Shawarma: Israeli Fast Food


October 29th 2013

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The most popular fast foods of Israel are by far falafel and shawarma. Both are served in either pita or lafa and with a variety of salads and dips, resulting in the perfect bite of food. Traditionally, a pita is filled with falafel and/or shawarma, a shmear of hummus, some Israeli salad, and topped off with pickles, olives, charif, and fried eggplant. The tastes and textures are phenomenal and can become quite addicting.

In last year’s Hanukkah issue the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine we created the ultimate Israeli fast food experience.  With recipes for all the Israeli fast food favorites, including salatim, pita, falafel and of course Shawarma.  To see the full story and get all the recipe order your subscription and past issue here, Subscribe. Today we are sharing here the recipe for Shawarma.

Shawarma is a classic Middle Eastern fast food. Piles of meat are layered on a spit with fat and spices, and cooked surrounded by heat. When you order a portion of shawarma, the chef will shave off the exterior layer of meat, which is dripping with spices and flavor. The heat creates a crunchy, juicy bite of meat. As the roasted dark meat is shaved, a layer of pale chicken, not yet exposed to heat is revealed. After rotating one or two times around the heat source, the once pale chicken becomes golden and roasted perfectly, ready for the next individual purchasing a quick bite of Middle Eastern goodness. Shawarama can be made using turkey, lamb, beef or chicken. To recreate the texture and taste of authentic shawarma it is best to use the meat of chicken legs as this meat is fattier and has more flavor than chicken breast. You can use chicken breast, but know that it will not taste as authentic.

Click here for the full recipe to make your own Shawarma.


This article was originally published in Joy of Kosher Magazine (Winter 2012) – Subscribe Now!



25 Things You Don’t Know About Me *Giveaway*


October 29th 2013

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To celebrate the debut of my new cookbook, my labor of love, my magnum opus, my baby (except that human babies take only nine months to happen and this one took two years – oh, the agony), I’m sharing 25 things you don’t already know about me.  I know, I know, you thought that by now I’ve told you everything, and I have – almost. The upcoming book is my most personal yet – filled with episodes of my life that seem larger than life; diary entries; pictures of my kids; my innermost thoughts, dreams, wishes, goals; my best recipes and crazy moments between Hubby and me.

But there’s so much more to tell. So why not share it, right here, right now? (I mean, besides Hubby’s objection that I’m nuts to divulge all this.) I call it fearless. He calls it folly.  And when I’m finished, it’ll be your turn to whisper a few of your secrets to me.

1. While falling asleep, I decorate imaginary houses. And so does Brooke Shields, so there!

2. I share my English birthday (May 29) with Bob Hope and JFK, but not really because they’re no longer alive. But if they were alive, doubtlessly I would exchange hilarious birthday cards with Bob and tasteful ones with Jack.

3. I cry a lot. Sad, happy, doesn’t matter. The first time she met Hubby, my sister (whom I usually love very much, except at that moment) told him he was marrying a cry baby. As soon as she said it, I burst into tears and blubbered, “am not!”

4. I pay for spinning three times a week, but I usually make it to class only once a week. I wonder if my bike misses me.

5. I love dancing (with inexplicable passion!) I’ll dance to anything – Jewish music, rock, waltzes, the pulsing of my kitchen blender.

6. I was a professional dancer at age five. At least, that’s what my mom says. She also says I was the most brilliant child ever born.

7. I taught hip hop classes until I was eight months pregnant. I only stopped because my students looked so worried.

8. The view from my office window looks like one of those Israel tourist brochures – a landscape of gorgeous, colorful rock formations and mountains covered with cool, green trees. Just seeing it makes me cry, or dance, or both.

9. I love one-floor living, but I dream of that floor being a sprawling penthouse apartment with crazy incredible views of Israel. I’d give it all up for a little place with one small window facing the Kotel.

10. Black is my favorite color – after white, scarlet and baby pink. So I guess white is my favorite color. No, red.  No, pink.

11. I was nervous about having sons, since I only have a sister. Couldn’t imagine how on earth I could be mother to a boy. Now I know that I can have foolish concerns.

