Tasty recipes and more

Cauliflower Patties Ronit Penso

These tasty patties, from the Sephardic cuisine, are a perfect vegetarian snack or an appetizer, served with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
When cooked in tomato sauce and served with couscous or rice, they also make an excellent vegetarian main dish.

This is a dish where “less is more” is once again proven right. By mashing the cauliflower not too fine, adding the minimal amount of flour and breadcrumbs, and using spices sparingly, the wonderful flavor of the cauliflower stays dominant even after frying the patties and cooking them in tomato sauce.
If you’re a cauliflower fan, I’m sure you’ll love them.

A few notes:
* While most recipes call for cooking the cauliflower florets in boiling water and straining it, I prefer to quickly steam the cauliflower with a small amount of water, in order to keep as much of the nutrients and flavor in. The only downside to this method is the need to keep an eye on it while cooking, to make sure the cauliflower doesn’t burn when the water evaporates, but it’s really worth it.
* The patties keep, in an aright container in the fridge, for 2-3 days. To reheat and keep them crisp, it is best to use a toaster oven and not a microwave.
* To cook the patties in tomato sauce, make sure they are cold before adding them to the sauce, so that they will not break apart when cooking. Use homemade (recipe HERE) or good quality store bought sauce.

Makes: about 25 patties
Prep time: 20 minutes
Frying time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:
1 medium size cauliflower head
3 L eggs
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash nutmeg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup flour
Oil for frying
Homemade or good quality store bought tomato sauce (optional)

1. With a sharp knife, remove the cauliflower core and separate into florets. Wash and place in a large pot, in one layer. Add 1/2 cup water, cover the pot and cook/steam over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes, until the water evaporates and the is cauliflower is cooked. Cool to room temperature and mash roughly with a potato masher.
Cauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit Penso
2. Add the eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix well, trying not to mash the cauliflower too much. Add the flour and breadcrumbs and mix briefly. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Cauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit Penso
3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium. Spoon heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the oil, in one layer and a bit apart. Flatten the mixture with the back of a spoon. Fry until golden on both sides. Transfer to a workspace layered with paper towels.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with a slice of lemon.
Cauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit PensoCauliflower Patties Ronit Penso
5. To cook in tomato sauce: make sure the patties are cold, so they will not break apart upon cooking. Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add as many patties as you’re about to serve. Cook for 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until heated through, and serve immediately.
Cauliflower Patties Ronit Penso4. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a slice of lemon. Cauliflower Patties Ronit Penso

Corn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit Penso

These quick and easy to prepare corn muffins, are the perfect breakfast or brunch bread. They are moist and crumbly, savory and a bit sweet and hot at the same time, and with the added sausage and goat cheese, they make a meal on their own. For brunch, or light lunch, serve them with a green salad, or with a bowl of light soup.

* I chose Italian sausages for the filling, as they are seasoned with fennel seeds, which I think add a lot. Obviously, any other good quality fresh sausage can be used instead.
* If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, substitute it with Feta cheese.

Makes: 12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:
6 sun dried tomatoes
3 scallions
½ small jalapeno
1 cup flour
1 ½ cups stone ground cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
2 L eggs
1 ½ cups milk, at room temperature
½ cup melted butter, at room temperature
½ cup corn kernels (fresh steamed, frozen and thawed or canned, drained)
2 fresh good quality Italian sausages, cut into 12 pieces x 0.6” (1.5cm)
½ cup crumbled fresh goat cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 360F (180C). Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cups.
2. Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes and scallions. Small dice the jalapeno.
3. In a large bowl, place the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and baking powder and whisk to combine.
Corn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit PensoCorn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit Penso
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Add to the flour mixture and whisk to a smooth batter. Add the chopped sun dried tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno and corn kernels and mix briefly.
Corn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit PensoCorn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit PensoCorn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit PensoCorn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit Penso
5. Fill the muffin holes with ¾ of the batter. Place 1 piece of sausage in each hole, pushing it gently almost to the bottom, but not all the way down. Add the crumbled goat cheese on top and finish with the rest of the batter.
Corn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit PensoCorn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit Penso
6. Bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and keep in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature.
Corn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit PensoCorn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit PensoCorn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit PensoCorn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit PensoCorn Muffins with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese Ronit Penso

Shrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit Penso

After the fairly time consuming stuffed cabbage recipe of last week, it’s time for a quick and easy “all in one pan” kind of dish, that you can fix in almost no time.

