Tasty recipes and more

Homemade Marzipan Ronit Penso

Marzipan is one of the most ancient candies we know. It started as a simple mix of almond meal and honey, and once sugar was introduced, it eventually became the refined sweet we know today.
France, Spain and Germany are all claiming to be the place where the cooked version, which is the supreme form of Marzipan, was created, but it most likely have happened simultaneously.
The version I bring here is the Sephardic one (see this post for information about Sephardim and Ladino), therefore with origins in Spain. For Sephardic families, Marzipan is the ultimate candy and is served in every family or social gathering for hundreds of years.

Commercial Marzipan is probably the reason why some people do not like Marzipan. It lacks the delicate flavor of the original and has all kinds of additions such as glucose and glycerin that prolong its shelf life, and harsh flavorings that mask the delicate natural almond flavor and aroma. If that is the only form of Marzipan you’ve tried, you should hold your judgment about Marzipan until you’ve tasted this homemade version.

There are quite a few recipes for homemade Marzipan that are not as time consuming as the one I have here. However, the ones that contain items such as eggs, or egg whites or corn syrup, would be looked upon with total condescension by Marzipan connoisseurs. For them, their favorite candy can contain nothing but almonds, sugar and a bit of lemon juice, as in the recipe here. The process is time consuming, but I’m sure that once you’ll taste the fresh marzipan, you will agree that it is worth the time and effort put into it.

So, if you’re into discovering the real thing, here are a few important points:

* Fresh, good quality almonds are crucial. Buy them in stores that sell a lot of them, to avoid stale ones.
* If you’re thinking about skipping the stages of soaking, peeling and drying the almonds, by using commercial blanched almonds, bear in mind that the result will lack in flavor and aroma.
* In Ladino, the stage when the syrup reaches the right consistency is called “Punto de Massapan”. It is also used to describe hot tempered, jumpy and unpredictable people. This means the moment is brief. If you’re not used to working with sugar, use an accurate candy thermometer instead of the ice water method shown here.
* The amount given here is indeed quite large, but bear in mind that these sweets tend to disappear quite quickly, and they also make a great gift. The paste can also be added to cakes and cookies, or rolled and cut into decorative shapes. However, if you still find the amount too big for your purposes, you can cut the amounts in half and follow the same process.
* Last but not least – please remember that the sugar syrup is extremely hot and can cause severe burns. Protect your hands!

Makes: about 170
Prep time for the almonds: 2 hours + 1-2 days to dry
The Marzipan: Cooking time: 10-15 minutes.
Shaping: 1 hour. Drying: 1-2 days
Ingredients:
1.4 lbs (635 grams) fine almond meal (from 2 lbs/900 grams raw almonds)
1.4 lbs (635 grams) sugar
7.1 fl oz (210 ml) water
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
For dusting the tray: about ½ cup powdered sugar

1. The almonds: Place the raw almonds in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until the water is warm. Take an almond and squeeze it gently between your fingers. The skin will come right off. Place the peeled almond on a large tray. Repeat with the rest of almonds. Let dry for 1-2 days before grinding.
2. Grind the peeled and dried almonds to a fine meal (preferably in small batches, in a spice grinder). Weigh the amount mentioned.
Homemade Marzipan Ronit PensoHomemade Marzipan Ronit Penso Homemade Marzipan Ronit PensoHomemade Marzipan Ronit Penso Homemade Marzipan Ronit PensoHomemade Marzipan Ronit Penso
3. Cooking the Marzipan: combine the water, sugar and lemon juice in a large, flat pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook on medium heat, for 5 minutes.
Homemade Marzipan Ronit PensoHomemade Marzipan Ronit Penso
4. Prepare a small bowl with ice water. Dust a large tray with powdered sugar.
5. Uncover the pot and boil for 2 minutes longer. Mix with a wooden spoon and carefully, drop a few drops of the syrup into the ice water. If the syrup forms a soft ball, and stretches slightly between your fingers, you have reached the famous “Punto de Massapan”. (235F/118C on candy thermometer).
Homemade Marzipan Ronit PensoHomemade Marzipan Ronit Penso
6. Add the almond meal and mix, carefully, with the wooden spoon. Cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat, mixing constantly, until the almond paste thickens and pulls away from the pot sides. Keep an eye while cooking and mixing, as the mixture can scorch easily at this point.
Homemade Marzipan Ronit PensoHomemade Marzipan Ronit Penso Homemade Marzipan Ronit PensoHomemade Marzipan Ronit Penso
7. Carefully transfer the paste to the tray with the powdered sugar. Let cool to room temperature.
8. Take a handful of the paste and roll it into a 1”/2.5cm thick log. Cut on the bias, about 1.2”/3cm wide.
Homemade Marzipan Ronit PensoHomemade Marzipan Ronit Penso Homemade Marzipan Ronit PensoP1030310
9. At this point the Marzipan is ready, but it will taste even better if you’ll let it dry for 1-2 days. Cover very loosely with parchment paper, to avoid dust.

