I shared an hour on the phone with Moshe Aelyon last Friday afternoon and hung up with a deep hankering for Turkish cuisine. I had planned to spend the afternoon with him, chatting in his handsome kitchen while he prepared a distinctly Turkish, kosher style, Sabbath dinner for his regular, weekly client. Continue reading
When Moshe Aelyon described his grandmother’s savory, leek infused meatballs to me, I was hooked even before I tasted them. Leeks impart a more interesting and nuanced flavor than other onions. These are a true Turkish specialty.
These Turkish meatballs have been adapted for Passover. They were a much requested Sabbath specialty in Moshe's childhood home in Instanbul. When guests exclaimed how much they loved them, his grandmother reminded them of how special they were by claiming, "You should have golden teeth to eat these!"
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 3 bunches leeks (9 stalks), washed and chopped
- 1 cup parsley, washed and chopped
- 1/2 cup matzo meal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup matzo cake meal
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Lemon wedges for garnish (optional)
- Cut off the bottom, very dark green, tough portion on each leek.
- Slit each leek vertically from top to bottom and rinse them through each layer.
- Slice the leeks vertically into thin strips and then chop them across finely.
- Place the leeks in a pan with a tight fitting lid. Add water to cover and steam the leeks for about 15 minutes. When they are tender, drain out all the excess water and let them cool completely.
- After the leeks are cool, squeeze out all the remaining water with your hands.
- Combine the steamed leeks with ground beef, 1/2 cup of matzo meal, parsley, and eggs. Season the meat ball mix with salt and pepper.
- Form about 25-27 golf ball size koftes. Roll each kofte in matzo cake meal seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Crack three eggs into a shallow dish and beat them.
- Preheat a large sauté pan and when it is medium high, add oil to about ¼ inch deep.
- Dip each kofte in beaten egg and then place them in the oil to fry until they are golden brown. Only turn each kofte once. Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towel.
- serve with a spritz of fresh lemon juice.
Helpful hints from Moshe:
Mud and grit cling to the inner layers of leeks so be thorough when washing them.
You can steam leeks several days ahead. Keep squeezed out leeks in a container in the refrigerator.
Before frying, roll all the koftes out first and coat all with the cake meal before you start frying. That way, you'll be less rushed and the oil won't overheat.
Congratulations to Kira Rukin. She is the lucky winner of my spring cookie give-away with Lil Miss Cakes aka Melissa Kaye. Melissa will be whipping up a baker’s dozen of her exuberant spring cookies and mailing them directly to Kira in CT. Thank you ALL for your comments and support.
I’ll be cooking up another give-away soon, promise!
As promised, here is the recipe from Cecile Cannone, baker and owner of Macaron Cafe, NYC. Her book, FRENCH MACARONS, AUTHENTIC COOKIE RECIPES FROM THE MACARON CAFE, will guide you clearly through every step of the process. Many thanks to Cecile Cannone and Ulysses Press for sharing these photos and this recipe.
Thanks to Cecile Cannone, owner of Macaron Cafe, NYC, and her publisher: Ulysses Press, for this recipe and these photos.
Before you bake: To make a template for piping your macaron shells, draw 2½- inch circles on a large sheet of paper, using a compass or tracing around a cookie cutter or a small glass. Space the circles 1 inch apart. Position this pattern on your baking sheet, then place parchment paper on top of it. After piping your shells, carefully pull out the pattern to use on the next baking sheet.
- 2¾ cups (8.8 ounces/250 grams) almond flour
- 2¾ cups (12.4 ounces/350 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 cup egg whites (from 7 or 8 eggs), at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons powdered egg whites, if weather is humid
- ¾ cup (5.3 ounces/150 grams) superfine granulated sugar
- 5 to 7 drops gel paste food coloring (optional)
- Step 1: Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Step 2: Blend the almond flour with the powdered sugar in the food processor to make a fine powder (or sift together, discarding any large crumbs and adding a bit more almond flour and powdered sugar as needed to compensate). Then sift the mixture through a strainer until it’s as fine as you can get it. This keeps crumbs from forming on the macaron tops as they bake.
- Step 3: With the wire whip attachment on the electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt and the powdered egg whites (if you’re using them), starting slowly and then increasing speed as the whites start to rise. Add the granulated sugar and the food coloring. Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks and your meringue is firm and shiny.
