Salted Caramel Apple Hamentashen

Salted Caramel Apple hamentashen 1FI’m not quite sure how I feel about the live-action remake of  Beauty and the Beast (to be released March 17). The original is time honoured and perfect. Frankly, I’m worried. Sometimes you shouldn’t mess with a classic. Remember Lindsay Lohan in the remake of Parent Trap? Jackie Chan as the updated Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid ? Billy Bob Thornton in Bad News Bears? Enough said.

But sometimes messing with the classics works. Traditional hamentashen are filled with either prune or poppyseed filling. In this updated version, apples are cooked down to a thick sauce. A big scoop of dulce de leche and a judicious sprinkling of salt are added and the resulting filling is quite sublime. I have to give credit for this filling to the talented blogger Tori Avey. It was her genius idea. I just took it and wrapped it in a buttery almond shortbread shell.with a latteGrating Applesapples cooked downadding dulce de leche

Click here to print recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Hamentashen.

with a latte 2

Dried Cherry and Pecan Hamentashen

with a cup of teaHamentashen are the traditional treat baked for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which falls on Sunday March 12 this year. Essentially, the Festival of Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in ancient (4th century BCE) Persia were saved from extermination. If you’re curious to learn more about Purim, check out a more thorough post I wrote in 2012.

I’ve been busy creating  and this year I have 3 delicious hamentashen recipes to share with you over the next few days. Dried Cherry and Pecan, Poppyseed and Salted Caramel Apple. All 3 stacked 72dpiMy childhood Purim memories consist of store bought hamentashen. My mom bought them from Open Window Bakery in Toronto. They made two varieties, prune and poppyseed. My sisters and I vastly preferred the poppyseed filing. Home-made hamentashen didn’t enter my life until I got married. My husband’s aunts, Carol and Jenny, made their own hamentashen. Tender little triangles brimming with a prune-raisin filling and covered in honey and walnuts. I felt like I’d entered an alternate universe. But a universe I was thrilled to be indoctrinated into . All hamentashen should be topped with toasted nuts. Because, crunch!dried fruit in jarThis hamentashen is my twist on their classic recipe. I halved the amount of prunes in the filling and replaced it with dried cherries. The original strawberry jam was swapped out for sour cherry preserves. And then I went really rogue with the dough! I used a butter dough. Carol and Jenny’s hamentashen dough is made with oil, so if you’re looking for a dairy free option, Aunt Carol’s Hamentashen Dough is a great option.before choppingafter choppingThis dough recipe comes from Uri Scheft’s new book, Breaking Breads. It is essentially an almond shortbread cookie dough which gets rolled quite thin.

I created this video to show you how to fill and shape the hamentashen.

Bite through the crisp buttery almond shortbread shell to reveal the sweet-tart dried cherry filling. The honey-pecan topping make these hamentashen very special.Dipped

Click here to print recipe for Dried Cherry and Pecan Hamentashen.

5 hamentashen

White Bean Hummus with Herb Olive Salad

on white plateThe curious folks over at America’s Test Kitchen have launched a new digital brand, Cook’s Science. I have a great fondness for understanding why things work in the kitchen. If you’re a food science geek like me, you’ll love it. I subscribed to their newsletter right away, and one of the first recipes to pop up in my inbox was this one for a white bean hummus.

The recipe was actually created to highlight the tepary bean. The tepary bean is higher in protein and fiber than other beans and is one of the most heat and drought tolerant crops in the world. At this time they are only available by mail order. Since I was in a hurry to make this, I just substituted dried white kidney beans (also called cannellini beans).

Of course you can buy ready made hummus at the supermarket. And, in a pinch, most of them are ok. Moving up a level from store bought is hummus made with canned beans. Ultimate hummus can really only be made with dried beans. Yes, it takes a bit of planning ahead, but the ultra smooth silky texture you get is worth it. Soak BeansBaking soda and salt are added to the soaking water. Both of these contribute to breaking down the tough cell walls of beans and contribute to the creamy consistency of the finished hummus. LemonThe usual suspects of lemon juice, garlic, tahini and cumin are added to this version. Where the similarity ends however, is how the garlic is added. The garlic is first pureed with the lemon juice and allowed to steep for 10 minutes. The infused lemon juice is strained out and the garlic is discarded. Turns out that the acidity in lemon juice, tames raw garlic’s harsh pungent bite. I love this kitchen hack. I’m excited to try it with vinegar and garlic in my next batch of vinaigrette. Taming the garlic beastBe patient when pureeing the beans. It will take a good four minutes to get a silky smooth hummus. smoothThe hummus is finished an herb and olive salad. Parsley and dill add a bright verdant freshness and olives pack a briny salty punch. herb olive toppingA  topping of toasted pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds add a delicate crunch.with seeded crackers

Click here to print recipe for White Bean Hummus with Herb and Olive Salad.

spread on pita

 

 

 

 

E.A.T. Breakfast Sandwiches

breakfast is ready 1This started out as a post about biscuits. Specifically, the amazing biscuits from Biscuit Love, the beloved Nashville brunch hot spot. I had breakfast there last year. Their lofty flaky biscuits, slathered with butter and sorghum syrup were one of the highlights of my visit. Biscuits were added to my must blog about list.

