Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Picnic Game and Ma’moul ~A traditional Lebanese cookie

*First a note to my readers. Google Reader will be retiring July first. If you follow my blog, or any blogs through Google Reader, consider making a switch to Bloglovin.  The switch is painless. Bloglovin did a great job integrating all the blogs I follow from Reader, and all I did was push a button.  So please, follow my blog with Bloglovin! (and all your other favorites, too)! You can also subscribe by e-mail by typing your e-mail address into the box in the right side bar, and click submit. Thank you! Please enjoy the picnic!

Are you ready for a picnic?  July is National Picnic Month and, thanks to Louise and her lovely blog Months of Edible Celebrations, it’s time for the Picnic Game again!  Louise has been running the picnic game for 5 years.  I was lucky enough to join in on the fun last year with my Limoncello Biscotti. The game is based on the children’s game, where everyone chooses a letter, and comes up with a picnic item that begins with that letter. In this case, each blogger will bring to the picnic a variety of virtual food, to fill the picnic basket; starting with A and working through to Z!! So lay down your blanket,  join the fun, and visit all the wonderful bloggers participating. They are bringing some wonderful food!


So here it goes…  I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing:
Aloo Gobi
Blueberry Cucumber Salsa
Crispy Curry Fried Chicken
Dying for Chocolate Chocolate Cake
Eton Mess
Fish In A Jar 

Golden Pillow Hee Ban
Hummingbird cake
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Jersey Hot Dogs
Kahlua Mocha Ice Cream
Light and Soft Japanese Cheesecake 
Ma’moul (Lebanese Pistachio Butter Cookie)

This year I’m bringing Ma’moul to the picnic. You always need something sweet to enjoy while your sitting on that blanket.  Ma’mouls are a traditional Lebanese filled cookie. They are very popular in the Gulf countries of the Middle East. I would describe them as having the consistency of a butter or shortbread cookie. The flavors are Mediterranean, with the essence of Rose water and/or Orange Blossom water. These pastries are always filled with either dates, pistachios or walnuts. The shapes of Ma’moul may vary. You will see them in balls, domed or flattened, and can either be decorated by hand or made in special wooden moulds. I used a mould. I have made Ma’moul many times before using a recipe from one of my Lebanese cookbooks.  This time I decided to try a recipe from Nick Malgieri’s cookbook “A Bakers Tour”.  The difference being, my recipe calls for semolina flour in addition to the all-pourpose flour, and his was made solely with all-purpose flour.  My recipe also includes sugar in the dough, his did not.  This dough was easy to work with, and the taste and texture of these lovely cookies was quite nice. Filled with a delicious pistachio filling, dipped in powdered sugar, they are melt-in-your-mouth delectable, and are a wonderful treat to bring to a picnic.  I’m sure everyone will love them. 
So glad you came by to see what’s in my picnic basket…hope you’ll go see what the other picnickers are bringing to our 2013 virtual picnic. 
Happy Picnicking everyone!

Break a piece of dough off and place into the mould…if you do not have a mould you can form it in the palm of your hand.
Make indentation
Place a spoon of nuts in the center 
Then cover with dough…you could add more dough to the bottom if needed
Turn out of the mould
Place in the oven and bake
Serve the  ma’moul with powdered sugar
Melt in-your-mouth delicious!!
Oh so yummy!

Pistachio-Filled Butter Cookies (Mamoul)

Cooking Time: Bake 20 to 30 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
14 tablespoons butter (1 3/4 sticks), unsalted
1 tablespoon rose water
2 tablespoons milk

3/4 cup pistachios, unsalted, shelled, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons rose water*
 Powdered Sugar

* Rose water is available in Middle Eastern food stores and through online gourmet shops. If you prefer, you may substitute orange-flower water.

Line 1 1/2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans lined with parchment or foil. Set rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

Dough: Place flour in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade and add chunks of butter. Pulse to mix butter in finely, keeping mixture powdery. Take off cover and evenly sprinkle flour and butter mixture with rose water and milk. Cover and pulse again until dough forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and cover with plastic wrap while making filling.

