Independent food and travel writer living in central Israel. Thanks to travels and extended stays in the US, Brazil, and Venezuela, Mimi speaks and cooks in English, Hebrew, Spanish and Portuguese. Married, with kids and grandchildren.

Dec 082014


Reader, there’s going to a fun change here on Israeli Kitchen. The blog is merging with From The Grapevine, a magazine relating to all things Israel. Food, naturally, but also absorbing posts on Israeli lifestyle, innovation, arts, nature, and health. The site launches in January, and you’re going to be seeing some visual changes here already. Never fear, I’ll be posting recipes and adventures as always, and as always, with you in mind. So hang in here with me, because Israeli Kitchen is getting bigger and even better.

Nov 032014

image cauliflower soup

Let there be white.

White soup, that is. I’m a fool for white soups: potato soup, vichyssoise, cauliflower soup – bring them on, I’ll eat ‘em. With cauliflowers so firm and white in the shuk now, and winter rains bringing on hungers for good hot soup, there’s only one way to go. It’s cauliflower soup, subtly spiced, quickly cooked, satisfying and comforting. Serve with toast that’s  topped with a poached egg.

fresh cauliflower israel

No cheese in this soup. You can sprinkle some grated Parmesan over each serving if you want to, but I like it t when the vegetables  dominate, with no distracting help from cheese. A couple of  the spices so well-loved in the Middle East add depth. A dollop of cream promises a rich, soothing soup. It will help you accept the onset of winter, and even rejoice in it.

Ah – that was thunder. The light is fading and the wind tosses the branches of sidewalk trees around. On the balcony, my wooden wind chimes are bumping each other and make musical klok noises – it’ll rain any minute. I’m glad to be home with this soup for dinner.

Continue reading »

Oct 302014

three stuffed mushrooms

In my parent’s home, I knew it by the homely Yiddish name “farfel.” In Israel, it’s called “p’titim.” Since having become famous in the foodie world, this pearly short-cut pasta is called Israeli couscous. That’s alright by me. As long as I have a bag of it in my pantry, I’m sure of having a quick-cooking backup to heft out a meal that would otherwise look skimpy.

But that’s not all Israeli couscous does. It’s pleasantly bland, so it soaks up any flavorings you add to it or cook it with. You can dress it up or dress it down, like any other pasta. Kids love it, naturally. But here it is in an entirely grown-up guise: stuffing for Portobello mushrooms.  It’s still a quick trick. Takes about 10 minutes to cook the couscous, including the time it takes to chop up an onion and the cheese. Two minutes to  mix the stuffing up. And about 15 minutes in a hot oven.

One mushroom makes a hefty first course, and two make a light main dish, served with a big salad.

Have plenty of olive oil at hand when you make these: it’s amazing how much oil mushrooms can soak up. Continue reading »

Oct 112014

image herb yeast bread

It’s Sukkot, and the weather has kindly cooled down. We’ve even had some early rain, the signal for me to go into a fine frenzy of baking. Sourdough bread.  Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins. And the easy yeasted herb bead I’m about to show you.

I speculate that the cool-weather hunger for carbs is a throwback to old times, when my ancestors, back in the frozen Ukraine, prepared to survive the winter. I imagine my great-great grandfather shaking snow off his big boots, humming in a bass voice and stacking the day’s supply of logs and kindling in a corner. His plump wife stands in the kitchen, hands on hips, surveying her rye and wheat flours in their big bags. A couple of braided onion ropes hang from the ceiling; jars of shmaltz and preserved fruit glimmer on the shelves. Her treasured sourdough froths comfortably in its jar. In the main room, the big ceramic stove is lit, and the comforting fragrance of baking bread wafts around the wooden house.