I found their recipe online and read through it very carefully. It’s an unconventional recipe as it uses yeast as a leavening agent. Most traditional Southern biscuits rely on baking soda and/or baking powder. The other unusual ingredient was melted butter. Every other biscuit recipe I have read uses very cold, sometimes frozen butter. The theory behind cold butter is that, when the biscuits hit the oven, the butter begins to melt, causing steam, which contributes to flakiness. This recipe ran contrary to everything I knew about biscuit baking.

I took a leap of faith, mixed up the dough and baked a batch. I split a warm one open, buttered it and took a bite. It was good, but nowhere near as flaky and delicious as I remembered. These were not the biscuits of my dreams. Clearly some more research is needed here before I pass the knowledge onto you.

I decided to turn these passable biscuits into something really special. I created the E.A.T. breakfast sandwich featuring  Egg, Avocado and Tomato. I had some halloumi cheese in the fridge and fried some of that up as well, for a salty, cheesy layer.

I sliced up some pretty heirloom tomatoes, salted them well and drizzled them with olive oil. tomatoes and avocadoesI decided to mash up the avocados to give the sandwich a creamy base. A bit of lime juice, olive oil, salt and some red pepper flakes were added to the mash. Fried halloumi cheese and some fried eggs added the final two layers.ready to assemble

I took an adequate biscuit and turned it into a spectacular breakfast.

I did a bit of research and discovered that Biscuit Love makes 3 kinds of biscuits. The yeast raised ones that I made (also known as Angel biscuits) are what they use for their biscuit sandwiches. They also make a beaten biscuit, which are tiny and firmer, more like soda crackers. And finally, they make a traditional drop biscuit, which is what I must have been  served with butter and sorghum syrup. Those were the lofty flaky biscuits of my dreams. The quest is on to reproduce these biscuits. I’ll be back with something soon, I promise.

In the meantime, feel free to use store bought biscuits, english muffins or even some great bagels for this sandwich.

Click here to print recipe for E.A.T. Breakfast Sandwiches.

 

Spicy Chicken and Rice with Coconut-Cashew Crisp

Any time I can put a crisp topping on something and call it dinner is a great night in my house. ready to eat 1This dish is inspired by a a recipe I had seen in the Spring Issue of the LCBO Food and Drink Magazine. I switched up the protein from shrimp to chicken, and made my own piri piri sauce, because I couldn’t find any ready-made at the supermarket. peppersThe sauce uses a mix of sweet bell peppers combined with a hot peppers. Above is the selection of peppers available at my local supermarket. I used the fresno pepper, around the same heat level as a jalapeño. Serrano peppers are hotter and habaneros are super hot. Here is the Scoville scale, which rates the heat of various peppers. The heat in peppers resides in the seeds and white ribs of the pepper, so remove them if you want to temper the heat. If  pain-searing heat is more your jam, like my sister Bonnie and niece Kailey, then go ahead and use the entire pepper.

I marinated some diced boneless skinless chicken thighs in the sauce. While it was marinating, I cooked up a pot of jasmine rice and prepared the crisp topping. Unsweetened coconut, salted cashews and Rice Krispies make up this topping. Coconut oil is the glue that holds everything together. I love having breakfast for dinner.crisp topping ingredientsYou could make this in a large casserole dish, but individual mini serving dishes are more fun. Any oven-proof vessel that holds around 2 cups will work. I used my little cast iron pans. Once the rice is cooked, add some frozen peas and corn. No need to thaw. A bed of fragrant fluffy Jasmine rice creates the first layer.bottom layer of riceMarinated spice chicken goes down next. Pour in any extra sauce from the marinating bowl.middle layer of chickenFinish with a blanket of coconut, cashew crisp topping. ready for ovenHalf an hour in the oven is perfect to cook the chicken and crisp up the topping. Top with cilantro and a squirt of fresh lime.ready to eat 2

Click here to print recipe for Spicy Chicken and Rice with Coconut-Cashew Crisp.

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