves which I store in the pantry, as well as a plum crostata that never lasts more than two days in my house.

Apple Cake with Dates and Pomegranate

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, will take place in a couple of weeks, bringing with it the autumnal flavors of apples, pomegranate, and dates.  I wanted to try and come up with a cake that will encompass these flavors. I started with a base recipe for apple cake that I received from my sister and added to it chopped dates, pomegranate molasses and a floral decoration for a festive look.

Wow, am I happy with the outcome!!  The cake is moist, rich with flavor, but not overly sweet. The pomegranate molasses is a must! Don’t skip it! It adds fruity tartness that complements the sweetness of the apples and the dates.  And the cake is beautiful, if I may say so myself. Hope you give it a try…and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 red apples unpeeled
3 eggs
¾ cup (150g) sugar
1 cup (200cc) oil
2 cups (280g) flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 cups (2 large apples) peeled and cubed into ½ inch
1 cup chopped Medjool dates
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (found in Middle Eastern stores)

Preparation:
Place one cup sugar and one cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Cut the 2 red apples in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Slice each half into very thin slices using a mandolin, a food processor, or a knife. Place the apple slices in the syrup to soften them.

Preheat oven to 360F.

In a mixer, on medium speed, mix the oil with the sugar and eggs. Add the applesauce.

Reduce speed to low. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the apple cubes and the chopped dates and blend them in.

Pour the batter into a greased 9” pound cake pan.

Drizzle on top the pomegranate molasses and using a wooden skewer, swirl it into the batter.

Decorate the top of the cake with the sliced apples. Roll each slice into a flower cone, peel side up, and stick it in the batter. Repeat with the rest of the slices, making sure the slices are placed very close to one another. It’s ok if you have some leftover slices.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Apple Poppy Seed Cake

When I started Tali’s Artisanal, my gluten free bakery, my primary goal was to create gourmet gluten free desserts that are as delicious as any other dessert, gluten free or not. I wanted to introduce new interesting flavors that are not mainstream Americana. Flavors that would appeal to people who are looking for unique gourmet products, but also need them to be gluten free. ‘No compromise’ was the name of the game.

This delicious apple poppy cake was one of the recipes I created for my cake business. I was inspired by some Israeli recipes for apple and poppy seed cakes. I could vividly imagine the flavors of Central and Eastern Europe, when combining poppy seeds and tart apples with ingredients such as lemon zest and raisins. I knew I had to make this cake happen. And I did.

The cake has immediately become one of my favorites. Whenever I’m in the mood for some good old European dessert, this cake hits the spot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of my best sellers. I guess the American palette prefers other flavors. Some of my customers, though, would come especially for this wonderful cake.

poppy apple

So here is the recipe, not in its gluten free version, although if you want it to be GF, just switch the all purpose flour with some GF cake flour blend (make sure it has xanthan gum in it, or else add ½ tsp of xanthan to the recipe).

Hope you enjoy the cake as much as I do.

Ingredients:
¾ cup (70g) almond flour
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (75g) ground poppy seeds
½ teaspoon salt
1tbs lemon zest
1tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups (250g) sugar
½ cup (100g) vegetable oil
½ cup (120g) apple sauce
4 shredded granny smith apples
1/3 (50g) cup raisins

Preparation:
In a bowl, mix the flours, poppy seeds, spices and lemon zest, and set aside.

In a mixer, combine the oil, sugar, applesauce, and eggs and mix for 5 min.

While mixer is still on (on the lowest speed), add in the flour mix, and mix until all flour is incorporated. Add the shredded apples and give an extra stir.

Pour the batter into one 8” round baking pan or two 8”x4” loaf pans, and sprinkle with the raisins on top. Using a spoon or your finger, push the raisins a little into the batter so they don’t burn when baking in the oven.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 30 minutes for the loaf cakes and 45-50 minutes for the round cake.

The cake is ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

poppy closeup

Banana Lotti

Banana Lotti (Roti) is a famous Thai street food that actually originated in India. The original recipe consists of pieces of banana and condensed milk wrapped in a crepe-like dough, and fried on a griddle so the banana is kind of dissolved. When cooked, it is drizzled with condensed milk on top, and served hot.

I was looking for a recipe of this mouthwatering dessert to make at home, and came across the following gluten and dairy free version (it is also vegan). Since the preparation in this recipe seemed much easier than the original lotti, and the recipe actually sounded yummy, I’ve decided to give it a try.

It became an instant hit in our house. We will surely make it again, and I highly recommend it to all my friends who try to avoid gluten, dairy, and/or are vegans, and to all of you who like really good exotic desserts.

 Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas
8 rice papers for spring rolls
3 tbs coconut oil
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup chopped nuts
Maple syrup for drizzling

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 430F.

Oil an ovenproof baking dish with one tablespoon of the coconut oil.

Cut each banana in half.

Dip one rice paper in a bowl with water for a few seconds, then set on a work surface, and place half a banana in the middle.

Wrap the rice paper around the banana to create a pocket. Place in the greased baking dish.

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Repeat the process with the rest of the rice papers and bananas.

Brush the wrapped bananas with the rest of the coconut oil and bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until the rice paper is starting to crisp a little.

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Remove from the heat. Place each banana pocket on a serving dish and sprinkle with coconut flakes and chopped nuts (I used salted and roasted nuts). Drizzle some syrup on top and enjoy! I actually skipped the syrup on my banana. It was already sweet enough for me as is.

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I still want to try and make the original Lotti recipe. I’ll keep you posted…

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Kompot

One of the fun, refreshing drinks I love to make in summertime is cold Kompot – Eastern European fruit soup, made from fresh and dried fruit.

Kompot is a great way to save over-ripe fruit from ending in the garbage. Almost any old fruit you have at home will do for kompot, except for maybe bananas and watermelon (I’m sure I forgot some other fruit, but I’ll let you find out for yourself).

The recipe here is composed of some old fruit that I found in my fridge this morning. As you can see, none of these fruit is in great shape, and of course, nobody feel like eating them anymore.

Kompot over-ripe fruit

Ingredients:
3 peaches
2 small mangos, peeled
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup sugar
½ cup craisins
1 tablespoon orange zest or dried orange peel

Preparation:
Rinse and cut the fruit into ½ inch cubes.
Place in a medium saucepan and add water to just cover the fruit. Add the sugar, craisins, and orange peel, and bring to a boil.

Kompot cooking

Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Transfer the soup to a pitcher and refrigerate.

I love my kompot cold off the fridge, but it can also be eaten/drank warm or at room temperature.