Holiday In: Shavuot Italian style

Chef Charlie Fadida suggests taking ideas from the cucina italiana for the upcoming holiday.

Cheese and fruit blintzes (photo credit: Dan Peretz)
Cheese and fruit blintzes
(photo credit: Dan Peretz)
It seems that Shavuot is not the time to start a diet or even keep to one. Chef Charlie Fadida of the Sheraton Tel Aviv spreads his holiday table with fabulous crostini with homemade spreads, gnocchi made from scratch and traditional blintzes with a twist. All the recipes below – for an appetizer, salad, main dish and dessert – are easy to expand to serve large parties.
CROSTINI WITH TOMATO, OLIVES AND PEPPERS Makes 4. Multiply amounts for larger parties.
 ✔ 2 baguettes, sliced horizontally ✔ 100 gr. Parmesan shavings
Olive spread ✔ 150 gr. black olives, pitted ✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 1⁄2 garlic clove, minced ✔ 3 anchovy fillets ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. thyme, chopped ✔ Salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season to taste.
Tomato spread ✔ 150 gr. sun-dried tomatoes ✔ 15 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 1⁄2 garlic clove, minced ✔ Salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season to taste.
Roasted peppers spread ✔ 2 large red peppers ✔ 10 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar ✔ 1⁄2 Tbsp. sugar ✔ Salt and pepper
Roast peppers over open fire until skin is charred black. Peel (the easiest way is to place warm peppers in plastic bag, seal and let the steam do the work). Remove seeds and stem and grind in the food processor with the rest of the ingredients until smooth. Season to taste.
Arrange the sliced baguette on a baking sheet. Spread with the different spreads, sprinkle Parmesan and place in a preheated 200º oven until bread is golden and cheese is melted.
✔ 2 pitot, halved horizontally ✔ 4 large mozzarella cheese balls (about 120 gr. each) ✔ 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced ✔ 8 basil leaves ✔ 8 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar ✔ Salt and pepper
Slice mozzarella. Place the 4 pita halves on a baking sheet and arrange the mozzarella and tomato slices in a spiral, alternating between them. Season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Place in a preheated 200º oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, garnish with basil leaves, drizzle a little balsamic vinegar, and serve.
For the gnocchi ✔ 1 kg. Desiree potatoes ✔ 250 gr. flour ✔ 1 egg ✔ 1 egg yolk ✔ Salt and pepper ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Cook potatoes in their skins until tender. Drain and dry in a preheated 200º oven for 10 minutes. Peel the potatoes and mash until smooth. Spread the mashed potatoes on a clean work surface, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add flour, egg and yolk and knead with hands until mixture becomes smooth and fluffy. Create a 2-cm.-thick cylinder and cut into 2- to 4- cm. pieces. Place gnocchi on a floured tray. Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Cook gnocchi in the water for 3 minutes or until the gnocchi float. Remove from water and place in the mushroom sauce.
Mushroom sauce ✔ 1⁄4 cup olive oil ✔ 1 onion, chopped ✔ 1⁄4 cup white wine ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme ✔ 1 tsp. chopped garlic ✔ 10 champignon mushrooms, quartered ✔ 6 Portobello mushrooms, sliced ✔ Handful Yarden (wood) mushrooms, quartered ✔ 1 tsp. truffle paste (optional) ✔ 500 ml. cooking cream ✔ Salt and pepper to taste ✔ Parmesan cheese, grated.
Heat the oil in a pan over high heat. Fry onion until golden. Add garlic and mushrooms. Toss for 5 minutes until liquid has evaporated. Season the mushrooms with salt, pepper and thyme. Mix, add wine and cook for 5 more minutes. Lower the flame and add the cream. As the cream reduces, sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese to thicken the mixture. Add cooked gnocchi and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
CHEESE AND FRUIT BLINTZES ✔ 1 cup flour ✔ 1 Tbsp. sugar ✔ 11⁄2 cups milk ✔ 2 small eggs ✔ 1 tsp. canola or corn oil Filling ✔ 500 gr. white 5% to 9% fat cheese ✔ 4 Tbsp. sugar ✔ 1 Tbsp. cornstarch ✔ 3 Tbsp. passion fruit juice with seeds ✔ Seasonal fruit
In time for the holiday, Tnuva has a lunched a White Chef 4% sweetened white cheese for filling blintzes. If you choose to use it, omit the sugar from recipe.
Whip together all the crepe ingredients. Pour through a fine sieve to eliminate lumps. Heat a small nonstick frying pan. Pour a small amount at a time to coat the pan. Cook for 1 minute and place on a kitchen towel. Make all the blintzes.
To prepare filling: Mix together all ingredients except the cornstarch. Add the starch gradually, avoiding lumps.
Place one of the ready blintzes on a plate, spoon 1 Tbsp. of cheese mixture in the middle. Fold the crepe from 4 sides. Fry in butter until golden and crispy, about 2 minutes on each side. Repeat with all the blintzes. Serve with fruit of the season.