- Step 4: Pour the beaten egg whites onto your almond flour mixture and gently fold them in, using a rubber spatula. Move your spatula from the bottom of the bowl to the edges with one hand, using your other hand to rotate the bowl. Now hit the spatula against the rim of the bowl until the batter falls in a wide ribbon when you raise the spatula. When you can’t see any crumbs of almond flour and the mixture is shiny and flowing, you’re ready to start piping.
- Step 5: Fit your pastry bag with a number-8 tip and fill with batter. Start by squeezing out a small amount of mix onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to form a 2½-inch circle. Be sure to leave 1 inch of space between macarons so they will not touch each other while they bake.
- If the peak that forms on the top of the macaron does not disappear after piping, it means the batter could have been beaten a little more. To eliminate the peaks, tap the baking sheet on the tabletop, making sure to hold the parchment paper in place with your thumbs.
- Let the piped macarons rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 300°F (325°F for a non-convection oven).
- Using a pastry bag requires some practice. It may seem awkward at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
- Prepare the bag (if it hasn’t been used before) by cutting about 2 inches off the narrow end—just enough so that when you insert a number-8 decorating tip, about a third of the tip extends outside the bag. Push the tip firmly in place and spoon in your filling, leaving enough room at the top to twist the bag shut. It’s best to fill the bag with half of the batter at a time so it’s not too heavy. To make it easier to fill your pastry bag, place it upright in an empty jar or other straight-sided container. This will help steady the bag while you fill it with batter.
- Squeezing the bag slowly, pipe each macaron shell out in a single dollop. Lift the bag quickly to finish.
- Step 6: Bake for 14 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, open the oven door briefly to let the steam out.
- Let the macarons cool completely on a rack before taking them off the parchment paper. Press the bottom of a cooled baked macaron shell with your finger; it should be soft. If the bottom of the shell is hard, reduce the baking time for the rest of your macarons from 14 minutes to 13 minutes.
The French have a special word—macaronner—to describe the physical action of mixing all the ingredients for macarons. This has to be done by hand. You cannot do it with your mixer—you must be able to feel the consistency of the macaron batter.
- 7 ounces (200 grams) white chocolate, cut in little pieces, O R white chocolate chips
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3½ tablespoons (1.7 ounces/50 grams) unsalted butter, preferably European-style
- In a saucepan over low heat, gently stir together the white chocolate, heavy cream, and honey until the chocolate is melted and perfectly blended in. Pour into a bowl and let cool to room temperature; or put it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to cool more quickly, checking to make sure the chocolate doesn’t get too hard.
- When the ganache is completely cool, transfer it to your mixer bowl and begin beating at high speed using the paddle accessory or wire whip attachment. Add the butter in small pieces and let it work in until you have a light and fluffy white chocolate cream.
Tell Me More! is a new series at Kosher Like Me. I’ll be sharing interviews and tidbits with you about Chefs, Cooks and other fascinating folks in the food world. These are people and stories I want to know more about. I think you will, too.
I completely ignored the macaron craze for a few years, even snubbing a certain French biggie when they opened a shop in my neighborhood and the throngs of meringue lovers wound around the block.
So I was caught off guard last spring when I found myself falling for these brightly colored treats. We converged on Paris with a carefully researched eating/tasting/shopping plan. Unbeknownst to me, a certain macaron-loving member of my family made it her business to craft a well researched list of the most notable macaron options in Paris.
How could I not oblige and taste along with her?
I realized I was hooked.
So when E suggested that I meet her at Macaron Cafe on Third Avenue between 46/47 (NYC), a few weeks ago, I took my time reminiscing as I inhaled the flowery and herbal scents and rejoiced in the neatly stacked rows of vibrant colors.
I knew that this cafe was owned by a French couple who bake their macarons here in NYC. Cecile and Arnaud Cannone opened their first location and dream venture four years ago, only one year after arriving in the USA.
Today, they have three locations and a thriving special order and delivery business. They continue to bake all of their own product in the second floor bakery above their original location.
I wanted to know more.
I met Cecile Cannone, French pastry chef and owner of Macaron Cafe, last week over cafe au lait, many delectable bites of heavenly macarons, and her story.
