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After two visits to Italy I am loving all things Italian, especially the food, so I decided to try this Tuscan Christmas dessert. It is a dense confection of nuts, dried fruits, chocolate and spices and can last a long time. A challenging recipe, but we can learn from my mistakes too. I borrowed elements of this recipe from Epicurious.



I used a combination of 3 nuts, hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios and roasted all 3 in a pan for 7 minutes at 400 F.

Nuts preroasted

Nuts preroasted

I lowered the temp to the cooking temp of 300F so the oven would be ready for the finished cake.
I didn’t have the right size springform pan, 9 inch, which the recipe calls for so I lined a 9 inch square pan with baking parchment and sprayed with oil, very important, otherwise it will stick like glue!!
IMG_2774Mix together dry ingredients, flour spices and cocoa powder.

dry ingredients before mixing

dry ingredients before mixing

Mix all dry ingredients and then mix with dried fruit so fruit is covered completely.

Boiling honey and sugar to candy temp 238F

Boiling honey and sugar to candy temp 238F

Bring honey and sugar to a boil checking with a candy thermometer to reach 238F. Be VERY careful handling the boiling sugary mixture as you pour over fruit and flour mixture.

•4 teaspoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder plus additional for dusting
•2/3 cup all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
•1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
•1/4 teaspoon sea salt
•1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
•3 cups of mixed nuts, I used a combination of hazelnuts and almonds and pistachios
•1 cup soft pitted prunes (dried plums; 8 oz), quartered
•1 cup soft dried figs (preferably Mission; 8 oz), each cut into 6 pieces
•1/2 cup soft raisins 4 oz.
•1/2 cup dried apricots 4 oz.
•3/4 cup sugar
•2/3 cup honey
Special equipment: a 9-inch springform pan; parchment paper; a candy thermometer

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Line springform pan with parchment, using a round for bottom and a strip for side. Butter or PAM spray paper well and dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.
Whisk together flour, spices, salt, and 4 teaspoons cocoa in a large bowl, then stir in nuts and fruit.
Bring sugar and honey to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil without stirring until thermometer registers 238 to 240°F, about 2 minutes.
Immediately pour honey over fruit mixture and quickly stir until combined (mixture will be very thick and sticky). Quickly spoon mixture into springform pan, spreading evenly with back of spoon. Dampen your hands and press mixture firmly and evenly into pan to compact as much as possible. Bake in middle of oven until edges start to rise slightly and become matte, 50 to 55 minutes.

BE CAREFUL to watch, overcooking will result in DRY tough fruit!!

Cool panforte completely in pan on a rack, then remove side of pan and invert, peeling off paper. If making ahead, wrap panforte. To serve, dust with powdered sugar, cocoa powder, or like those from Sienna, lots of fresh ground pepper added to the dusting; cut with a serrated knife into small pieces.
Panforte can be made 1 month ahead and chilled, wrapped in parchment and then kept in a sealed plastic bag.


Raspberry and Fig Cake


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I adapted this recipe from Food and Wine

Raspberry and fig cake

Raspberry and fig cake

One of my main adaptations when I make any baked goods from a USA based recipe I cut the sugar at least in half. For this recipe I used 3/4 cup of sugar and it was easily sweet enough, even with the addition of tart raspberries. According to the original recipe I worked from this recipe is Scandanavian. A great coffee cake for brunch.
The cake is very simple, I decided to reduce the workload and not zest the limes, it turned out wonderfully tart anyway. I did add the lime juice called for. Pretty much I did what I could to further simplify the recipe and it was a winner.

3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 pint raspberries
4 figs, cut into eighths, or additional 1/2 pint raspberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
raspberry preserves

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and flour. Beat with a mixer the granulated sugar and eggs at high speed until fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the melted butter. At low speed, alternately beat in the flour and lime juice until mixed.
2. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Gently press in the raspberries and figs. Take small teaspoons of raspberry preserves and drop into batter dotted across the cake. Bake the cake on the bottom third of the oven for 40 minutes. Watch the cake until it is golden and tests with a clean toothpick inserted in middle.
3. Transfer the cake to a rack to cool. Run a thin knife around the edge and release the springform. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar.

