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.

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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.

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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.

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Mar 092014

image onion roll

This is on of the goodies we’re going to pack into our Mishlochei Manot (Purim packages).  I recycle the junky snacks we receive into other packages, feeling a bit guilty. Not guilty because we’re not going to eat what our friends and neighbor planned, and spent money on, and took the trouble to deliver. No, guilty because all those little candies and snacks are going to contribute to Israel’s massive post-Purim sucrose hangover. I should just throw it all out. But I rationalize that someone should enjoy the junk…because in the end, our friends and neighbors did go to the trouble.

I love best the Mishlochei Manot that feature a few home-cooked things. Foods that were made by hand – cakes and cookies and specialties of the donors – I keep. Some go into the freezer right away to stay fresh for next Shabbat. Some we serve at our Purim feast. For our own Mishloche Manot, we’re thinking – and by we, I mean my son Eliezer, the Little One and I – of Hamentaschen,  filled with cherry jam.  And  small potato kugels.  Probably the chocolate fruit/nut clusters, because they’re excellent, and easy to make. And instead of the usual small challah, which looks good in the package but which I suspect never gets eaten, onion rolls.

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Aug 212013

image sinyeh druze kebabs

The Middle-Eastern way in cooking is to use simple, natural ingredients grown (or raised) close to where the cook lives. And in the village communities of the Galilee, traditional recipes – the ones passed down intact from mother to daughter, from one neighbor to another, over centuries – are cooked the same way each time.

You won’t see fusion cooking or dishes jazzed up to suit modern trends in Arab, Druze, or Circassian village homes. The families would simply refuse to eat them. That’s not how they remember their mother’s food. Memories preserve culture, so we’re grateful for those stubborn husbands and kids that resist innovative cooking. Original recipes would get lost otherwise.

With Rosh HaShanah approaching, you might consider cooking Sinyeh for one of the festive meals. It’s rich but not cloying, and almost a complete meal by itself. Just make a simple rice, mix up a leafy salad, and there, you’re done. A traditional dish borrowed from the Druze might become a welcome innovation on your yom tov menu.

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May 132013

Shavuot whipped cheese mousse

Rich, yet light, with just the right touch of fruit to make a festive Shavuot dessert.

Even after a rich dairy meal, the gang wants a dairy dessert. And who am I to say nay? I’m a sucker for anything white and creamy, myself. Like the apricot swirl cheesecake I concocted a couple of years ago.

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Mar 242013

image spicy moroccan fish balls

I kind of want to call this Sephardic gefilte fish.

Looking for a Passover  fish recipe and a little bored with my usual ones, I was glad to find this  in last December’s Al HaShulchan magazine. I modified it to include somewhat less chili.  The tender, juicy morsels are cooked in a soupy sauce, sort of like gefilte fish, but Eastern Europe never knew the olive oil, garlic and chili that give this dish its huge flavor kick. Not to mention plenty of cilantro – you’ll need a bunch and a half.

And it’s entirely kosher for Passover. The Little One liked it so much, she asked me to cook it for the Seder. Happy to oblige, darlin’ daughter.

In the meantime, let me wish you a happy and a kosher Passover, reader. This year in Jerusalem!

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Feb 202013


It’s going to be really close to Purim by the time I bake my old-fashioned hamentaschen. Time will run out on me before I photograph them – but in any case, I bake the same recipe every year, only varying the fillings as the fancy takes me.

So this year’s Purim recipe post invites you to choose one of many good ones that other Jewish bloggers have written up. Here’s a roundup of the Best of the Web’s three-cornered Purim morsels.

Joan Nathan’s Ultimate Hamentaschen (includes a cool video)

Guava and Cheese Hamentaschen from the Cuban Reuben

Guava and Cheese Hamentaschen

Apricot Hamentaschen from the Montreal Gazette

montreal gazette

Pear and Goat Cheese Hamentaschen from The Joy of Kosher

Classic, uncomplicated Hamentaschen from me-ander

6 Hamentaschen and Filling Recipes from Norene Gilletz

And finally, the recipe I use year after year: cookie dough Hamentaschen.

I really love how you can shlep good Jewish recipes from the cosmos these days, posted by an international cast of bloggers. Well, what’s the Internet for? Purim Sameach! And enjoy!






Jan 252013

image fresh pomegranate-tu-b'shvat
Happy Tu B’Shvat!

The Jewish new year for the trees falls this coming Shabbat, Friday the 25th of January, after nightfall.

If you’re plannng to conduct a Tu B’Shvat seder, here’s  a list of haggadot you can download.

And recipes with the Biblical seven species that grow in Israel, for your seder – enjoy!


Eggplant Stuffed With Burgul and Dried Fruit

Spiced Olives and Potatoes With Olives


Turkey Breast Stuffed With Fruit and Nuts

Roasted, Fruited Chicken


Sourdough Walnut Herb Bread

Basil Bread

Sourdough Onion Bread



Baba BeTamur – Iraqui Pastries Stuffed With Dates or Almonds

Chocolate Fruit/Nut Clusters

Sep 252012


This post is not about food that you and I are going to eat. Although, it is about food – and electricity, and basic things like toilet paper – for HaBayit Shel Susan, a job training center in Jerusalem that rescues kids at risk. I visited the center on the foodie tour of Jerusalem organized by Tal Marom Communications.

 The kids, ages 15-20, come off the street or were referred to the center by social workers, teachers, or other professionals.  They arrive scarred by long neglect and abuse, trusting nobody yet starving for attention. And although many deny it at first, they’re also hungry to fit into normal, working lives.


At HaBayit Shel Susan, volunteers teach the kids life skills. Who volunteers? Top artists and  business people; students, pensioners, all kinds of professionals, and just plain good-hearted folks. Avital Goel, the manager, works with a team of salaried teachers and volunteers who conduct informal therapy sessions, take the kids on trips, and teach a variety of classes to close some of the gaps in their education..

The program aims to teach the kids how to design and craft glass and paper objects, the sale of which goes to support the center. And they do produce lovely things: tableware, jewelry, and much more.

image-glass-plate-habayit-shel-susan image-hairpins-habayit-shel-susan


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