Tuesday, 24 May 2016

DINE WITH BEA: Jewish Penicillin - My Favourite Chicken Soup |

When we are in the wars, as my grandmother would say, we all crave our favourite comfort food. Growing up, chicken soup was quite literally the cure for everything, we don't call it Jewish Penicillin for nothing! When I am poorly, there is nothing more satisfactory than a bowl (...or several) of my mother's chicken soup. My mother's chicken soup was a little less traditional than her inspiration, my nanny Pauline; except, my mother, who acquired her Cordon Bleu through Raymond Blanc's cookery school, would add seasonal vegetables such as suede, parsnip, leek, sweet potato and even potato to deepen the flavour of the stock and add various textures and flavours to each and every mouthful. The root vegetables are earthy and sweeter in taste, suede is the most flavourful of them all, textured similar to a carrot, yet the sweetest of them all and it is delicious!! The most delicious winter warmer...

Mother's Kneidels (Matzoh balls) were always made from scratch and abstractly large. I mean let's just say you definitely got your servings worth, and they were fluffy, and moist; not dense. I personally am more in favour of the traditional Kneidlach for chicken soup, dense and small; with the larger, fluffier Matzoh ball dumplings perfect for accentuating winter stews. Except they aren't Gluten Free so I will need to experiment in the kitchen to create an alternative, seeing as Matzoh meal contains wheat! I've used past tense, don't fret my mother is still alive. In fact she is currently indulging in 'Gambas Pil-Pil' on Mistral Beach in Marbella. It is here that I tasted the spiciest, freshest and most delicious Prawn Pil Pil IN THE ENTIRE WORLD (to date), which undoubtedly has been enjoyed every year since the age of 6. I like my spice... If you are reading this, HI MUM! HOPE YOU'RE HAVING AN ABSOLUTE HOOT - I am shouting because you are F A R    A W A Y!

My mother and step-father at Mistral beach, my favourite beach in Marbella. The food here is incredible, gigantic tiger prawns on skewers along with lobster, beautiful seabass and THE BEST PRAWN PIL PIL IN THE WORLD. Have an amazing time guys - Miss You xo

But anyways, seeing as I did move over 2200 miles away, to the sun-bronzed, cosmopolitan metropolis that is Tel-Aviv. My new home is far away from the bitter, jaw-chattering winters and unforgivable, foreseeable rain showers. Except I now have to fend for myself (and I love it)! Yes that means I have been able to perfect my own chicken soup recipe, one that will be passed down to my children for them to also experiment and perfect, but most importantly enjoy every sip with happiness and love.

In regards to being young, fun and no longer living with mum (I like this rhyme a lot); The other night I procrastinated for 2 hours before putting my freshly laundered bed sheets on my bed - TED talks got the better of me. My slight OCD means that NOTHING clean can touch the floor without having to be washed again (give or take depending)- it involves standing on a higher surface, getting inside the (inside out) duvet cover, grabbing two corners and flapping about like a bird trialling lift-off. Lets be honest - I don't lift off, instead smile in relief, feeling fully-accomplished and often hot and slightly bothered. It's a real palava, mum thank you for all the years that you made my bed, I definitely took it for granted.

Whilst I didn't grow up in a religious family and we didn't keep shabbat, we did have my favourite chicken soup! For Ashkenazi Jews, it is part of tradition to indulge into a bowl of their mother/grandmother's chicken soup at sundown on Friday's, or in all of our cases when the flu gets the better of us. My Nanny, Step-mother and Step-grandmother make a more traditional jewish chicken soup, which has inspired my own recipe a lot. I have gained inspiration from each and every one of them and developed my favourite recipe, which I now want to share with you all :) It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, this is a recipe to be enjoyed by everyone! Trust me it is the best cure for anything! You feel poorly? You need chicken soup! Did your boyfriend break up with you? Yeah you definitely need chicken soup! You want to lose weight? So...it's chicken soup week! Whatever it is...chicken soup can cure it. Enjoy my very own recipe:

My Jewish Chicken Soup

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 4-12 hours
Serves: 6-8
(It's chicken soup week for me and whoever comes over for supper!)

What's in it?