Simple and beautiful. I think if you don’t have fresh figs available other malleable fruits could easily replace them. I used frozen raspberries as fresh were not in season and it turned out great. the addition of the raspberry jam offered just an extra punch of sweet/tart.

Variations on Eggs Benedict


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eggs benedict

eggs benedict

The well known chick-flick, Runaway Bride, focused on the recurring question throughout the movie of how did Maggy like her eggs. Her self-discovery answer at the movie’s end was “eggs benedict”. With the question posed repeatedly in the movie the viewer inevitably asks themselves, “How do I like MY eggs?”
I agree with Maggy, eggs benedict is a favorite, but it seems like one of those things that you just don’t throw together like a fried egg and toast. I’ve put together an adaptation that can be quick enough for a not too busy morning or a great simple brunch offering.

Eggs benedict can be problematic in Israel due to the lack of two traditional ingredients, Canadian bacon and English muffins. To resolve this I actually attempted to make homemade English muffins that turned out like dough hockey pucks. So to look for alternatives I decided on unsliced baguette or unsliced sourdough, a dense enough bread to succeed in the recipe and not absorb the hollandaise like a sponge.

Although I don’t keep kosher, I’ve come up with a meat kosher (if you use a butter substitute or olive oil in the hollandaise) or non-pork consumer alternative. Your choice. The base of the eggs benedict starts with a slab of sour dough bread you cut from the loaf yourself and toast. Then I take a lunch meat offering from packaged deli products (msg free only) or go to a specialty deli for a more kindred meat to original recipe meat and make an easy blender hollandaise taken from ‘Simply Recipes’

Easy Blender Hollandaise
•3 egg yolks (see how to separate eggs)
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
•10 tablespoons unsalted butter (if using salted butter, skip the added salt)

1 Melt the butter slowly in a small pot. Try not to let it boil – you want the moisture in the butter to remain there and not steam away.

2 Add the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and cayenne (if using) into your blender. Blend the egg yolk mixture at a medium to medium high speed until it lightens in color, about 20-30 seconds. The friction generated by the blender blades will heat the yolks a bit. The blending action will also introduce a little air into them, making your hollandaise a bit lighter.

3 Once the yolks have lightened in color, turn the blender down to its lowest setting (if you only have one speed on your blender it will still work), and drizzle in the melted butter slowly, while the blender is going. Continue to buzz for another couple seconds after the butter is all incorporated.

4 Turn off the blender and taste the sauce. It should be buttery, lemony and just lightly salty. If it is not salty or lemony enough, you can add a little lemon juice or salt to taste. If you want a thinner consistency, add a little warm water. Pulse briefly to incorporate the ingredients one more time. Store until needed in a warm spot, like on or next to the stovetop. Use within an hour or so.

Poach eggs a la Julia Child or rewatch ‘Julie and Julia’. Bring salted water to a soft bubbly simmer, crack open eggs and put in a small container, slide them into simmery water. As eggs cook in simmering water, gently coddle with slotted spoon until white becomes opaque, cover pan with a lid and spoon out when white just solidifies over the yolk. This will only take a few minutes.

Steam some spinach for a dressing, or just use another decorative green, heat the deli meat in microwave, assemble with toasted bread, 1 meat layer and place poached eggs on top. Pour easy hollandaise over and voila!

Rhubarb trifle, rhubarb pie


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rhubarb - Wikipedia Commons

rhubarb – Wikipedia Commons

Living in a few different parts of the world, some things just don’t exist in the local cuisine, even if they could. For instance, rhubarb. Growing up in north central North America, rhubarb was so plentiful, I remember picking it in the fields nearby with my cousin, taking it home, dipping it sugar and eating it raw. I can’t imagine doing that today! Tastes change in adulthood, like all of a sudden one day you wake up and like bleu cheese and avocados.

Rhubarb isn’t very common here in Israel and only appears seasonally and in a few special fruit stores. I still love it, but cooked only! It arrives here in large packages in the fruit markets so I make it at once or two batches. Like celery, it keeps well.

