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Cover: Founding Flavors

Recipes with Sweets

11Nov 12

Indulge in Pomegranates this Holiday Season!

As the holiday season takes off in full swing, so starts the procession of sweets that inevitably follow us from home to work to various social gatherings.  It is the time of year when a little bite here and a little munch there is permissible because, after all, we do have our New Year’s detox resolutions in place.  I for one will most certainly not skip out on warm cinnamon cookies and peppermint mochas this year.  But, while I’m at it, might I tempt you to indulge in another seasonal flavor that will leave you feeling festive and healthy?

The pomegranate! It is not only equally delicious and nutritious but its deep ruby color makes it the perfect companion to a table centerpiece or garnish for a winter cocktail hour.  And, while you’ll find several pomegranate-related recipes, this year I’m encouraging 100% homemade pomegranate juice.  Not only will you find the combination of sweet and tart refreshing, you’ll also feel the benefits of the additional vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants as you hop from one party to the next.

Here is a step-by-step guide to make pomegranate juice in a relaxing and mess-free environment.  And, the best part is that you only need one ingredient. Pomegranates!

STEP 1:  Purchase 4 large pomegranates.  This will produce roughly 4 cups of pomegranate juice.

STEP 2:  Then, put your favorite music on because what follows will be a 30 to 40 minute exercise in removing the arils or seeds from the pomegranate.  It is a wonderful opportunity to take a break from all the craziness or a perfect activity to do while your catching up with family and friends.

STEP 3:  Once the roughly ten cups of arils have been collected in a bowl, place five cups of the arils in a blender.  (TIP:  While it might be easier to cut the pomegranate in half and use a juicer, this process will create a bitter taste in the juice that comes from the white pulp also being compressed when using a juicer.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 4:  Press the food processor option on the blender for ten seconds and then repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 5:  Now, strain the liquid in the blender to collect the juice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 6:  Repeat steps 3-5 with the remaining arils.

STEP 7:  At this point, you can place the juice in a pitcher, refrigerate, and enjoy.

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28Oct 12

What Does 100 Years of Existence Get You? Unforgettable Rugelach!

While last week’s blog entry focused on the Founding Flavors’ discovery of Tel Aviv’s Vaniglia ice cream shop, today I’m focusing my attention on an equally enticing sweet shop called Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery.  This bakery—located in Jaffa, a southern suburb of Tel Aviv—has been around since the late 1800s.  Given Jaffa’s 4,000 years of existence, this could technically place Abuelafia among a list of newcomers!  Once you arrive at this outdoor bakery and swoon over its mouth-watering selection of savory and sweet pastries, you quickly understand why customers have been lured back to this establishment for over a hundred years.

After a little assistance from the staff, I opted for dibla, awwami, and rugelach.  The dibla is best described as a pastry that has a crunchy texture with a slightly sweet taste and is topped off with sesame seeds.  While I’m glad I tried this pastry, I did feel like I’d wasted by calories on a treat that was not very flavorful.  Next, came the awwami, which is a donut ball that is offered with or without jelly filling.  My overall impression… that which we call a donut ball by any other name would taste as sweet.  Don’t get me wrong, the awwami was delicious but I was looking for something that had a combination of ‘to die for amazing’ and unique to Israel.

That is when I tried the rugelach.  And, hands down, the rugelach at Abuelafia has the Founding Flavors’ stamp of approval because it is one of the best rugelach that I have ever tasted.  In addition to a delectable blend of chocolate and cinnamon, there are three things that stand out about their rugelach.  First, the overall appearance of the rugelach, which is displayed in large mounds and perfectly lined with chocolate or jam filled swirls.  Second, the size of the rugelach is large enough to hold you over until lunch or dinner but not so small that you keep craving more as you tour around the area.  Third, the consistency of the rugelach is substantial, chewy, and not overly drenched in syrups or honey.  This is particularly key as a tourist because the last thing you want is to be strolling around Tel Aviv eating rugelach and then be left with a sticky hand and no conveniently located area to wash up.

Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery is a pastry establishment that is definitely worth a visit.   If you’re ever in Jaffa, head towards 7 Yefet Street, one block behind the Jaffa clock-tower, and you will not miss it.  Abuelafia’s rugelach was so amazing that it left me wanting to try my hand at making some on my own.  So, stay tuned for next week’s blog entry on making rugelach!

Cheers!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

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21Oct 12

If You’ve Got One Shot, Go With Vaniglia in Tel Aviv

Have you ever traveled somewhere and played what I like to refer to as the culinary roulette?  You know, it’s that moment in your vacation when you look through your travel guidebook and browse for restaurant recommendations.  Knowing that you have limited time and calories to spare, you go back and forth between suggestions worried you’ll pick the wrong choice.  Then, after finally deciding on what you hope is the best option, you pray your selection will not let you down.  Well, recently the Founding Flavors ventured off to Tel Aviv, Israel in search of unique, local, sweet establishments that will take you straight to dessert heaven.  The outcome was two must try sweet shops: Vaniglia and Said Abuelafia & Sons bakery.  Today, I’ll focus on the former.

Before departing for Israel, I searched for places that were recommended by several tour guides and online articles.  While several bakeries and bread shops popped up, my attention was caught by an ice cream and gelato store called Vaniglia.  What particularly attracted me to Vaniglia was that the reviews I read indicated the owners not only took great care in purchasing their ingredients but also listened to their customers’ wishes by incorporating healthier alternatives like soy or rice milk into some of their offerings.

So when I arrived in Tel Aviv, it was only a matter of hours before I made my way up to 98 Ibn Gvirol Street from the seashore in search of Vaniglia.  As I walked through the city, I was tempted by the various chocolate, pastry, popsicle, and frozen yogurt stores.  When I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, I finally saw a crowd of people around a glorious white sign.  I had arrived at Vaniglia!  Exercising absolutely no self-control, I pushed and shoved my way up to the gelato display cases.  Oh the colors, the smell, the creative decorations used to denote each flavor, and then…silence.  The labels were all in Hebrew!  After I got over my moment of panic, I realized this was actually wonderful news.  It was proof that I’d found a shop that truly catered to locals.  And for my fellow travelers, fear not because the entire staff was attentive and ready to assist any English speaker in selecting their flavors.

As I browsed through my options, I decided I’d opt for two gelato flavors that I’d never tried before: poppy seed and alfajor- a rich cookie made with dulce de leche.  As with most food I tasted in Tel Aviv, Vaniglia has mastered the art of flavorful food…this time in the form of gelato.  Both flavors are delicious in their own way.  The poppy seed has a subtle, sweet taste that is perfect if you want a lighter option but something that is still creamier than a sorbet.  Its color is powdery white, which contrasts very nicely with the black poppy seeds.  From a distance, it reminds you of a perfectly blended vanilla bean ice cream.  The alfajor, on the other hand, is definitely a thicker gelato with a much sweeter taste.  The tint is an elegant golden caramel color and Vaniglia manages to create a creamy flavor that makes you feel like you are actually biting into an alfajor.

Whether it is your first or tenth time in Tel Aviv, there is so much to see between museums, stores, galleries, the beach, or cafes.  But, whatever you decide to do, make sure to leave room for dessert at Vaniglia.  It will add a sweet memory to your vacation.

Cheers!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

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14Oct 12

Margarita Infused Cupcakes

I was recently invited to a casual weekend gathering and decided, naturally, that I’d bring dessert.  As I contemplated what specific treat to make, I decided I’d add a personal touch to my creation by honoring the host.  And, seeing as how the host was a fan of tequila, a margarita flavored cupcake seemed like the perfect choice for an outdoor barbeque.  Next time someone invites you over, try to personalize whatever hostess gift or offering you bring.  It is a great way to turn a casual “what should I bring” moment into a well-thought-out gesture that shows how much you appreciate the host’s hospitality.

