Category Archives: Parve

APPLE + chocolate heaven cake with HONEY + cinnamon super syrup

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Apple cake for Rosh Hashana – been there, done that. Here’s a new combo that includes the seasonal and traditionally significant tastiness of the ever-so-overdone Rosh dessert. Thank you smitten kitchenal di la restaurant, and my cia spy (aka my brother) for your inspirations…

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Filed under Dessert, Jewish, Parve, Rosh Hashana

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes

Israeli Couscous

I realize I have been MIA since Purim, but the last month was a long series of crappy happenstance that ate up most of my free time.  Oddly, one of the last of the series, the evening before Pesach began, was my inspiration for today’s post.  I was driving in the Mission, headed over for a Troika dinner meeting when, in my haste to find a parking space, I crashed my car into an Indian food delivery truck.  Anyone who knows me, knows how deeply attached to my car I am, so after assurances that no one was hurt, the sadness of my broken car set in. Despite this, following the insurance fun and the bungee cording of my car’s bumper into a drivable arrangement, we managed to resume the evening plans.  My fellow Troika members, Sarah and Megan, consoled my wounded ego with assurances that I was a decent driver and fed me chametz in the form of Israeli couscous. It was amazingly delicious, both warm the night before and again cold for lunch the next day.

With Passover behind us and with Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, coming up next Tues, a little Israeli chametz, seemed like a good way to come back.  Israeli couscous, or ptitim, was invented by the Osem food company to serve as a substitute for rice during the years following the founding of Israel, when rice was in short supply. It is wheat based and has grown significantly in popularity in the US in recent years, and can now be found in most US grocery stores.

Its amazing adaptability, also gave me the opportunity to play Ready Steady Cook. I had some bell peppers that needed to be used, as well as some cherry tomatoes that I bought believing they were an orange breed, but it turns out they were just really under-ripe and flavorless. The best way to rescue bad tomatoes is to roast them with a little olive oil and salt, so into the oven they went. I figured as long as I was turning on the oven I may as well roast the bell peppers too. Digging through my kitchen I discovered a small bag of pine nuts left from pesto making in September, a shallot in its last moments,  and way in the back of my fridge, my long-neglected jar of preserved meyer lemons, that I put up last year. I threw these things together with a block of feta and I had dinner.

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Filed under Israeli, Jewish, Parve

Abadi…Savory sesame cookies

"Abadi"... reads: delicious savory cookies

If you know me longer than 5 minutes, you’ll probably come to understand my deep love of fresh fruit, produce, and markets. So of course I am a little too obsessed with the shuk (everyday open air produce market) here in Tel Aviv. To say that I frequent the shuk is a bit of an understatement. I have my preferred vendors and stalls and am thoroughly proud to say that I’ve become a usual face in the market community. So I’m pretty keen on what’s going on in the shuk, I often contemplate opening my own stall there when I see vacancies. Anyways, when someone decided to open a stall dedicated to abadi cookies, I was inspired to try my own hand at making them.

 

Abadi is really the name of the brand of the cookies, let’s say like Oreos, even the weird flavors are still called Oreo cookies. And like Oreos, there’s just one brand. These cookies come in a various types, different shapes, toppings, and are offered in both sweet and savory versions. But of course the originals are the best. They are flakey and flavorful, and come in delicious little O shapes. After an intense amount of searching I finally came across a recipe in Hebrew, from one of the online newspapers here. And I must say that these turned out pretty close to the originals.

These cookies are pretty easy and fun to make (ie. good activity for the kids). You can make them into sticks or circles, top them with za’atar, sesame, or sea salt. They are perfect for when you want to a snack for coffee with company or to calm the afternoon munchies. Just be warned, they are addictive.

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Filed under Israeli, Jewish, Other Stuff, Parve

Shakshouka!


