Worry less cook more – My Adventure in Lake Tahoe

Hello everyone,

This morning when I opened my email box for the first time after ten days being away from the screen, which was a much-needed break, I found lots of emails containing new year resolutions from pins, clients, friends. Honestly, I did not want to pay too much attention to my email box (just today) since most of the emails repeat themselves but it gave me food for thought.

I have a different take about this whole “resolution” thing people are so hooked about this time of year. I’m the kind of person who makes promises only if I know I am going to keep them. Sometimes challenging but doable. And so I decided to declare, and as a promise to my other half, my short to the point goal I should call it, not only for the new year but for each new day that is given to me. A promise that’s easier said then done. But I will do my best to keep it.

Dedicated to me, the Mr. and my family:

i will worry less.

i will worry much less.

and everything else

will pretty much fall

in the right place.

This is also the perfect time to share something special – a place I just visited for the first time and heard so much about  – Lake Tahoe. Let me tell you – This. Place. Is. A.MAZING

Besides of the fact that we had to deal with a lot of ice, the change of scenery was like a fresh breath…and a cold one too. It was particularly surprising to me that Lake Tahoe remained sparkly and crystal clear as if it was a sunny summer day and at the same time surrounded by gorgeous white blanket of ice. In the morning a subtle layer of fog would cover most of the lake as I watched houses that were build right on the edge of the surroundings hills and imagine my house having a view just like that. I’m speechless.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

beautiful images of lake tahoe

beautiful lake tahoe trip

beautiful images of lake tahoe

beautiful images of lake tahoe

beautiful images of lake tahoe

beautiful images of lake tahoe

beautiful images of lake tahoe

Now here I have to speak. Here not only did I worry less, I cooked less. We stayed at a beautifully constructed hotel that has a touches of modern and eclectic mix. Natural stone floors with muted color hand-made rugs. What a chic contrast. Bee-utiful. And of course, I always look at how food is presented and here is no exception – oversize dining table filled with desserts and sweet goodies. Not that I ate any of them.

I made no secret of the fact that I love to wash my eyes with beautiful food and beautiful things. I love the idea of designing food but not to a point where it becomes a museum piece, oh no. But home-made casually yet attractively placed and showcased, to make me want to touch it and eat it too. It was a delight to my eyes. (and no, I’m not on a diet).

Delicious Berries Malabi Pudding

For me as a young girl growing up and spending much time outdoors with friends, it  wasn’t complete until we “stalked” the Malabi pudding stand around the corner and completely emptied the guy’s small glass refrigerator out of his delectable creamy Malabi dessert. Malabi pudding is one of the most popular dessert in the Middle East and especially in Israel. we wouldn’t let a week go by without having one. We grew up on this thing.

Almost every one in Israel knew how to make it except me because it looked complicated, yeah I sound like an infant now. But when I learned to make it I realized it’s super easy; so easy I’m laughing my head off and probably at myself.

Malabi is milky, silky and creamy and is as bright as snow-white. This dessert is all about delicacy and the taste is such a beautiful thing to experience, your juice buds will thank you. It’s like eating scented rose (no, it does not taste like perfume).

Malabi is usually served with sweet pomegranate syrup and chopped pistachio and sometimes shredded coconut, all in a glass bowl or a cup – delicious. But you know me – since I rather have lighter and more interesting version of this rich dessert, I came up with something just a bit different, in taste and presentation.

Every time when I go back to Israel – this becomes my breakfast. I’m bad I know.

Malabi is not only easy to make it looks drop dead gorgeous too.

delicious malabi pudding dessert

delicious malabi pudding dessert recipe

delicious malabi pudding dessert recipe

delicious malabi pudding dessert recipe

Once you taste it you’ll find gazillion reasons why you should have it all the time.

delicious malabi pudding recipeIsn’t she super cute? she played the Ukulele while I made one of her favorites…and to keep me entertained 😉

Berry Malabi Pudding

ingredients:
6 cups of skim milk (you can use low-fat if desired)
1/2 c. white sugar
1 tbsp light brown sugar (for garnish)
1/2 c. corn flour
3 tbsp rose-water
1 c. fresh mixed berries: blueberries and raspberries

for syrup:

3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rose-water
1 c. water

*   *   *

Rose-water syrup: combine water and honey in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer until syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rose-water. Let cool.