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The Marzipan will keep, in a loosely covered container, for a month. As it doesn’t contain any preservatives or additives, it will naturally harden a bit with time, but some prefer it even better at this stage.

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* The brief moment of “Punto de Massapan” is beautifully described, among many others, in the wonderful novel “Esau”, by the Israeli author Meir Shalev. I highly recommend it.

Asparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit Penso

The combination of asparagus and mushrooms is one of my favorites. Their flavors and textures seem to work so well together. I like to sauté them together and mix with cooked pasta, grated Parmesan cheese and good olive oil, or serve with polenta.
But when I saw these wonderful King Oyster mushrooms at the store, I thought it would be a shame to just chop them, so I’ve decided to use their unique shape with whole asparagus in this tart, which is very quick and easy to assemble and is just perfect for brunch.

As is the case with most dishes that contain a few ingredients and do not rely on cooking expertise, the result depends heavily on the quality of the ingredients.
Make sure to start with good quality puff pastry (preferably homemade with butter (also available online), or at the very least one that is made with non hydrogenated oil), add to it fresh Asparagus, mushrooms and goat cheese, and your dish will be a hit.

Makes: 6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients:
4-5 each (6 oz, 170 grams) King Oyster mushrooms
3 Tbs olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground 4 pepper mix
1 bunch (1 lb, 450 grams)) Asparagus
¼ cup water
1 lb (450 grams) good quality puff pastry sheet (10”x15”, 25cmx38 cm)
6 thin slices (about 3 oz, 90 grams) Swiss cheese
4 oz (115 grams) fresh garlic and herbs goat cheese
1 Tbs chopped red jalapeno pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 420F (215C).
2. Cut the mushrooms in half, lengthwise. Cut each half, lengthwise, into 2-3 sections. Heat 1 Tbs of the olive oil in a pan on medium heat, and add the cut mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and fry gently on all sides for 1-2 minutes. Take off the heat and bring to room temperature.
Asparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit PensoAsparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit PensoAsparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit Penso
3. Cut off about 1” (2.5cm) of the asparagus ends and place in a large pan, in one layer. Add the water and sprinkle with salt. Cover the pan and bring to a boil on high heat. Lower the heat to medium and let steam for 1-2 minutes, until the asparagus is bright green, tender but still firm. Place on paper towels and bring to room temperature.
Asparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit PensoAsparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit Penso
4. Line a 12”x8” (20cm x 30cm) baking pan with the rolled dough, pressing the edges of the dough to the sides of the pan, to create a rim. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
P1060199Asparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit Penso
5. Layer the Swiss cheese slices over the dough and add the asparagus and the mushrooms. Crumble the goat cheese on top. Scatter the red jalapeno, drizzle 1 Tbs olive oil and sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper.
Asparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit PensoAsparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit Penso Asparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit PensoAsparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit Penso Asparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit Penso
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the dough is puffed and golden, starting in the lower part of the oven for the first 10 minutes and finishing in the upper part of the oven.
7. Take out of the oven and let rest in the pan for 2-3 minutes, before carefully transferring to a large cutting board. Portion with a large, sharp knife, drizzle the remaining 1 Tbs olive oil on top and serve.
Asparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit PensoAsparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit Penso Asparagus, King Oyster Mushrooms and Goat cheese Tart Ronit Penso

