Tu B’ Av, or the 15th of Av, is a minor holiday that has come to be regarded as the Jewish day of love, somewhat akin to Valentine’s Day, perhaps because of its ancient roots as a matchmaking day.
This year it begins Sunday evening, Aug. 10, and runs though Monday evening. To celebrate the holiday, I’ve collected recipes featuring roses, a traditional symbol of love.
The rich, dense (and gluten-free) chocolate cake features rose water. Brands vary in strength so you’ll need to taste as you go. The chicken dish features North African seasonings and uses dried rose petals. Both ingredients are available in Middle Eastern, Indian and specialty markets; the dried roses can also be found in herb and spice shops. They add a subtle floral taste, but if they aren’t available, the recipe works fine without them.
Chocolate Rose Berry Cake
1/2 cup butter plus extra for pan
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
6 eggs, divided
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup ground almond flour
1 cup raspberry jam
1/2 to 1 tsp. rose water
3 Tbs. confectioner’s sugar
Whipped cream topping, optional (see below)
Raspberries for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Line bottom with parchment and grease.
Cut 1⁄2 cup butter and chocolate into pieces and melt, stirring occasionally until smooth. Separate four of the eggs and whip whites until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat yolks and remaining eggs with sugar, vanilla, cocoa and almond flour until smooth. Working in batches, fold in chocolate. Gently fold in egg whites in batches. Pour into pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is firm and springs back to the touch. (Cake will be wet inside). Let cool in pan, remove sides, invert on plate and remove bottom of pan and paper.
Stir jam with 1⁄2 tsp. of rose water. Taste. Add more as needed. Once cake is completely cool, use a serrated knife to horizontally cut in half. Spread top of bottom layer with jam, place second layer on top, cut side down. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Spread with whipped cream topping and decorate with raspberries.
Whipped Cream Topping: Whip half-pint heavy cream with 2 Tbs. sugar and 1⁄2 tsp. (or to taste) rose water until soft peaks form.
North African Chicken Sauté
2 cups chicken stock, warm
1/2 cup dried apricots
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbs. oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
2⁄3 cup 1/4 sliced carrots
2 cups (6 oz.) artichoke hearts (defrosted if frozen)
1 Tbs. crumbled rose petals
1/2 cup chopped mint
Soak apricots in warm stock. Sprinkle chicken with half of salt and pepper. Heat oil in large pan over medium high heat. Brown chicken. Cook until somewhat firm but not cooked through. Set aside.
Sauté onions and garlic until golden. Add remaining salt and pepper and other spices. Sauté briefly. Add carrots. Sauté until carrots begin to soften. Add artichoke hearts. Sauté 2 minutes. Add stock and apricots, bring to and keep at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are cooked and sauce thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in rose petals. Return chicken and juices to pan. Lower heat. Cook until chicken is cooked through. Stir in mint.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.