Continue reading »

Sep 222014

image fish tomato cilantro

“May it be God’s will that we be like the head, and not like the tail!” And so saying, we unveil the cooked head of a fish at the holiday table. It’s one of the Rosh HaShanah simanim, traditional foods whose names play on words representing new year blessings. (For more detail on simanim, and some recipes, read this post.) The fish head has to be veiled with a napkin because it makes The Little One turn green. So we snatch the napkin off, ask for the blessing quickly, and then take the fish head away. Anything for the teenager.

Luckily, she doesn’t have a problem eating fish.

I like to serve this festive recipe on Rosh HaShanah. The fish is first fried, then gently baked in a sauce rich with tomatoes, cilantro and pine nuts. The sauce reduces until thick, and it’s so good, so herby and pungent, you want to lick the plate. The recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden’s Book Of Middle Eastern Food. You just can’t go wrong with Ms. Roden for inspiration.

Continue reading »

Sep 152014

image kosher roast beef

When I cook beef, I want it very tender indeed, and very savory.

I like it slow-cooked, so a knife cuts through richly and smoothly. Thinking of something festive for Rosh HaShanah, something different from the usual chicken and turkey, my mother’s pot roasts came to mind. Abita cooked pot roast in traditional American style:  the beef, in a little broth, with onions, carrots, and a couple of bay leaves. But I’ve lived in Israel so long, I can’t keep Mediterranean herbs out of my pots, and beef always seems to call for wine.

The beef I bought is called fileh medumeh in Hebrew. My son, Eliezer, assures me that the cut was London tip.

Continue reading »

Aug 202014

spiced fig jam with wine

Late August, and little by little, the longest days of this very strange summer are waning.

It’s surreal, but war on Israel’s ground has become almost ordinary. Hostilities started, stopped, and started again, like a bucking horse. We, the small folks who work and take buses and come home to cook dinner, grit our teeth and carry on, hoping to dodge the flying hooves.

Continue reading »

Jun 252014

falafel recipe

Long ago, before I came to live in Israel, I dated a guy who turned out not to be the right one. We took a walk one night, sauntering along in the friendly dark and enjoying the fresh breeze that brought a scent of jasmine and faintly, tobacco – a neighbor’s cigar. Someone nearby was doodling around on the guitar, eventually breaking into a soft Spanish ballad. It was all so romantic. My boyfriend gazed up at the sky and remarked, “What a lovely moon.”

Yes, the moon was like a silver coin, only a coin broken in half. “You like half moons?” I said.

“It’s just that it looks like a falafel in the sky…a half falafel like the ones you get in Israel, you know…”

Continue reading »

May 302014


tian zucchini potatoes recipe

Many readers have complained that I’ve been neglecting this blog. I can’t defend myself, because it’s true.

I’ve been thinking, and I hope, growing in different directions.  I’ve been writing for other publications. These writings, not all of them food-related, leave my mind sort of empty after hours of research, writing and revising. Not much brain power is left for my personal reflections. Cooking and even eating, have been hasty, seat-of-my-pants operations for the past long while.

But food and the urge to cook are still on my mind. They always will be. So I’m returning, maybe a little changed, a little freer. And Reader, I’m always aware that you’re there, and that some are wishing I were back here already. This summer it’ll be nine years since I opened a blog, named it Israeli Kitchen, and started to post. I write this with a feeling of returning home, somehow, like a child who left her parents’ home to travel and returns different, but still loving.

So here’s a French variation of Italian frittata and Persian eggah, the tian. You can also call it a gratin.  The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Elizabeth David, and I found it in her “Is There A Nutmeg In The House?” It’s a simple combination of eggs and vegetables, often flavored with cheese or garlic, then baked. You can substitute chard or spinach for the zukes, use the same measure of cooked rice instead of potatoes. Season as you like. It’s a rustic dish that you can adapt to the ingredients you have on hand. I like to serve this tian as the main dish at dinner, adding a leafy salad and a small cheese platter to round out the meal.

And if you’re looking for something interesting for Shavuot, something that emphasizes vegetables rather than cheese, tian is the ticket.

Continue reading »

Related Posts with Thumbnails