Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chestnut Bûche de Noel - Yule Log



Chestnut Bûche de Noel - Yule Log

Yield: 12-14 servings

Batter:

3/4 cup Cake flour
3/4 tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Salt
5 Eggs
3/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Chestnut Filling:

1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 egg yolk
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
30 whole cooked chestnuts
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp heavy cream
1/3 cup powder sugar

Mocha Silk Frosting:

1 1/4 cup powder sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp Instant coffee
5 1/3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tbsp heavy cream

Cake:

Have ready a clean lint-free dish towel and preheat oven to 400 F.Prepare 12"x18" jelly roll pan by greasing it, lining bottom and sides with wax paper, or parchment paper, and greasing the paper.
Bring eggs to room temperature and separate. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat yolks until thick and pale. Gradually add 6 T sugar, beating well after each addition. Mixture should fall in thick ribbon when beaters are lifted. Add vanilla and beat again.With clean dry beaters, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating constantly, until whites stand in firm, glossy, moist peaks. Fold 1/3 whites into yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold remaining whites in too.Gradually fold dry ingredients into egg mixture; fold in gently but thoroughly.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan, making sure to get it into the corners. Put pan into oven immediately. Bake 10-12 minutes, just until cake is golden on top and tester comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from oven; working quickly, cover jelly roll pan FIRST with clean towel, then with inverted cookie sheet. Turn over pan, towel, and sheet to turn out cake. Remove jelly roll pan; peel off wax paper. Slide towel and cake onto counter; cake is wrong side up. Cut off any crisp edges, fold one end of towel over short end of cake, and roll cake in towel. Place rolled cake seam side down on wire rack or cookie sheet to cool completely.

Chestnut Buttercream Filling:

Combine sugar, egg yolk, salt, vanilla, and cream. Using an electric mixer, beat for 8 minutes at medium speed. Without washing beaters, cream butter until light. Add yolk mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well after each addition. Set basic buttercream aside.Using a food processor, puree chestnuts with butter, cream, and powdered sugar. Stir chestnut puree into buttercream, blending thoroughly. If necessary, thin with a little more cream to bring to very spreadable consistency.

Mocha Silk Frosting:

Powder instant coffee by placing in plastic bag and crushing with rolling pin. Mix together sugar, cocoa, and coffee. Add remaining ingredients and beat for 1 minute at medium speed. If necessary, add a little more cream to make frosting easy to spread.


Unroll cooled cake, leaving it on towel; don't worry about the cake looking deflated, it will perk up soon. Spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over cake, all the way to the edges. Spread 2 cups filling over thin layer of frosting, pushing generous amount into curved end. Roll up again, without towel but using it to help roll. Place cake, seam side down, on cake plate or tray.Remove any excess filling from ends and seam edge. Refrigerate for 1 hour to firm filling.Trim and discard (or eat!) a thin slice from one end of chilled cake; cut and reserve wedge from other end. Spread a small amount of filling on top center of cake and press reserved wedge on it to make the "knothole."Frost entire cake with remaining frosting, building frosting up around sides of "knothole." Do NOT cover knothole top! Work frosting as far under roll as possible. Repeatedly draw narrow metal spatula lengthwise through the frosting to simulate rough texture of bark. Snip pieces of angelica into leaf shapes and cut glace cherries in half to make log decorations. And add Maroon Glace around the sides,
Also you can make mushroom meringues and add them, sprinkle the cake with shredded chocolate and powder sugar.

Chestnut Puree

Chestnut Dessert Puree
(Makes about 8 cups thick puree)
4 pounds large, heavy chestnuts (watch out for worm holes)
4 cups water, more if necessary
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
Optional: non-fat milk or cream (to thin the puree)
1. Halve chestnuts with a heavy knife or cleaver. Place in a very large skillet or saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Boil for about 10 minutes or until the shells can easily be removed.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Remove chestnuts, a few at a time, from the water. Peel off shell sand husks, then place nuts in a large heavy saucepan. Add water,sugar, and vanilla bean to the pan and stir to mix in the sugar. The liquid should just cover the chestnuts. (Add more water if it doesn't.)
4. bake chestnuts uncovered till tender ,depending upon dryness of the nuts. Stir nuts and keep adding water if necessary, until they are very tender and the syrup is very thick.
5. Let chestnuts cool completely in the syrup, then puree them in batches in a food processor or blender, adding milk or cream if you want to have a thinner puree. Press the entire mixture through the fine disc of a food mill. Divide the puree among 1- or 2-cup freezer containers. Seal, date, and freeze.

note: You can cook the chestnut on the stove, they require attendant, and stirring often, so the heat distributed evenly and doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

Maroon Glace


This is a home made recipe for candied chestnuts if you cannot find it in your local store.