 

 

Roasted chicken balsamic vinegar date syrup marinade Ronit Penso

Balsamic vinegar is a wonderful condiment to have in the kitchen. Its mild acidic and sweet flavor is great in vinaigrettes, and only a few drops of it on Mozzarella cheese, or strawberries, are enough to elevate their flavor to new levels. Marinating and roasting meats in Balsamic vinegar add deep flavors and color to roasts and sauces.

As much as this is a very simple dish, it is important to remember that the dish is only as good as the Balsamic vinegar you’re using. That doesn’t mean only very aged and expensive vinegars should be used; these are best kept for when one needs only a drop to enhance flavors. But I do urge you to make the effort and use a medium level Balsamic vinegar, which was aged in wood barrels even for the shortest time. The difference in flavor and color is huge.

Date syrup is available in many health stores or online. Its deep color and unique sweetness beautifully compliment the Balsamic vinegar.
If you’re into bold flavors and aromas, you’ll love this dish.

Makes: 2-4
For the marinade:
¼ cup good quality Balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Date syrup (or honey)
1 Tbs aged Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Fig & Balsamic glaze (or honey)
1 Tbs pomegranate molasses
1 Tbs salt
½ freshly ground black pepper
Dash cayenne
For the chicken:
2 medium size chicken legs, separated
1 medium onion
3 medium carrots*
2 Tbs olive oil

1. In a medium bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients and keep at room temperature.
2. Wash the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Peel the onion and slice lengthwise. Add the chicken and onion to the marinade bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for 2 hours, mixing occasionally.
Balsamic vinegar Date syrup Roasted Chicken Ronit PensoBalsamic vinegar Date syrup Roasted Chicken Ronit Penso
3. Peel the carrots, cut into quarters and add to the chicken bowl. Mix well and transfer into a baking dish. Drizzle the olive oil on top . Keep at room temperature for 15 minutes before roasting.
Balsamic vinegar Date syrup Roasted Chicken Ronit PensoBalsamic vinegar Date syrup Roasted Chicken Ronit Penso
4. Preheat the oven to 400F (205C). Roast for 1 hour (basting occasionally in the first half hour), until the chicken is deep brown in color and the carrots and onions caramelize.
Balsamic vinegar Date syrup Roasted Chicken Ronit PensoBalsamic vinegar Date syrup Roasted Chicken Ronit Penso
Balsamic vinegar Date syrup Roasted Chicken Ronit Penso

* This version has about 25 seedless mini peppers instead of the carrots.
Balsamic vinegar Date syrup Roasted Chicken Ronit Penso

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When I saw this fresh wild Cod at the store, I knew it would benefit from quick steaming. Yet, I also knew its’ mild taste would benefit from a somewhat assertive flavoring.
As I’ve just bought a new tin of wonderful Spanish saffron, I’ve decided to go with a Mediterranean inspired sauce and combine it with tomatoes.
Soon, capers, anchovies, almonds, cooked chickpea, raisins, lemons and honey showed up on the working table; the sauce pretty much created itself and a wonderful aroma filled the kitchen…

As the fresh tomatoes available were far from acceptable, I’ve used good quality crushed canned tomatoes instead. However, if you find ripe and flavorful tomatoes, use them without hesitation.
With the chickpeas, I’ve used ones I’ve pre-cooked, but good quality canned chickpeas (preferably unsalted) would work just as well, and will shorten the preparation time.