Besides being exceptionally entertaining to say, Shakshouka is a simple and homey meal. It can be found in most cafes, breakfast places, and sometimes even dedicated shakshuka spots everywhere in Israel. Equally popular as a Saturday brunch or a breakfast outdoors as a high energy meal before taking down camp. It’s usually served in it’s pan with a bread basket companion. This dish is basically a tomato sauce with eggs easy-over eggs atop. Definitely one of the best “pantry raid”, “one pot meal”, AND “leftover reviver” I’ve ever known.  On those lazy nights I always remember my dad (the resident cook in my house growing up) taking stock of the fridge and somehow managing to whip up an always delicious shakshouka that left the whole family satisfied.

One of the many wonderful qualities of this dish is it’s versatility. The beauty of it, in my eyes, is the fact that you can turn out a great shakshouka just with what you have on hand. A great place to use up that extra bit of pasta sauce, the last half of the tomato paste from the can, extra veggies that managed to sneak away to the back of the drawer and aren’t looking so fresh.

In this version of  shakshouka we chose it as our “brunch” on a mini picnic to the Ben Shemen forest.  Easy to make, even outside, minimal  prep time, and it turned out excellently on the small burner we had to cook on.

Here’s how we made it, but really, no shakshouka I’ve never managed to recreate a shakshuka.

Click to read the recipe!

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Filed under Breakfast, Fruit and Vegtables, Israeli, Jewish, Parve

Pumpkin Latkes

Pumpkin Latkes

Its the day after Thanksgiving and I am enjoying the satiety that come from too much food and drink, and in the miracle of miracles, I finally got a seat at the grown-ups’ table. I had thought it might happen, given the guest count and but I have been having Thanksgiving with the same crowd for about 25 years and had yet to graduate, so I wasn’t holding out too much hope. But happen it did and it was all that I’d hoped for, but I was promptly told it was a fluke occurrence and I would be headed back to the “young adult” table next year. While today I will bask in the glory of my newly recognized adulthood, Hanukkah is just around the corner (starting Wed night) so the frying and latke making has already begun for the Heathens. I figured in honor of Thanksgiving I would carry on the pumpkin theme and make pumpkin latkes. Obviously these have a slightly different texture than traditional potato latkes, and are more pancake like. They are also slightly sweet so I would include them with my apple latkes as a great Hanukkah breakfast or dessert option.

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Filed under Breakfast, Dessert, Hannukah, Holidays, Jewish, Parve, Sephardic

Hummus or hoomus?

 

Hummus

 

Hummus is one of those things that 20 years ago most Americans would never have even heard of it but today you can find 10 different varieties of it at Trader Joe’s and at least one bowl of it at any party. Within the Jewish community there is a fascinating phenomenon that seems to become more prevalent the more common place hummus becomes: as soon as an American Jew has spent more than a day in Israel, when the come home, they develop a compulsion to pronounce hummus and pita with an Israeli accent. It comes out “hoooomus and peeeeta”. I find this infinitely annoying for some reason.  Gordon is actually one of the worst offenders of this and we have gotten into stunningly long debates over it. I used to just shake my head and roll my eyes when people did it but now I find it much more amusing to pretend like I can’t understand them … “what is it you’re saying?” are you trying to say hummus and pita?”

This debate pales in comparison to the proxy that hummus has become for the entire middle east conflict, wrapped around who actually invented hummus. Additionally, the Lebanese and Israelis have been continually out doing each other to get in the Guinness Book for the biggest batch of hummus. I’m not kidding. For a great parody of this I recommend watching the short musical film “West Bank Story”, which chronicles the romance of an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian girl whose families run competing falafel stands.

One thing I think everyone can agree on is that hummus is delicious and versatile. It’s a great appetizer dip when served with raw veggies or pita and its a great condiment for falafel, grilled meat or any kind of sandwich.

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Filed under Deli, Israeli, Jewish, Parve

Teiglach

Teiglach

I’ve been planning to make teiglach for the past couple of weeks, but with the Bay Area in a heat wave I was trying to avoid turning on my stove for the required hour. With Simcha Torah coming up tomorrow night I was rapidly running out of time for the recipe to be relevant, so I cranked up the A/C to get these done in time for the culmination of the high holidays. Given that it was 95 degrees in San Francisco yesterday, I may have lost my mind a little bit, but sometimes a little sacrifice is required for my art. As you prepare to celebrate the beginning of a new cycle of reading the Torah (finish up Deuteronomy and start-up again with Genesis), teiglach make a nice sweet treat to go along with the obligatory drinking and hakafot.

