Archive for the 'kosher baking' Category



02
Dec
10

Natural Village Cafe


Warm, welcoming, classy, delicious… these four words give us a faint idea of my impressions of Natural Village Cafe (2 Avenue I – across from Shoprite Supermarket – Brooklyn, NY 11218; Tel: 347.492.5337 or 347. 417.6424). The restaurant is cholov Yisroel and pas Yisroel, with a mashgiach temidi and under the certification of Harav Meir Goldberg of the Va’ad Hakashrus d’Flatbush.

Upscale atmosphere, organic fare, beautiful and healthy in every possible way...

Nina Shapir, who presides over this eatery is truly a fascinating personality, the personal journey that changed her life and motivated her to open this establishment is full of commitment and dedication.

Fourteen years ago, Mrs. Shapir – a very young mother of three – found herself sick and unable to move, unable to cope. It was not a question of being financially overwhelmed, any such concerns were well taken care of. Medical tests and treatments produced no positive results, on the contrary things inexplicably kept getting worse. She met Harav Chay Azoulay, from Herzliya, who told her the real malady was not physical but rather one that affected her neshama. After some thought, trying to make sense of Rav Azulay’s words, she went on a detox diet with the help of healthfood stores, intent on ridding herself of all negative energies. This decision was followed by six very hard weeks before she saw any measurable improvements but soon after she was her old active, curious, intelligent, enterprising self again.

At this stage, Nina decided to help others who, though similarly afflicted, may not be aware of the real source of their health troubles. She went on to study Healing Arts at The School of Natural Healing in Utah from which she graduated. Seven years ago her first organic restaurant opened its doors. Her partner, however, was not frum and it proved frustrating eventually Nina bought her out. In 2008 she moved to the present location which combines her personal philosophy, her exquisite sense of aesthetics and the true love of a foodie for superb fare. She also has an an office adjacent to the restaurant where she treats the many in search of natural healing.

The restaurant sports geometric patterns on its walls and ceiling, with warm earth tones that give us a clue to the owner’s style and personality. Chef Bobby Brabaloni is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America – America’s foremost Culinary School – a fact which becomes obvious when you see the presentation, smell the aromas and taste the wonderful flavors.

My companion and I started our early dinner with a dish of Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

It consists of white mushrooms with sauteed onions, creamy pesto sauce, melted mozzarella and feta cheeses with a kick of chopped parsley. It was a perfect opener to a memorable meal.

We segued with their Village Pizza

Village Pizza

It came in a sesame crust, red onions, mushrooms, two types of mozzarella cheese and their very own red sauce. I know pizza, I’m a pizza addict and I must confess this one ranks among my favorites. My companion also found it delicious.

Next we had their Salmon Salad…

Salmon Salad

A superbly tasting salad fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, grilled salmon, pan sauteed red inions, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms with a subtle teriyaki sauce. A fitting crown to our meal!

Wholesome food, warm ambience, reasonable prices, a nice bakery on premises… I know I’ll be back again and again.

CS

Natural Village Cafe on Urbanspoon

30
Nov
10

Sufganyot – Hanuka Doughnuts — Part 1


In our everlasting quest for the best, we constantly scour the web to find new recipes. With Chanuka about to start tomorrow evening we felt great sufganyot recipes are in order.

This recipe comes from: kosherfood.about.com:

Hanukkah Doughnuts – Sufganiot (Parve)

Sufganiot are deep-fried jelly doughnuts that are traditionally eaten during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. Sufganiot are especially popular in Israel. The oil used to fry the doughnuts are reminiscent of the oil that miraculously burned, according to the Hanukkah story, in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.