To create the margarita flavored cupcakes, I started with a recipe for vanilla cupcakes and then adjusted, eliminated, and added ingredients to design my alcohol infused dessert.  You can even increase the amount of alcohol if you prefer a stronger taste.  Pass no judgment please, but let’s just say that after my husband suggested the idea, we may have made a mad dash to the pharmacy to pick up a syringe.  Despite the pharmacist’s concern and bewilderment when we indicated that the only thing we’d be injecting were cupcakes, we immediately ran back home, filled the syringe with triple sec and tequila, and proceeded to enhance the cupcakes’ taste with alcohol.  The result? A fabulously creative and clever cupcake that could possibly leave you feeling slightly tipsy both pre and post baking!

Cheers!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

Margarita Infused Cupcakes
 
Ingredients
  • Cupcake recipe:
  • Butter: 8 tablespoons
  • Skim milk: 1 cup
  • Cake flour: 1¾ cups
  • All-purpose flour: 1¼ cups
  • Unrefined brown sugar: 1½ cups
  • Baking powder: 1 tablespoon
  • Salt: ¾ teaspoon
  • Eggs: 4
  • Tequila: 1 shot
  • Triple sec: ½ shot
  • Lime zest: 1 teaspoon
  • Frosting:
  • Tequila: 2 ½ teaspoons
  • Triple sec: ½ teaspoon
  • Lime juice: 2 teaspoons
  • Skim milk: ½ cup
  • Butter: 8 tablespoons
  • Powdered sugar: 8 cups-10 cups
  • Green food coloring
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325°F and place paper liners in a cupcake pan.
  2. Combine softened butter and milk in a mixer.
  3. Add in cake flour, all-purpose four, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add in eggs, one at a time.
  5. Finally, combine tequila, triple sec, and lime zest.
  6. Fill each cupcake liner three-fourths full.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Let cupcakes cool completely.
  9. Once cooled use a brush to dabble a bit more tequila on the surface of the cupcake.
  10. To create the frosting, combine tequila, triple sec, lime juice, milk, butter, and four cups of powdered sugar in a mixer.
  11. Add powdered sugar as necessary to thicken the consistency of the frosting.
  12. Add green food coloring. I wanted a soft lime green color and used about 2-3 drops.
  13. Fill a pastry bag with the frosting and start to decorate the cupcakes.
  14. You can add decorations to the cupcake. I opted for a lime slice.
  15. It was at this point, that after tasting the cupcakes, I decided I wanted a stronger margarita flavor and added alcohol with a syringe.

 

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17Sep 12

Let the Baking Begin!

Hello! Every Sunday I’ll be posting my latest blog describing my baking experiences in hopes that it will enhance your day with a bit of laughter, as well as lessons I’ve learned in trying new recipes or techniques that you might find useful. But for today’s blog, I’d like to get you caught up to speed by sharing what I’ve been up to the last few months.

When I first decided I was going to explore the world of sweets, my first task was to find a baking book that could start the process of guiding me through my learning experience.  As soon as the book arrived in the mail, I tore open the package and turned to the first page ready to try my hand at a Black Forest cake or strudel. And that’s when I realized that the first step of baking was going to be patience because there wasn’t any mention of a Black Forest cake in the first chapter, let alone the second or the third! I’d be starting out with the basics, which up until that point I thought were items like chocolate chip cookies. But in the baking world, it turns out, the basics are learning how to make egg wash so that you can add shine to a pastry or blanching nuts to remove the skin off of them. I wanted desperately to jump ahead but I forced myself to remove my chef’s hat and put on my apprentice apron. Can you believe it? Barely five minutes into my journey and I had already been demoted.

But, now that I’ve started to make my way through the first chapter, I have to admit I find myself utterly amazed by these ‘basic’ techniques that really make me feel more like a magician than a baker.  It’s such a rewarding feeling to see the instant results of your work. It’s fascinating to see how all of a sudden a bit of sugar, butter, and flour is transformed into something completely different than its original form.  I also must say that with the time I’ve spent learning some of the baking basics I’ve started to trust my instincts, adapt recipes to my liking, and find various recipes of the same dessert to learn what others have tried.

So, now that you’re an insider into my baking world, let me welcome you again to the Founding Flavors blog! I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you and hearing what you have to say.

Cheers!
Sonia
www.foundingflavors.com

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