Its delicious and easy if you follow the instruction.

Score a cross or x on the brown shell of the chestnuts with a sharp knife and bake them for about twenty minutes at 250 F. ( if you have a non stick pan you can do that on top of the stove) This will make them easier to peel. Let them cool for couple of minutes to enable you peel them without burning your hands. Remove the outer shell and the brown membrane as carefully as possible, being sure to leave the chestnut whole. If you got broken pieces, chop them and add them to the frosting.
Boil the chestnuts for twenty minutes and let them sit in the hot water for half an hour afterward. This softens the nut, and lets it soak up the sugar later. Taste one; they should be soft.

While the chestnuts are soaking, prepare the sugar syrup in a separate saucepan. For each measure of chestnuts that you are making, add one measure of water and one and half of sugar to a large saucepan. Place the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. With a candy thermometer, take the temperature of the syrup. When the syrup reaches 230-235F “thread stage,” add the chestnuts to the syrup. The thread stage is also the point at which a bit of the sugar syrup will spin a thread between the thumb and forefinger when it is plunged suddenly into a cup of ice water: don’t stir the chestnuts, let them cook in the syrup.
The goal now is to bring the chestnuts slowly to the “soft ball stage,” at 235-240 F, and to keep them there for about fifteen to twenty minutes. The mixture will continue to boil, which is not a problem, but do not let it get hotter than 240 F. If it does, just take the pot off the heat for a minute or so , then bring it back, to the stove.
Some recipes say that you should re-apply the syrup again to the nuts by repeating the above procedure, by ladling syrup over them, or even by baking it onto them as a final step. I find that these steps either break them up too much or else have no real effect on the finished product. In other words, you’re done. Drain them using a colander and store in the refrigerator .

Monday, December 22, 2008

LAYALI LUBNAN - LEBANESE NIGHTS (PUDDING)


Layali Lubnan - Lebanese nights
Ingredients
8 cups of cold milk
1/2 cups semolina
2 eggs
2 tbsp rose water + orange blossom water
¼ tsp of ground mustikah gum(optional)
4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Topping
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts

Preparation
Pour the milk into a large saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, and slowly pour in the semolina in a steady stream, stirring continuously. Continue to stir and cook until the mixture thickens and boils for 1 to 2 minutes.
Mix the eggs with the flavouring, Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the eggs and rose water, return the pot to the heat and stir so the eggs cooks and combined well with the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a 9x13 inch serving dish, or into individual cups. Allow the pudding to cool slightly, and then cover with plastic wrap directly on the top. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 5 hours or overnight.
Heat 1/2 cup of the sugar, plus 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, don’t stir , let the sugar dissolve and turns to light golden brown, immediately remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the water. Do not worry if the mixture bubbles and hardens a bit, it will dissolve. Return the pan to the stove, and stir in the remaining sugar until dissolved. Add the lemon juice, to the sugar syrup, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and chill. The syrup will keep for a month if refrigerated in a sealed container.
To serve, whip the whipping cream with sugar until fluffy, chill before you use it. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the pudding sprinkle with chopped nuts. Cut into squares and serves with the caramel syrup poured over it.




LEBANESE NEW YEAR'S EVE RICE PUDDING - RIZ BI HALEEB


This pudding is simple, light and white for successful pure New Year
Ingredients:
1/2 cup short grain rice, (Arborio rice or Egyptian round rice)
4 cups homogenized milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon each of rose water and orange water (or vanilla)
¼ tsp of ground mustikah gum (optional - sold at Middle Eastern Stores)

Preparation:
Combine rice, milk, and cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly until it boils. Lower the heat and let it boil gently until it thickens, stirring every few minutes. Add sugar and cook until sugar dissolve; use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture. Add the flavoured water and the mistakah gum.

To check if the pudding is cooked, dip your wooden spoon in the hot pudding, and turn it and draw a line with your finger on the back of the spoon, if the line stays still and did not move, the pudding is cooked. Shut the heat, add the mustikah and the flavoured water, stir to combine and then serve in separate bowls.
Serve cold.
Enjoy

Lebanese Festive Rice Pudding - MI-GH-LEH







In the beginning Mighleh was prepared on Christmas Eve to celebrate the Birth of Baby Jesus.
Tradition carried on to every house with a new born baby, you can smell the cooked rice pudding filling the air.