This Asian flavors inspired dish is tangy, salty, sweet and spicy all at the same time. It’s full of fresh flavors of vegetables and herbs, combined with the tasty fresh and quickly cooked shrimps. Served on Basmati rice, that cooks while you’re preparing the shrimps, creates a tasty and well balanced meal.

Mix and match the dish according to your liking – if you can’t get fresh shrimps, you can replace them with cubed chicken breast. Another option is to make it vegetarian, by using thick cut mushrooms or cubed eggplants or Tofu.

Makes: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: The rice: 20 minutes; The shrimps: 10 minutes
Ingredients:
For the rice:
1 Tbs oil
1 cup Basmati rice
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
For the shrimps:
About 20 medium size fresh shrimps
2 Tbs oil
1 large garlic clove, chopped
5 red and yellow mini peppers, roughly chopped
1 large scallion, roughly chopped
1” (2.5cm) fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup mint leaves, chopped
½ cup cilantro leaved, chopped
2 Tbs each: soy sauce, rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs each: Tamarind paste, sweet chili sauce, Hoisin sauce, dark sesame oil
A few drops of hot sauce, to taste

1. The rice: mix the oil and rice in a medium pot over medium heat. Gently fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring gently, until the rice is coated with oil and a few grains change their color to white. Add the salt and water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and lower the heat to minimum. Cook for 20 minutes and turn the heat off. Keep in the pot, covered, until serving.
Basmati Rice Ronit PensoBasmati Rice Ronit PensoBasmati Rice Ronit PensoBasmati Rice Ronit Penso
2. The shrimps: while the rice is cooking, peel and devein the shrimps and prepare all the ingredients at hand.
Shrimps and Grits with Tomatoes and Thyme Ronit PensoShrimps and Grits with Tomatoes and Thyme Ronit PensoShrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit PensoShrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit PensoShrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit PensoShrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit Penso Shrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit PensoShrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit Penso
3. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds, until it changes its’ color. Add the chopped peppers, scallions and ginger. Mix and fry for 2 minutes. Move the mixture to one side of the pan and add the shrimps to the empty side. Fry for 2 minutes and turn them to the other side. Fry for 2 minutes, until they change their color to white.
Shrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit PensoShrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit PensoShrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit PensoShrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit Penso
4. Lower the heat to medium. Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix gently, to create the sauce. Cook together for about 2 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed, and serve over the rice.
Shrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit PensoShrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit Penso Shrimps with Peppers and Herbs, on Basmati Rice Ronit Penso

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso

There are so many recipes for stuffed cabbage leaves, from all over the world, each is special and tasty, and it’s hard to choose between them all.
So I’ve decided there’s no reason to choose one, but combine them. The recipe here is a result of cooking Turkish, Armenian, Sephardic, Polish and Russian recipes. I’ve kept flavors and techniques that I liked from each and added some of my own. So far, this is my go-to recipe when it comes to stuffed cabbage with meat. A vegetarian version is on the works as well.

The dish takes a while to make, but the reward is such tasty bundles of soft cabbage with a juicy meat center and caramelized top, and a sweet and sour flavor layer from the cooked plumped plums, no doubt it is worth the effort. Once you make them, you can start creating your own version.

* As you can see from the photos, I prefer to make small bundles, with only half of a large cabbage leave and fold it only once. You can choose to use the whole leaf, and end up with more cabbage in the roll.

* Whenever ground meat is required in a dish, I recommend buying a piece of meat and grinding it, or chopping it in a food processor, at home. This way you ensure the quality of your meat and therefore the flavor of your dish.

