Happy Chanukah! Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! I’m taking a break from Latkefest 2015 to tell you about this fabulous new cookbook – The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen by Amelia Saltsman. I’m also hosting a giveaway for this cookbook, so don’t forget to enter.
The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen by Amelia Saltsman is a fabulous cookbook that explores traditional Jewish foods while sticking to the Jewish calendar. Filled with beautiful photos and wonderful stories, this book really spoke to me. As someone who tries to cook seasonally, I felt like this cookbook was made for someone like me. I also loved that even as a Jewish cookbook, it wasn’t just about the potato kugel and the brisket. Amelia writes about the history of various foods and where they came from, while sharing about why they’re important to the Jewish calendar. I love that all of the foods in her cookbook are fresh and inspirational – using very clean ingredients. I recently made her Lamb, Butternut Squash & Quince Tagine and it was a huge hit with my family and guests. I also made her Winter Greens Saute and I know it will be a staple on our table over the next several weeks. I highly recommend this cookbook for anyone who loves exploring new flavors, while sticking to the traditional Jewish calendar. Even putting aside the Jewish calendar, this book stands out as a fabulous cookbook with fresh recipes. This Shabbat, I plan on serving Amelia’s Braised Beef with Semolina Dumplings. It’s the perfect Shabbat Chanukah meal.
Because I rarely share desserts with you, I decided to share this fabulous winter cake recipe with you. Blood Orange & Olive Oil Polenta Upside Down Cake evokes flavors of the Middle East and would be a special treat for your holiday table.
- 4 blood oranges
- 2⁄3 cup (145 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup (125 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2⁄3 cup (105 g) cornmeal (not stone-ground)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup (165 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- ½ packet (¹⁄8 ounce/3.5 g) unflavored gelatin
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons Cointreau
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Using a Microplane grater, grate zest from 2 of the blood oranges and reserve. Juice the 2 oranges and reserve. Cut both ends off of each of the remaining 2 oranges, then cut each orange crosswise into rounds ⅛ to 1/16 inch (3 to 2 mm) thick. Cut all but one of the slices in half and discard any center pith.
- Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the bottom of a flameproof and ovenproof 10-inch (25-cm) skillet (a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet is perfect) and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the orange juice. Heat skillet over medium-low heat until most of the sugar is bubbling. Remove from the heat.
- Starting at the outer edge of the pan, lay the halved orange slices in the melted sugar with the “scalloped” edge of each slice touching the edge of the pan. Fit as many orange slices as you can into the circle, pinching their corners as you set them into the hot sugar (use a knife point or tongs to adjust the fruit as needed). Some slices will have a “prettier” side; make sure those are placed face down in the sugar. Arrange the remaining halved orange slices in concentric circles toward the center, finishing with the reserved whole slice in the center.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the oil and granulated sugar on medium speed until thickened and golden. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is thick and creamy gold, 3 to 5 minutes total. Beat in the zest and 1 tablespoon of the juice. On low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, beating after each addition just until blended.
- Pour batter evenly over the orange slices and gently smooth the top. Bake the cake until golden brown, the top springs back to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Invert a serving plate over the cake, invert the pan and plate together, and lift off the pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan, loosen it with a spatula and place it on the cake. While the cake is hot, use a fork or bamboo skewer to make holes in it without going all the way through.
- While the cake is baking, make the soaking syrup. Fill a medium bowl one-third full with ice and a little water and nestle a smaller bowl, preferably metal, in the ice bath. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) of the remaining orange juice into a small pot, sprinkle the gelatin on top, and let soften for 5 minutes.
- Stir granulated sugar, Cointreau, and lemon juice into the remaining orange juice, then stir the mixture into the softened gelatin. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar and gelatin, about 1 minute. Do not allow to boil. Pour syrup into the waiting bowl and stir from time to time until it thickens to the consistency of maple syrup, about 15 minutes. Spoon or brush some of the syrup over the cake. Allow it to soak in, then spoon or brush on more. Repeat until you have used all the syrup.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing, then cut into wedges with a serrated offset knife to serve.