12. I have a really serious, spiritual side to me. As Hubby says, you just have to look to find it…and look…and look…

13.  Long ago, I decided that when I grow up I want to be a nutritionist, an exercise teacher and own a gym. Did I mention that I miss two out of three spin classes?

14. I love fusion in both food and design. But not together. In other words, Mommy is not happy when you spill supper all over the couch.

15. In my dreams, I would have a white kitchen, with whiter than white Carrara marble countertops; the living room would have white leather couches, with white mohair rugs, and all in all I’d live in a fluffy white cloud of a penthouse apartment with  stunning wraparound windows overlooking the best views in Israel.

16.  In real life, my couch is brown and we go for a lot of hide-the-dirt earth tones.

17. My mother doesn’t like to see me cook, do dishes, or do any kind of housework.  She doesn’t really want to see me work at all, just “do” lunches for a living. Did I tell you that I was the most brilliant child ever born?

18.  I worry about lots of silly little things; then I worry about being so worried, until I work myself up into a big emotional tizzy. If someone asks me why I’m so stressed out, my answer sounds completely ridiculous – even to me.

19. I don’t think that I am a good enough mother. Maybe I am. No, probably not.

20.  My husband makes the lunches in our house.

21. I have dreams of putting sweet little love notes in my kids’ lunches – but I have yet to get around to it. See confession #20.

22. I love going on class trips, far more than the kids do.

23. I get really attached to my kids’ teachers and babysitters – especially the good ones who really love them.  When the kids move on or graduate, I’ve been known to hug the teacher over and over and cry, while the kids tug gently at me, saying, “Let’s go, Mommy. You have to learn to let go…”

24. I would like to make my bed every day. ‘Nough said.

25. A toasted whole wheat everything bagel, literally dripping with butter, accompanied by a hot, sweet latté is a guilty pleasure of mine.  I usually get one on my birthday, and I always tell the guy behind the counter that, so he shouldn’t think I’m some kind self-indulgent epicurean.  Okay, so sometimes it’s not my birthday. I just need a pick-me-up. Or I want to celebrate something. Or I want to share this rare delight with a friend. And each time I order it, the counter guy gives me a skeptical look and asks, “Your birthday – again?”

Don’t forget my new book makes the perfect Chanukah present, make sure to order all your copies today!!

Click here to order from Amazon.

Click here to order from Book Depository in the U.K and get free worldwide delivery!!

Share something unexpected about yourself below (can be super juicy or a plain old little something) for your chance to win this amazing set of kitchen supplies including the following from Emile Henry and Mauviel and more… Total Retail value of $350

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Homemade Shawarma


October 29th 2013

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Posted 10/29/2013 by Shifra Klein
Shawarma is a classic Middle Eastern fast food. Piles of meat are layered on a spit with fat and spices, and cooked surrounded by heat. When you order a portion of shawarma, the chef will shave off the exterior layer of meat, which is dripping with spices and flavor. The heat creates a crunchy, juicy bite of meat. As the roasted dark meat is shaved, a layer of pale chicken, not yet exposed to heat is revealed. After rotating one or two times around the heat source, the once pale chicken becomes golden and roasted perfectly, ready for the next individual purchasing a quick bite of Middle Eastern goodness. Shawarama can be made using turkey, lamb, beef or chicken. To recreate the texture and taste of authentic shawarma it is best to use the meat of chicken legs as this meat is fattier and has more flavor than chicken breast. You can use chicken breast, but know that it will not taste as authentic. Double or triple the spice rub recipe for multiple uses. You can also use the spice rub for chicken or turkey kebobs as well.

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Turkish Salad


October 28th 2013

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Jamie Geller demonstrates how to make her Turkish Salad. Adding sautéed zucchini and eggplant makes it a ratatouille. Serve it warm as a deliciously thick and flavorful side dish.


A Haute Market In Jerusalem: The Shuk


October 28th 2013

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Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market is a literal feast for the senses. Visitors to this outdoor market, or shuk in local parlance, are greeted with the vibrant colors of fresh produce, the guttural sounds of vendors yelling competing prices to passersby, the wafting smells of whatever is in season, and the tastes of rich halva, warm borekas, comforting stews and sweet tropical fruits. If you are a food lover, then a trip to Israel is hardly complete without a stop here.