Kosher Like Me: Why are Americans so crazy about French macarons and is there a reverse trend of something traveling from the U.S.A. to Paris?
Cecile Cannone: Our cultures have been fascinated by each other for many years. We will always be linked and we love to explore trends from each other’s countries. While Americans love macarons, the French are very into American cupcakes at the moment. And I suspect that if I shared peanut butter macarons with my French friends in Paris they would love them.
KLM: You received accolades from the Wall Street Journal soon after you opened your first location. And a few months later, Food and Wine Magazine labeled your macarons “Champion Cookie” in 2011. Was that a surprise for you and your partner/husband Arnaud?
CC: We were so busy baking and setting up the business, that we never anticipated any attention being paid to us. As new immigrants, every contract, every bit of business we conducted in English, required more effort. So, when we arrived at our cafe, one morning, to see a line down the street waiting for us to open, we wondered what could have caused the crowd to gather. We were completely surprised and thrilled to find that the crowd had read the WSJ review and wanted to taste our macarons. New Yorkers have been very , very welcoming and kind to us.
KLM: I was surprised to see that you have a kosher certification. What prompted you to seek that?
CC: Our first location is in the garment district and many of our customers are kosher. They wanted a certified product and asked for it. It was not difficult to find kosher ingredients and to honor the requirements.
KLM: What is your most frequently requested flavor?
CC: Pistachio, without a doubt! For pistachio lovers they get intense flavor three ways: the cookie, the filling and the bits of pistachio pressed around the edge.
KLM: What are the most unusual flavors you offer?
CC: all of the flower based flavors! In the south of France, we are accustomed to eating lavender flavored items, for example. Here, our most exotic flavors are honey lavender and rose lichee.
KLM: What makes your macarons stand out among your competitors?
CC: Well, all ingredients are American and we are very proud of that. I bake with my team in NYC. We make all of our own jams and fillings. Our fillings are abundant and the almond: sugar ratio in the cookie is equal, making the cookie very flavorful.
KLM: What is the most unusual event you ever baked for?
CC: We baked 28,000 macarons and wrapped each one individually before sending them off to 280 Ann Taylor retail locations for Mother’s Day last spring. They handed them out to customers, who were totally delighted. Now, that was a lot of work in our small bakery!
KLM: What kinds of desserts do you bake at home?
CC: I bake simple crepes and top them with honey or sugar. For my two boys I bake lemon tarte for one and pear honey tarte for the other.
KLM: Do you order dessert when you eat out in restaurants?
CC: If there is a pastry chef, definitely! I look at the menu backwards and order my dessert before my meal, so I am not disappointed if they run out. Recently, I ordered dessert and ate it with our cocktails at the bar, before dinner.
Many thanks to Cecile for sharing a recipe from her book: Macarons, Authentic French Cookie Recipes from the Macaron Cafe. Watch for it later this week.
Macaron Cafe has three locations in NYC. Their macarons are certified kosher (some are parve), gluten free, and free of trans fats. They are available for delivery in NYC, and may be shipped nationwide. They welcome special orders for events of all sizes.
I love a good walking tour almost as much as a hands-on cooking class. So when Jennifer Abadi sent me her Syrian cooking class schedule along with dates for Context Travel’s “Jewish Cuisine and Culture” walk on the Lower East Side, NYC, I was ready to zip on my warm boots, grab a proper winter hat and prepare for a big nosh fest.
What I found was that having an expert lead me from one culinary landmark to the next, while sharing historical and social history of the neighborhood where my grandparents lived in a tenement upon landing at Ellis Island, left even this knowledgeable New York eater to some thrilling new tidbits to chew on. Continue reading
I arrived so early for lunch at Beyond Sushi, the shoebox of a vegan sushi spot just off Union Square in NYC, that it was almost a late breakfast for me. With only three tables and a rockin’ take-out business, I wanted to be sure to nab a seat and settle in to feast on the creations that are all fair game for this kosher keeper.
Chef/Owner Guy Vaknin has let his imagination run wild here. His combos are the most unusual and perfectly paired flavors all rolled up in completely unfamiliar, purplish hued grains.
Vaknin popped up from the basement kitchen through a staircase leading to the sidewalk. Continue reading