Filling: Stir together pistachios, granulated sugar and rose water in small bowl. To form the mamoul, roll dough into a cylinder about 18 inches long. Use knife or bench scraper to cut dough every ½ inch to make 36 pieces of dough. To form each cookie, roll one of the pieces of dough between the palms of your hands to make a sphere. Insert a fingertip to make an opening, then use your thumbs to enlarge the opening and make a little cup. Fill the cup with a spoonful of the filling and pinch the opening closed, forming the mamoul into an even sphere. Place formed mamoul on one of the prepared pans, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough and filling, placing mamoul on pans about 1 inch apart in all directions. After all the mamoul are formed, use a fork and pierce the sides and tops of the cookies.

Bake mamoul until just barely golden (they should remain pale), about 20 to 25 minutes. Change position of pans from upper to lower rack and vice versa, also turning the back to front at least once during baking. If your oven gives strong bottom heat, stack 2 pans together for lower rack, to provide insulation. Cool mamoul on pans on racks. When they are completely cooled, dust them heavily with powdered sugar.

To store, keep cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in container with a tight-fitting lid. If cookies are made in advance, dust them with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

3 dozen cookies

 Recipe by Nick Malgieri

Friday, June 28, 2013

FFWD ~ Socca from Vieux Nice

Socca from Vieux Nice
This weeks recipe for French Fridays was a surprise to me!  I had no idea what to expect or, what it was suppose to look like (a photo would have been nice)!  I also, had no idea how good this would be! I had never heard of Socca.  Last night, before I went to bed, I mixed the batter, planning to make it some time during the day. I read the directions three times, to make sure I knew what I was doing.  After experiencing many a disaster, because I didn’t read the recipe through, I have finally gotten smarter!  At least for this recipe.
Dorie tells us that Socca is a snack food sold by venders in the south of France.  She also says, it makes a nice “nibble” to have with drinks.  For me and my hubby, it was a lovely afternoon snack on the back deck with a glass of ice tea.  We had spent the morning painting a bathroom, and were ready for a break.  All I can say is,  this was unusually delicious! Or, maybe I should say it was unusual and delicious!
Surprisingly good!
The batter is quite easy to mix. A cup of chickpea flour, a cup of cool water, 3½ tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper.  Mix all the ingredients together and let set for at least 2 hours or, you can also refrigerate it overnight.
The baking process was a bit different. This is baked in a pizza pan or two cake pans. The consistency of the batter is similar to a crepe batter. About 20 minutes before baking, position your oven rack in the upper third of the oven and place your pan on the rack. Pre-heat your oven to 500º.  When the pan is hot, remove it very carefully from the oven, and add two tablespoons of olive oil, then put the pan back into the oven for a few more minutes.  Then, again, very carefully, pour the batter into the hot oiled pan, trying to make it as even as possible. The oil is very hot and will sizzle when you drop in the batter. Now bake for 5 minutes and then turn on your broiler to brown the top.  Dorie says it should be slightly burned when you take it out.  I could have browned mine a little more, but it was wonderful just the way it was.  This was an unexpected keeper!  Not only did I enjoy it, but so did Bill!!  He never stops surprising me!  Happy Friday everyone!

The recipe can be found here on Google Books.  To see what the others have come up with for French Fridays, check it out here.

 The batter is loose and crepe like
Batter poured into the hot pan
Dorie says it should be slightly burned…I probably could have left mine in a bit longer
This was unusual, but very delicious!!
The flavor of the rosemary was very nice
Join us!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Strawberry Pies and Baking with My Granddaughter