I usually like the flavor combination of rhubarb with strawberries so these two recipes feature both which are available at the same season.

5 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups strawberries
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Rhubarb-Strawberry Trifle

rhubarb-strawberry trifle

rhubarb-strawberry trifle

8 oz. mascarpone
1 cup whipping cream
4 ounces of philly cream cheese
1 tsp. of unflavored gelatin
1 tsp. cinnamon

For both recipes, I began with a large measuring Pyrex mixing bowl (wish I’d taken photos) and dice up about 5 cups of rhubarb. Add to that about two cups of strawberries, 7 cups total. Have a minimum of 5 cups of fruit for a standard pie plate. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup cornstarch 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Mix all together until all the fruit slices are covered with the dry mix.

For compote you will also need:
1 tbsp. lemon peel finely diced
1 cup dry red wine
1 tsp. cinnamon

Take out two cups of the fruit mixture and place in a saucepan with 1 cup of dry red wine and 1 tbsp. of finely minced lemon peel and add cinnamon. heat mixture in saucepan until rhubarb becomes completely softened and mixture is thickened. The wine deepens the flavor and gives a beautiful burgundy color to the compote. Cool in fridge completely before trifle making.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water. Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Microwave at high power for 5 seconds, just until the gelatin is melted. Whip the whipped cream until stiff peaks form.

Mix mascarpone and cream cheese together completely with a mixer. Add dissolved gelatin and water. Whip 1 cup of whipped cream until stiff peaks form. For cream mixture fold the mascarpone and cream cheese mixture in with whipped cream. Your trifle base is ready. Layer in a serving bowl, preferably galss, with cooled rhubarb-strawberry compote.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Double piecrust recipe:
1 cup cold butter
1 tsp. sea salt
2 1/2 cups flour
6 tablespoons of ice water

For Crust: I put all the ingredients except ice water in a food processor with main blade. Mixture should turn into a pea-like butter/flour mix. Add ice water slowly. If mix doesn’t hold together gently add tablespoons of ice water until it does. Take out and divide into two balls and roll out one ball for pie crust bottom. Line pie plate.

Pour in 5 cups of fruit mix above. Roll out top pie layer and place over fruit crimping all the edges. Pierce the top of the curst to avoid bubbling the crust. I usually add a design, this time was the day’s date, 3/7.
Bake at 350/185 c. oven until crust is browned, about an hour.

rhubarb strawberry pie - dated 3/7

rhubarb strawberry pie – dated 3/7

Bardak, Jerusalem – Pizza


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bardakbar (800x450)We have had a dream of opening a pizza place of our own in Israel. This is not only inspired by the idea of wanting great simple food and the love of Pizza, but the lack of what we consider, compared to the multiplicity of options in the States, GOOD pizza. Most slices easily grabbed as a single slice in the majority of pizza joints here are either too doughy, too soggy, lacking flavor or not original enough in their toppings. Cheese is more expensive than chicken per kilo in Israel, so a slice or a whole pizza is not a really a cheap meal, most family sized pies with more than one topping being an average of 80 shekels.

Pizza has its origin in Napoli, Italy, is a protected dish there that must be made to certain specs in order to be called pizza and has become the world’s most popular food. A few blocks away from the home I grew up in in the States was a real Neopolitan making authentic pizza, and that was it, just a place to pick up, carry-out, hardly a place to sit down (no delivery) and wait for an awesome pie where Dino, a devoted Italian artisan and family man was the only one manning the whole operation. It just was far above the pizza any of the chains were offering and probably ruined me for anything less. Of course Dino wasn’t making kosher pizzas, another stumbling block to great pizza in Israel, if you want to be kosher the toppings have to be meatless.

The concept of pizza in Israel is represented by the many chains where you can order a large pie, pick it up or have it delivered or where you can walk in and pick up a quick slice that is sitting cold under glass. Your cold slice will be heated up for you and you can sit there for a few minutes in a plastic chair and buy a drink from a fridge or run back to the street or your car and fill your stomach. Slices now run about 14-16 shekels.