The dish is great for entertaining, as the fish requires only 10 minutes of cooking, while the sauce can be made ahead and reheated. It can be served as a first course, using a smaller portion of fish with the sauce only, or as a main course, with a larger portion of fish and a bed of saffron couscous or rice.

The Cod can be substituted with other flat fish, shrimps or scallops. The sauce is also great on its’ own, served with couscous, pasta or polenta.

Makes: 4-6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes for the sauce, 10 minutes for the fish
Ingredients:
1 lb (450 grams) fresh Cod fillet, clean from skin and bones
1 tsp saffron threads
1 Tbs hot water
1 large shallot, chopped
¼ cup olive oil + 1 Tbs
5 anchovy fillets
¼ cup capers, roughly chopped
2 cups crushed tomatoes, with tomato paste
1 cup water
Zest and juice from 1 large lemon
1 cup cooked chickpeas
½ cup golden raisins
1/3 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne
1-2 Tbs honey, preferably orange blossom
1-2 tsp salt
Serving option: couscous (see HERE how to prepare)

1. Portion the fish and pat dry with paper towels. Mix the saffron threads with the hot water and let sit for 5 minutes.
Cod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit PensoCod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit PensoCod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit PensoCod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit Penso
2. In a wide pot, sauté the shallot with ¼ cup olive oil. Add the anchovies, mash roughly with a spatula and cook for 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and water and mix well.
Cod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit PensoCod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit Penso
3. Add the lemon juice, 2/3 of the lemon zest, the chickpeas, the raisins, 2/3 of the almonds, the pepper and cayenne. Mix well , bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, mixing occasionally, until the sauce reduces and thickens a bit.
Cod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit PensoCod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit Penso Cod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit PensoCod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit Penso
4. Taste and add salt and honey according to the saltiness and acidity of the sauce. (The anchovies, capers and tomato paste vary in their levels of saltiness and acidity from one brand to another, so it’s best to cook the sauce before deciding how much to add.) Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add the fish pieces, in one layer and not touching one another. Sprinkle the fish with salt, black pepper and the remaining lemon zest, and drizzle the 1 Tbs olive oil over it.
6. Bring the sauce to a boil and cover the pot. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 8 minutes, until the fish is white and opaque.
Cod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit PensoCod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit Penso
7. For an appetizer, serve with sauce only. For main course, serve with saffron couscous.Sprinkle the rest of the almonds on top.
Cod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit PensoCod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit PensoCod with Tomato-Saffron Sauce Ronit Penso

Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso
Friands are small almond cakes, a version of the classic Financier cakes. Both cakes are made with egg whites, almond meal, powdered sugar and a small amount of flour. The major difference is in the butter: while the Friands use melted butter, the Financier is made with brown butter.
Another difference lies in their shape: the Friands are pretty much baked in any mold, while the classic Financiers are baked in rectangular molds. The story is that the resemblance of the rectangular golden cakes to a gold bar is what gave them their name. The term Friand in French is also not used solely to describe these cakes. It also means a gourmet (person) and a meat pie! But for our purposes, it is suffice to know that Friands are very tasty and very easy to make mini cakes.

Here I’ve decided to bake the cakes in a mini Bundt pan. If you don’t have one, use a mini muffin pan instead. I’ve also decided to add Cardamom powder to the batter, as I find it goes great with almonds. You can, however, omit it, or use other warm spices, such as ginger or cinnamon.

Pairing the tiny cakes with Lemon Curd is only a serving suggestion, though a very tasty one. It is also quite practical, as it puts the remaining egg yolks into good use, so it’s a win-win situation!