Ingredients:

  • 25 grams (1 ounce) yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups flour
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) margarine, melted
  • dash of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups water (room temperature)
  • jelly (strawberry is recommended)
  • oil for frying (canola is recommended)
  • powdered sugar

Preparation:

1. To make the dough: Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, cover, and wait until it rises. In another bowl, mix 3 cups of flour with the melted margarine, salt, sugar and egg yolks. Combine the yeast mixture with the flour mixture. Slowly add water while stirring. When batter is smooth, cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit and rise.
2. To make the doughnuts: After the batter has risen, pour it onto a floured surface and roll it out. Use a glass with a small opening to cut out circles of the dough. Place a drop of jelly in the middle of each circle, and then cover with another circle of dough. Make sure that 2 circles attach well to form a closed ball with jelly in the middle. Cover the doughnuts with a towel and let rise.
3. To fry the doughnuts: Heat oil in a deep pot until very hot. Drop the doughnuts into the oil and fry on both sides until brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

TIP: These sufganiot are only good fresh. After you make the dough, only fry a few at a time. Store the rest of the dough in the refrigerator.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy

CS

16
Nov
10

Olive Oil Orange Cake


Chef Mark Green of Glatt A La Carte, always wanted to be a hockey player and even got a scholarship to play at Saranac in Upstate new York. Unfortunately he got hurt while playing, with his sports dream over he majored in art and photography.

After graduating from the New York Restaurant School, in 1982, Chef Mark spent the next 7 years as sous-chef at Club Med in Aruba. He did stints as Main Chef for the Divi Divi Beach Hotels in the Netherlands and the Antilles but came back to the US, eventually opening Glatt A La Carte, as Executive Chef, over 10 years ago.

He has graciously given us his recipe for a delicious, easy to make cake:

Portuguese Olive Oil Orange Pound Cake

Delicious... is an understatement!

Yields: 10 to 12 servings

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • 5 eggs

Dry Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • zest of 3 oranges

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioner sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of orange juice

Directions

  1. Beat eggs lightly in large mixing bowl.
  2. Slowly add sugar to the eggs until light colored and thicken into a ribbon consistency.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add orange juice to egg mixture.
  5. Mix until fully incorporated.
  6. Add olive oil and flower alternating little by little into egg mixture until fully incorporated.
  7. Mix until it becomes a nice batter with ribbon consistency.
  8. Mix zest into batter.
  9. Take a Bund pan and spray it with cooking spray.
  10. Pour batter into Bund pan.
  11. Bake at 350 F for 1:15 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.
  12. Cool for 30-60 minutes.
  13. Combine glaze thoroughly and drop on cake.

I’ve tried Chef Mark’s recipe, both at the restaurant and at home, it’s very good. Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

Portuguese Olive Oil Orange Cake

07
Nov
10

Little Lemon Meringue Pie


I’m constantly looking for delicious desserts, I confess, I have a sweet tooth… While scouring the web, for something decadent but fairly easy to prepare, I came across the following on The Food Network:

My mother (a"h) used to make something very similar... ahh, the memories!

 

Little Lemon Meringue Pies

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sour cream or yogurt

Lemon Filling:

  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

Meringue:

  • 1/4 cup egg whites (about 2 large eggs)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 (6-cup) standard non-stick muffin tin

Directions

Crust:
Beat the butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and continue to beat until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the egg yolk. Add half of the flour, beating until just crumbly. Scrape down the bowl again; add the remaining flour and then the sour cream or yogurt, beating just until the dough is evenly moistened. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to bring it together.

Roll the dough between 2 generously floured sheets of waxed or parchment paper into a circle about 1/4-inch thick with a rolling pin. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Cut out 6 (4 1/2-inch) rounds using an inverted bowl or round cookie cutter. Place rounds in the muffin tins and, using a small shot glass or your fingers, press into the corners and about halfway up the sides for a snug fit (see photo). Freeze dough in the muffin tin for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Spray the outside of 6 standard muffin liners with cooking spray and place in the crusts. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crusts until just brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for about 1 minute; then carefully remove the muffin liners and baking beans. Return pan to the oven and continue to bake until crusts are cooked through and evenly browned (see photo), about 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool slightly. Then carefully remove crusts from the muffin tin and cool completely on a rack.

