Thursday, December 26, 2013

Egipcios - Moroccan Shortbread Cookie with Dates

Growing up my brother Daniel and I went to my grandparents every Saturday for Shabbat lunch.  Mama (grandmother from my dads side) was an amazing baker, and had a lot of family recipes.  I am not sure how many of them got passed on to family.  I know my brother had a few of them that he shared but I couldn't find the Egipcios recipe on here.

Not to long ago, our cousin posted a picture of these cookies on Facebook.  So I absolutely asked for the recipe from my dads cousin. Rachel was my dads cousin than Dan always went to first when seeking out Moroccan family recipes.

Egipcios are cookies that are probably best described as a short bread cookie stuffed with dates.  The cookie is usually crumbly and not too sweet, but stuffed with a date mixture that adds just the right amount of sweetness.

Me, not being the baker, asked my mother'n'law if she could try to make these cookies for me.  Nancy is always up for a challenge in the kitchen, so she was quick to accept.  I just gave her an extra twist to my challenge because my wife has Celiac Disease, and I wanted this recipe to be gluten free so I could share the experience of one of my favourite childhood cookies with my wife.  This didn't phase Nancy and she went to work and didn't disappoint.  Within a week she had all the ingredients needed to make this happen.

Here is the family recipe, I hope you enjoy!  If you want to make it gluten free, just make sure the flour is a gluten free flour and that the baking powder is gluten free, because not all are.



Cookie Pastry:

Date Mixture:


  1. Mix date mixture well.  Adjust spice ration to taste.
  2. Using oil on your palm, form sticks a bit shorter and thicker than the size of a crayon.
  3. Mix the dough and form the dough into halves (not to long)
  4. Take the dough and put the date in.  Put another dough around to close and form the egipcios
  5. Set oven to 300 degrees and bake until bottoms are lightly browned.
  6. Garnesh with confectionery sugar.
  7. Any leftover date mixture can be frozen.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Picky McPickerstein Black Bean Brownies

We are a family of foodies.   My  three year old happily eats any type of cuisine. I would even go as far to say he has a gourmand's palette, he recently rejected cheese whiz on a bagel in favour of some grilled salmon.  The nine month old is heading the same direction.  He refuses to eat all jarred baby food (as really he should - have you tasted that stuff?) and will only eat home made food. 

There is one exception to this house of gourmet children.

The nine year old.  He is the exact opposite, a Picky McPickerstein.  Herculean efforts have been made to try and get this child to deviate from his limited diet of plain pasta, cheese pizza, toast, and peas.  Okay, there are a few more items on the list but you get the idea.  To say it makes things challenging is an understatement. Not to mention the worry that he isn't getting enough nutrients. 

Various "hide the good stuff so they don't know they are eating it" recipes have been recommended, tried and ultimately failed to pass the picky eaters taste test. 

Until now....... 

He gobbles these up!  He actually just asked for the recipe so he could make them at school.  That's not going to happen - I need to keep the secret ingredient ...a secret.

Black Bean Brownies

1 19 fl oz  can of black beans (rinsed and drained)  
3 eggs
1/2 cup of cocoa
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vanilla 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda


1/2 cup walnuts

I of course have to the leave the nuts out as Picky McPickerstein doesn't like nuts


  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 inch x 8 inch pan
  2. Toss everything but the walnuts (if including them) into a food processor and puree - the key is the make sure all the black beans are ground up
  3. Mix in the walnuts if applicable
  4. Pour the batter in to the pan and bake for 30 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean

Note: I like to toss a few more chocolate chips on top for decorative purposes and to keep up the guise this is a treat when really Picky McPickerstein is eating protein

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Not Your Usual Haggis Recipe

I'm going trying to write this blog Dan style with a good narrative for the recipe.

September 14th was a hard day.  It was Yom Kippur, day of fasting to feel hunger as a reminder to help others in need and to reflect upon the year that marked the end of the Jewish New Year.  It also marked the one year anniversary of my brother, Daniel's passing, so we had a lot more to reflect on.  I've been waiting for this day, I knew it was going to be hard, and it came by too quickly.  I wanted to do something special to commemorate Daniel, so I knew I was going to make haggis. It's something I've been thinking about for a long time already and I knew my brother would have loved it.

