One of my favorite nights of the summer comes when my friend C. and I get together to cook. We did it three years ago to celebrate Julia Child’s 100 birthday. We did it last year and focused on Italian food and Lidia Bastianich . This year, because I was given a great cookbook and she was given a beautiful tagine, we focused on Middle Eastern food.
The menu was: stuffed grape leaves, a number of Israeli salads (roasted eggplant dip, Israeli salad, cabbage salad, corn salad, taboulegh, hummus), marinated grilled lamb with tzatziki, a chicken tagine, couscous with a lemon vinegrette, ptitim (pearl or Israeli couscous) and pita. For dessert we had baklava and a Cake of Kohevet (Chocolate Nut Cake). C. made the tagine and I’m hoping to get her over here to blog it out for you. Meanwhile, I’ll toss you a few photos of it:
She also made an amazing lamb chop. Amazing. She plated them as well, in a very professional manner.
The salads all came from either my memory of working in Israel or from the Ballabosta cookbook I was given in April. I feel a bit uncomfortable providing those here since I feel like it’s somehow a copyright violation but I encourage you to check out the cookbook. It’s really fantastic. And I’ll provide you with some photos of the salads.
First up is the eggplant salad that I’ve blogged about before as well as the traditional Israeli salad.
From the cookbook I made a traditional corn salad:
I also made traditional taboulegh.
The last recipe from the cookbook was for a cabbage salad.
Plus the couscous (small and large- I apparently forgot to photograph the large):
Oh, and I threw together humus, because why not?
The second couple that joined us brought homemade stuffed grape leaves and baklava. So good, both of them.
What I can give you the recipe for, however, is the amazing cake I made. It is a cake of Kohevet and it was, once again, delicious. Whenever I make one of her cakes, there is always a moment in which I doubt her. I push through and she has never failed me.
A reminder that when I work from her recipes, this is what I have:
So, this cake is in three stages. The base dough, the filling and the topping. Ingredients are organized accordingly.
Kohevet’s Chocolate Cake With Nuts
For the dough:
1 1/3 cup of flour
1/3 cup of sugar
100 grams (a touch more than 7 tablespoons) of salted butter (I used unsalted but added a pinch of salt to the dough)
1 egg yolk
Special equipment: springform cake pan
For the filling:
200 grams (about 7 ounces) bittersweet chocolate
100 grams (a bit more than 7 tablespoons) butter (I used unsalted)
1/4 cup cold water
1 packet of plain gelatin (you won’t use all of it, maybe a teaspoon or so)
4 eggs separated
2 tablespoons brandy (I only used one)
2 teaspoons of instant coffee powder
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, pecans and almonds)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups heavy/whipping cream
2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar
Make the dough. Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius (356 Fahrenheit). In a medium bowl, mix together the flour sugar, butter and egg yolk. It helps if the butter is soft and cut into small pieces.
I mixed in the butter with a fork, a pastry cutter and then my hands.
I then added the egg yolk.
It will be a dough that sticks together if you press it- kind of like a shortbread. Grease your springform pan.
Press 2/3 of the dough into the pan to form the bottom. If the dough isn’t stiff enough, add another spoon or two of flour and then press it into the sides of the pan to form the crust. I didn’t need to so you’ll have to eyeball it yourself.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it is a golden brown.
Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in a double boiler, heat the chocolate and butter.
While it is melting, combine the gelatin and the cold water in a small bowl.
When the chocolate and butter are melted, smooth and combined,
add the water/gelatin and cook for about two minutes. Then take it off the heat.
In another bowl, mix the egg yolks, brandy and instant coffee powder.
Once it is combined, add a few spoonfuls of the warm chocolate mixture and whisk. You’re bringing the eggs up to temperature so that you don’t scramble them. Once it’s up to temperature, add the rest of the chocolate and whisk until combined.
Add the nuts and stir.
In (yet another) bowl, whip the egg whites and sugar, until they reach stiff peaks.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate nut mixture by hand, so that it becomes mousse-like.
Take the ring of the springform pan off the base. If you can, remove the base cake from the base of the pan.
Place it on the cake plate you plan to use for serving. Pour the chocolate mixture into the base.
Cover and put it in the fridge. Let it set for an hour or two. About an hour before you want to serve it, whip the cream with the sugar until it is a lovely whipped cream consistency. Spread it over the cake.
If you want to be fancy, you can grate some chocolate over the top of the cake just before you serve it.
This cake was so good. It was just sweet enough with a hit of salt from the dough at the bottom. One bite and I was back in Kohevet’s kitchen in Israel, at her table, on a Saturday afternoon, eating cake and laughing.