Lemon Filling:

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and yolks in a nonreactive saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is smooth and sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Add the lemon and lime juice and zest and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is as thick as sour cream and is just about to simmer, 3 to 4 minutes. (Take care to stir into the sides of the pot so that all curd thickens evenly.)

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Whisk in the butter a little at a time, until smooth. Stir occasionally until cooled. (Setting the bowl in a larger bowl of ice will speed this up.). Fill each tartlet with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cool lemon filling.

Meringue:

Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a standing mixer’s bowl above the water. Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl by hand. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch (135 degrees F) and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the whites at medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to high and continue to beat to make a stiff, cool meringue, about 10 minutes. Dollop or pipe on top of the filling.

Just before serving, preheat the broiler to high. Set the pies on a baking sheet, and place under the broiler until the meringue is evenly toasted, about 2 minutes. (Alternatively, brown meringue with a blowtorch.) Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

For Busy Bakers:

They can be refrigerated for up to 2 days These also freeze wonderfully! They can be assembled and frozen up to 1 week in advance. Defrost for 20 minutes before broiling the tops and serving.

To make ahead in stages:

- The crusts can be made, baked and frozen up to 2 weeks.

- The curd can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.

- The meringue can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

19
Oct
10

Maple Pot de Crème


Recently I was looking for a really decadent dairy dessert, I found it, made it yesterday and it proved more than good enough to share on these pages. It comes from the 17 and Baking blog, a very nice blog with great recipes and photography:

Maple Pots de Crème

From Closet Cooking
Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and arrange four ramekins in a rimmed baking dish.

Combine the cream, maple syrup, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat until it comes to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Using a small ladle, add some hot cream to the egg yolks a few tablespoons at a time. Whisk the egg yolks into the cream in the saucepan until combined. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.

Pour the mixture into the four ramekins. Carefully pour enough hot water into the rimmed baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the edges are set but the center gently jiggles when shook, about 50-60 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Eat, or cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge (I prefer them cold.)

Elissa, the blog’s author, is a very good photographer with an obvious love of baking. It was her photography that seduced my senses into imagining the taste and just try it. I was not disappointed. Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

08
Sep
10

Yom Tov Recipes – Personal Honeyed Chocolate Lava Cake


Pastry Chef Ehud Ezra, gave us this delicious recipe for yom tov. SYR and I got to taste it yesterday, thus, we can attest to it being  truly scrumptious without being overly sweet. One of the joys of this type of post is being in the company of such gifted chefs and bakers. Udi, as his friends and coworkers lovingly nicknamed him, is a warm hearted chemist and chocolate alchemist.  He’s got such a mastery of ingredients and technique mixed with a sensitive spirituality that reflects his soul in everything he bakes. His Rosh HaShana recipe for Honeyed Chocolate Lava Cake certainly demonstrates his unique talents as a master pastry chef.

Honeyed Chocolate Lava Cake

Yields 10 mini 5 ozs. portions made in 4″ muffin molds

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lbs. butter/margarine/Earth Balance
  • 1 1/2 lbs. semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 tspns. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 7 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Confectioners sugar

Directions

  1. Melt butter, 1 1/2 minutes in microwave, add chopped chocolate, mix until incorporated but not too hot add vanilla extract and honey.
  2. In mixer whip eggs until they form high peaks, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Fold with chocolate mix.
  4. Spray pans with canola oil. Scoop in batter until the top of pans (batter rises and then deflates).
  5. Put in oven at 400 F, for 12 to 15 minutes, until top is crusted.
  6. Sprinkle tops with confectioners sugar. Serve with 4 scoops of Rich’s whipped cream or vanilla ice cream w/honey on top.

Easy to make and fast to bake, if you make you’ll shine whether with your guests or even with your family.

Enjoy it, gentle reader, we certainly did!

CS

Honeyed Chocolate Lava Cake

x———)o0O0o(———x

KTIVAH VECHATIMA TOVAH!!!
SHANA TOVAH UMETUKA!!!
A GUT GEBENTSHT YOHR!!!

