I have been participating in the Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club in Instagram, and the cookbook of the month for September is Falastin by Sami Tamini and Tara Wigley. There are a certain number of recipes that everyone is making, and you can find them by looking for the #rainydaybitescookbookclub tag - so far I've posted hummus with kofta (made with Impossible burger) and green shakshuka. But you know me, I always linger in the baked goods and dessert sections of cookbooks. I have several recipes marked but this semifreddo really caught me, probably because it called for orange blossom water and I was so proud because I thought I had it. I did not realize I didn't actually have any anymore until I was too deep into the recipe, but I found some reasonable substitutes. I think my orange blossom water was tossed in the Big Pantry Reorganization of Pandemic Times 2020, because I know I hadn't used it all. I had been adding some to my iced coffee sometimes, a brilliant idea I got from author Monica Byrne.
This was delicious, lightly sweet and not cloying in sweetness or richness. It is the perfect end to a lighter or heavy meal. And although not traditional, it incorporates so many flavors from Palestine that I'm going to include it in my 2020 reading/baking project.
Orange blossom, honey, and baklava semifreddo
1 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp water
1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tbsp orange blossom water
2/3 cup pistachios, toasted
2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
10 cardamom pods, shells crushed and then discarded, seeds finely ground in a mortar and pestle (or 3/4 tsp ground cardamom)
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
2 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp orange blossom water
Mounded 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly torn
Lightly grease and line the base and sides of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Set aside until ready to use.
To make the semifreddo, put the cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until medium peaks form. Transfer to a separate bowl and keep in the fridge until needed. Wash the bowl and whisk and return them to the mixer; they need to be clean and ready to whisk the eggs halfway through the next stage.
Put the sugar, honey, and water into a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then decrease to a simmer, stirring often. After 3 minutes, add the egg and egg yolks to the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until pale and creamy. Decrease the speed to medium-low and slowly pour in the bubbling hot syrup, which should be foamy and glossy. Once the syrup is completely incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat for about 6 minutes, untiul the mixture is pale and glossy and the bowl is cool to the touch. Using a spatula, fold in the orange blossom water and whipped cream until just combined. Put half the mixture - about 7 oz/200 g - into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. Wrap with parchment paper and freeze for 2 hours. Refrigerate the other half of the mixture in a separate bowl until needed.
To make the baklava filling, put the pistachios and walnuts into the bowl of a food processor and blitz roughly until crumbled. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the spices, salt, honey, and orange blossom water. Once the semifreddo has been in the freezer for 2 hours, gently top with the baklava filling. Spread it out so that the top is covered, without pushing it in. Remove the reserved semifreddo from the fridge, give it a good whisk by hand, then pour it over the baklava filling. Spread it out until smooth, then rewrap the pan with parchment paper and freeze overnight.
To make the sauce, use a small, sharp knife to trim the tops and tails off the oranges. Cut down along their round urves, removing the skin and white pith. Release the segments by slicing between the membranes and transfer them to a bowl, discarding any seeds and squeezing what's left of the membranes to release any liquid into the bowl. Just before serving, add the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves to teh sauce.
Either spoon the sauce in a line along the top of the semifreddo before slicing or serve alongside.
Notes from JennyBakes:
-Since I knew fairly early I didn't have orange blossom water, I zested the orange and rubbed that into the sugar for the semifreddo, and substituted orange juice other places that called for the water.
-I didn't want to wash the food processor again so I just did some rough chopping of the nuts and it was just fine.
Falastin: A Cookbook
by Sami Tamini and Tara Wigley
Other recipes I've made:
Hassan's easy eggs with za'atar and lemon
Hummus with kofta
Roasted [squash and] zucchini with whipped feta and pistachios
[Cauliflower] musakhan (instead of chicken!)
Lemon chicken with za'atar
Other recipes I want to make:
Fruit and yogurt with sesame oat crumble and tahini-date syrup
Scrambled red shakshuka
Cauliflower and cumin fritters with mint yogurt
Mashed turnip with greens, caramelized onions, and feta
Chilled cucumber and tahini soup with spicy pumpkin seeds
Beet and feta galette with za'atar and honey
Pasta with yogurt and parsley breadcrumbs
Baked fish kubbeh
Baked fish in tahini sauce (I made a similar recipe from Ralph Nader's Lebanese cookbook)
Open cauliflower pies (sfiha)
Kofta with tahini, potato, and onion
Sweet tahini rolls
Hmm, this is probably not all going to happen in September!