While I have definitely never made teiglach I also started the project thinking I had never eaten them either and was unprepared with for what they would taste like, but upon biting into the completed cookie I remembered having them at some point as a kid.

Teiglach literally means “little dough” in Yiddish and has its history in the Lithuanian Jewish community, and is traditional for Rosh Hashana and Simcha Torah. (Apparently holishkes are also traditional for Simcha Torah, as the rolls of cabbage are symbolic for the Torah rolls) While boiling dough in honey seems a bit odd, the dough cooks up crunchy like a cookie covered in a sticky honey syrup.  The ingredients are quite basic and the process is very simple but the resulting cookies are oddly addicting.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Dessert, Holidays, Parve, Rosh Hashana, Simcha Torah, Sukkot

Lavender Challah

Why bake the same version is challah each week when it’s so easy to snaz it up?! This Shabbat, try it with some lavendar.

I started, of course, with Amiee’s faithful challah recipe. Instead of adding plain water to proof the yeast, I used a lavendar infused water.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup water
3 tb dried lavendar flowers

Method:

Add the water and lavender to a small saucepan or pot and heat slowly to a simmer. Remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly for a few minutes. Strain out the lavender flowers and allow the water to continue to cool to yeast proofing temperature (slightly warm). Continue the challah recipe as normal! *You can keep the flower buds in the water for extra flavor and texture.

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Filed under Bread, Jewish, Parve, Shabbat

Bubbe Julie’s Pesadik Kamish

My Bubbe (Yiddish word for grandmother) Julie is unstoppable. At 90 years old, she is still maintaining a three-story house, driving her car around Vancouver, and cooking up a storm. When my family and I are in town, we eat everything Bubbe makes for us–even if we are not hungry. I can still distinctly remember about 10 years ago when my father was interrogated by a US customs officer for carrying a poppyseed cake in a brown unmarked box, fresh from the oven. “What is in the box?” they asked. “It’s a poppyseed cake baked by my mother-in-law, I promise.” One of my favorites in her baking repertoire is kosher for Passover kamish. It almost doesn’t take like Passover. You may have heard kamish referred to as “Mandelbrot” or “Jewish biscotti”. It’s all the same: sweet, crunchy and delicious.

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Filed under Dessert, Jewish, Mishpokhe, Parve, Passover

Dad’s Matzo Brie (Fried Matzo)

We heathens are introducing a new category today: “Mishpoke” or family. It turns out some of our kin wanted to write about their recipes in their own voice, and given that they dealt with us during our teenage years, we figured it was the least we could do. Today’s guest Mishpoke is none other than my father, Howard. Alternately known as How, Howie, daddio, Poppy and simply The Dad. When he offered to share his fried matzo recipe, I was thrilled as it was always a favorite of mine, whether it was being made by him or, when I was very young, by his dad, my grampa Max (always served with a side of individual servings of Smuckers jam that I now suspect had been pilfered from restaurants)… so without further ado here’s The Dad’s first post:

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Passover was always a time of mixed feelings for the Kushner “Kids” ~~ my two sisters and I. There were the interminably long and serious Seders at my Uncle Harold’s house when his dad, Uncle Louis, directed the Seder, and the subsequent less serious Seder with the emphasis on how much Manischevitz  Wine (not the watered down kind they usually gave the kids) you could sneak when Harold assumed the mantle of leadership. The first time you were asked to read the Four Questions (in Hebrew) also was a mixed bag — fear that you would mess up and pride when you performed flawlessly.
However, straightforward feelings of joy and anticipation came when my Dad came home with a five pound box of Matzos for Pesach. We knew that Fried Matzos were in the offing. Both Mom and Dad made it, but we kids always hoped Dad would make it ~~ His version was so crispy and good! His secret was a huge cast iron pan and excessive amounts of hydrogenated Crisco. Good Grief! I have tried to emulate his recipe for my kids and some of my grandkids (so far), leaving out the Crisco.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Breakfast, Holidays, Jewish, Mishpokhe, Parve, Passover