Pascale’s kitchen: Shavuot delicacies

Roni’s cheese blintzes (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN AND KFIR SHIMONI)
Roni’s cheese blintzes
Each year at Shavuot, I’m impressed by the incredible variety of cheeses and dairy products available in Israel. This year, I decided to go straight to the source – the dairy farm – instead of just relying on stores to bring us these wonderful cheeses. So I went to Kfar Haroeh in Emek Hefer and visited the dairy farm run by the Jacobs family. In addition to their milk cows, the they produce a number of tasty cheeses.
The family made aliya in the 1930s and settled in Wadi Hawarit, which later came to be known as Emek Hefer. They were not deterred by the barren landscape or swamps and set about making their dream of settling the Land of Israel and building their own farm come true.
Ruth Jacobs, who was a balabusta, was not satisfied with just milking their cows and selling the milk, so she began experimenting with cheese made with milk from cows, goats and sheep. Soon, her name became well known within Kfar Haroeh, for her creative cheeses and the well-used notebook where she recorded her creative recipes.
The Jacobses also opened a bakery in which they offer a variety of breads and quiches, and the grandchildren are highly involved with running the operations, too. They will be offering a nice selection of products at the Shavuot festival in Kfar Haroeh, which runs 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until Shavuot Eve, Tuesday, May 30, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., except for Shabbat.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Homemade cheese
You can add herbs or other additions to make the cheese tastier.
■ 10 gr. citric acid
■ ½ cup water
■ 5 liters milk
■ Salt to taste
Dissolve the citrus acid in the water. Pour the milk into a pot and stir constantly until it’s almost boiling. Then, add the citrus acid mixture and continue stirring. The milk will slowly begin to curdle and separate. Using a ladle, transfer the cheese into a bowl and add the salt and whatever herbs you’ve chosen to use. Then, drain the cheese and place it in a small bowl to store in the fridge for a few hours. Serve with fruit.
Focaccia with vegetables and mozzarella cheese
Makes 8 pieces
For dough:
■ About 3 cups (700 gr.) water
■ 1 cube fresh yeast or 1 Tbsp. (10 gr.) dry yeast
■ 1 kg. bread flour, sifted
■ 1 Tbsp. (20 gr.) salt
■ 1 Tbsp. (20 gr.) sugar
■ 3½ Tbsp. (50 ml.) olive oil
■ 2-3 onions, sliced thinly
■ 4-5 tomatoes, sliced
■ Garlic, sliced
■ Fresh oregano or basil
■ Kosher salt
■ Olive oil
■ 3 mozzarella balls
Pour liquids into a mixer bowl. In a separate bowl, mix fresh yeast with flour. Add the dry ingredients to mixer bowl and mix with cake attachment for five minutes on low speed until well mixed. Then mix for seven more minutes on high speed. Add the oil and mix for another two minutes on high speed until dough is soft and moist. Remove yeast from mixer and place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Make a few holes in the plastic wrap with a fork and let rise for 60 minutes.
Transfer dough to a work surface and separate into eight equal sections. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Roll out each ball into a rectangle that is about 50 cm long, or into a circle. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. On top of each focaccia place onion strips and slices of tomatoes, garlic and oregano. Press all toppings down into dough. Sprinkle a little kosher salt and olive oil on top.
Bake focaccias at 220º to 240º for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with pieces of mozzarella and serve.
Use a 26 cm. diameter pan.
Crumb base of cake:
■ 2 cups flour, sifted
■ 2 level tsp. baking powder
■ ¹⁄3 cup sugar
■ 200 gr. cold butter, cut into cubes
■ 4 egg yolks
Cheese filling:
■ 2 containers sweet cream
■ 1 cup sugar
■ 1 package vanilla pudding
■ 1 container (200 ml.) sour cream
■ 1 tsp vanilla extract
■ 250 gr. cream cheese
■ 250 gr. 5% white cheese
To prepare the crumb base, add the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter cubes to the bowl of a mixer. Mix until crumbly. Add the egg yolks and mix with a few short pulses until crumbly.
Cover the bottom of the greased pan with half of the crumble mixture. Cover another pan with baking paper and press in second half of crumble mixture. Bake both pans for 20 minutes at 180º until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
To prepare cheese filling, whip the cream in a mixer with the sour cream, sugar and instant pudding until stiff. Fold in the cream cheese and white cheese and mix until smooth. Pour cheese mixture on top of crumble base. Take the crumble from the other pan and crumble it on top of cheese filling. Store in fridge for 3 to 4 hours until set.
Tomato sauce:
■ 3 cans (400 gr. each can) crushed tomatoes
■ 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
■ Salt and pepper to taste
■ 1 tsp. sugar
■ Handful of fresh basil
Other lasagna ingredients:
■ 15 pasta sheets
■ 250 gr. mozzarella cheese, grated
■ 250 gr. Casciotta d’Urbino cheese, grated
■ 250 gr. gouda cheese, natural flavor, grated
■ 1 container (250 gr.) sweet cream
In a wide bowl, mix all the tomato sauce ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix all the cheese ingredients. Grease the pan generously and then arrange a layer of lasagna noodles. Pour ¹⁄3 of sauce on top and then sprinkle ¹⁄3 of grated cheeses. Next, pour ¹⁄3 of sweet cream on top of cheeses. Then, start over again with a layer of lasagna noodles, and all the other layers. Cover the lasagna with baking paper and then aluminum foil on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 180º. Remove covering and continue baking for a few more minutes so the top can become crispy.
Roni’s cheese blintzes
Makes 8 blintzes
■ 2 eggs
■ 2 cups water or milk
■ 4 Tbsp. oil
■ ¼ tsp. salt
■ 1 cup flour, sifted
■ Oil for frying
■ 250 gr. white cheese
■ 2½ Tbsp. sugar
■ 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Serving suggestion:
Fruit, such as strawberries, grapes or pears
Powdered sugar to sprinkle on top
In a medium-size bowl, whip eggs with a hand whisk together with water or milk, oil and salt until well mixed. In a separate wide bowl, add flour and then gradually pour in egg mixture while mixing with a whisk. If the mixture is too thick, you can add up to another ¼ cup of milk or water. Heat a little oil in a 20-cm. frying pan over a low flame. (You can pour out some oil onto a plate so that the oil covers the pan in a very thin layer). Take a ladle and pour some of the mixture into the middle of the frying pan. Shake the pan a little so that it covers the entire pan in a thin layer. Cook for about two minutes until it begins to bubble and the sides turn up. Flip it over and fry the second side.
To make the cheese filling, mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Place one or two spoonfuls on each blintz and then either roll them up or fold them like an envelope. Arrange them on a platter with seasonal fruit and sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top.