Cooking Around The World

Guest Blog Post: Bracha Arnold

Hi! I’m Bracha, a friend of Alison’s from way back. We met in seminary in Israel, and while everyone knew that Alison loved to cook, I had no idea that I loved the culinary arts as well. A few years later, I now work for a kosher travel company called Kosher Culinary Adventures. Aside from bringing guests all over Europe (we have trips in Tuscany, Provence, North Italy and Andalusia so far!) we also prepare three meals daily for them, making sure they get to experience the local cuisine, while being strictly kosher.
~a magical village in Provence, South of France~

This recipe is one of my favorite show-stopper desserts, with its nutty, pistachio-flavored crust, smooth chocolate ganache and fruit topping. Aside from being gorgeous, (relatively) simple and delicious, it is also parve. It can be made dairy if you want by swapping the coconut oil and cream for butter and regular cream, but is fantastic as a parve dish. I top it with sliced strawberries, but if they’re not in season or you prefer other fruit, try raspberries or pomegranate seeds for a festive Rosh Hashana and sukkot flair.
For this dessert, I had my local nut merchant at the shuk (market) in Jerusalem grind up some pistachios into a fine powder. You can often purchase ground pistachios at your local grocery store; if it is too hard to find, simply pulverize them yourself in a food processor or coffee grinder. If you have it handy, a dash of toasted almond oil adds a wonderful extra flavor to the crust.

 
Strawberry, Chocolate and Pistachio Pie
Crust:
1 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
1/4 C. Pistachio Powder, finely ground
Pinch of Kosher Salt
1/4 C. plus 1 TBS. Powdered Sugar
1/2 C. Coconut Oil, or Canola Oil, or Butter
1 Large Egg Yolk
3/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Nonstick Vegetable Oil Spray
Filling:
6 Oz. Bittersweet Chocolate (do not exceed 70% cacao), chopped
3/4 C. Coconut Cream or Heavy Cream
⅓ C. White Sugar
1 small basket Strawberries, Raspberries, Pomegranate, or fruit of your choosing
Pistachio Powder
Whisk flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl. Pulse powdered sugar and butter in a food processor until smooth. Add yolk and vanilla; pulse to mix well. Add dry ingredients and pulse just to blend. Gather dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
Spray a standard (8-9”) pie or tart pan with nonstick spray. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/8′ thickness. Peel off top sheet of paper. Transfer dough into pie pan, pressing gently onto bottom and up sides of the pan. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°. Bake pie until slightly puffed and firm to touch, 12–15 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate; stir until melted and smooth. Let ganache cool to room temperature. Cover and chill until set, about 20 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 12 hours ahead. Keep chilled.
To assemble pie: Pour chocolate ganache into baked pie shell. Let chill until the chocolate has hardened slightly. Garnish with strawberries (or fruit of your choosing) in a circular pattern (see pictures) and sprinkle pistachio powder in the middle. Serve immediately. (If you choose not to serve the pie right away, wait to garnish it–it will look much better if the garnish is fresh.)
For more recipes, blog posts, or to find out more about our company, check out www.avicamgitlin.com

Give PeaSoup a Chance

The weather is so sporadic at this time of year.  Some nights are freezing while others are sweltering hot! The transition from Summer to Fall can alter your decisions when it comes to reaching for a hot tea or an iced tea.  
This month is full of Jewish holidays!  Jewish holidays means lots of family time and TONS of cooking!  I like to have my soups pre-made a week or two in advance and store them in the freezer or fridge until they are ready to be used.  The best soups for me are the versatile ones that can be served hot or cold.  When the day actually comes to serve the soup I want it to fit the weather so it cools them down if they are hot or warms them up if they are shivering cold. 
I was planning on serving this spring pea soup cold for a recent cooking demo I gave, but the weather outside that night ended up being pretty cool.  For the comfort of my class participants, I served the soup hot and focused on the flexibility of the soups temperature. 
The spring pea soup is sweet and refreshing.  The Jack’s Gourmet “facon” and oven roasted tomatoes added a really nice savory and umami component to the soup.  If  you can’t find the facon (beef bacon), or even if you can, I recommend adding seared hot dogs or sausages cut at a bias.  The hot dogs, sausages and facon makes this soup kid friendly trendy and elegant.   
Spring Pea Soup with Crumbled Facon
Makes 8 Servings

8 Slices of Facon (Jack’s Gourmet)
1 TBS. Olive Oil
2 Celery Ribs, thinly sliced
1 Onion, thinly sliced
1 Leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
5 C. Chicken or Vegetable Stock
2 Rosemary Sprigs, Fresh
3 – 10 oz Boxes Frozen Baby Peas
¼ C. Flat Leaf Parsley Leaves
16 Baby Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
Opt: 2 Hot Dogs or Sausages, seared for garnish
Preheat oven to 400. In a medium soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate and pour off the fat in the pot.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil.  Add the celery, onion, leek and cook over moderately low
heat,. stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.

Add the stock and 4 slices of cooked bacon, 1 rosemary sprig and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. discard the bacon and rosemary.  Add to the soup the frozen peas desired consistency and cook for another minute.  Using an immersion blender, puree soup till smooth.


Slice the baby tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to darken.  Ladle the pea soup into bowl and garnish with tomatoes.  Crumble the remaining 4 slices of bacon into each bowl and serve.

Other Soups that can be served cold or hot:
Butternut Squash Soup
Tomato Basil Soup
Carrot Soup
Zucchini Soup
Sweet Corn Soup
White Bean Soup with Pesto