- 1 Fresh Whole Chicken (take the guts out BLEURGHH)
- 4 Bay Leaves
- Handful of Parsley
- Handful of Dill
- 1 White Onion
- 2 Stalks of Celery
- 6 Large Carrots
- 1 Leek
- Handful of Black Peppercorns
- 3 Tsp Salt
- 2 Tbsp Osem Chicken Stock (find in Kosher section of Supermarket - PS check for Gluten Free options as they aren't always GF, so if you are Coeliac YOU MUST CHECK)

Make the Magic Happen...

1. I always get my meat from the fresh meat counter, you can also visit your local butcher for a prime bird, but it is whatever floats your boat. Make sure all the gross insides are firmly OUT OF THERE! For those who enjoy a Jerusalem Mixed Grill (you know who you are).. save them for later...
2. Once your bird is prepared, pop her in a large stock pot with 3 tsp Salt and cover with water. Bring to the boil on a low-medium heat for 45 minutes.
3. In the meantime, prepare you veg! Peel the carrots and chop into circles around 2cm thick. Chop the celery; peel and slice the Onion into quarters; chop the leek into 1-2cm rounds and place in a bowl with the peppercorns, parsley and dill.
3. Getting a ladle, lightly skim all the fat off the top into a bowl. The fat is separate from the water and floats on the top in an oil-like consistency. You can leave some for flavour, but I remove the majority.
4. Once you have removed the fat, add all the veggies etc from the bowl and simmer on a low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes with the lid on. I often make the night before and leave to stew overnight with the lid on (no heat) as it is always better the next day and the heat remains for quite a few hours, leaving the flavours to stew and ferment.
5. In the morning remove the chicken from the stock pot onto a large plate and remove the skin and bones, taking all the beautifully tender chicken breast and adding it back in to the soup.
6. Bring to the boil on a low simmer removing all the fat from the top once more, and topping up with any lost water (depending on how many you are feeding) and continue to simmer for an hour, until piping hot.
7. Serve and enjoy piping hot...but don't burn your tongue.

TIP: Serve with cracked black pepper on top! 

As we say here in Israel: 
Or in other words, Bon Appetit my darling dolls! 


Bea xo.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Cutest & Fluffiest Gluten Free Cupcakes Ever |

Oh Glorious Cupcakes! Baking cupcakes has to be one of my favourite past-times and has been since about the age of 5, my mother who acquired Le Cordon Bleu through Raymond Blanc's private cookery school, has always been into baking. From meringooey grasshopper pie, to the BEST carrot cake I have ever tasted in my life, spotted dick cupcakes, bakewell tart and many, many more. I didn't just grow up baking vanilla sponge and chocolate cakes, which broadened my mind to the different flavours and methods of baking desserts at a young age, with carrot cake being a regular...which I will bake and share with you soon.

Growing up I was very much into baking, making cakes of all different flavours creatively decorated with different icing/frosting was also something that my granny and I loved to do together, granny if you are reading this, I love you and miss you, next time I am home, let's make cupcakes and bake apple pie! We would walk to the end of the garden with a wicker basket in which we would collect these big, green, juicy apples from the apple tree which remained beautifully at the very bottom of the garden by the swing at Sage cottage. I love making apple pie with Granny, she undoubtedly makes THE BEST! So with that in mind, I am going to make my own pastry and create Granny's Gluten Free Apple Pie to bring it back to life after all these years of not making it...especially for you.

There is no reason why everyone shouldn't enjoy cupcakes every once in a while, it doesn't need to be a special occasion! I made my Cute & Fluffy cupcakes for my team at work simply because I felt like it! They are simple to make, too much fun and so damn delicious. However since coming to the realisation that I am in fact GLUTEN INTOLERANT...DUN DUN DUUUUN, it's too often that I miss out on the cupcake party. Birthdays, party's, bakery's and pretty much anywhere that you may stumble across them...they're not GF yo. Plus even if they are, they aren't WOW. Out of all the Gluten Free cupcakes that I tasted in London, they were either too dense and dry or flavourless and well, y'all can't beat my buttercream icing! I honestly think that mine are better than anyone's, in fact I am shocked at how well they turned out. Modest I know, but really...They were fluffy and buttery-moist, with a melt in the mouth texture that is complemented by the most delicious vanilla buttercream frosting, but most importantly, you couldn't even tell they were GLUTEN FREE!!


The Rookie Errors of Cupcake Baking: 
- Using improper food colouring which alters the taste of the buttercream frosting to become bitter and tasting like chemicals BLEURGHHH
- Boring cakes. HAVE FUN WITH IT! GET MESSY!

