Pascale’s Kitchen: Yummy family favorites

This week, I am bringing you a recipe for a fresh artichoke heart salad.

 Cinnamon swirls (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Cinnamon swirls
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Sometimes I get the urge to prepare a dish that I haven’t made in years. For example, artichokes are one of my favorite foods, which I tend to serve at festive holiday meals. 

I’ll prepare stuffed artichoke hearts, but other times I just cook and serve them whole, so that everyone can remove the leaves and dip the tasty meaty end of each leaf in my fabulous tangy sauce. When I was a child, artichokes were such a treat for us that my mother used to serve them as dessert. 

I’ll never forget how our fingers would turn black as we cleaned the artichokes for my mother, until finally we exposed the heart of the artichoke. Once we were done cleaning them, my mother would put them in a bowl and cover them with lemon juice and water so they wouldn’t turn brown. 

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She would separate the artichoke hearts into three categories: The nicest ones would remain whole and be used for her stuffed artichoke heart dish. The less aesthetic ones would be added to the hamin (cholent), and any that had fallen apart in the peeling process would be sliced up for her signature artichoke salad. 

 Artichoke heart, mushroom and walnut salad (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Artichoke heart, mushroom and walnut salad (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

This week, I am bringing you a recipe for a fresh artichoke heart salad. I strongly encourage you to use fresh artichokes, even though it’s a lot more work, because frozen artichoke hearts just don’t work well for this fresh salad. Once you’ve discarded all the leaves, preparing the rest of the ingredients is quite easy and quick. 

The second recipe is French onion soup. There are so many different versions for onion soup, and the one below happens to be my kids’ favorite one. In my opinion, onion soup is one of the most elegant dishes that anyone can make, and it’s not nearly as complicated as many people think it is. I like to prepare my own homemade croutons, and so I’ve included the recipe for croutons, too, so that you can try it out on your own. 

The third recipe I’ve chosen to bring you this week was a special request from my family: cinnamon swirls. Some of you might at some point in your life have had the luck of trying a Cinnabon, and this recipe is the closest I’ve been able to get to a similar taste and texture. The combination of butter, cinnamon, sugar and dough is just incredible. And then, when the buns come out of the oven, they are smothered in a sweet yogurt icing. 

But before you start preparing your cinnamon swirls, there are two things you need to know: I used yogurt for the icing, but you can also use full-fat cream if you don’t mind the extra calories. Secondly, if you want to make this recipe parve, you can use oil in place of butter, and just skip the yogurt icing. The buns are so sweet and enticing even without the icing. 

Cinnamon swirls

Use a square 25 cm. X 25 cm. pan.

  • 25 gr. fresh yeast
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4½ cups flour, sifted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 100 gr. butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature

Toppings:

  • 1½ cups sugar or brown sugar, or a combination of the two
  • 3 heaping Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 100 gr. butter, very soft (so that it can be brushed on)

Yogurt icing:

  • 50 gr. butter, at room temperature
  • ½ package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tub (150 gr.) plain yogurt
  • 1-2 drops of vanilla (optional)
  • ½-¾ cup powdered sugar

Add the yeast, milk and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix gently. Then, let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Add the eggs and continue mixing. Add the flour while mixing. Add the vanilla and salt. Next, add the butter cubes one at a time, only adding the next one when the previous one has been mixed in well. Continue mixing for another 10 minutes. 

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour or until it doubles in volume. 

In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon together. 

Combine all of the icing ingredients in a bowl and mix well by hand until the mixture is smooth. Place in the fridge. 

Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour, then roll out the dough into a rectangle that is ½ mm. thick. Spread the butter on the dough, then sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon. Press down gently with your hands to push the sugar and cinnamon into the dough. 

Starting with the side closest to you, roll up the dough into a log shape. Slice the log into 12-14 slices, depending on the size of the pan you’re using. 

Line your tray with baking paper, then arrange the slices on their sides, so that the swirls face up. Let the dough rise for another 20 minutes, then bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 25 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Take the icing out of the fridge and beat it. Then, brush it on the cinnamon swirls and serve. 

Level of difficulty: Medium.Time: 1.5 hours.Status: Dairy.

Artichoke heart, mushroom and walnut salad

Makes 6-8 servings. 

  • 4 large artichoke hearts, cut in half, and then sliced, and soaked in a little lemon juice
  • 300 gr. (1 basket) mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into ½-cm. slices
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup walnuts, halved
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Salad dressing: 

  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. honey or silan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the artichoke heart pieces with the mushrooms, red pepper, celery and red onion. Add the walnuts and the garlic and mix well. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. 

To prepare the salad dressing, add all of the ingredients to a jar with an airtight lid and shake well. Just before serving, add the salad dressing to the salad and mix well. 

Note: To clean cooked artichokes, tear off all the leaves (you can eat the meaty part at the bottom of each leaf). Cut off the remaining leaves and remove the hairy choke. Drizzle lemon on top of the artichoke hearts so they don’t turn brown. 

Level of difficulty: Easy-medium.Time: 30 minutes.Status: Parve.

 French onion soup (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) French onion soup (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
French onion soup

Makes 6-8 servings.

  • 100 gr. butter, melted
  • 4-5 (500 gr.) large onions, sliced thinly
  • 3 Tbsp. flour, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp. onion soup powder (without MSG or preservatives)
  • 8 cups water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup hard yellow cheese, grated
  • Hyssop or rosemary leaves, for decoration

Croutons:

  • 6 slices black bread, toasted
  • A little olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

Heat the butter in a large pan and sauté the onions until they become translucent. 

Add the flour and stir rapidly. Add the soup powder and water and stir again.

Add the salt and pepper, and then bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over a low flame for 40 minutes. Stir every once in a while.

To prepare the croutons, cut the bread into cubes and place them on a baking pan. Drizzle the olive oil on top and add the crushed garlic all around. Stir the pieces, then bake in an oven that has been preheated to 250° for 3-4 minutes. 

Just before serving, pour soup into ovenproof bowls and sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of croutons and a little cheese on top of each bowl. Put the bowls in the oven and broil for 4-5 minutes at 250° until the cheese is bubbly and has lightly browned. Add the hyssop or rosemary leaves if desired. 

Level of difficulty: Easy-medium.Time: 1 hour.Status: Dairy.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.