Bardak is relatively new to the restaurant scene here, having opened in 2013 has now amazingly already been ranked #1 on tripadvisor for restaurants in Jerusalem. It is a restaurant, not just a pizza stop. I think they’ve done it, achieved a truly flavorful pizza with their sauces, hand-tossed crust with the right density and texture for local tastes. It is located in Talbiyeh, across from the Inbal hotel at the intersection of Jabotinsky and Keren Hayesod in a building block with several other eateries. They don’t deliver, but you can order on the phone +972-2-5877795 and pick up. They don’t offer a menu you can take home.

All the pizzas are hand tossed and the menu is divided up into designer pies named after Jerusalem neighborhoods, and cleverly most have just a little of that neighborhood’s personality in the pizza. Craft beers made in Israel are on tap as well as many other bottled varieties made right here locally. Sundays offer all you can drink draft beer for 65 shekels per person, not an offer I’d win at but a great value for those who can. The developer has created some surprising flavors and combinations using dried fruits, cumin, shukshuka sauce, kashkoval, tehina, eggplant, along with the more basic requests like mozzarella cheese, mushroom and tomato.

The hand-tossed crusts create a great result, not soggy, not too crispy for local tastes and not too doughy. Great sauces are incorporated and they don’t skimp on toppings. The atmosphere is intimate, warm and crowded, with a long wood bar and seating, nostalgic and amusing décor with posters of comics and old city street signs on the east wall. There is a tv for sports fans. Bardak offers mainly table and bar seating and is a pizza place that is a real restaurant, a destination, not a place to grab food and go, even though you can if you want.

A photo of the Bardak menu taken with my phone is featured here, not too clear but you get the idea.

bardak menu cellphone shot, sorry

Bardak menu cellphone shot, sorry

Quick and Easy Coca-cola Cake


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Coca-Cola Cake

Coca-Cola Cake

This recipe is my adaptation of a Southern classic, Coca-Cola cake. From my teen and college years until I hit young motherhood I drank one can of Coca-cola per day, it had to be the 12-ounce, non-diet and in the can. Coke is still the only sweetened carbonated beverage I’m tempted to drink, next only to root beer. Fortunately I’ve given up that habit of empty calories.
Southern food is definitely known to be high calorie and high fat. Interestingly, its the one area that could really benefit from the healthy Mediterranean diet, with growing seasons, great rain and soil, and an abundance of seafood in the Gulf and the rivers.

There were many recipes for this cake on the net, but the one I’ve now made my adaptation is simple, moist and wonderful.
In this southern classic try to use a quality cocoa powder for the best result:

Ingredients: (dry)
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda

Combine dry ingredients in your mixer.
Preheat oven to 350 F or 185 C.

In a saucepan melt butter and add other ingredients until liquid:
1 cup butter
1 cup Coca-Cola
1/4 cup cocoa powder unsweetened
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or other creamy plain yogurt

Mix warm wet ingredients from saucepan into dry in the mixer and combine for at least a minute on medium speed.

2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Put in greased 8×8 square pan greased with pam. Bake for 20 minutes, then watch carefully to take out before it gets dry. Center of cake should just spring back when touched lightly.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup Coca-Cola
2 tbsp. cocoa powder unsweetened
2 cups powdered sugar

When cake is done and cooling melt butter in small saucepan and add cola and cocoa powder. When liquefied slowly pour in powdered sugar until fully combined with wire whisk. Glaze warm cake, Glaze should melt into cake and drip down the sides.

Endive – making bitter sweet


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endive, walnut, pomelo and blue cheese salad

endive, walnut, pomelo and blue cheese salad

In an effort to reduce my belly fat, I decided to munch on some raw endive rather than the cookies in the pantry and realized that on its own it was a combination of bitter and bland. Not even the satisfaction of a crunchy sweet carrot or tasty celery stick for close to the same calories. Endive on its own makes you feel like “this must be good for me because its a raw veggie”, but a raw lettuce leaf is better.

