Sweet Lavender Scones

Lavendar SconesI never thought that I’d actually make my own scones at home (my baby sister is the baker of the family), but I found this recipe to be quite easy to pull off. If you can’t find lavender buds (they’re in the spice section of the more higher-end grocery stores), you can substitute with another flavour profile, maybe up the lemon? Or add some almond bits and some almond extract for a nutty scone? The possibilities are really endless. I do recommend the lavender though, it add a nice floral note, and you can always use the leftover buds to make lavender cookies, lavender sugar, lavender sachets…. You get the idea 🙂 This recipe will make 16 tea sized scones.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk*
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar
1½ cups store-bought lemon curd (for serving)

* Click here for tips on zesting and how to make buttermilk.

Directions:

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and then preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, lavender buds, salt and baking soda. Add the chilled butter in cubes, and rub it through the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the buttermilk, the lemon zest and the vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix until a shaggy dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and then knead until a cohesive dough forms, about 2-3 minutes. Gently shape the dough into a 10×6″ rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2 triangles. Divide the triangles between the two baking sheets. Brush each triangle with the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake until scones are golden and a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, 13–15 minutes. Transfer the scones to wire racks to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd.

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Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo BarsFor the mint version of this dessert, add some mint extract and green food colouring to the middle layer. This recipe will make about 32 bars.

Ingredients:

Bottom Layer:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs, beaten
3 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)

Middle Layer:
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup plus 2 teaspoons heavy cream
¼ cup custard powder (if you can’t find this, use vanilla pudding mix)
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract (for mint flavoured option)
2-3 drops green food colouring (for mint flavoured option)

Top Layer:
8 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter

Directions:

For the bottom layer:
In the top of a double boiler, combine 1cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. In a small bowl, beat the 2 eggs until they are well combined. While constantly mixing, add a small amount of the cocoa mixture to the egg mixture so that the eggs can come up to temperature. Slowly add the egg mixture to the main cocoa mixture, until both are combined. Make sure to whisk the entire time so that the eggs do not cook and curdle. The mixture will thicken up, after about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove it from the heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds (if you like). Press into the bottom of an un-greased 9×13 inch pan.

For the middle layer:
Cream together 1 cup butter, heavy cream and custard powder (pudding mix), and if using, the mint extract and food colouring, until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.

For the top layer:
While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter together in the microwave or over low heat. Spread over the chilled bars. Return to the refrigerator to let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.

Chinese Restaurant Almond Cookies

Chinese Restaurant Almond CookiesPersonally, I’m not a huge “almond flavour” person. I hate marzipan! My caveat however is this recipe! I LOVE these cookies. There is just something about them that is so delicious and not overly sweet. Traditionally, this recipe would call for the use of lard. For obvious reasons, lard would not work for me. The compromise here is to use half butter/margarine and half Crisco/vegetable shortening. You can use 100% of either, instead of a mix, but I find the mix works best. This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

2 ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup Crisco or vegetable shortening
1 egg
2 teaspoons almond extract
6-10 drops yellow food colouring (optional)
48 almonds or almond slivers
1 egg (for egg wash)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together into a bowl. Cut in the butter/margarine until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add egg, almond extract and food colouring. Mix well.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Set them 2 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a floured glass, gently press down the cookies to flatten them, to about a ¼ inch. I don’t suggest using your fingers, as they will leave grooves in the cookie that the egg wash will settle in. Place an almond on top of each cookie and press down to slightly. Brush each cookie lightly with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven until the edges of the cookies are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Enjoy!

Due Finali Dolci

TiramisuTiramisu

This dish, again seems to be a bit labour intensive, but again, worth it! The best advice I have for you is to make it at least a day in advance, if not two, so that the flavours have a chance to meld and develop. If not, you might find it somewhat bland and unbalanced. I also recommend serving it chilled.

