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Sephardic Cookies (Biscochos de Huevo)

We are finally back after an almost year long absence, I never thought it would take us this long to start back but the longer we waited the lazier we’ve become. I must have mentioned this before; I cook and bake, my husband takes the photos, and then I write the post and finally post it, so that means we both have to be available at the same time. And time (I should probably mention energy too) was exactly what we didn’t have for a long time, lots have happened in the past year, we sold our condo, found a house, moved and now that we are mainly settled in, we decided it was high time to start posting new recipes again.
 
Trying new recipes or making old ones have become even more exciting since I started to bake regularly with my almost 3 year old daughter Sara, she loves baking and she really enjoyed making these Sephardic cookies or ‘Grandma’s cookies’ as my family call them.

My grandmother kept a giant jar of these cookies on her kitchen counter year round (except for Passover); they were exceptionally tender, very lightly sweetened and they had a lovely citrus aroma. She wasn’t a baker but she was a very good cook and her cookies were always perfectly shaped and baked with a nice shine from the egg wash brushed on top.

She didn’t use measuring cups or a digital scale, needless to say, she didn’t have access to the infinite number of recipes on the internet, so she baked what her mother and grandmothers did and her recipes were not written anywhere.  For these cookies, she used a Turkish coffee cup (which roughly equals to a third of a cup) each of sugar and oil and she added the flour by just feeling the dough. I made multiple batches of these cookies, adding more flour, using less, only baking soda, some baking soda and some baking powder trying to replicate the same cookies she made so effortlessly. I find, the key to the tender crumb is the baking soda.

I should also mention, mastic is optional but I add it because I love the aroma and I think it goes exceptionally well with citrus. Also, I like the twisted shape because that is what I grew up with but the dough is extremely easy to work with and can be shaped into rings or any shape you like.
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • Zest of 2 lemons or 1 large orange
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 ½ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • Mastic (optional)
Egg glaze:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
 
Mix the egg and sugar with a whisk, add the oil, and citrus zest, mix to combine. Switch to a spatula and gradually add the flour, baking soda and if using, mastic.
 
A soft dough that doesn’t stick to your hands will form very quickly; do not over work the dough. Shape the cookies using about a walnut size piece of dough and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the cookies with the egg wash and if using sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 13-17 minutes, until the cookies turn a very light golden colour.

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Harvest Apple Challah

Harvest Apple Challah (4)

I first came across this beautiful challah recipe last year, around Rosh Hashanah. Many bloggers raved about this apple filled, slightly sweet and delicious challah that in a way resembles cinnamon buns but tastes and looks so much better. I love making bread and I especially love making challah, my staple challah recipe is Maggie Glezer’s sourdough challah but I make different ones over the year depending on the occasion like this onion and poppy seed filled challah for Purim or the spiral one for Rosh Hashanah. I followed the recipe exactly the first time but then I slowly started increasing the amount of apples and making a few changes, this recipe makes a beautiful cake like bread that is filled with as many apples as possible, perfect for Rosh Hashanah or with tea on a crisp fall afternoon.

Harvest Apple Challah

Adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Dough:

  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½  tsp salt
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
Filling:

  • 3 large apples, not peeled, cored and diced in ¾ inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup sucanat (or regular granulated sugar)
Glaze

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Turbinado sugar, optional
Harvest Apple Challah

Mix the dough ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer until smooth; the dough should be soft and not sticky. Grease a bowl lightly with oil and let the dough ferment for about two hours or until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile prepare the filling bymixing the apples, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl, set aside.

Deflate the dough gently and roll into an 8×10 inch rectangle, place half of the filling in the middle third of the dough, fold the short edge over the apples, place the remaining filling and cover it with the other edge.

Cut the apple filled dough into 16 pieces and place them in a greased 10 inch springform pan, cover with a tea towel and let it rise for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Brush the egg glaze over the challah and sprinkle with sugar, bake for about an hour or until it looks golden brown. Remove from the oven; let it cool slightly before serving.