Cardamom Friands
Makes: 12 mini Bundt cakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 12 minutes
Ingredients:
1 stick (115 grams) butter
3 L egg whites, at room temerature
½ tsp vanilla
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup almond meal
¼ cup flour
1 tsp cardamom powder
¼ tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Melt the butter and keep in a warm place. Use a bit of the butter to brush the pan and sprinkle it with a flour. Turn upsidedown and tap on the pan, to get rid of excess flour. Place the pan in the fridge until using.
Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit PensoCardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso
2. Mix the egg whites and vanilla in a large bowl, and whisk for about one minute, until large bubbles appear. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until frothy, about 1 minute.
Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit PensoCardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit PensoCardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix briefly to a fairly liquid batter. Use a measuring cup to divide the batter evenly between the baking cups.
Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit PensoCardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso
4. Bake for 12 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave in the pan for a minute. Place a large tray on top of the baking pan and turn it upside down, to release the cakes. Place on a rack and let cool to room temperature before serving. Serve as is, or with Lemon Curd and fresh berries.
Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit PensoCardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit PensoCardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Pensoc Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit PensoCardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso

Lemon Curd
This Lemon Curd is not as thick as others, which is exactly what makes it prefect for serving as a sauce with the Friands.

Makes: 1 cup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Ingredients:
1 large lemon
3 L egg yolks, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 ½ oz (70 grams) butter, soft

1. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Fill a medium sized pot halfway with water, bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium. 2. Zest the lemon and measure 1 Tbs. Juice the lemon and measure ¼ cup.
Lemon Curd Ronit PensoLemon Curd Ronit Penso
3. In a medium sized heatproof bowl (that can sit comfortably on top of the pot), mix the egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice. Place on top of the pot and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the sugar dissolves and the mixture warms up. Add the butter, a bit at a time, and whisk until it melts and the mixture is warm and glossy.
Lemon Curd Ronit PensoLemon Curd Ronit Penso Lemon Curd Ronit PensoLemon Curd Ronit Penso
4. Add the lemon zest and mix. Place the bowl in the one with the ice water. Whisk occasionally, until the curd cools down and thickens a bit. The curd can keep, in a jar in the fridge, for about 2 weeks.
Lemon Curd Ronit PensoLemon Curd Ronit Penso
Lemon Curd Ronit PensoLemon Curd Ronit Penso Cardamom Friands with Lemon Curd Ronit Penso

Tri -Color Mac and cheese Ronit Penso

Who doesn’t like Mac and Cheese? Yet it’s sad to see so many people still consider the commercial version an option!
Homemade Mac and Cheese is actually quite easy to make and the result will always be so much better than any commercial type.
Here I’ve added a few additions and changes to the classic recipe. The first is the use of Tri-Color Rotini pasta, instead of the traditional elbow pasta, both for a more colorful result and for it’s ability to hold better to the sauce.
Other additions are whole grain mustard, prosciutto and homemade oven-dried cherry tomatoes – all add their unique flavors and textures to the dish.
To shorten the process, you can use ready made Sun-Dried tomatoes, but it’s nice to know that making oven-dried cherry tomatoes is really effortless and by making it at home you can use different types and colors, which is always fun.
You can add other flavorings, or omit them altogether, as long as you remember that the dish is only as good as the cheeses you put in it.
I always prefer to buy the cheese in a block and grate it, or chop it finely in a food processor before using. (Adding a bit of flour when chopping, helps to keep the cheese from sticking together.)

Makes: 6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients
1 package (12oz, 340 grams) Tri-Color Rotini pasta
For the pan
2 Tbs butter, soft
2 Tbs breadcrumbs
For the cheese sauce
½ stick (55 grams) butter
¼ cup flour
3 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1 Tbs whole grain Dijon mustard
3 cups coarsely grated cheeses (I used Gruyere, Parmesan and Pecorino)
1 cup oven-dried cherry tomatoes (or sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped)
3 oz (90 grams) Prosciutto, roughly cut
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch cayenne