01
Sep
10

Orange Honey Cake


Many people are not big fans of honey cake, but… along comes the incomparable Lévana Kirschenbaum and voilà, she single-handedly changes all their minds! SYR always considered eating honey cake on Rosh Hashana as a “must”, rather than a “want to,” now that she’s tasted Lévana’s moist and flavorful variation on the theme (at her last cooking demo, this past Monday evening), she hasn’t stopped raving about it.

Orange Honey Cake

I actually succeed in turning quite a few people on to my honey cake. Mine is moist and spicy and easy to love; I trust it will make you forget all the indignities of past dried-out and brittle honey cakes. I make it several ways, all scrumptious, but this is one of my favorite. The secret ingredient, orange marmalade, was shared by my dear friend Leah.

Ingredients:

1 cup oil
2/3 cup brown sugar or sucanat
1 cup honey
1 cup orange marmalade, try your best for all-fruit
4 eggs
3/4 cup strong coffee at room temperature
3 tablespoons rum or brandy

3 cups flour: all purpose, whole wheat pastry or spelt (spelt my favorite)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice and ginger
1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Whisk the first set of ingredients in a bowl.
Mix the second set of ingredients in a second bowl.
Combine both mixtures thoroughly, mixing only until just combined. Pour the batter into a greased tube pan, and bake 1 hour, or a little longer, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

Orange Honey Cake Il

23
Aug
10

The Kosher Baker


A 1996 graduate of the Ritz Escoffier Ecole de Gastronomie Française in Paris, Paula Shoyer owns Paula’s Parisian Pastries Cooking School in the Washington, DC. area. She recipe tested and edited Susie Fishbein‘s Kosher By Design Entertains and Kosher By Design Kids In The Kitchen. Paula is also the author of the brand new book The Kosher Baker. Not only is this a beautiful tome, the attention to detail in its execution, the direction given in the recipes, make its publication an unparalleled event among kosher cookbooks.

I got the book last week and immediately started leafing through it. It has great great photos without being overbearing, the detail of explanation in the recipes will make for perfect results by whoever follows them fully. Each of the over 160 recipes is preceded by a little anecdote which makes it very friendly and offers us small tidbits of its author as very real and down to earth.

Having never outgrown my childhood sweet tooth, I was pleasantly surprised to find a recipe for the cinnamon buns I always loved. I made a batch of 20, on Thursday evening.

In a very uncharacteristic display of will power (likely due to being tired at such a late hour), I did not have even one! Friday morning, however, I had  intended to eat only a few myself and share the rest with SYR,  but alas… such was not to be! My will power failed and I finished the whole lot. As we are in Elul, I felt very guilty and confessed my dastardly deed and – predictably – SYR was rather upset with me. On Sunday – yesterday – she made two batches of cinnamon buns, thereby proving (again!) she’s a far better person than I. The buns looked better than mine, which gave me the opportunity to photograph them since in the losing battle against my sweet tooth I had entirely forgotten to do so. Best of all, her teenage son told her these were the best pastry she ever made!

Choosing just one recipe is hard; having gone through the book I can tell quite a few are destined to become new favorites (especially that Crème Brûlée on page 240!). Meanwhile I”ll quote the one recipe both SYR and I thoroughly tested:

Cinnamon Buns

MAKES ABOUT 20 BUNS
STORAGE
Store covered in plastic at room temperature for up to four days or freeze up to 4 months

Dough

1 cup parve plain soy milk
1/2 ounce (2 envelopes) active dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) parve margarine, softened, plus extra to grease pan (if pan-baking buns)
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

Filling

1 cup (2 sticks) parve margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

The remnants of SYR's double batch...