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks
¾ cup white sugar
⅔ cup milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound mascarpone cheese
½ cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature (espresso is even better)
4 tablespoons rum or alcohol of choice
2 (3 ounce) packages ladyfinger cookies
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, don’t stop, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow it to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour. Remove from the fridge and whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth, you may wish to use an electric beater for this if you have one, it will make the job easier and give you a silky texture. In a separate medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum. Take each lady finger and dip it into the coffee mixture. Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a 7×11 inch dish. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set, but preferably overnight or even a day or two.

BiscottiItalian Biscotti

This recipe is for a basic almond cookie, but the flavour options are endless. You can replace the extracts with ones of your choosing, such as anise, orange or lemon. You can add, remove or change the nuts used, or use chocolate chips or poppy seeds instead. Add citrus zest or dried cranberries! You are truly only limited by your imagination.

Original recipe makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

12 ounces butter/margarine
1 ¾ cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 ounces chopped almonds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, and then add eggs one at a time, beating until fluffy. Stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and then incorporate them into the egg mixture along with the chopped almonds. Stir the dough with a spoon until it begins to come together. I find it easier, once the basic dough has formed, to then dump it out onto a clean floured surface and knead by hand at this point. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll each piece into a log about 15 inches long (or as long as your baking sheets are). Place logs onto cookie sheets, two to a sheet, the long way. Flatten the logs out until they are about 3 inches wide with a slight hump going down the middle. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, then remove them from the oven. The loaves should be firm to the touch. Transfer the logs to a rack to cool slightly, and then using a serrated blade, cut the loaves into diagonal slices ½ inch wide. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Stand the slices upright on the baking sheet and bake for another 40 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Baklava

Baklava

Baklava is an interesting dessert in that many different regions claim ownership over it. The Greeks, the Persians, the Turks and Arabs, they all want it! Truth is, I can’t blame them! It really is delicious! I got this recipe from Mrs. Alexopoulos, a wonderful Greek woman, who while not Moroccan, I’m sure wouldn’t mind me using it here during Moroccan week.

Ingredients:

8 oz. walnuts, finely ground
8 oz. almonds, finely ground
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup unsalted melted butter or margarine
1 lbs. Fyllo pastry

Sauce:
3 cups sugar
2 lemon slices
4 cups water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with some of the butter/margarine. Lay a sheet of fyllo dough in the bottom of the pan, brushing lightly with the butter/margarine. Layer 4 more sheets in the pan, brushing each with butter/margarine. Sprinkle the fyllo with some of the nut mixture and cover with 2 more fyllo sheets, brushing each with butter/margarine. Sprinkle the fyllo with the nut mixture. Repeat the layers of fyllo and nuts until all the nut mixture is used, making 4 or 5 layers. Cover the last layer of nuts with 4 to 6 sheets of fyllo that should be left, again brushing each lightly with butter/margarine. Turn under the edges of the fyllo and score the surface into diamond shaped serving pieces with a sharp knife. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

To make the syrup; put the sugar, lemon slices and water in a large sauce pan and boil over a medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the lemon slices. The syrup should be thin, but not watery. When the baklava has cooled completely, pour the hot syrup over it. Let it stand for at least 3 hours before serving, so that the syrup is absorbed completely.

Moroccan Cigars – 3 Ways

regular morrocan

Moroccan Pastilles

Ingredients:

2 pounds Ground meat
½ cup water
6-7 bay leaves
Salt
Pepper
1 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ cup oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pound fyllo dough
Melted margarine (for between fyllo layers)

Directions:

In a medium size sauté pan, brown the meat along with the water, 4 – 5 bay leaves, salt, pepper, mace, nutmeg and turmeric. Reduce heat, and let rest until all of the moisture has evaporated. Let the meat mixture cool to room temperature, and then grind it along with 2 bay leaves, oil and lemon juice. Once fully ground and combined, form the meat into small flat balls. Refrigerate the balls until they have completely cooled. On a clean work surface lay out a sheet of the fyllo dough. Using a pastry brush, baste the melted margarine on the dough sheet. Place a second sheet of dough on top of the first sheet.
Triangle Fold

Using scissors, divide the sheets length wise into 2” strips. Place one of the meat balls at the base of the dough strip. Fold the dough, alternating angles, until the entire strip is used, and the pastille is shaped like a triangle. Repeat this process with the rest of the meat. Once all the meat has been used, place the triangle pastilles on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.

