Category Archives: Mint

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

I just returned back from Israel about a week ago and I have been thinking about so many wonderful Israeli dishes and food I ate on my vacation.  The one theme that keeps going through my mind is “Fresh.” Everything we ate, from vegetable and fruit, to fish, poultry and meat…it was all fresh!
 
We traveled all around Israel, mouth, nose and eyes wide open, experiencing as much as we could in the short amount of time we were there.  We went to two market places, one called Machane Yehuda (The center of Jerusalem) and the other Shuk HaCarmel (the center of Tel Aviv/Yaffo).  Both are filled with produce that has literally just been picked from the fields and baked goods you can smell a mile away.  In the crevices of the long rows and the aisle of little shops, lay some of the best products and produce you would ever find! We witnessed the process of making techina (tahini), freshly ground sesame seeds that were made into a paste with morter and stone, we tasted the smoothest halvah, smelled the freshly baked laffa and pita, stood mesmerized while watching our lunch of fresh pasta being kneaded, rolled out and boiled, watched and tasted fruit and vegetable juice combinations squeezed right in front of our eyes,  we were privy to see the largest collection of kosher cheeses and so much more!

This week I haven’t had one day pass without making a classic Israeli salad.  The flavor of the vegetables we have in our supermarkets don’t even compare to the flavors in Israel, but they are still delicious and tasty! 

Israel is no doubt the inspiration for this dish.  We must have eaten watermelon everyday of our trip.   The combination of tomatoes and watermelon are such a perfect match and meld so beautifully with the feta cheese, creating a beautiful and fruity salad as a snack or with fish as a main course.   I know you will enjoy this fantastically fresh salad!

 


Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad
6 C. Watermelon, cubed
1/4 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 C. Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
8 Oz. Feta, crumbled
1 Tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbs. Fresh Mint, chopped (more for garnish)

Mix all the ingredients together.  Serve cold.

Can I Buy You A Hamantashen?

I’m currently in the baking module of my culinary program and have definitely been inspired to get more experimental with my Kitchen Aid!  I am always adventurous with my recipes, but this one was an overhaul of a real classic.

As far back as I can remember I have been making hamantashen for Purim.  When I was a child, my mother would make the dough and roll it out, and let me and my sisters cut out the circles and fold them into delectable triangles. Waiting until our three cornered delights were ready to eat was one of the hardest things we did all year.  We would smell the cinnamon and sugar topping (the secret ingredient that makes them smell almost as good as they taste) and our impatience would get the best of us.  We would bite into the cookies before they were cool, and burn our tongues on the hot sugary jelly inside.One of the focuses on Purim is drinking (responsibly), so I decided to create an “adult” hamantashen for the kid inside us all.  I brainstormed some fun cocktails that I dreamed I could roll into hamantashen.  I hope you enjoy my take on the classic hamantashen and enjoy these as much as my band of taste testers and I did!

Note:   These are kid friendly since all the alcohol is cooked or boiled out. If you want no alcohol in your hamantashen, each recipe is great with the liquor left out.  What you do with the extra liquor is up to you 🙂

Happy Purim!

Mojito 2

Mojito Hamantashen

Make a 2 ½ Dozen
Dough
2 Cups Flour
¾ tsp. Baking Powder
1/8 tsp. Salt
½ Cup Earth Balance or Butter, softened
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk (reserve the egg white for assembling the cookie)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1-1 1/2 tsp. Peppermint Oil
1 TBS. Fresh Mint Leaves, minced
Raw Sugar (optional)
Lime-Rum Curd Filling
1 Cup Sugar
¼ Cup Earth Balance or Butter
1/8 Cup Corn Starch
¾ Cup Fresh Lime Juice
1 TBS. Lime Zest
2 Eggs, Beaten
2 TBS. Rum
Dough: Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Beat in sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla, peppermint oil and mint leaves.  Beat in flour mixture until combined.  Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 
Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut rounds, until dough is finished.  Fill the rounds with the lime-rum curd filling and with your pinky, dip in egg white and lightly wet the edges around the hamantashen. Make the hamantashen triangle shape by folding the bottom to make two corners and folding the top to make the 3rd (requires both hands).  Brush the outer part of the hamantashen with egg white and sprinkle on the raw sugar. Bake for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. 
Filling:  Place the sugar, earth balance, corn starch, lime juice, lime zest and rum in a sauce pan.  Heat the mixture till the butter melts.  Pour some of the lime mixture into the eggs and stir together to temper the eggs.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan and whisk constantly till mixture starts to boil and thicken.  Whisk for about a minute, take off heat and strain into a bowl (this will separate any egg that may have curdled from the curd itself). Refrigerate the curd till ready to use.
*When baked, the filling soaks into the cookie and the curd deflates.  They look beautiful and you still get that flavor, but if you wish to fill the cookie all the way up with curd after baking, make a double batch of the filling and fill in all the spots after the cookies are baked and cool.
 
