Tag Archives: for the love of cooking

Ka’ak-Ib-Loz

28 Mar

When I married a Sephardic Jew there were lots of new traditions to get used to – even the engagement party pastries were new and exotic. Instead of the usual heart shaped cookies with our names embossed them I was enchanted to see these sweet little wreaths – Ka’ak-Ib-Loz decorating the tables. Made out of almond and pistachio marzipan they stole the show. For the Love of Cooking was gifted to me a few years later by our grandmother and I decided to try my hand at making them.

As Passover approaches I’m happy to note these cookies are in fact Kosher for Passover. However if you have pistachio allergy in the home like I do – stick to just making the rings with almonds.

Ingredients:

almonds, pistachio nuts, confectioners sugar, orange water, green food coloring

The Process:

The most difficult part of this process is the first part. You have to blanch the nuts (instructions not provided in the cookbook) and then shell them – peeling off all the little brown outside bits from the almonds. This cannot be done if you haven’t blanched the almonds for long enough. Then you grind the nuts in a food processor. At the time I did not have a large food processor, only a small table top one. Then I pulsed in the sugar.

As my pistachios did not have a deep green color after blending I went ahead and mixed the orange water and food coloring in with the nuts. You can skip the food coloring if your pistachios were more vivid than mine. I then tried to shape the mixture into balls and join the ends to make a ring. This was pretty difficult. The mixture was a little crumbly and I felt I needed more liquid of some sort to make it pliable. At this point you can crimp the edges to make them more wreath like before leaving them out to dry. I tried to twist several strands together as well but that didn’t quite pan out given the dry/brittle nature of the dough.

The Results:

The taste was great, but the shapes were not as pretty as I liked. I think if I had a finer grind on the nuts and a little more water I could have done fun things like make different colors and shapes. 

 

Date Cookies

17 Sep

We call these “Ajweh” and the family joke is that we bring them out every time someone is about to get married. I still remember a huge plate of them being brought out when I met my husbands grandparents for the first time. I had no idea what their significance was, but I do remember they tasted delicious, homemade and made me feel very welcome.

This is the first time I’ve ever tried to make date cakes myself, and I wanted an authentic, traditional recipe. Rae Dayan’s book “For the Love of Cooking” is known to be an accurate record of Syrian cooking.

Ingredients

flour, water, margarine, medjool dates, water, orange rind,

While you can use other dates, medjool dates are by far preferred. There is no comparable date. I substituted Earth Balance for for the margarine.

The Process:

The dough was surprisingly easy to mix by hand. It formed a neat little ball with just flour, water and

margarine. I quartered the dates and made sure all pits were removed and then placed then in a pot with water to cook for 15 minutes. I then mashed it up with spices and let it cool. During this time I formed circles from the dough and flattened them out. This dough was surprisingly easy to roll out and was very pliable. I placed a heaping spoon of filling in each dough circle, rolled it and bent into a crescent shape. They were then baked for 20 minutes. The recipe calls for 15-20 minutes however I believe the full 20 was needed and the you will have to go by a timer because the dough does not change color in the baking process. The baked cookies are then dusted with confectioners sugar.

The Results:

The jury is out on this one. There is no picture to compare too, but I think my cookies looked very lovely. However they do not taste as good as Grandma’s. That’s to be expected – nothing ever is. The cakes still taste pretty good if I do say so myself.