I decided to make the haggis on the 15th so I could focus on Yom Kippur and my reflection on the year.  All the memories of my brother, all the things I would have shared with him, and all the times that I miss him.  I woke up on September 15th ready to go.

I started the morning off by making my daughter and my wife a failed breakfast burrito that my wife saved by turning into a breakfast quesadilla.  What a sweetheart she is!  I over stuffed the burrito so it wouldn't fold.  So probably from all those times we watched the Food Network show "Chopped" together, shequickly thought "just slap another tortilla on top and call it a quesadilla".

I knew by 10am I wanted to get the haggis started.  I've written at my blog Gluten Free Edmonton in the past about a cookbook called "Make It Fast, Cook it Slow" by Stephanie O'Dea.  A gluten free slow cooker book that my wife Amanda and I love.  It happens to have a non-tradition haggis recipe that called for beef and lamb instead of the traditional heart, liver and lungs.  It was going to take 6-7 hours to cook.  Unfortunately I was behind schedule with my failed breakfast.  But that's okay, it meant I got to play with my daughter while Amanda saved breakfast.  

By 10:30, I got started,  and thankfully it was a pretty easy recipe.  Stephanie O'Dea describes haggis as a meatloaf.  She also describes it at the start as a blob.  Which it truly was.

I took out all the ingredients needed:

1/2 lbs beef
1/2 lbs lamb
1 chopped onion
1 cup certified gluten-free rolled oats (if you don't have Celiac Disease, you probably don't care about the certified gluten free part)
pinch of nutmeg, cloves (which I actually didn't have), and cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
cooking spray
1/2 cup gluten free chicken broth (once again, if you don't have Celiac Disease, you probably don't need to check the label for any additives).

This recipe called for a 4 quart slow cooker.  We love slow cooking, so we actually have a large one and a smaller one.  You make the loaf by mixing in all the ingredients except for the cooking spray and broth.  Mix everything up really well.  Spray the inside of the slow cooker stoneware with the cooking spray.  Be sure to spray all of the inside to ensure the loaf doesn't stick (this was something I never thought of doing).  Mold your meat mixture and place into the slow cooker.  Add 1/2 cup of broth (I actually added a cup, because I think I had more meat than the recipe called for).  Cook on low for 6-7 hours until the ends are browned and the top begins to brown.  And I agree with Stephanie when she said "Don't overcook", you don't want a dense, hard and dry loaf.  Take out of the slow cooker carefully and let it rest for 30 minutes before cutting.

Before starting the recipe Amanda texted Meredith asking "What do you actually eat haggis with".  Her response "tatties", which she then went on to explain is "a very UK description of potatoes".  So Amanda made up some yummy season roasted potatoes with Italian seasonings and steamed carrots with honey and thyme.  I of course added some herring in a dish on the side to complete the haggis and herring loop.

The candle is lit to commemorate Daniel - A Jewish tradition to remember those that have passed on.
The aroma the mixture gave off while making the haggis was wonderful.  I was really looking forward to trying this.  After putting everything into the slow cooker my daughter (14 months), Amanda and I all took off to run errands for the day.  When we came back to the house everything smelled so great.  I was really anxious to eat this meal.

When the time was up, Amanda carefully took out the loaf for me while I played more with my daughter (she loves Lego and Cars, go figure if you knew my brother and I).  My in laws came over to join us for this commemorative dinner.  I did enjoy the haggis.  I've written about meat loafs before on my blog, and they always seem to end up pretty dense and dry.  I think the oats really helped make the loaf more fluffy and edible. The sides Amanda put together went great with haggis.  The seasoned potatoes and the sweetness of the carrots really made this a nice meal.  And the herring on the table, although not cohesive, was just quite fitting. Everything allowed me to feel good about what we put together to remember my brother.  I can comfortably say, I look forward to making this every year.

