Oct 162011


When I was small, my father would build a sukkah the old-fashioned way. Standing in the back yard, he’d knock wooden boards together for walls and tie green branches over the roof poles. We kids would decorate the walls with drawings, and hang apples, oranges, and when we could get one, a pomegranate, in the corners. (The trick was to get fruit with a stem you could tie string to.)

Joyfully, I would sniff familiar smells I’d forgotten since last year: wooden boards that had gotten musky from being stored in the garage; the fresh, pungent odor of forest branches overhead. I’d stand still briefly to enjoy sunlight dappling in through them. My Dad took the rule about being able to glimpse the stars through the roof seriously, and come night time in the sukkah, we did. During our festive night meal, Dad would tell us about the Ushpizin – the seven forefathers we invite to visit every night of the festival, and we small fry would shiver delightedly, half afraid and half in fun, as when he’d tell us fairy tales.

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Oct 122011


Recently I had the pleasure of dining at chef Moshe Basson’s Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem – twice. One of the things I liked best on the tasting menu was this trio of soups served in espresso cups. Just enough for a hearty taste , not so much as to dull the appetite. They are all vegetarian and pareve.

With Sukkot just about on top of us, and the weather finally turning cooler, it seems a good idea to keep soup recipes on the top of the printout pile. (Mine is an untidy, toppling pile whose papers are already stained and crumpled. I keep promising myself I’m going to organize the recipes alphabetically into a nice, neat folder…someday.)

So here are three soups for your holiday, the same soups I sipped at Eucalyptus. I wish you a chag Sukkot sameach!

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Sep 232010


Has everyone had a good Succot yom tov? I hope so, and wish my readers a Chag Succot Sameach.

Husband, the Little One, and I spent the first day with my married daughter, her excellent husband, and our three delicious little grandchildren. I was happy. My oldest grandchild, just turned seven, sat down next to me on the sofa and read me stories out of his favorite books.  I know, it’s supposed to be me reading to him, but he wanted it that way.

Lunch had been varied and plentiful. Everyone else was taking a nap. My little boy cuddled up to me, holding his story book, reading out loud as a treat to me. His little voice skipped through the Hebrew, page after page, in a light monotone. Drowsiness crept over me. After a few minutes I was cross-eyed, trying not to drift off. But I resisted and laughed and made appropriate noises of shock or surprise as the stories unwound…and unwound. I think he never caught on that I only heard one word out of six. I just hope that when he grows up he’ll remember sitting close with his Grandma, sharing his favorite stories. He won’t know that my heart filled to the brim and that, drowsy as I was,  I truly had no other desire in the world than to be exactly where I was, exactly at that moment.

What does this have to do with the recipe featured above?

Nothing, nothing at all.

Or maybe something. I came home from an evening and day spent with some of my most beloved people and sat down with a glass of chilled white wine to let you know… that life’s best things (in case you hadn’t figured this out yourself) are the simplest, seem most natural and often come when you’re not expecting them. The trick is to recognize them when they happen.

But about this bread. It’s simple and natural too. Succot is a good time to serve it. It’s  moist and red- and green-speckled. It has the sunshine flavors of late-summer tomatoes, and a preview of autumn in the green pumpkin seeds. It’s different. And delicious. Try it.

Here are your tomato options. Choose one for this recipe.

  • 4 halves of sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in warm water for 1 hour and chopped coarsely; or
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped fresh tomatoes, sauteed in a little olive oil; or
  • 3 halves of slow-roasted tomatoes, finely chopped

Tomato and Pumpkin Seed Bread


1 oz. – 30 grams fresh yeast, or 3 1/2 teaspoon dried

1/4 pint – 150 ml. water

1 lb. – 500 grams bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 handful green, shelled pumpkin seeds

1 handful sunflower seeds


In a large bowl, rehydrate the yeast in the water. Add the olive oil and the salt, and the pepper. Gradually add enough flour into the mixture to make a stiff batter – about 2 cups. Stir. If necessary, knead the batter lightly for a few minutes, in the bowl. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.

Stir or knock the dough down, sprinkling more flour as needed to make it come away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the tomatoes and the seeds. add more flour as needed to make a firm, but not dry dough.

Knead ten minutes. Lightly roll the dough into a ball and put it into a clean bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil on top, and turn the dough ball around to become coated with oil. Cover it and let it rise a second time, about 1 hour.

Deflate the dough gently and shape the dough into a fat, rectangular loaf. Pinch the bottom seam with your fingertips to make it keep its shape. Put baking paper on a baking tray, or grease the tray lightly, and place the dough on it. Cover the dough and let it rise a third time till doubled – 35-45 minutes. If your kitchen is warm, the dough will take the shorter time to rise.

About 20 minutes into the last rising time, preheat the oven to 400° F – 200°C.  When the dough has risen and is light, bake the loaf for 45 minutes.

Remove the bread from the tray and place it on a rack to cool.

Slice, and spread with good butter.

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