Flourless Truffle Cake for Passover

When I had my gluten free bakery, this cake was the star around Thanksgiving and Passover. Even customers who did not need to eat gluten free would come especially for this truffle cake. And no wonder they did. This cake is addictive! It is a dense, creamy block of chocolate with chocolate ganache on top. So rich and decadent, silky and smooth, and so chocolatey; it’s almost a sin…though you can’t eat more than a small sliver at a time.

Anyway, for several years this dessert has been the main event around our Passover table, and I thought it would be a good idea to post the recipe as we are getting ready to celebrate Passover in a few days. And now, with COVID-19 forcing us to celebrate each in our own home away from people we love, this recipe can sweeten the deal a little.

I know that for those of you who keep kosher, this cake it not an option, as it is dairy. You can still make it during Passover, though, and enjoy it in between meals…

And you may also want to look up my amazing Coconut Orange Cake recipe which is both dairy free and kosher for Passover (for rice eaters).

Ingredients:
Cake:
225g butter
450g semi-sweet chocolate
4 eggs
2 egg yolks

Cream:
180g heavy cream
30g (1 1/2 tbs) butter
2 tbs granulated sugar
225g (8oz) semi-sweet chocolate

Preparation:
Coat the inside of a 8” baking pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper and coat it with butter. Make sure the pan is well greased.

Heat oven to 325F (not convection).

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a large glass or plastic bowl. Add the butter and melt in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Stir until smooth.

Heat 1 inch of water in a medium size pot over medium heat.

Place the whole eggs and yolks in a bowl that can sit on top of the pot. Place the pot on top of the pot and whisk the eggs until they reach a temperature of 110F.

Transfer the eggs to a mixer and whisk on high speed until eggs become light and pale, about 5 minutes.

Fold 1/3 of the egg foam into the melted chocolate. Add the rest of the foam and fold gently but thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking pan and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, until cake reaches 170F (you will have to use a thermometer inserted in the middle of the cake).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan, on a cooling rack, for 20 minutes. Invert the cake onto a cake circle, and refrigerate.

In a saucepan, melt the heavy cream, butter and sugar. Mix occasionally and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate to the pot and stir until smooth.

Cover the cake with the ganache and keep refrigerated.

The cake can be made well in advance and once is cold can also be kept frozen for a while. Just make sure it is wrapped well.

Orange Coconut Cake

If you don’t abstain from grains during Passover, you do not really have any challenge with food. You can eat almost everything, except for bread, baked goods, and pasta. And actually, today, you can even find pasta that is kosher for Passover.

All this introduction is actually to explain why I chose to post two cake recipes (one will be posted next week) as my Passover posts, instead of a main dish. It is much harder to find gourmet desserts that are kosher for Passover than first or main courses. So now your problem is solved.

In this post, you’ll have the pleasure of being introduced to one of my gluten free creations. What’s so pleasurable about gluten free, you may ask. Well, if I didn’t tell you it’s gluten free, you would never know. This Orange Coconut cake is delicious and of the best quality by any standard (listen to me, the proud mommy…). The cake was created for my gluten free bakery and was (and still is) one of my favorites.

It happens to be perfect for Passover as it is gluten free, and it is also dairy free, so you can serve it at the Seder’s table.

For those of you who are not Jewish, please disregard the whole Passover thing and get straight to the bottom line – try this delicious cake. You won’t be sorry. Plus, the citrusy flavors combined with coconut are very suitable for spring and Easter.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Glazed oranges:
1 cups water
½ cup sugar
2 naval oranges unpeeled

Cake:
4 eggs
1 ½ cups (300g) sugar
½ cup (120g) vegetable oil
1 large naval orange (250g)
100g sorghum flour
100g almond flour
100g unsweetened shredded coconut
50g corn starch
1 tbs baking powder
3/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt

Preparation:
In a saucepan combine the water and ½ cup sugar and cook while stirring over medium heat, until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up and bring the water to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, to create thick syrup. Reduce heat to low.

Slice 2 oranges into very thin slices crosswise, and add them to the saucepan, to cook in the syrup for about 15 minutes. When slices are soft, shiny, and nicely glazed with the syrup, remove them, using a slotted spoon, and place them gently on a tray.

Cut the third orange in half, discard of the seeds, and mash in a food processor (including the peel) to get a smooth puree.

Preheat an oven to 350F. Spray a baking pan with oil, then sprinkle sugar to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Tap the pan to evenly spread the sugar and shake out leftover sugar.

In a mixer, beat the eggs with oil and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the pureed orange, and eventually the flours.

In the baking pan arrange the orange slices overlapping each other.

Pour the batter on top and bake for about 40-45 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. Cake is ready when the toothpick comes out clean, with just a few tiny crumbs on it.

My Grandmother’s Cheek Meat Stew

Sephardic (Middle Eastern) Jews celebrate Rosh HaShanah a little differently than Ashkenazi (European) Jews. We have a whole Seder (ceremony) with different foods that correspond to wishes and blessings for the new year. One of the wishes is recited over the head of fish or meat (basically the cheek meat), to wish that we will be the head and not the tail, in shedding light, goodness, and wisdom upon the world.