* The filling can also be used to fill other vegetables, such as peppers and tomatoes. * Leftover filling can be rolled into small meatballs and cooked in tomato sauce for 30 minutes.

Makes: 30 small
Freezing/defrosting the cabbage: 1 day ahead
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 30 minutes + 2 hours baking
Ingredients:
30 prepared leaves (from 1 large cabbage head, see below for instructions)
For the filling:
1.5 lbs (700 grams) beef chuck, ground
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
¼ cup rice (I prefer Basmati)
1 Tbs salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp date syrup (or pomegranate syrup, honey or brown sugar)
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs sweet paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs sumac
½ tsp five spice mix
For the sauce:
¼ cup tomato paste
1 Tbs salt
½ tbs freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp date syrup (or pomegranate syrup, honey or brown sugar)
1 Tbs tamarind paste
4 cups beef stock (preferably homemade)
10 dried yellow plums, or apricots

1. Prepare the cabbage: core the cabbage base, wrap in plastic bag and place in the freezer overnight. Take out of the freezer and bring to room temperature. Once the cabbage thaws, the leaves will look “cooked” and soft. Separate them carefully. Line the pot bottom with a few of the outer ones. Place the rest on a cutting board and remove the tough center, so that you’ll get 2 separate parts of cabbage leaves to fill.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
2. The filling: mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Let sit for half an hour.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso. Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
3. The sauce: in a bowl, mix the tomato paste with the salt, pepper, date syrup and tamarind paste. Gradually whisk in the stock, to a smooth sauce.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
4. Filling the leaves: place one prepared cabbage leaf on a cutting board, with the cut side up. Add about 2 tbs of the filling, shaped by hand to an oval meatball, near the edge of the leaf. Fold both sides in, and roll tight. Place in the pot. Repeat with the rest of the leaves, tucking them together them tightly.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
5. Cooking: add the dried plums or apricots on top and place a large heat proof plate on top, to prevent the stuffed leaves from moving while cooking. Add the sauce and cover the pot.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
6. Bring to a boil, over a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 30 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning, if needed. Preheat the oven to 250F (120C). Place the covered pot in and bake for an hour. Carefully, uncover the pot and remove the plate.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
7. Place back in the oven and bake for another hour, or until most of the sauce is absorbed and the top layer caramelized. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature before carefully removing the bundles. The stuffed rolls can be kept, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to a week.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit PensoStuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves Ronit Penso

Lemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit Penso

These extra-tasty cookies are buttery, lemony, fruity and crunchy – all at the same time. They are the perfect indulgence with a cup of hot tea, or cold lemonade. Try them and enjoy!

Makes: 40
Prep time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Baking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:
1 stick (115 grams) butter, soft
1 cup sugar
2 XL eggs
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs lemon zest
½ tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup dried sour cherries, pitted, roughly chopped
1/3 cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped
For the icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice
¼ cup raw pistachios, finely chopped

1. In a mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Mix with the mixing hook for 2-3 minutes on medium-low speed. Clean the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add the eggs. Mix for 2-3 minutes, to a light and fluffy cream.
Lemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoLemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoLemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit Penso
2. Clean the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and add the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix on low speed, to a soft dough. Add the sour cherries and pistachios and mix briefly. Cover the dough with wax paper and place in the fridge for two hours.
Lemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoLemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoLemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoP1040595
3. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Line 2 cookie sheets with baking paper. Shape the dough into 40 balls about 1 inch (2 cm). Place on the cookie sheets, about 1 inch (2cm) apart.
4. Bake for about 15 minutes, changing the sheets position in the oven halfway through. (When done, the cookies will be still pale at the top, so use a spatula to lift one and see if it is golden-brown at the bottom to determine if they are ready.) Let cool completely on a rack before icing.
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5. The icing: mix the icing ingredients in a small bowl to form a soft paste. Dip each cookie, top side down, in the icing. Place on a cookie sheet and sprinkle the finely chopped pistachios on top. The cookies can keep, in an airtight container, for up to a week.
Lemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoLemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoLemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoLemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit Penso
Lemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoLemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit PensoLemon, Cherries and Pistachios Cookies Ronit Penso

Brie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit Penso

This easy to assemble tart has layers of flavors and colors: buttery and crispy puff pastry, topped with delicately salted prosciutto, roasted peppers and onions, creamy Brie cheese and crunchy pistachios.