It’s somehow gained the status of a gourmet appetizer salad ingredient. It’s strong little boat-like shape makes it a ‘stand-up’ option for dipping sauces rather than chips without the loud crunch or flavor of radish, carrot or celery. It’s so low in calories, 4 calories for one whole small endive so its worry free. Endive also makes a great salad base to show off any topping, opposite or complimentary.

I created a quick endive salad with maple-candied walnuts, pomelo sections, crumbled blue cheese, dressed with lots of pepper and sea salt, splashed with a flavorful virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

For maple walnuts:
– simply dress one cup of walnut halves with 1/3 cup of maple sugar and a sprinkling of sea salt in a bowl and heat over a low fire in a small omelet pan until they lightly brown.

Tex-Mex rice and bean casserole for the ingredient challenged


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slice of finished dish, forgot to photograph after it came out of the oven

slice of finished dish, forgot to photograph after it came out of the oven

One of the things that is most lacking in the Middle Eastern cuisine repertoire and availability is Mexican food. There’s only one Mexican restaurant I know of in the country that’s succeeded and that is in broad spectrum Tel Aviv. There’s no decent bottled salsas, enchilada sauce, no cans of refried beans and some of the spices you have to improvise. Limes are only available a couple of short months of the summer, then its back to substituting lemons. Like Chili powder. An American pantry staple just not sold here…quick formula = 2 tsps. ground cumin, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. garlic powder.

The thing is here you can reassure yourself its healthier, all you put together is from scratch. I found a recipe on a favorite blog, Will Cook for Friends for enchilada sauce that I adapted for ease and ingredients as well as a chipotle bbq sauce that she inspired and I made my own version.

Enchilada Sauce
1 tbsp. of smoked paprika
1 tsp. chili flakes
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder (see formula above)
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 100 gram containers tomato paste
1.5 tbsp. honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: a dash of cayenne, or pinch of crushed red chili flakes, to taste

1. sauté diced onions in olive oil until soft, add two cloves of minced garlic. As garlic changes color add all dried spices
2. In a measuring cup put tomato paste and add hot water until the volume is 1 1/4 cup. Add honey. Mix.
3. Combine liquid ingredients to sautéing ingredients and simmer a few minutes. Wait until it cools a little and place in a clean jar for storage.

2 cups cooked rice
juice of one lime
a few roasted peppers (if you want hotter, do the same with a jalapeno)
1 cup cooked beans, pinto or black or Israeli white (you can buy a simple prepared can of cooked beans in tomato sauce)
1 cup of frozen corn
enchilada sauce
grated orange cheddar and local grocery store mozzarella, I 1/2 cups
sour cream 15% fat 250 ml container
fresh 15% cooking cream

This is a layered casserole that starts with red, yellow or orange bell peppers. I like them because the enzymes or whatever is in them is less burpier than the green. Find a few smaller ones and put them under your boiler at the top heat, do both sides. When the skins are just burned and the meat looks softened, put in a bpa free plastic container and let the steam soften the skins more, for 10 minutes. Then peel the skins remove the stems and set aside. They make a great addition to salads or pastas.

Make one cup of rice and when done add the juice of a lime/lemon and some shredded parsley.

Layer some of the rice on the bottom of olive oil rubbed casserole dish. Layer some of the peppers on top of the rice.
IMG_8265 (640x427)

Mix beans, corn, remaining peppers and remaining rice together with half the enchilada sauce. Pour on top of rice layer.
IMG_8266 (640x427)

Mix sour cream together with regular cream with a wire whisk in a bowl to get a more liquid saucy consistency. Grate cheddar and Mozzarella together.

Pour remaining enchilada sauce over casserole.
IMG_8267 (640x427)

Drizzle sour cream mixture over enchilada sauce.
IMG_8268 (640x427)

Cover top with grated cheeses. Use a covered dish if possible and put in 185C 350F oven for a half an hour covered so cheese melts. Remove cover for 10-15 so cheese browns slightly, serve.