  1. To make the dough: Heat the soy milk until lukewarm. Pour into a large bowl and add the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the flour, eggs, remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, margarine, and oil and mix well. knead using either a dough hook in a stand mixer for 2 to 3 minutes or by hand until the dough comes together into a ball. Cover with plastic and let rise for 1 hour.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the filling. Place the margarine, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix with a whisk or beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Take a piece of parchment paper about 2-feet long and place on the counter. Sprinkle with some flour. Place the dough on the floured parchment, sprinkle with some more flour, and roll it into 15 x 24-inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon filling all over the dough, all the way to the edges.
  4. Roll up the dough beginning with the long side of the rectangle, so you end up with a log about 24 inches long. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 1-inch slices. You can bake these two ways.
  5. To make soft, pan-baked buns, grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with some margarine. Place the buns in the pan with the cinnamon swirl-side up. Bake for 40 minutes, or until browned on the outside edges.
  6. To make individually baked buns with a slightly crunchy exterior, line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Place the sliced buns cinnamon swirl-side up on the pans 3 inches apart. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden-brown.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan (or on the cookie sheets) and prepare the glaze. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the boiling water and the vanilla. Whisk in another tablespoon of boiling water and see if you have a thick pourable glaze. If you think it is too thick, add another tablespoon of boiling water and whisk to combine. If you accidentally made it too thin, just add some confectioners’ sugar. Use the whisk to drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon buns.

Enjoy, gentle reader, we certainly did!

CS

18
Jun
10

Braiding a Six Strand Challah


[Daniel Ronay, baker extraordinaire, shares with us his step by step instruction on braiding challah. Photos by Daniel Ronay. CS]

Braiding challah is not that difficult, but it takes some patience and practice. I use a little flour to dust the strands. Sometimes the dough can be sticky, also when using dusting flour on the braids can be more pronounced. When dusting flour sometimes is not used the results can have an effect on the look of “baking blind” braids that looks like they weld together too much and are not well defined. I do not worry about a little flour if any remains. Remember we are going to glaze the challahs with an egg wash so the topical flour is washed away.

  • When making your 6 strands ideally make your strands a little longer than your desired length of your challah.
  • I make the strands with a “belly” in the middle, tapered on both end. The result will be a challah that is fatter in the middle and tapers to the ends.  This is a desired look for some if not using a pan to bake the challahs.
  • When braiding your challahs try to make the braids not overly tight. If the braids are too tight then when proofing it might have a possibility of tearing. There still has to be some tension though against other braid.

Picture (1) in this step we are making sure the strands are equal in length and thickness


Join the 6 strand together. Pinch them together. With them as shown 3 X 3.  I have known people to put a weight on the pinched ends to hold them in place.

Picture (2) in this step we are setting up the 1st braids getting them in place


Strand #3 is in your right hand and strand #4 in your left hand. Put your left hand on top of your right hand. Pick up strand #4 with your left hand and move it to the top upper left and same time put strand #3 next to where strand #4 used to be.

Picture (3) in this step we continue to braid the 2nd pairings.


Hold the far left strand #1 in your right hand, and the far right #5 strand in your left hand. Have your right hand on top of your left hand. As you pick up your right hand with strand #1, move it to the upper right and picking up with your left hand strand #5 have it come to the center where strand #2 is.

Picture (4) to make it easier to understand, think of it as trying to have 2 strands on the top and 4 strands on the bottom.  This is basically the same step as in pic 2, but the far right strand is lower


The far right strand comes across the upper left and strand #3 and goes next to strand #2 in the center on the left side.

Picture (5)


The upper left strand goes in the center on the right next to strand #3 and the and far right goes to the upper left

Picture (6) we continue repeating the steps till the strand complete the braiding


Move the upper left to the center, and the outer right to the upper left

Picture (7) Beautiful braided football type shape

Enjoy!

Daniel Ronay

03
Jun
10

Basil – Pizza & Wine Bar


At the edge of Crown Height’s Jewish neighborhood, we walked through the tall glass paned doors of Basil Pizza and Wine Bar (270 Kingston Ave; Brooklyn, NY 11213; Telephone: 718.285.8777). We were greeted by the lovely homey smells coming from their large wood oven, clearly center staged by design, partnered with an open bar and cooking area. Soft relaxing Latin music permeated a high vaulted room adorned with 13 honey jar shaped glass lanterns hanging at variegated heights back-dropped by a glass fronted honey comb wine casement.  Marble top tables and dark rustic wooden chairs filled the room commodiously, seating 45 comfortably.