Our beautiful strawberry pies
Last week, my husband and I, spent several days at my daughters house on Long Island.  We were there to help with the kids, while her husband was out of town.  The days were long, my grandkids get up at 5:30, but filled with so much fun. We drove the kids to and from school, attended my granddaughters field day and dance class, spent time at the beach and, took the boys to Panera Bread (their request) for lunch.  It was a full few days.  One of my favorite moments came saturday, when my granddaughter and I, baked strawberry pies while her brothers attended a birthday party.
I had gone strawberry picking the day before we left for L.I.  I made some jam, then brought the rest of the berries out to my daughters house. Pies were the plan!  It was to be a strawberry-rhubarb pie, but I forgot the rhubarb! Really?  I had picked it from my garden that morning, just for our pie.  My daughter and I went to several grocery stores, but no one had rhubarb.  Ok, strawberry pie will have to do.  I made the dough for the crust early in the day, and refrigerated it! I always make Nick Malgieri’s pastry.  It’s my all time favorite. It’s so easy to make in the food processor and, it always comes out perfect. When the boys left for their party, my granddaughter and I set out to make our pies.  I made a large one, and she made 3 minis for her and her brothers.
I found the recipe online at All Recipes and, did some tweaking after I read the reviews.  The recipe called for flour as a thickener.  I never have luck with just flour.  I changed the recipe, and used tapioca along with the flour.  My daughter washed and sliced the strawberries, before she left for the party.  The berries were ripe, juicy and sweet.  Now for the pie. I took the dough out of the refrigerator and gave J a disk, along with some little custard cups that she could fill and bake her pies in. I rolled out my dough and decided on a lattice top.  Both of us were very focused on our individual pies.  She rolled out her dough, decided to follow my lead, and cut strips for lattice.  She was quite meticulous. After she was done,  it was very cute watching her take photos of her pies, just like grandma!  All of our pies came out quite delicious and, made for a wonderful dessert that evening, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Everyone was happy!
Pleasure comes to us in so many ways. For me baking with my grandchildren is one of my greatest pleasures. Enjoy!

Beautiful ripe, and juicy strawberries
J rolling out her dough
She really gets into it
Taking photos….just like grandma 
Her pies ready for the oven…they look perfect
Ready to bake
Oh it smelled so good!

Pies cooling…didn’t my granddaughter do a great job?

Totally delicious!

Old Fashioned Strawberry Pie
Adapted from All Recipes
Serves: 8


 pie crust for a double crust 9 inch pie
1  cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons tapioca
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or to taste
5 or 6 cups fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place one crust in a nine inch pie pan.
2. Mix together sugar, flour, tapioca and cinnamon. Mix lightly through the berries. Let stand for about 15 minutes.  Pour filling into pastry lined pan, and dot fruit with butter or margarine. Cover with top crust, and cut slits in the top. Seal and flute the edges. (I used a lattice top on my pie.)
3. Bake for 25 minutes, cover edges so they don’t burn and finish baking for another 25 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.

Flaky Pie Dough (My absolute favorite Pie Crust)

Recipe by Nick Malgieri

Prep Time:1 hr 20 min Inactive 

Ingredients for a one-crust pie, about 10 ounces:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose bleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Ingredients for a two-crust pie, about 1 1/4 pounds dough:

2 1/2 cups (about 11 ounces) all-purpose bleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

To mix the dough by hand, combine flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Cut butter into 1tablespoon pieces and add to dry ingredients. Toss once or twice to coat pieces of butter. Then using your hands or a pastry blender, break the butter into tiny pieces and pinch and squeeze it into the dry ingredients. Keep the mixture uniform by occasionally reaching down to the bottom of the bowl and mixing all the ingredients evenly together. Continue rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarseground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible.

Sprinkle the minimum amount of water over the butter and flour mixture and stir gently with a fork the dough should begin holding together. If the mixture still appears dry and crumbly, add the remaining water, 1 teaspoon at a time for the smaller quantity of dough, a tablespoon at a time for the larger quantity, until the dough holds together easily.

To mix the dough in the food processor, combine flour, salt and baking powder in work bowl fitted with metal blade. Pulse 3 times at 1second intervals to mix. Cut butter into 1 tablespoon pieces and add to work bowl. Process, pulsing repeatedly at 1second intervals, until the mixture is fine and powdery, resembles a coarseground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible about 15 pulses in all.