Every year on the eve of the Jewish new year, my grandmother would cook her special stew, made from the cheek meat of a cow. It was delicious and special, and we only had it once a year, on Rosh HaShanah, so it gave us something to look forward to.

This year, I am very fortunate to have my parents here with us for the Holidays, and I asked my mother to recreate her mother’s cheek meat stew so we could have it at our Holiday table.

And since there was no written recipe or any approximate quantities to rely on, she kind of winged it. Luckily, it turned out very similar to the flavor we remembered, so we are both very happy. And we even wrote down what my mother did, so now we have a recipe. And I’m sharing it with you all. Enjoy!

By the way, I found prepackaged cheek meat at Walmart. It’s by ‘Rumba’, a brand that sells different cuts of meats that you wouldn’t find on the regular meat shelves. If you can’t find the meat in a store near you, you may be able to order it online.

Also, don’t get alarmed by the large amounts of meat. Part of the meat is fat and part of it is connective tissue. Over whole, the recipe feeds about 8-10 people. Of course, you can always buy only half the amount of meat and adjust the recipe accordingly.

Ingredients:
7 lb cheek meat
1 large onion, sliced
6 dried bay leaves
1 tbs whole allspice seeds
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Salt

Preparation:
Cut the meat into large pieces (about 4 inch), and place in a medium size pot.

Add the onion and the spices and cook on medium-low heat, until the stew starts to boil, then lower the heat to low and cook covered for 2 and a half hours.

Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

The meat should be very tender, and it falls apart, so be careful when you remove it from the pot.

We like to cook the stew in advance. Once it gets to room temperature, we chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours, so we can easily remove most of the fat floating on top. Then, we either freeze it, or heat it up and serve immediately.

Swiss Chard and Chickpea Rice Pilaf

One of the cuisines that I most love and that is not well known in the Western hemisphere is the Kurdish cuisine. I’m partially of Kurdish decent. Both my paternal grandpa and my maternal grandma were Kurdish. I loved spending time with my beloved grandma who, among many things, introduced me to Kurdish dishes and taught me how to prepare them.

Kurdish food is poor peoples’ food. It includes simple and cheap ingredients, but thanks to different cooking techniques, Kurdish people created a somewhat complex and varied cuisine.

Some classic Kurdish dishes call for sour, garlicky flavors, and include rice and green leaves that were probably picked in the mountains of Kurdistan. The dish below is not a classic Kurdish dish (although it could very well be). It is a dish I came up with for my vegetarian cooking class, using Kurdish flavors and ingredients. What I most like about this dish is that it is super easy to make, but the result is very rich and complex in flavor without having to use special techniques.

Ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch (4 packed cups) Swiss chard chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups (15oz can) cooked chickpeas without the liquid
1 cup rice
3 cups water
1 tbs. chicken soup flavor powder
1/4 tsp citric acid or lemon juice from ½ lemon
Salt, pepper

Preparation:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onion and sauté until onion is golden brown. Add the Swiss chard and garlic, and sauté for two minutes.

Add the chickpeas and the rice and stir well.

Add the water, the chicken soup powder, salt, pepper, and citric acid. Give the mixture another stir and bring to a boil.

Cover and let cook for 20-25 minutes, on low heat, until the water is completely absorbed in the rice.

pilaf

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

Chicken and Potatoes In the Oven

We usually associate a festive meal with a lot of work and money. We want to impress our family and friends, and come up with something special that is not part of our usual menu. We spend a lot of time looking for just the right recipe that would impress, be delicious, and is different from what we’re used to. But who says the dish has to be complicated and expensive? Sometimes the answer is to turn ordinary ingredients into a beautiful dish without much effort. The following recipe does just that. All it calls for are chicken, potatoes, and sweet potatoes – not very exotic, right? But look how impressive and yummy it looks when you serve it. I can assure you no one at the table will complain (except for vegetarians).

The recipe below is good for one chicken, but as you can see from the pictures, I doubled it to accommodate the large company we had over.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
5 medium potatoes
3 medium sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs chicken flavor soup powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp papper
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt (for the potatoes)
1 oven bag (found in every supermarket)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400F.

Rinse the chicken and discard of the giblets (sometimes it all comes in one bag, easy to dispose).

sauce
covered chicken

In a large bowl mix all the spices (use only 1 tsp salt). Add the chicken and rub it with the spice mix inside and out, making sure you cover the whole chicken with spices. Place the chicken in the bag.

potatoes

Peel the potatoes and sweet potatoes and cut them into 1” thick slices. Place them in the un-rinsed large bowl, add the onion, olive oil and 1 tsp salt, and mix well. The potatoes will be covered with some of the spice mix that was left in the bowl from the chicken. Add the potatoes to the bag, and arrange nicely around and under the chicken.

ready to bake

Seal the bag using the string provided with the bag. Using a knife, pierce two holes on the top of the bag, to let the steam out. Place the bag on a baking pan and bake in the preheated oven for about one and a half hours. Remove the pan from the oven. Using a knife, cut the top of the bag open, then return the pan to the oven to brown for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and place on a nice serving dish with a rim (to collect the sauce). discard of the bag and place the whole chicken on top of the potatoes

This dish goes well with a salad composed of green leaves and lettuce, and dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Bon Appetit!

baked