Corn, Pears and Mike and Ikes…Oh My!

Since graduating culinary school I have had a desire to make crepes.  If you have ever been to Israel, crepe stands are like ice cream shops.  Their is a crepe maker stand in every mall and shopping area around Israel and you can get your basketball sized crepe served with anything you wish (like my favorites, nutella and Israeli chocolate)!

Using both my desire to make crepes and the fact that I just enjoy eating them, I went for it and made a crepe for the link-up challenge this month. This month we were given three ingredients: Canned corn, Pears, and….Mike and Ikes!  The last one was throwing me off.  Although we had to use two out of the three I decided to really challenge myself and use the candy.  You can totally opt out of the Mike and Ikes for the recipe, but they do add a fruity flavor to the pears.     

Tip: Crepes are really thin, so use the first few you make as practice. You will get that perfectly cooked and round thin pancake most likely on your third try.  Keep trying because the outcome is very rewarding!

Cornmeal Crepe with Pear Compote
1 C. Corn
3 Tbs. Cornmeal
1/3 C. Flour
3/4 C. Milk
2 Eggs
2 Tbs. Butter, melted
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Pears, sliced
2 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tbs. Buter
1 Tbs. Canola Oil
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1/2 Tbs. Cinnamon
Pinch of Anise Seeds
1/2 tsp. Dried Ginger
Pinch of Salt
Optional: 1/4 C. Mike and Ike infused Rum (Put a handful of Mike and Ikes in 1/4 C. Rum and let sit for an hour)
1/2 C. Cream Cheese
1 Lemon, zested
Puree the corn in a food processor till smooth (or as smooth as you can).  In a separate bowl whisk the cornmeal, flour and milk together till smooth.  Whisk in the pureed corn, eggs, butter and salt.
Let sit for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
In a sauce pot, melt the butter and oil.  Add the pears, sugar, lemon juice and spices.  Simmer for 5 minutes and add the Mike and Ike infused rum (when adding, take the pot off the stove away from the fire…this will prevent a potential fire with possibly spilled alcohol).  Simmer for another 5-10 minutes till pears become soft and syrupy.
Whip the cream cheese and lemon zest till it becomes lighter.  Put to the side.
Lightly grease and heat an 8 inch non stick pan or crepe pan.  Add 3 Tbs. of batter and swirl till it covers the bottom of the pan.  Cook on medium for about 30 seconds or until the top looks dry.  Carefully flip the crepe over and finish cooking another 15-20 seconds.  Remove and repeat. 
Add about on spoonful of pear filling in the middle of the crepe and fold over both sides.  Dollop the top with the cream cheese mixture and sprinkle cinnamon, pine nuts and lemon zest for garnish.  Serve immediately.  This can be served for a fun and different dessert or breakfast.



The Ali”BABKA”!

With the name AliBabka, how could I NOT have that perfect babka recipe?!  I have made so many babkas in the past two years that I have lost count.  But let me be honest with you, all the babkas I made were actually quite tasty…if my goal was to make sweet challah.  The dough was just never right.   The previous contenders were all delicious, had a sweet and amazing aroma, and looked beautiful, but they weren’t the one!

This babka recipe is adapted from the Jerusalem Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  If you do not own it, I highly recommend purchasing this cookbook.  All the recipes I have made from the cookbook turned out amazing and the pictures make you want to eat the book in its entirety! 

Babka is a yeast cake and yeast cakes are tricky.  There’s that small border between bread and cake.  Too far to the left and you have a bread, to far to the right and you have a birthday cake.  The perfect yeast cake is in between.  This babka recipe is not fast.  The dough need a lot of time to rise and rest.  Once you get through the waiting I guarantee you will have the most fantastic babka waiting for you on the other side!  With that being said, may I present to you what I would consider to be The Ali”Babka”!

The Ali”BABKA”
Makes 2 Babkas

Babka Cake:
4 1/2 C. Flour
1/2 C. Sugar
2 tsp. Fast Rising Active Dry Yeast
1 Lemon, Zested
3 Eggs
1/2 C. Water
1/4 tsp. Salt
2/3 C. Earth Balance, cut into chunks
Oil, for greasing

Chocolate Filling: (I love chocolate babkas so this is super chocolaty)
1 C. Confectioners Sugar
2/3 C. Cocoa Powder
9 Oz. Chocolate, Melted
1 C. Earth Balance, Melted
2 C. Pecans, Coarsely Chopped (optional)
2 TBS. Sugar

Syrup (to cover cakes):
2/3 C. Water
1 1/4 C. Sugar

Place the flour, sugar, yeast and lemon zest in a kitchen aid stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Mix on low speed for 1 minute.  Add the eggs and water and mix on low speed for a few seconds and then increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes until the dough comes together.  Add the salt and start adding the earth balance, a few cubes at a time until it is incorporated into the dough.  Continue mixing for about 10 minutes on medium speed, until the dough is completely smooth and elastic.  During mixing scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.  Place dough in a large bowl brushed with oil and cover with plastic wrap.  leave in the fridge overnight (at least half a day).

Grease two 9X4 loaf pans with spray or oil.

Mix together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate and butter to form a paste.

Divide the dough in half and  roll out one of the halves of dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15X11 inches.  Spread half of the chocolate filling over the rectangle leaving a
2cm border all around.  Sprinkle half the pecans and sugar over chocolate.
Brush a little bit of water on border of dough.  Use both hands to roll the longer side up like a roulade or jelly roll.  Press to seal the dough and rest on the seam. 
Trim about 1 inch off the end of each side of the roulade (these are extra pieces so you can bake them and eat them as little pastries or rugelach).  Use a knife to gently cut lengthwise, starting at top and finishing at seam.  With cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of  each half and put left side over right and repeat to create a twirl (always keep filling side up).  Pinch together the other end of the intertwined babka and put in loaf pan.  Repeat with the second half of the dough. 
Cover the pan with a wet paper towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.  The cake will rise about 10 percent. 

Preheat oven to  375.  Remove towels and place cakes in the middle rack of the oven to bake for 30 minutes.

While cakes are in the oven make the syrup.  Combine the water and the sugar in a sauce pan and place over medium heat till it reaches a boil and all the sugar is dissolved.  Take the syrup off the stove immediately and cool.  As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush the syrup over them  Use up ALL the syrup.  Leave the cakes until they are warm and remove them from the pan to cool the rest of the way before serving.

                                      From the Jersusalem Cookbook how to roll the babka