Teq Sunrise2
Tequila Sunrise Hamantashen
Makes 2 ½ Dozen
Dough
2 Cups Flour
¾ tsp. Baking Powder
1/8 tsp. Salt
½ Cup Earth Balance or Butter, softened
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk (reserve the egg white for assembling the cookie)
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 tsp. Orange Zest
 
Cherry-Tequila Jam Filling
1 17.5 oz. Jar of Cherry Preserves (I love Trader Joes brand because whole cherries make up most of the jelly)
2 TBS. Tequila
Dough: Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Beat in sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and orange zest.  Beat in flour mixture until combined.  Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 
Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut rounds, until dough is finished.  Fill the rounds with the cherry-tequila jam filling and with your pinky, dip in egg white and lightly wet the edges around the hamantashen.  Make the hamantashen triangle shape by folding the bottom to make two corners and folding the top to make the 3rd (requires both hands).  Bake for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. 
Filling:  Mix the cherry preserves with the Tequila. Add 1 more tbs. of tequila if you want the filling to be stronger.
 Frangelico (Hazelnut Liquor) Hamantashen
Makes 2 1/2 Dozen
Dough
1 1/3 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Cocoa
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
¼ Cup Earth Balance or Butter, softened
¾ Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Almond Extract
1 Egg
3 TBS. Coconut Cream (the cream on top separates from the water on the bottom)
Chocolate-Frangelico Ganache Filling
8 Oz. Dark Chocolate, chopped ( I like Trader Joes brand)
8 Oz. Coconut Cream
Dash of Salt
3 TBS. Frangelico Liquor
½ Cup Hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
½ Cup Whole Hazelnuts
Dough: Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Beat in sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg and almond extract.  Beat in flour mixture until combined.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 
Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut rounds, until dough is finished.  Fill the rounds with the chocolate-frangelico ganache filling and with your pinky, dip in egg white and lightly wet the edges around the hamantashen.  Make the hamantashen triangle shape by folding the bottom to make two corners and folding the top to make the 3rd (requires both hands).  Put a hazelnut on top of each hamantashen and bake for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. 
Filling:  Heat all of the ingredients together (except the hazelnuts) in a small saucepan till melted.  Take off stove and add the chopped hazelnuts. 




Comfort In A Cup

The winter to me is all about the hot drinks.  Hot cocoa, warm apple cider, chai tea lattes, tea, coffee; you name it, I love it!  It’s unanimous,  we all love that amazing feeling of snuggling into a cozy blanket and sipping on a warm cup of  your favorite beverage, while outside, there is complete snow turmoil and below freezing temperatures.  With no place to go, the best option is to grab a good book, watch some TV, and turn on the stove!

My favorites
1) Coffee – Pumpkin Spice K-Kup
The pumpkin pie smell gives off a very homey and sweet aroma, while the coffee awakens your senses and gets you ready to start the day!  I usually put this in a to-go mug when I know I have to get out of the house that day.  It brings the warmth of home on the go.

2) Chai Tea Latte 
If anyone asks, this is my ultimate go-to feel good drink.  Winter or summer, iced or warm…chai tea lattes are always welcome.  The blend of spices in chai is just incomparable.  It’s winter (warm) or summer (cold) in a cup!  By far, Green Cafe (in Israel) makes THE BEST I have ever tasted (and I’ve tasted a lot)!  I make a wonderful one at home with a bag of Tazo Chai Tea, 1 TBS. Agave and about 1/4 Cup of Almond Milk. 

3) Mint (Nana) Tea
I could say that any mint tea will do, but NOTHING is comparable to fresh mint leaves!  Whenever I have the opportunity to enjoy a cup of fresh mint tea, I’m on it!  Go out and buy yourself a mint plant or fresh mint from the supermarket and experience pure enjoyment from this wonderful herb!  Also try lemon-nana.  I will probably post the recipe in the summertime.  Too good…I’m tellin ya.

4) Hot Apple Cider
Paired with a cinnamon stick, oh wow, match made in heaven!  Best when served after a brisk cool walk in the winter air, this drink is seriously incredible.  The cinnamon stick adds that extra twang and spiciness to an already decadent and tangy apple cider.  Warm this up on the stove and this will become part of your fall/winter must haves.

5) Hot Coca
The infamous chocolaty drink no one can resist. Done the right way, I’m talking homemade… delicious!  The recipe I use on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa box.  Add some marshmallows or a cinnamon stick and make this extra wonderful.  If you want deep rich chocolate, find a recipe using real bittersweet melted chocolate.  If you want, add a little bit of rum, whiskey or your favorite liquor to each cup.  It will give that cocoa an extra surprise!