Pascale's Kitchen: A cookbook that inspires

Over the years, I’ve discovered that you can learn so much about people through baking and cooking.

A cookbook  that inspires (photo credit: Courtesy)
A cookbook that inspires
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Throughout both my childhood and adulthood, the kitchen has been the beating heart of my home. I remember waking up as a child to the most amazing aromas wafting into my room from the nearby kitchen. I’m still amazed that such amazing creations can be prepared from the combination of a few basic ingredients.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that you can learn so much about people through baking and cooking. For example, I’ve noticed that I often prepare pickled vegetables when I’m sad or stressed. And when I’m joyous, I prepare lots of jams and cookies, which I love to display on my countertop in large glass jars. When I feel like one of my loved ones needs a little cheering up, I right away prepare their favorite dishes. For me, there’s nothing like spending a few busy hours in the kitchen to get me out of a funk and back to feeling like myself again.
So, when I came upon Shimrit Hillel’s book, The Winning Recipe – Insights and Recipes for the Kitchen and Life, I realized that this is not just another typical cookbook. It includes only 16 recipes, and its true aim is to help provide women with the necessary tools to achieve self-realization and focus our energy on making positive changes in our lives.
Hillel is a couples therapist, well-known in the field of coaching, as well as a motivational speaker and author. She has divided her cookbook into 16 chapters, each of which deals with a different topic worthy of our focus, such as keeping things in proportion, making choices, body image, motherhood, intimacy, time management, money issues, friendship, success and finding our strengths.
I’ve picked three chapters and listed the recipes below. Here is a short synopsis of the three chapters I’ve chosen.
In “Chapter 10: Creating a Vision,” Hillel explains that we must set a goal for ourselves, since it’s not possible to achieve something if we don’t know what our goal is. It’s not an easy step, but it’s the most rewarding if we’re honest with ourselves. Many times in life, we feel stuck, and the best way to get on with life is to take that first small step forward. Always be active, is Hillel’s motto.
In “Chapter 13: Finding Meaning,” Hillel reminds us that most women spend most of their time and mental energy on being moms and wives, and oftentimes forget about themselves.
In “Chapter 16: Resolutions,” Hillel describes how taking a good look at the words we use, the friends we keep around us, and the choices we make, will help us to better understand ourselves, and with this insight, to choose which direction we wish to follow.
From “Chapter 10: Creating a Vision”
WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
Base:
110 g. cold butter, cubed
¼ cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 egg yolk
Filling:
4 containers (900 g.) 25% cream cheese
6 eggs
²⁄3  cup sugar
4 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
500 g. white chocolate
½ cup coconut flakes (optional)
Pre-heat your oven to 175°C (350°F). In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the flour, sugar and butter. Mix until crumbly. Add the egg yolk and mix until dough forms a ball.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it’s ½-cm. thick. Remove the top sheet of paper and place dough with bottom sheet on a baking tray.
Poke holes in the dough with a fork and bake for 20 minutes until it turns golden brown. Remove from the oven.
To prepare the filling, first turn the oven down to 160°C (320°F). Fill a disposable pan with water to a height of 3 cm.
Add to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whipping attachment all of the filling ingredients, except for the white chocolate. Alternatively, you can mix by hand. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave and add to the mixture. Mix another two minutes. If you’re adding the coconut flakes, this is the time to add them.
Cut strips of baking paper and place them on the sides of the pan. Pour the filling on the prepared crust and bake for an hour and 45 minutes until the cake is firm and the top has browned.
If you have a sweet tooth, whip a container of sweet whipping cream with 50 g. of powdered sugar. Spread on top of the cake with a little bit of lemon zest.
From “Chapter 13: Finding Meaning”
LEMON TARTE
Use a tarte pan.
Lemon cream:
¾ cup lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
6 egg yolks (save 4 of the egg whites for the meringue topping)
2 entire eggs
½ cup sugar
Zest from 1 lemon
150 g. cold butter, cubed
Crust:
300 g. flour
200 g. cold butter, cubed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
100 g. (1 packet) powdered sugar
1 egg
Meringue:
1¼ cups sugar
4 egg whites
To prepare the tarte, add the flour, butter and vanilla to the bowl of an electric food processor fitted with a metal blade.
Mix for 30 seconds until dough becomes crumbly. Add the powdered sugar and egg. Mix just until dough forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for two hours.
To prepare the lemon cream, grate lemon zest from one of the lemons. Set the lemon aside. Whisk the lemon juice, eggs, yolks and sugar together for 1 minute. Transfer to a bain marie (bowl over a pot of boiling water) heated over a medium flame. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring with the whisk every so often until mixture thickens.
When the mixture has thickened, strain it and transfer it to another bowl so that it will cool down quicker. Let it sit for 30 minutes. If you have a thermometer, verify that the temperature has fallen to 45°C (115°F). If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t worry about it.
Add the butter cubes and lemon zest and mix well until the butter has completely melted. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
To prepare the meringue, melt the sugar and water in a pot over a medium flame for five minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. At the same time, add the egg whites to the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until stiff peaks form. Add the melted sugar while mixing. Continue mixing until the bowl is no longer warm.
To prepare the tarte, pre-heat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Grease a fluted tarte pan (or any pan you choose). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is ½-cm. thick and the size of the pan.
Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and transfer it to the pan. Press in the dough around the sides and cut off any excess dough by making a circle around the edge with the rolling pin or use a knife.
Poke the dough with a fork in a few spots. Cover the dough with aluminum foil and put some dry beans on top as a weight to keep the paper in place during baking.
Bake for 15 minutes with the foil, and then take the foil off and bake another 15 minutes until it has turned golden.
Remove and let cool. Pour on the lemon cream and place in the fridge.
Add the meringue mixture to a pastry bag and squeeze on top of the lemon cream in whatever design you please. If you have a culinary torch, you can burn the top of the meringue.
From “Chapter 16: Resolutions”
TARTE TATIN
Use a flat 28-cm. diameter baking pan.
Dough:
200 g. flour, sifted
100 g. butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. cold water
¼ tsp. salt
Filling:
7-8 Granny Smith apples
1 cup sugar
75 g. butter
½ tsp. cinnamon
To prepare the dough, add the flour, powdered sugar, salt and butter cubes to the bowl of a food processor and mix for 30 seconds until crumbly. Add the beaten egg and the water and mix well. Remove the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
To prepare the filling, peel the apples, cut into quarters, and remove the core and seeds. In a 26-cm. or 28-cm diameter pot that can be used in the oven, melt the sugar over a medium-low flame. (If the flame is too high, the sugar will burn, so watch it carefully.)
The moment the sugar has fully dissolved, add the butter and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon. Don’t worry if the caramel begins bubbling.
Once the butter has melted, stir until the cinnamon is mixed in well. Place the apple quarters in the pot so that the wide sides are facing down. Sprinkle on the remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon on top of the apple pieces and let them cook for 15 minutes. The liquid will begin to evaporate. Add a few more pieces of apple when there’s room and let them cook. The apples don’t need to be mushy, but just become softened.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a floured surface until it’s ½-cm. thick. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and place on top of the apples. Make sure it reaches over the edge of the pan. Cut off excess dough with a knife.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200°C (390°F) until the crust has browned. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes. Then, place a serving platter on top of the cake, count to three, and flip it over. If any apple pieces have stuck to the pan, remove them gently and arrange them nicely on top of the cake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and add a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream if you desire. 

Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Learn more about Pascale's Kitchen here.