Scatter the minimum amount of water on the butter and flour mixture and pulse 5 or 6 times the dough should begin holding together. If the mixture still appears dry and crumbly, add the remaining water, 1 teaspoon at a time for the smaller quantity of dough,one tablespoon at a time for the larger quantity, until the dough holds together easily.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a disk (two equal disks for the larger amount of dough). Sandwich the disk(s) of dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and press it into a 6inch circle. Refrigerate the dough until firm, or until you are ready to use it, at least 1 hour.


Friday, June 21, 2013

FFWD ~ Sablé Breton Galette with Berries

Sablé Breton Galette with Berries

Summer officially begins today, as the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year.  This year's summer solstice also stands out because, it will be followed shortly after by the largest “supermoon”. 
Since summer is finally upon us, it’s time to celebrate, and do something to welcome those long warm days of the season.  Maybe enjoy a day at the beach…I crave those long relaxing days of sitting on the sand, reading a great mystery!  Or a picnic might be more your style!  I love packing a simple lunch to enjoy outdoors. However, you could just bake this wonderful Sablé Breton Galette with Berries. It’s this weeks pick for French Friday’s and, is a perfect way to welcome in the summer season.  This galette just screams summer!  A lovely buttery sable cookie crust (french shortbread), with lemon curd and lots and lots of fresh berries.

Lovely to look at and delicious to eat
First, make your Sablé cookie crust. Whisk together flour and baking powder. In the bowl of the stand mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Then add the sugar, salt, and beat for a few more minutes. Now add the egg and beat another minute.  Reduce the speed, add the flour mixture, and mix only until blended. The dough will be very soft. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. When ready, roll out the dough or, pat into prepared tart pan.  Bake for 40 minutes or until nicely browned.
To assemble, spread with lemon curd and arrange the berries on top. I used store bought lemon curd but you could make your own.
The internet is full of lovely fresh berry desserts, to help you welcome in the summer, but if your only going to try one, this is the one!!  An absolute winner!  Easy, delicious and impressive!  Happy Friday everyone! And Happy Summer!

This recipe can be found in Dorie’s Newsletter July 2009.

This one was a winner
Sooooo Good!
Happy Summer everyone!  Hope your days are filled with fields of Sunflowers!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesdays with Dorie ~ Cheese and Tomato Galette on Wednesday!

Cheese and Tomato Galette for TWD

*A note to my readers. Google Reader will be retiring July first. If you follow my blog, or any blogs through Google Reader, consider making a switch to Bloglovin.  The switch is painless. I switched mine out last week.  Bloglovin did a great job integrating all the blogs I follow from Reader, and all I did was push a button.  So please, follow my blog with Bloglovin! (and all your other favorites, too)! You can also subscribe by e-mail by typing your e-mail address into the box in the right side bar, and click submit. Thank you! 


Well, here it is Wednesday, and I’m finally getting up my TWD post! I’ve been away this past week, kid sitting for my grandchildren.  Although we had a lot of fun, I haven’t had much time for baking and posting on my blog.   However, Saturday, my 9 year old granddaughter and I baked Strawberry pies with strawberries we picked. I will be posting about them soon.  She is becoming quite a good baker. Watching her, trying to get just the right photo of her pies, was a treat for me. Future food blogger??
This weeks TWD recipe was a true winner! The recipe was for  Cheesey Tomato Galette, contributed by baker Flo Braker. I made my dough several days in advance, and refrigerated it.  That made it really easy to put the galette together and bake. This galette was delicious. The flavors were like a really good Margherita pizza.  I’m sure this recipe would also lend itself well to other toppings.  I know I’ll be making this delectable galette, many more times over the summer.  I’m thinking of serving several as appetizers on Fourth of July.  They would also make a great light lunch. I will be trying a few different toppings next time.  Don’t you think sliced zucchini would work well on top?  Or maybe eggplant?