Ingredients:
1 cup of pounded rice (Rice Powder)
8-9 cups of water (some rice requires 9 cups)
11/2 -13/4 cups of sugar (depends on your taste)
1 tbsp of Caraway seeds
1 tbsp of anise seeds
1 tbsp of Cinnamon

preparation:

Using a fine strainer, rinse the whole spices specially the anise seeds, which contains sand, let them dry on a paper towel, then ground them in an electric spice machine.

In a thick bottom pot add 4 cups of water and the rice, if you are using store bought ground spices, add the spices to the other half of the water in a bowl, and stir by hand, then wait couple of minutes you will notice that the spices will float to the surface. Carefully and making sure not to stir the bottom drain the water and the spices, over the pot with the rest of the water. You will see that there is sand resting in the bottom of the bowl.

Using a wooden spoon stir the mixture in the pot and cook on a medium high heat until it starts bubling and boiling, lower the heat, and keep stirring as it will stick to the bottom of the pot, add the sugar and keep stirring, if the rice thickened before it cooked completely add ½ cup of water, be careful to lower the heat as the pudding will stick to the bottom of the pot. It will take around 45-50 minutes for he pudding to cook. Check the texture by putting a spoon of the mixture in a plate and leave it to cool if the mixture is still runny and not thick keep boiling, when it start to thicken it will bubble outside the pot lower the heat Taste for doneness and for sweetness. Serve in bowls or in a big platter. Leave till cool completely before you decorate the top with unsweetened coconuts, silvered almond, walnuts, pistachios and pine nuts.

Note: soak the nuts in hot water for 15 minutes to be able to peel the skin easily.




Sunday, December 21, 2008

Choose your food - Your body will thank you(Part I of Healthy Eating



All fruits are stellar sources of nutrients, but strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries stand out from the pack.
They're high in vitamin and fiber content.
They're an excellent source of antioxidants, compounds that protect our bodies from the stress of day to day living. The antioxidant anthocyanin has tripled the stress-fighting power of vitamin C and is known to block cancer-causing damage as well as the effects of many age-related diseases.
They give your memory a boost. The antioxidants in berries are believed to enhance brain function.
Fresh berries are kind to the waistline; they are naturally high in water and low in calories. Dried berries also provide excellent nutrition, but since most of the water is missing, their calories are more concentrated and you’ll usually wind up eating more of them.
Stock up on fresh berries in the summer, when they’re plentiful and inexpensive. Freeze them in small plastic bags to get an antioxidant blast year round. Stir berries into yogurt, sprinkle them on cereal or blend them in smoothies.




We all know citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C; one orange has a whole day’s requirement. But that's not all citrus fruits have to offer.
Citrus juice contains Flavonoids, a phytonutrient that lowers the body's production of cholesterol, inhibits blood clot formation and boosts the bang of vitamin C.
They’re also loaded with soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol, maintains healthy blood sugar levels, and helps you to manage your weight.
That explosion of scent that erupts when you grate a citrus peel is produced by limonene, oil found in the peel that might inhibit a variety of cancers.
Oranges and grapefruits are in peak season during the winter. Their bright flavours are a perfect antidote to a cold, dreary day. Lemons and limes, available year-round, are especially welcome during summer’s heat.


Stock your fridge with a rainbow of vegetables and you'll have a natural pharmacy in your kitchen.
Orange and yellow-hued veggies like winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes and leafy greens contain carotenoids, a pigment our body converts to vitamin A. Eating lots of these vegetables will help maintain healthy skin and hair, protect against prostate cancer, promote healthy vision and even provide protection from sunburn.
Lycopene, the plant chemical responsible for the ruby red of tomatoes and watermelon, is believed to fight cancer and promote heart health.
Green vegetables like broccoli and spinach are sky-high in potent anti-cancer compounds like sulforaphane and quercetin.
Although garlic and onions may lack the vibrant colors of other vegetables, they contain diallyl sulfide and saponins, compounds that add distinctive flavours to our recipes and fight cancer and heart disease.
There’s no such thing as a bad vegetable. In addition to their phytonutrients, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, and are a crucial component of any healthy eating plan


Whole grains are often in the news these days, and for good reason.
They’re delicious, inexpensive and packed with protein, B vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Grains contain many of the same antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
Research shows a diet high in whole grains may help prevent heart disease, some cancers, obesity and diabetes.
Look for grains in their least processed form, and try to eat them everyday. Some immediate benefits you might notice are stable blood sugar, less hunger between meals, and better weight management. Sure, cooking whole grains can sometimes take a little longer to prepare than their quick and instant counterparts, but the benefits and flavour of whole grain are worth the extra effort.