Harvest Apple Challah

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Eggplant Salad

Egg Plant

I didn’t think anything could keep me away from spending quality time in the kitchen, well, until we started major renovation projects. We had three separate projects going on at the same time and when the kitchen counters were filled with tools and a bunch of things that are not related to cooking/baking; all I could do was to get creative with my counter space and keep things as simple and healthy as possible.

My time on the computer has also been very limited and I have been feeling guilty for neglecting the blog so much! So, hopefully I’ll make up for the lack of posts over the next few weeks.


We made this salad a few times over the summer and really enjoyed it. Eggplant salad is one of my favourite summer appetizers, it has a smoky aroma and it’s an excellent side dish or appetizer on hot summer days.

  • 2 medium-large eggplants
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • Sea salt

Wash and prick the eggplants with a fork, roast them over an open flame until charred or the eggplants can also be roasted in the oven.

If using the oven method, turn the oven to broil and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, place the pricked eggplants on the baking sheet and broil on both sides until the skins are completely charred and the flesh is very soft. Peel the eggplants or make a slit down the middle and remove the flesh with a spoon. Transfer the eggplants to a sieve and let it stand to drain the excess liquid, for at least half an hour.

Egg Plant

Transfer the drained eggplants to a food processor with the lemon juice, olive oil and a healthy pinch of salt, pulse until thoroughly combined or the eggplants can also be cut finely on a cutting board.

In a large bowl, combine the red onion, tomatoes and parsley, add the eggplant, check for the seasoning and serve at room temperature or keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Egg Plant

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Gluten-free Blackberry Cake

Gluten-free Blackberry Cake

I recently started experimenting with coconut flour, I love the sweet, nutty taste and it performs especially well in baked goods, pancakes and we love the texture and aroma it adds to smoothies. It’s gluten-free, low in carbs and packed with fibre.

Coconut flour tends to absorb a lot more liquid than other grain and nut flours, so, substituting an equal amount of coconut flour for the other flours called in the recipe doesn’t work well, I found through trial and error and a few little edible but not so great looking ‘disasters’ that adding a little nut flour and increasing the amount of liquids and eggs in the recipe really improves the texture.

Last week, I was determined to make a healthy dessert for Father’s day, I started with this strawberry cake recipe; I substituted fresh, local blackberries instead of strawberries, to lighten the texture of the coconut flour, I added some almond meal, increased the amount of liquid and finally chose to sweeten it with agave nectar instead of sugar.

The cake batter is fairly stiff and I find freezing the blackberries make it easier to fold them into the batter without damaging them too much.

  • ¾ cup coconut flour (plus more for the pan)
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 egg
  • 3 tbsp virgin coconut oil or melted butter (plus more for the pan)
  • 1 1/2 cup blackberries, preferably frozen
  • Coarse turbinado sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325F, grease and flour an 8×8 inch oven proof dish or a cake pan, set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the coconut flour, almond meal, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl combine the lemon juice, zest, agave nectar, buttermilk, eggs, and canola oil.

Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a fork, fold in the blackberries using a spatula and transfer the cake batter into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with coarse turbinado sugar, if using.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.

Gluten-free Blackberry Cake

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Fava Bean Hummus

Fava Bean Hummus

Life has been hectic lately and my time in the kitchen has been very limited. For the past two weeks, we have been eating very simple food that requires very little preparation time with minimal clean up.

When Linda posted this recipe I knew it was going to be a hit but had to wait until I had more than a few minutes to put dinner together. I am so glad I took the time to shell the fava beans not only once but twice to make this delicious and healthy dip! It’s totally worth the effort and the result is a delicious and refreshing dip full of Mediterranean flavours.

  • 1 pound shelled fresh fava beans
  • Juice of 1 lemon or more to taste
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves

Place the shelled fava beans in a medium pot and cover with cold water, bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, drain and peel them.

Transfer the peeled fava beans to a food processor along with the other ingredients and pulse until pureed, taste for the seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice if necessary.

Transfer the fava bean hummus to a bowl, garnish with a mint leaf and serve with crudités, crackers or fresh bread.

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