All these layers and textures add up to one tasty dish, which only requires a green salad to become a perfect and elegant lunch or dinner.

Cut into smaller squares, the tart can become an easy and tasty appetizer, or served as finger-food in a buffet dinner.

Makes: 6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: the vegetables: 15 minutes; the tart: 35 minutes
Ingredients:
½ large white onion, sliced thick
1 large red pepper, deseeded and sliced thick
1 large yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
14 oz (395 grams) butter puff pastry rolled sheet
4 oz (115 grams) thinly sliced prosciutto
7 oz (200 grams) semi-ripened Brie, sliced medium
1/3 cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 420F (215C). Line a sheet pan with baking paper. Mix the sliced onion and peppers in a bowl and season with salt, black pepper and olive oil. Place in one layer in the pan and roast for 15 minutes, until the peppers and onions are soft. Take out of the oven and let cool to room temperature. Keep the oven on.
Brie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit PensoBrie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit Penso Brie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit Penso
2. Line an 18”x11” (46cm x 28cm) baking pan with baking paper and place the rolled dough in it, pressing the edges of the dough to the sides of the pan, to create a rim. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
3. Layer the prosciutto on top and add the roasted onions and pepper over it. Finish with the Brie and pistachios.
Brie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit PensoBrie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit PensoBrie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit PensoBrie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit PensoBrie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit Penso
4. Place the pan in the lower third part of the oven (so that the bottom will bake better). Bake for 35 minutes, or until the dough is golden-brown and the cheese is bubbly. Using the baking paper, slide the tart over to a cutting board. Cut into 6 portions with a large cutting knife and serve.
Brie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit PensoBrie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit PensoBrie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit PensoBrie, Peppers and Prosciutto Tart Ronit Penso

Nutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit Penso

With the cold weather and grey colors outside, bright colors can help uplift the spirit. These muffins are bursting with all-natural colors and are full of good things – just perfect for a gloomy winter morning.
The muffins contain no dairy products, which makes them suitable to anyone with lactose intolerance. They are low on sugar, fat and white flour – all while having lots of fiber, color, and, most important, great flavor.

The muffins can be served as is, or – for a less healthy but extra tasty option – they can be topped with cream cheese frosting, butter cream, or orange icing. For an even more indulgent option, increase the sugar to ¾ cup and top with chocolate glaze.

Makes: 12
Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:
2 medium beets, peeled
1 small thin skin orange, washed well
½ medium crisp apple, unpeeled
2 L eggs, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup coconut oil, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup unsweetened desiccated shredded coconut
1/3 cup semolina
1 cup flour
1 Tbs baking powder
Dash salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Line a muffin pan with baking cups.
2. Chop the beets in a food processor with the metal blade. Measure 2 cups and set aside. Add the orange and apple to the food processor bowl and chop together. Measure ¾ cup.
Nutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit PensoNutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit Penso
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the coconut oil. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the chopped beets and orange-apple mixture and mix again.
Nutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit PensoNutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit PensoNutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit PensoNutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit Penso
4. Add the vanilla, almond meal, coconut and semolina. Mix well and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix briefly and fill the muffin holes with the batter.
Nutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit PensoNutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit PensoNutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit PensoNutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit Penso
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out almost dry.
6. take out of the oven and let cool in the pan for 3-4 minutes, then place on a rack to cool to room temperature.
Nutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit PensoNutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit PensoNutty Beet, Orange and Apple Muffins Ronit Penso

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