Pastiyah – Moroccan meat pastry


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slice of pastiyeh, Moroccan filo meat pie

slice of pastiyeh, Moroccan filo meat pie

This is a wonderful casserole, an aromatic meat pie that has been such a favorite in my repertoire for guests that I’ve had invitees request it upon invitation. I was even asked to cater a lady’s luncheon of 60 women with this dish. I’ve had many requests for the recipe to which I have always replied, “you don’t want it”. I originally found it in a book and the recipe was four pages long. I’ve streamlined and changed it to make it a little less tedious.

Is it worth the time and effort?, absolutely! My streamlined version I think is every bit as good as the old tedious one.

1 carton of raw filo dough
1/2 cup (or more as needed) butter
1/4 cup water with 1/4 tsp. of turmeric (saffron is better if you have it)
1 cup slivered of thinly sliced almonds
2 full chicken breast (both sides) flattened
2-3 large Vidalia style onions
3 tblsp. cooking oil
1 bunch parsley chopped finely
5 eggs
1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. white pepper (less will make it less ‘hot’)
1 tsp. black pepper (how much do you like pepper, I like it peppery)
1 tsp. sea salt

You will need a 13×9 baking pan, a pastry brush, a deep covered frying pan or dutch oven a kithen towel suitable for dampening.
Thaw out filo dough and take dampened (not soaking) towel and place over dough to keep it from drying out. Melt 1/2 cup butter, you may need more. Spray bottom of baking pan with non-stick vegetable spray. Put filo aside under towel.
-Cut onions into strips not rings. Use a good cooking oil like sunflower, not olive (as much as I am a fan of it for everything) as the burn rate is too high. Saute onions in oil on high briefly, then add the peppers and salt. lower to simmer temperature and cover for 10-15 minutes, should cook slowly enough to not burn but moisture from the onions will create a base.

-When onions are soft and in their peppery sauce add 1/4 water with turmeric. Place flattened chicken breats on top of the onions and simmer until breasts are cooked through.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

-Take out 8 sheets of filo dough and fit to size pan. Filo can be folded. Of the eight sheets, place two in the bottom of pan at a time and baste with butter with pastry brush.
Remove cooked chicken from onions and cut in cubes, leaving onion and sauce to side in same pan. Place diced chicken on top of the filo.

Mix in a bowl the sliced almonds with the sugar and cinnamon. Take eight more sheets of filo and repeat process on top of meat layer. Once the top sheet is brushed with butter pour almond and sugar cinnamon mixture over top sheet. Repeat with another 8 sheets of filo in the same manner over the almonds.

Put saucy onion mixture back on burner and add parsley until cooked in. Whip the five eggs in a bowls and pour over onion parsley mixture, cook until egg mixture begins to thicken; DON’T let them turn into scrambled eggs, should be a bit soupy.

Pour soupy onion egg mixture over last filo layer. You should now have three layers. Take eight more sheets of filo for crust and again every two sheets baste with butter making sure the top two sheets are nicely buttered which will give a brown crisp crust.

Cook casserole slowly, 45 min. – hour until cooked through. Filo crust should be crisp and browned. You can make this recipe kosher with the use of margarine instead of butter…butter is better.

Kumquat Cocktail


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kumquat cocktail in the garden

kumquat cocktail in the garden

Nothing says summer like summer drinks, the garden, warm evening breezes. I’ve also had a potted plant balcony garden from where I stared at the view, looking up from a “beach read” book and listening to chill music as the sun takes its time to set. Even in a working summer without a vacation the sunlight and green growth can give vacation moments.

We have a few fruit trees in our garden that we didn’t plant, but enjoy their amazing fruit. We don’t spray, just prune and eat the fruit. So we are organic without really trying! I’m not a big fan of just eating kumquats but our kumquat tree produces a great ingredient for a summer drink.

Kumquat cocktail (for 1)

5 small kumquats (or three large) enough to fill the bottom of a whisky sour glass
no sugar, but if you want to sugar the rim for extra sweetness
11/2 oz. quality vodka
soda water (club soda)

muddle the kumquats with your muddler or pestle to release the juices and break down the fruit. Add vodka in your shaker and shake with ice. Pour into cocktail glass, add soda and stir with cocktail stirrer, decorate with mint leaves.