To make the Galette, you first make and roll out your dough,  place the filling over the top,  leaving  enough of an edge to fold up.  This galette called for Monterey Jack and Mozzarella cheeses mixed together with basil, then sprinkled on top of the dough. Tomatoes are then layered on top. I topped mine with some sea salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  It was scrumptious!  A hit with everyone at the table, and a truly enjoyable, delicious recipe! Tomato season is almost upon us, you should give this one a try.  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

This tart is rustic and doesn’t need to be perfect…roll out your dough
Layer on the mixed cheeses and tomatoes, fold up sids of dough so that it pleats around the filling..ready for the oven
Serve this galette warm or at room temperature
This will be a Fourth of July treat at my house
Totally delicious!

Cheese and Tomato Galette

Adapted from the book Baking with Julia

Galette Dough, Makes enough for two 8 inch galettes
3 tablespoons sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk)
1/3 cup (approximately) ice water
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 or 8 pieces

2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 ounces mozzarella, preferably fresh, shredded
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade or torn
2 to 3 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
          Basil leaves for garnish 

Combine the sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk) with the ice water, and set aside.  To make the dough by hand, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt.  Cut in the butter to the flour mixture with a pastry blender, until the butter is about the size of peas.  Sprinkle the sour cream mixture over the dough, one tablespoon at a time, and toss with a fork to moisten.  Add just enough sour cream mixture so the dough will hold together when you press it.
If you are using a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients to combine.  Then add your butter, and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is about the size of peas.  Add in the sour cream mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the dough forms moist cruds and holds together when pressed.
Turn the dough out and bring it into a ball.  Divide in half, and flatten each half into a disk.  Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours.  Dough will keep in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for 2 months. 
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and preheat the over to 400° F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
To prepare the filling, toss the cheeses and basil together in a small bowl, and slice your tomatoes.
Roll out one of the galette disks into an 11 inch circle that is about 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer the dough, by draping it over your rolling pin, to your prepared cookie sheet. 
Spread the cheese mixture over the rolled out dough, leaving a 2 to 3 inch border.  Place the tomatoes in concentric circles, slightly overlapping the last.  When the cheese is covered, fold the edges of the dough over the tomatoes.  It should fold naturally, however there is no need for perfection.  This galette should be a bit rustic.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway though, until the edges are golden and the cheese mixture is bubbling.  Allow to rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature. It is best served the same day. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

FFWD ~ Back of the Card Cheese and Olive Bread

Delicious Back of the Card Cheese and Olive Bread
Our assignment, for this weeks French Friday, was for a savory quick bread called “Back of the Card Cheese and Olive Bread”.   Some of my favorite recipes come from the back of the box such as, Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, Rice Krispie Treats and Quaker Oatmeal cookies. I’m sure everyone has a favorite "back of the box" recipe.  Dorie’s recipe is not from the back of the box, but from the back of the card. She tells us, this recipe was on cards given out by the Comté cheese company, and distributed to fromageries all over France.  Her version uses olive tapenade, cured black olives, grated cheese, and a touch of citrus zest. The recipe suggests Comté, Swiss, Cheddar or Gruyere.  I didn’t have any of the above in the fridge.  I was getting ready to leave for a week on Long Island, so I wasn’t able to go shopping.  I decided to use what I had in my fridge instead, which was a mixture of Gouda and Provolone.  Gouda, being very mild, worked well with the sharp taste of the Provolone. Olives were no problem.  I always have a mixture of olives on hand.  This bread came together quite easily, and was wonderfully delicious!  
A lovely versatile bread…changing the add-ins gives you a lot of options

I will definitely be making this one again. Next time, I will be trying Dorie's bonne idée of adding sun-dried tomatoes instead of the olives.  This bread is quite versatile. I can see changing up the ingredients by using different cheeses and add-ins, such as roasted red peppers, nuts, or maybe some pesto instead of the tapenade. 
We enjoyed this right out of the oven, with a bit of butter slathered on it.  Another keeper from this wonderful book!  Since I’m visiting with my daughter and grandchildren this week, I’m a bit late posting.  So, Happy Saturday everyone!

Dorie shared this recipe in her June, 2009, Newsletter.  To see what the other Dorista’s are up to you can check it out here.
Very nice!!
Moist, savory and delectable