Partial view of Basil. Clara Perez, the Manager, taking a breather in one of those rare low traffic moments.

The pizza and wine bar opened its doors in late February of this year. Just a few months in, with an extensive gourmet dairy menu created by his predecessor, Chef Adam  (who started his culinary training in Italy’s Costa D’Amalfi – then the restaurant’s sous-chef – was suddenly asked to take the helm as chef de cuisine.  Like the young Luciano Pavoratti in February 1965 – who was asked to replace the regular tenor – in an evening’s fateful  performance (Donizzetti’s Lucia de Lamermoor) at the Greater Miami Opera, young Chef Adam stepped up to the plate prevailing successfully without missing a single high note apparently, for he served up dish after dish of consistently delicious Basil favorites.

We began this, our latest restaurant adventure, with their Wild Mushroom Pizza made with Goat Cheese, Mozzarella and Truffle Oil, we took a side dish of their signature Basil Fries, sprinkled with Fresh Parmesan aside a  Garlic-Truffle Mayo Dip- clearly – not for the faint hearted.  Both were delicious.  The thin crusted pizza dough (made with imported Italian flour) was terrific, as were the wild mushrooms and goat cheese topping. CS predictably downed a respectable number of fries, loving the crispy strips dipped in truffle mayo. We both opted for Tishbi’s Chenin Blanc to accompany our meal. It was perfect for the table fare and the balmy summer afternoon. I had a respectable Arugula and Beets Salad topped with medallions of warm goat cheese sprinkled with pine nuts and a truffle vinaigrette.

CS, gnocchi Gnostic that he is, couldn’t help but devour the Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin rich with Tomatoes, Spinach and Parmesan Bread Crumbs. He found it flavorful, authentic Italian Campagna, done to perfection! We sampled three more mains; spinach ricotta dumplings, striped bass, and a saffron risotto.  I went for their Striped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream. Presentation was outstanding as you can see from the pictures below (we had a very, very tough time settling on only three photos of the dishes!).  The charred fennel was set like a sail atop a perfectly cooked striped bass a sea in a gustable green pea risotto. The Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings with Melted Mozzarella were ambrosial- especially with the enfolded Tomatoes  Roasted for 24 hours in Balsamic Vinegar, fennel seeds and just the right touch of chili flakes. Basil buys mozzarella curd and stretches it on location, enhancing the flavor that much more.  The Saffron Risotto with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, was quite aromatic. The forest mushrooms and white asparagus were savory & toothsome, though at this point we were quite full.

Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin

Stiped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream

Saffron Risotto, with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, Peas and Parmesan

We’ll have to come back and meet their pastry chef, Ehud Ezra; word on the street is that he is an amazing talent.  A graduate of the Institute for Culinary Education, he trained at Oceana in Manhattan and was Pastry Chef for several years at Whole Foods (among other prestigious establishments), before coming to Basil, we tasted his Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cheese Cake served with Turkish Fig Puree and Melon. He’s there at 5:00 am preparing his croissants and other pastries, opening for breakfast service at 7:30 am. Chef Adam also treated us to a tasting of his home-made colorful Sorbet Trio and Basil Ice Cream (made from basil, you read it right!). Yummmm!

Sitting on the cusp of this Lubavitch neighborhood, Basil stands at the edge of new cuisine and ambiance territory.  The reluctant humble yet flight worthy fledgling chef and his team run a successful operation with the help of their warm friendly manager Clara Perez, whose respect and reverie for the Lubavitch community is admirable. The convergence of crossed cultures amongst their staff and the harmonious blend of clientele dining together with Basil’s good food its nucleus, is nothing short of chevlei mashiach amazing. The obstacles were many; it shouldn’t work but it does, remarkably so! Some places are just plain blessed that way.

SYR

Basil on Urbanspoon




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