Recipes by the Haggis and the Herring: tasty world recipes tested in our kitchen

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chocolate Chili Cardamon Tart

Meredith was certainly inspired to contribute to the Haggis and the Herring during my visit to Toronto.  After making the Almond Pear Tahini Cake, from the "Saved by Cake, over 80 ways to bake yourself happy" recipe book by Marian Keyes, she decided to give it a go with a second recipe.  This time a tart from the same book.

What's the twist this time? Chili and cardamon!  I've heard of chili chocolate, but not with the cardamon spice typically used in Mediterranean cooking (One of my brothers favourite types of food).  This was my first time actually trying a chili chocolate and the recipe Meredith used did a great job at balancing the flavours of sweet and spice. Meredith also did a fantastic job at getting such a smooth texture out of the tart.  My wife Amanda has Celiac Disease, so before Meredith placed all the filling in a pie shell, she put some aside for Amanda in a shot glass as a second way of presenting this dessert (Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of that).

I wouldn't eat those chillis straight if I were you.
Here is the recipe from the recipe book:


For the Crust:
1 x 20 cm pre-baked shortcrust pastry case

For the filling:
1 red chili
9 cardamon pods
250ml double cream
50g sugar
250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids broken into small pieces)
70g butter, cut into small cubes


  1. Chop the chili finely and toss the seeds and grind the cardamom pods.
  2. Put the cream, sugar, cardamom pods and chopped chili into a saucepan and gently bring to a simmer.  Stir and heat until the sugar has dissolved without burning.
  3. Turn off heat and let sit to infuse the flavour for about an hour
  4. Reheat the cream mixture until simmering, then put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and strain the warm cream on to it through a sieve, leaving the cardamom and chili behind.  The heat of the cream should melt the chocolate so stir until mixture is smooth.
  5. Pour into the pastry case and let cool for a several hours.  The texture should settle to be smooth and fudge like.

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Pear, Almond and Tahini Cake

This is The Haggis and Herrings first food post since the passing of my brother Daniel who quite proudly ran this blog.  Meredith and I really never knew when we would post again about food... until now.  So here I am, mainly on behalf of Meredith the baker and me (Abisaac) the taster.

So why now?  Before Daniel passed away he pre ordered for Meredith's birthday the recipe book "Saved by Cake, over 80 ways to bake yourself happy" by Marian Keyes.  The book arrived after Daniel passed away, but before her birthday.  At the time, he ordered it knowing how much Meredith loves to bake.  After all Meredith's finger prints are all over this blog when it comes to baking.  Looking back the title of the recipe book was fitting to the situation that unfolded.  I'm not sure if Meredith looked at the book much before this weekend or not because I didn't ask, but when I tasted the cake and she told me why she baked this particular cake, I knew this was something to post.

I said "Tahini in a cake? Seriously? " She explained "This would have been the first cake Dan would have made me make and he would have said exactly that!". So she made it and shared it with others.  Without knowing what was in the cake, I really wouldn't have known tahini was in it.  I got the pear right away, although I thought it was apple (I guess I don't have the most refined palette).  The cake reminded me of a crumble cake because it was very moist inside.

I hope we can do more of this within time!  It certainly felt good to blog here!  Check out the recipe below.

So here is the recipe with a few adaptions by Meredith:

240 g tahini
260g date syrup (Meredith used maple syrup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
220g flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100g almonds, chopped roughly
150g pears, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes (Meredith used canned pears as a substitute listed in the recipe book)
250ml apple juice (if you used canned pears, just use the juice in the can)

Grease 23 cm cake tin and line the base with baking paper.  Preheat oven to 325F

Give the tahini a quick stir while it's still in the jar.  This is because tahini usually separates itself when standing.  Pour into a mixing bowl and beat with syrup.  Add the baking soda and mix again.

In a separate bowl, combine the sieved flour, cinnamon, almonds and diced pears.  Add a third of the flour nut mix to the tahini and mix.  Add half the pear juice and mix.

Add another third of the flour and the other half of the juice.  Finish with the remaining flour and mix until combined.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 45 minutes.  After 30 minutes drop the over temp to 325F and cover the cake loosely with tinfoil for the final 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  The recipe book doesn't recommend any toppings, but we decorated it with some extra almonds.

Recipes by the Haggis and the Herring: tasty world recipes tested in our kitchen
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