Farmers’ markets may be the current international food fad, but Machane Yehuda has had a hundred year head start on the modern trend. Founded in the late nineteenth century as an alternative to the crowded markets of the Old City, the shuk has gone through a few iterations before becoming the tourist destination it is today. Originally named Shuk Beit Yaakov, in the early years the market was an unsanitary and chaotic jumble of people hawking their wares. The British cleaned it up and added permanent stalls and roofing in the 1920s, and it didn’t undergo another renovation until the early 2000s, by which time it desperately needed a facelift.

Today Machane Yehuda, also nicknamed machne, is one of the biggest and most visited food markets in Israel. Janne Gur, cookbook author and editor of Israel’s top food magazine, Al Hashulchan, says that the shuk is “very central and everyone goes to the market; if you go on a Friday morning or Thursday evening you’ll meet everyone there: judges, Knesset members… It’s an iconic place for Jerusalemites. It’s much more than a place to shop for food.”

Of course, markets are a part of Israeli life and Machane Yehuda is only one of many shuks. Every city has its own market with its own personality and character. The Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, the shuk in the old city of Akko, and the Ramle shuk are other favorites, but there are countless options. They sell only seasonal produce (a mango in winter is practically unheard of, for example) and while most of the offerings are similar from shuk to shuk, slight variations can be found.

But most would agree that Machane Yehuda is special. The market is home to many of the same stalls and restaurants that have been there for decades, and there is also a new wave of boutique food, clothing, and jewelry shops that are bringing in tourists and trendy locals. Jerusalem chef Michael Katz of Colony and Adom restaurants says, “I have known the Machane Yehuda market since I was a kid… The market has changed dramatically from a market that was a market – a place where you negotiate and bargain and usually you come to save a few pennies – to a trendy place that is…under the camouflage of a market.”

London-based chef and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi also grew up in Jerusalem and has noticed a shift. “The shuk kept its general spirit,” he wrote in an email, “though there are many more trendy places aimed for a younger and more affluent crowd. On balance, it is probably a bit less authentic than it used to be and serves fewer people’s real daily needs compared to 20 or 30 years ago (supermarket and shopping malls have become more numerous) but it is still a real market, not a showcase like many farmers’ markets tend to be.”

Ottolenghi’s most recent endeavor, Jerusalem: A Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2012), is an ode to his hometown, including the market. “Restaurants in the shuk serve some of the most delicious food in town,” he notes, “but also food that accurately represents many of the Jewish communities that make up this city. There are traditional places where the dishes are prepared exactly as they used to be prepared in the homes of Jews from Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and lots of other diaspora. There is a real sense of a national culinary memory in the shuk and this inspired many of the dishes in the book.” It’s hard to visit Machane Yehuda and not be inspired. Here, the flavors of the Mediterranean and the Middle East intersect and are available through incredible local ingredients. Pick up the best tahini made from 100% ground sesame seeds, the most incredible spice mixes from around the world, intoxicating date honey, fluffy pita bread, and creamy local cheeses, not to mention the freshest produce imaginable.The following recipes have been inspired by countless trips to the shuk. Hopefully one bite will transport you.

Pear Applesauce Cake with Pomegranate Glaze

Pear Applesauce Cake with Pomegranate Glaze, Click to Get the Full recipe

This article was originally published in Joy of Kosher Magazine (Winter 2012) the Hawaij Spiced Pots de Crème and Malabi (Middle Eastern Milk Pudding) are exclusive to the magazine, order your copy to get these recipes, plus a recipe for Chocolate Rugelach in the style of the famous Israeli Marzipan rugelach.  – Subscribe Now!



CKCA Produces Iron Chef Competition at Kosherfest


October 25th 2013

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The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA)—the world’s only professional Kosher Culinary Arts school, will be co-producing for the third straight year the “Iron-Chef” culinary competition at the Kosherfest Expo in the Meadowlands Exposition Center on October 30th.

Three top chefs will have thirty minutes to cook one entrée from scratch using only a basket of mystery ingredients and a limited pantry of basic staples. The winner will take home a cash prize of $1000.   And this year our very own Jamie Geller will be hosting the event!!!