All fish are great sources of protein and low in saturated fat. But cold-water fish, like salmon, mackerel and herring, are premiere sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These are fats our bodies can’t produce, so it’s essential we include them in our diet. Omega-3s offer many benefits.
They reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
They minimize the symptoms of arthritis and inflammatory diseases.
They contribute to healthy skin and hair.
They may help with depression.
Don’t love fish? You can get your omega-3s from flaxseed, walnuts, almonds and grass-fed beef, although the oils are of a lesser nutritional quality than the those found in seafood.Salmon is an easy fish to obtain. Most grocery stores and many restaurants carry it. It's also easy to cook. The high fat level makes salmon perfect for grilling, roasting or sautéing without sticking or drying out. Although wild salmon can be pricey, it has an amazing flavor and higher levels of omega-3s than farm-raised fish. Look for fresh wild salmon in spring and summer, and farm-raised salmon year-round.

Choose your Food - Part II of Healthy Eating







The inexpensive legume family, which includes beans, peas, peanuts and lentils, has priceless benefits.
Legumes are rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and antioxidants.
Their high protein and complex carbohydrates provide steady energy that lasts for hours.
They are especially high in soluble fibber, and a daily serving of cooked beans may lower blood cholesterol by as much as 18 percent, decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Most legumes also contain protease inhibitors, compounds thought to suppress cancer cells and slow tumour growth.
And then there are the robotics in beans, substances that aid in beneficial bacteria growth in the intestine.
All legumes, and especially soy, are important in vegetarian diets for their high protein content.
Best of all, beans taste great, dried beans have a superior taste and texture but they take longer to cook. Canned beans offer a quick alternative and most of the same health benefits. Rinse canned beans with water before cooking and you’ll remove as much as 40 percent of the sodium used in processing.









Although high in calories, nuts often enable people to maintain or lose weight. A small handful eaten between meals or added to salads, grains or vegetables gives a sense of satiety and results in less total food intake. Nuts have great nutritional benefits, as well.
Almonds, pecans and pistachios are rich in protein.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Toss sesame seeds in a meal for extra calcium and vitamin E.
Sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are particularly good sources of phytosterols, also known as plant sterols, which promote heart health.
Since nuts are high in fats, they can easily become rancid. Store them in the freezer to extend their life. Nuts are also delicious, so it’s also a good idea to practice portion control. Measure out small portions and take care to not eat them mindlessly from a large container.







Protein is an important part of every diet and is found in many different foods. Lean protein, the best kind, can be found in fish, skinless chicken and turkey, pork tenderloin and certain cuts of beef, like the top round. Low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, ricotta and other cheeses supply both protein and calcium.
Protein is crucial for tissue repair, building and preserving muscle, and making important enzymes and hormones.
Lean meats and dairy contribute valuable minerals like calcium, iron, selenium and zinc. These are not only essential for building bones, and forming and maintaining nerve function, but also for fighting cancer, forming blood cells and keeping immune systems robust.

Tea is the second most popular drink in the world (water is the top choice). Although most people think of tea as a soothing and delicious beverage, it possesses a remarkable wealth of antioxidants. All teas, whether black, green, oolong or white, are harvested from the leaves of a variety of plant known as the camellia sinensis. The primary distinction between the different teas is the amount of fermentation they undergo. Black teas are the most fermented, white teas the least. Herbal teas are not technically teas since they do not include camellia sinensis leaves.
All true teas contain polyphenols, powerful antioxidants believed to protect against heart disease, certain cancers and stroke.
The various levels of fermentation affect teas in different ways. Recent studies have shown drinking green tea might boost metabolism, oolong teas can lower blood sugar, and black teas can promote oral health.
Tea contains half the caffeine of coffee.
Tea is not just for drinking: it has been used for centuries in marinades and as a flavouring agent in dishes.

Choose Your Food - Part III of Healthy Eating




Olive oil is a staple in any kitchen. It's the base of many salad dressings and is also used as an ingredient in sauces and marinades; as a dip for bread; and for sautéing, roasting, frying and baking. Extra-virgin olive oil can be used as a condiment when drizzled over a bowl of pasta or platter of roasted vegetables.
Olive oil is an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that may lower the bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol.
It contains Vitamin E and antioxidants.
It's an excellent replacement for unhealthy saturated fats like butter.
Extra-virgin olive oil has the highest concentration of Vitamin E and antioxidants. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil on uncooked dishes, where its assertive flavour will complement your finished dishes. Lighter olive oils like those labelled pure, refined or light contain lower concentrations of nutrients but withstand higher temperatures required for cooking.Although olive oil has great health benefits, it also has a lot of calories. It’s 100 percent fat, and like all liquid oils, contains about 120 calories per tablespoon.