Cigar

Spicy Moroccan Pastilles

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground meat
½ cup water
6-7 bay leaves
½ cup oil
2 heads of garlic
1 heaping teaspoon cumin
1 heaping teaspoon paprika
1 heaping teaspoon salt
2-3 hot chilies
1 pound fyllo dough
Melted margarine (for between fyllo layers)

Directions:

In a medium size sauté pan, brown the meat along with the water, 4 – 5 bay leaves, salt, cumin, paprika and hot chilies. Reduce heat, and let rest until all of the moisture has evaporated. Let the meat mixture cool to room temperature, and then grind it along with 2 bay leaves, oil and garlic. Once fully ground and combined, form the meat into small flat cigars. Refrigerate the cigars until they have completely cooled. On a clean work surface lay out a sheet of the fyllo dough. Using a pastry brush, baste the melted margarine on the dough sheet. Place a second sheet of dough on top of the first sheet. Using scissors, divide the sheets length wise into 3” strips. Place one of the meat cigars at the base of the dough strip. Fold the sides into the centre, and then roll up the length of the dough, creating a cigar look. Repeat this process with the rest of the meat. Once all of the meat has been used, place the cigar pastilles on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sweet Chicken

Sweet Chicken Moroccan Pastilles

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground chicken
1 onion
1 heaping teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup raisins (optional)
1 pound fyllo dough
Melted margarine (for between fyllo layers)

Directions:

In a medium size sauté pan, brown the meat along with the water, onion, sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, and let rest until all of the moisture has evaporated. Let the meat mixture cool to room temperature, and then grind it along with the almonds and raisins. Once fully ground and combined, form the meat into small flat balls. Refrigerate the balls until they have completely cooled. On a clean work surface lay out a sheet of the fyllo dough. Using a pastry brush, baste the melted margarine on the dough sheet. Place a second sheet of dough on top of the first sheet. Using scissors, divide the sheets length wise into 2” strips. Place one of the meat balls at the base of the dough strip. Fold the dough, alternating angles, until the entire strip is used, and the pastille is shaped like a triangle. Repeat this process with the rest of the meat. Once all the meat has been used, place the triangle pastilles on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.

Dates – תמרים

Date in Hebrew is תמרים related to the word תם—to end, and so on that note we make the following request when eating this symbolic date:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that there come an end to our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us.

So having this in mind, here are two recipes for how to serve up your war-ending dates this year!

Dolci Datteri

Dolci Datteri – Sweet Stuffed Dates

Makes 24 dates

Ingredients:

24 pitted dates
½ cup chopped, toasted pine nuts (or nut of your choice)
6 tablespoons red wine
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
½ cup honey

Directions:

Stuff dates with chopped nuts in the empty cavity left by removing the pit. Place the dates in a medium sized sauté pan. Sprinkle with pepper if desired. Add wine, and then drizzle honey over the dates. Cook over a medium heat until the skins begin to peel off the fruit. Transfer the dates to a serving dish, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Angels on Camels

Devils on Horseback – Angels on Camels?

This recipe originally called for the use of bacon, but I’ve switched it up with the use of deli meat instead, and re-named them Angels on Camels rather than Devils!

Makes 20 dates

Ingredients:

20 wooden toothpicks
¼ cup reduced-sodium or regular soy sauce
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup brown sugar
20 dates, pitted
20 whole smoked or roasted almonds
10 thin slices of turkey or beef pastrami, cut in half to make strips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Soak the toothpicks in a bowl of water (so they don’t burn in the oven). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce and ginger. In a separate shallow bowl place the brown sugar. Spread open the pitted date, and stuff each one with an almond. Wrap a strip of the pastrami around the date and then secure in place with a toothpick. Dip the bundle in the soy mixture and then into the brown sugar, and then place on the prepared baking dish. Repeat this process with each of the dates. If desired, sprinkle a little more brown sugar over all of the bundles. Bake in the preheated oven until the pastrami is brown and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving; serve warm or at room temperature.