1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water, until it is cooked through, about 8 minutes or as directed on the package. Drain and keep on the side.
Tri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit PensoTri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit PensoTri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit PensoTri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit Penso
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Butter the pan and sprinkle the bottom with 1 Tbs of the breadcrumbs. Grate or process the cheeses in a food processor.
Tri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit PensoTri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit Penso
3. Prepare the cheese sauce: melt the butter in a large pan on medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to incorporate. Add the milk, while whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the cheeses, salt, pepper and mustard and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes, mixing gently, to melt the cheese.
Tri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit PensoTri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit PensoTri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit PensoTri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit Penso Tri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit PensoTri-color Mac and Cheese Ronit Penso
4. Turn off the heat and add the dried tomatoes, prosciutto, the nutmeg and cayenne. Mix gently and transfer the mixture to the pan. Sprinkle the rest of the breadcrumbs on top.
tri color mac and cheese Ronit Pensotri color mac and cheese Ronit Penso
5. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden and crisp. Let rest for 2-3 minutes before cutting.
tri color mac and cheese Ronit Pensotri color mac and cheese Ronit Penso
tri color mac and cheese Ronit Penso

Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes
The process is very simple: preheat the oven to 200F (100C), cut the tomatoes in half and arrange them in one layer on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt and place in the oven for 2-3 hours, or until the tomatoes are dried but still a bit moist. Keep in a loosely covered container and use within 7-10 days. Since Cherry tomatoes are available year round, I don’t see the point in making a huge amount. However, if you end up with more than you can use in a short time, place the dried tomatoes in a jar, add olive oil to cover and cover tightly. Keep in a cool dark place for 1-2 months.
Here are a few “before and after” photos:
oven dried cherry tomatoes Ronit Penso
Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes Ronit PensoOven Dried Cherry Tomatoes Ronit Penso Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes Ronit Pensooven-dried tomatoes Ronit Penso Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes Ronit PensoOven Dried Cherry Tomatoes Ronit Penso

Poppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit Penso
Poppy seeds and lemon are a classic combination. The acidity in the lemon balances the fatty and crunchy poppy seeds beautifully.
However, in most poppy seeds and lemon recipes I have come across, the poppy seeds quantity is usually limited to a couple of tablespoons, and they don’t impart their unique flavor as much as I wanted them to.
So, in the following recipe, I have decided to increase the quantity of poppy seeds to a whopping 1 cup – and loved the result!
If you like poppy seeds, you will love these cupcakes.

Please note: if you’re a Seinfeld fan, you probably remember the episode in which Elaine fails a drug test after eating poppy seed cookies. I was quite surprised to learn that this incident is actually realistic, and that eating poppy seeds can indeed make you fail a drug test. (Check THIS LINK for more info.)
So bear this in mind, especially since these very tasty cupcakes contain more poppy seeds than in most recipes…

Makes: 18
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:
1 cup poppy seeds
1 ½ cups flour
1 stick (115 grams) butter, very soft
2 XL eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup milk, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 Tbs baking powder
¼ tsp salt
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs lemon zest
1 Tbs Poppy seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Place 18 paper baking cups in muffin baking trays.
2. Place the poppy seeds and ½ cup of the flour in a food processor with the metal blade. Process briefly, just to lightly grind some of the poppy seeds.
Poppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit PensoPoppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit Penso
3. In a large bowl, whisk the butter and eggs together. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the applesauce, milk, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well.
P1020526P1020526Poppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit PensoPoppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit Penso
4. Add the poppy seeds and flour mix, the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Whisk to an even batter and fill the baking cups.
Poppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit PensoPoppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit PensoPoppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit PensoPoppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit Penso
5. Bake for 25 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out almost dry. Transfer to a rack and let cool to room temperature.
Poppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit PensoPoppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit Penso
Poppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit PensoPoppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit Penso
6. The icing: place the powdered sugar in a bowl and gradually add the lemon juice, until you reach a thick yet runny consistency. Pour over the cupcakes and sprinkle the lemon zest and poppy seeds. Let set before serving.
* The unglazed cupcakes can be frozen, in an airtight container, for up to a month. The glazed ones will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Poppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit PensoPoppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit Penso Poppy Seeds and Lemon Cupcakes Ronit Penso

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