RULE 1: Cupcakes are made to be shared & enjoyed.
Firstly, you create a batch of around 16. The decorating is a work of art. They are a happy cake, I associate so much happiness with cupcakes, from making them from scratch as a child, or out of a box with those hello kitty, barbie and Tom & Jerry edible papers...LOL. Not only do they put a smile on my face, but everyone's around me. Receiving a beautiful, delicious cupcake ALWAYS makes you smile, as does making them.

RULE 2: You need a piping bag and variety of nozzles to get really creative!
Cupcakes are SO yummy and require you to be creative and arty, the more resources you have available to you, the more creative you can be. Cake decorating is a serious art and can involve complex methods and design.

RULE 3: Bake with LOVE! 
I truly believe that food made with love is food better enjoyed, trust me you can taste the love. Everyone who eats my food feels such happiness and well it's an experience in itself because when I present my food, I also provide an understanding of how flavours are developed and created along with inspiring others that food is more than just a daily chore. Sharing is caring and food is a beautiful way of making others smile whilst expanding their visions of food and cooking. Questions often arise on how I make my creations, in turn they learn and I am able to inspire.

RULE 4: Everything to the weight of 2 large eggs (avg. 140g) 
A baking secret my mother shared with me. This applies to flour, sugar, butter plus the actual 2 eggs! This makes for moist, fluffy cupcakes which melt in your mouth...dribble...

RULE 5: For coloured icing use specially designed food colouring for cake icing.
No one wants to feel like they're tasting E numbers and have that BLEURGHHH chemical tasting in their mouth. I find that the cheap supermarket bought food colourings do just this. I got professional food colouring which is not dripped again and again lessening the delicious flavour. Instead I dip the point of a sharp steak knife in and the tiniest bit of the viscous formula adding a rich colour. More can be added of course to darken the colour. I got mine in my favourite baking store at Shuk Hacarmel in Tel Aviv but you will be able to find these in any good baking store.

RULE 6: Always use double the quantity of icing sugar compared with butter for the creamiest Buttercream Frosting.

The Rookie Errors of Cupcake Baking: 
- Using improper food colouring which alters the taste of the buttercream frosting to become bitter and tasting like chemicals BLEURGHHH

RECIPE: Cute & Fluffy Gluten Free Cupcakes 
(makes 16 cupcakes)

What's in it?

(140g OR Weight of your 2 large eggs)
For The Cupcakes: 
- 140g Gluten Free Flour
- 140g Granulated White Sugar
- 140g Unsalted Real Butter (soften before, I left mine out for an hour or so)
- 2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
- 2 tbsp Double or Whipping Cream
- 3 tsp Vanilla Extract

For The Buttercream Frosting: 
- 200g Unsalted Butter (soften before, I left mine out for an hour or so)
- 400g Icing Sugar
- 3 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- Tbsp Double or Whipping Cream

Make The Magic Happen!

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and weigh out the ingredients.
2. Mix together the softened butter and sugar, I use a wooden spoon, I'm pretty old school. You can of course mix it up with a stand/hand mixer.
3. Beat in 2 eggs, bicarbonate of soda and vanilla extract mixing together.
4. Sift in the GF flour folding the mixture to prevent it , then give it a real good mix/stir removing all the bumps.
5. Add the double cream and give it a final stir...before you prepare to lick the spoon...BOWL.
6. Using a tablespoon and a teaspoon, spoon 1 tablespoon of cake mixture into each cupcake cup, I also used a silicone heart-shaped cupcake tray.
7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR during the 15 minutes, it will tamper with the rising of the cupcakes. After 15 minutes, stick a knife into one of the cakes to see if the batter has cooked all the way through. The knife should come out clean, just greasy.
8. Leave the cupcakes to cool...it's time to make the yummiest buttercream frosting!
9. Mix together in a bowl the icing sugar and butter until smooth, then add the vanilla extract and double cream.
10. Depending on how many colours you are intending to make, divide the icing into separate bowls, I made pink, green and blue, therefore I had 3 bowls.
11. Mix in the colouring until at your desired colour.
12. Prepare the piping bag by cutting off the end about 1-2cm using sharp scissors and place the nozzle inside. Spoon in the buttercream frosting and push town, tying the top in a knot.
14. Share them with the people you love and enjoy! Besides you just made these beautiful cakes, ensure you have that first bite :)

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Bea {x}