Winter’s end

Recipes from three leading chefs, that are perfect for this time of year, before it gets too hot to step into the kitchen.

Challah, Hallah, bread 311 (photo credit: Ilan Nachum / Al Hashulchan Magazine)
Challah, Hallah, bread 311
(photo credit: Ilan Nachum / Al Hashulchan Magazine)
In their ‘end of winter issue, ‘Al Hashulchan’ magazine, offer recipes, from three leading chefs, that are perfect for this time of year, before it gets too hot to step into the kitchen.
For a huge halla: Chef Erez Komarovsky is known for his breads. He suggests that you make a very special halla for this Friday, using spelt flour and stuffing the rolls with leeks and Pecorino goat cheese, before braiding them.
✔ 500 gr. bread flour (about 31⁄2 cups + 1 Tbsp.)✔ 500 gr. whole spelt flour (about 31⁄2 cups + 1 Tbsp.)✔ 21⁄2 cups water✔ 3⁄4 cup oil✔ 40 gr. fresh yeast✔ 1 egg +1 egg yolk✔ 3⁄4 Tbsp. caraway seeds✔ 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar✔ 11⁄4 tsp. salt
For the stuffing:
✔ 1⁄3 cup oil
✔ 4 leeks (white part only) chopped
✔ 400 gr. Pecorino cheese, grated finely (or any hard goat cheese)
✔ Salt and pepper to taste
For coating:
✔ 1 egg beaten and diluted with water
✔ 1⁄2 cup sunflower seeds, shelled
Make the dough: Mix all the dry ingredients except the salt in a large bowl. Add the water gradually.
Sometimes you don’t need to use more than 2 cups. Knead for 8 minutes. Add salt and knead 2 more minutes until dough is soft but not sticky. Add either flour or water as needed. Coat with a little oil, cover and let rise for an hour.
Meanwhile heat oil in a wide skillet over medium heat and add leeks. Steam until they turn transparent but not browned. Place in a sieve, let cool and squeeze excess oil. Add cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Assembling: Divide dough into 3 equal balls, cover and let rise for 15 minutes.
On a floured working surface, roll out each ball into 60 cm. rectangle. Spread leek mixture on each piece leaving the edges clear. Close the dough rectangles over the filling, creating three stuffed rolls. Close all seams well and roll a little to make rolls even. Cover and leave for a few minutes. Gently stretch the rolls making them 90 cm long. Place them on a lightly floured baking paper (they are longer), braid and shape the halla. Pick carefully using the baking parchment and transfer into the baking sheet. Cover and let rise for an hour.
Heat oven to 180º.
Brush the halla with a little egg and sprinkle sunflower seeds generously.
Throw a few ice cubes onto the oven bottom, then bake the halla for 35-40 minutes or until golden. Cool on a rack.
Makes 5
Food writer Michal Moses suggests using the season’s bounty of mushrooms and dry imported porcini, for a very aromatic easy to prepare soup.
✔ 25 gr. porcini or shiitake, dried
✔ 1 kg. mixed fresh mushrooms
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 40 gr. butter (or margarine)
✔ 1 onion chopped finely
✔ 1 cup chestnuts (peeled and packaged invacuum)
✔ 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
✔ 2 Tbsp. dry white wine (optional)
✔ Leaves of 1 sprig tarragon (or thyme)
✔ 1 cup milk or water
✔ 1⁄4 cup cooking cream (optional)
✔ 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
✔ Salt and pepper
Soak the dry mushrooms in a cup of boiling water for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile place oil and butter in a pot and sauté onions and chestnuts until onion is transparent. Add fresh mushrooms and continue frying until slightly golden. Add garlic and cook a minute or two. Add wine and cook until it evaporates.
Add tarragon, soaked mushrooms and the soaking water. Make sure not to pour in the sand that may have accumulated at the bottom of the soaking water.
Add water, milk and cream and bring to a gentle boil. Lower heat and cook 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Using a hand blender puree the mushrooms in the pot; you may leave it more or less chunky according to your preferences.
You may also serve as is.
Makes a 24 cm. round mold
Alex Lavid, from Baker’s, suggests this winning fudge cake that takes only five ingredients and hardly any work to prepare.
✔ 180 gr. bitter chocolate, chopped
✔ 180 gr. butter
✔ 60 gr. dark cocoa powder
✔ 5 eggs, separated
✔ 1 cup sugar
Heat oven to 180º. Butter the baking mold and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate and butter in microwave oven or in a double pot over boiling water.
Mix and add cocoa powder. Beat egg yolks with half the sugar in a large bowl about 4 minutes. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well.
Whip egg whites with the rest of the sugar until stiff but not dry. Fold the chocolate mixture in gently.
Pour 3⁄4 of the mixture into the baking mold and place the rest in the refrigerator.
Bake 20-25 minutes until the surface of the cake is set. Cool cake at room temperature, leaving the oven working.
Spread the rest of the mixture over the baked cake and bake 10-15 minutes more. When chilled garnish with powdered cocoa or sugar. The fudge will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days. Serve at room temperature.