In a large bowl combine corn flour with one cup of milk, stir well until corn flour has dissolved. Heat the remaining milk and the sugar in a medium sauce pan, stirring constantly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add the corn flour mixture and rose-water. Stir until mixture is thick and smooth, about 6-7 minutes. Carefully pour Malabi mixture into pretty small bowls. Cool to room temperature. At this time drop a few berries in each bowl,  gently push berries to bottom of bowl but not touching it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours.  Malabi should resemble jelly consistency.
To serve: Put a plate over each bowl, place your hands on the bottom of the bowl and invert it, turn the thing over. The smooth Malabi should slide down on to the plate. The way I did was: I tilted the bowl of Malabi and carefully and patiently let it slide to the other plate. It’s easy, simply find the way that works for you.

Drizzle Malabi with rose-water syrup and sprinkle light brown sugar on top. Gor.geous!

Roasted figs with tangerin in honey nut sauce

Juicy, delicious and sweet roasted figs dessert – something to impress anyone with

delicous roasted fig with nuts

roasted figs with honey and tangerine nut sauce

That recipe takes me to one of the most unusual ingredients I use in my kitchen: figs. I used to think that cooking with figs requires special skill and imagination. Fig was something my dad introduced to us as kids. He would buy fresh figs in season and we would indulge on it and enjoy their sweetness and unique “seedy” texture, but that’s all I knew about figs. I never had it cooked or roasted. Until recently. Now my trips to Paris have taught me a thing or two about figs, to start with:

Fig is delicious when baked on anything or on its own
It oozes with juice when cut while warm.
You can stuff it with your favorites
You don’t have to be a skilled cook
It’s a unique fruit to draw with pencil, when cut open

Speaking of drawings, before you read the recipe please allow me, I need to say this: did you know I speak four different languages fluently? sure you’d think ‘hey I know people who speak seven’, but that’s not what I mean. Language is about communicating your non-verbal inner passion. My inner languages are designing, cooking and painting and illustrating. Not necessarily in that order but you get the idea. And one of the reason I’m drawn to cooking is that as an artist it’s my ever-growing passion to arts. Cooking is not only to satisfy our hunger, to me it’s also a process of images unfold in my mind, a process that illuminates my soul. It’s a whole other life in the kitchen but with my other inner languages it goes hand in hand. When I cook I’m connected with the very essence of my creative being. It makes people sometimes ask me something like ‘why do you bother so much in the kitchen?”. It’s hard to explain and depends on who asks me, sometimes I don’t even bother to respond.

So I had a decadent dessert of fig on pastry in Paris (if I could only spend one night in that pastry shop). Not only that I wanted seconds but the dessert looked like a piece of art, like a beautiful gift made only for me. Oh these French…I decided to make my own at home. I changed some ingredients, eliminated the dough and came up with a delicious, sweet and nutty and of course different from anything I had made before.

delicious dessert of roasted figs in honey nut sauce

Ingredients

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Fresh ripe medium size figs, with stems

1 tangerine, washed, sliced and cut to small pieces
1/2 c. fresh roasted walnuts, roughly chopped
3 tbsp honey
3 cloves
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (the best you can effort)
4 tbsp tap water

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Preheat oven to 400. Clean figs but not under running water use wet paper towel instead, dry them and cut them slightly open on top with a sharp knife (see image). In a small pan combine sugar, honey, cloves, vinegar, water and nuts. When bubbly turn to low and cook for just a few minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Pay attention not to burn it. Remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit. Discard cloves and add the vanilla paste and the tangerine pieces . Stir. In a small shallow baking dish place figs close to each other, gently push fig open and fill each with the nuts mixture and spoon over the honey sauce. Cover loosely with foil and bake figs for 7 min. Remove foil, baste the figs with the sauce and roast uncover for another 5-7 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Place a couple of stuffed figs on your most beautiful china and drizzle with the sauce, garnish with thin slices of tangerine.

Now, you are ready to impress your guests.
And yourself too.

Bon Appetite