With Shavuot on its way we have been celebrating all things cheese in the kitchen garden. We talked about the tradition of the harvest in Israel, and it reminded us that in Australia we have the opposite seasons. We have had lots of conversation about foods to eat over this festival and our Autumn produce certainly hasn’t stopped us cooking lots of delicious foods.
We enjoyed garlic and cheese pizza, rosemary and potato pizzas, along with a yummy spinach salad full of lots of ingredients that are commonly eaten in Israel. This included sunflower seeds, dates and pita crisps. The highlight in the kitchen for many classes were the cheese blintzes. The blintzes required plenty of teamwork and a great collaboration from different groups. One group making the crepes and the the other group making the cheese mixture. When the crepes were cooked they were sent down the production line to be filled with cheese and then very gently popped back on another frypan to be sealed. The effort was well worth it!
We also had a walk thru the garden to discover a garden bed that was in a circular shape and was growing rosemary and potatoes together. This combination planted by one of classes obviously works well in the garden as well as on pizza and was a great discovery. Some of the classes were also able to enjoy the pizza oven which is always a highlight too.
Enjoy the recipes!
Spinach salad with dates and sunflower seeds
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
½ medium red onion
100gm of pitted dates
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small pitas (chopped in small pieces)
75gm sunflower seeds
2 tsp sumac
150gm of spinach
2 tbs lemon juice
Thinly slice the onion, slice the dates lengthways into quarters and combine in a bowl with the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Put aside to marinate.
Heat the butter and half the olive oil in large frypan. Add the pita and sunflower seeds for around 6 minutes or until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix the sumac and ½ teaspoon of salt and set aside to cool.
When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt.
Pizza dough (makes around 4-5 medium)
375g plain white flour
375g strong white flour
2½ level teaspoons of fine sea salt
1½ teaspoons of instant dried yeast
1½ tablespoons of olive oil, plus a little extra
Put the two flours into the bowl of the stand mixer with the salt and yeast. Mix well using the dough hook.
Add the oil and 500ml warm water and mix to a rough dough. Knead for 5–10 minutes, until smooth. This is quite a loose and sticky dough, which is just as it should be – you get better-textured bread or pizza base this way – so try not to add too much flour if you can help it, it will become less sticky as you knead.
Trickle a little oil into a clean bowl, add the kneaded dough and turn it in the oil so it is covered with a light film. Cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size – at least an hour, probably closer to two – or if using the next day, wrap bowl in cling film and put straight into the fridge to prove slowly.
When the dough is well risen and puffy, tip it out and ‘knock it back’ by poking it with your outstretched fingers until it collapses to its former size. It’s now ready to be shaped to your will.
Pizza Bianco with potatoes and rosemary
pizza dough (for 2-3 pizzas)
semolina for dusting the pizza trays
3 handfuls rocket leaves
100g parmesan cheese, grated
4 sprigs rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
3 medium-to-large potatoes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 220C or preheat pizza oven.
Rinse the rocket leaves and dry them in the salad spinner. Shred the rocket into fine strips and place between two paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.
Peel the potatoes, washing them as you go, and slice them very thinly and very carefully, use the electric grater with the slicing attachment to do this.
Tip the sliced potatoes into the large bowl and drizzle with most of the oil.
Add the rosemary and salt and pepper, then mix together so that all the slices are lightly oiled.
Assembling the pizza
Scatter some flour on the workbench, divide the dough in three and stretch to pizzas.
Assemble the pizzas directly onto the pizza trays, flouring the trays with semolina first.
Arrange the slices of potato on the pizzas, overlapping them slightly.
Sprinkle most of the Parmesan over the potato, keeping some aside.
Drizzle the pizzas with the last of the oil, then place the pizzas in the oven for about 10 minutes or in the pizza oven for about 4 minutes or until the edges are very crusty and the cheese is bubbling.
You may want to slip the pizza off the tray onto the rack for the last few minutes, so that you get a really crusty base.
Top each with a handful of the shredded rocket leaves and remaining parmesan.
Pizza dough (for 2 pizzas)
5 cloves garlic crushed
¼ cup olive oil
2.5 cups of mozzarella
Preheat the ovens to 220C or preheat the pizza oven.
Dust the pizza trays with semolina.
Divide the dough into appropriate portions and gently stretch out to fit the pizza bases.
Note, if you knead the dough or play with it too much it becomes tough and difficult to work with so spend time gently stretching and turning.
Combine the garlic and olive oil in a cup and spread over the pizza bases, add a pinch of salt and sprinkle with grated mozzarella.
Bake for 10-15 mins in the oven (or until golden) or for about 5 minutes in the pizza oven.
For the crepes: (makes around 12)
130g plain flour
150ml whole milk
60g unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
For the filling:
250g cream cheese
40g icing sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Put all the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl and stir until smooth; don’t use a whisk, though, because the cream will go too runny.
Sift the flour into a large bowl with a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Make a well in the centre and break in the eggs. Begin whisking the eggs into the flour while at the same time slowly pouring in the milk and water. Until the batter is smooth and lump free.
Heat a nonstick frying pan on medium heat and add 5g of butter. When the butter starts to sizzle, add about three tablespoons of the batter and spread it around the pan to form a crepe. Fry for a minute, flip it over and fry for another minute, until both sides are golden-brown. Set aside while you repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter with each.
Spoon about 3 tbs of the filling down the centre of each crepe, keeping in the centre of the crepe. Pull the left side tightly over the cream, fold in the top and bottom towards the centre, then roll up firmly to the right, to seal the filling inside – you should end up with a cigar-shaped crepe. Set aside and repeat with the remaining crepes.
When the blintzes are stuffed and rolled, you are ready to fry them again. Starting with the folded side down. Melt a small amount of butter and panfry 3 or 4 at a time for around 1.5 minutes.