CKCA’s involvement in the Iron-Chef Kosherfest competition has helped to legitimize the event and develop a culinary arts component that was previously absent from the show. Professionally trained chefs from some of the kosher world’s top establishments now cook live in an “Iron Chef” style competition in front of an audience of industry professionals, foodies, and fans. In honor of the 25th anniversary of Kosherfest, this year’s competition will highlight products representative of the kosher food industry, then and now.  Can’t wait to find out what products are included.

This years competitors are: Casey Colaneri, Executive Chef of the Sushi Metsuyan restaurants in Monsey and Teaneck, Jose Soto, Executive Chef, Basil Restaurant in Brooklyn and David Teyf, Chef & Owner, Lox Café at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

The competition will be sponsored by Jack’s Gourmet Sausages, an innovative kosher meat company who made waves last year with the introduction of a high quality, surprisingly authentic bacon substitute made from beef called “facon”.  Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine will be sponsoring the videography for the event.

The competition will also feature a panel of three distinguished judges who will score the chefs’ work on presentation, taste and creativity in order to determine the 1st prize winner.

This year’s judges are:

Philippe Kaemmerle, Chef and Instructor at The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts
Jack Silberstein, Owner, Jack’s Gourmet Sausages
Roberta Scher, Co-founder and Managing Editor of

The winner of the competition will be announced at Kosherfest, upon the presentation of the trophy and $1000 cash prize.

For more information about CKCA visit or contact by phone at 718.758.1339 or by email at   Follow CKCA on FACEBOOK and TWITTER at @KOSHERCULINARY.


Israeli Salads – Not 1 Leafy Green To Check


October 25th 2013

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What makes a salad Israeli?

After all, Israel is the ultimate melting pot of Jewish cuisine. To go even further and peg these salads as Middle-Eastern is so vague since each region from Turkey to Yemen has such a unique flavor profile. In fact, the signature “Israeli” Potato Salad is almost exactly like my Romanian- Hungarian grandparents’ chicken salad – go figure. Look, I’m no culinary anthropologist but I have a simple, straightforward way of defining Israeli salads… roll that drum… salads that are commonly eaten in Israel.

There now, that was easy. I’ll even go further and tell you my barometer is, as it always has been since my first foray into the kitchen with my first book, my Israeli sister-in-law Chanie. She, together with Hubby, had a hand in inspiring me and teaching me my way around the kitchen. These gems are all inspired by Chanie’s table. She diligently hosted us non-stop almost every night for the first two weeks after we landed in Israel. There was always a hot dinner, fresh vegetables, and plenty of her signature salads spread before us. I also love the selection of sliced, creamy and salty cheeses I would find when I shopped for breakfast, lunch and dinner out of her fridge. I love her! Thank G-d the feeling is mutual.

Beefed Up Israeli Salad

Beefed Up Israeli Salad

When anyone in Israel tells you they are sending over a salad they mostly mean Israeli Salad. Chopped vegetables – usually just tomatoes and cucumbers but oftentimes with peppers as well, seasoned simply with lemon juice and salt. Notice no leafy greens which are so common in the U.S. I love this practice and have quickly succumbed to it myself because the salad can be prepped WAY in advance and it never wilts, just becomes more flavorful over time. But being me I needed to dress it up, make it more hearty, “beefy” if you will. So here I go adding crumbled salty cheese and fresh mint leaves and my most favorite condiment in the entire world: extra virgin olive oil.

israeli potato salad and rainbow salad

Chanie made this Rainbow Salad only with carrots, well, because it’s quicker, why else? I refrained from tasting it Shabbos evening, thinking, uch, who wants another sweet carrot salad? When I helped clean up the first course I smelled garlic and immediately snagged a spoonful. I said right then and there – “This is going into the next magazine.”

For the Israeli Potato Salad  I like using small red potatoes with the skin intact and Chanie says I can do it, if I want, but it’s not authentic. Her way, the Israeli way, offers a more delicate flavor as opposed to the more rustic American-style potato salads. The recipe here is very similar to my grandparents’ Romanian chicken salad, they would add cubed cooked (usually leftover soup or roast) chicken in addition to or in place of the potatoes. Tip! Using a tablespoon or two of pickle juice is a quick and easy way to flavor the dressing. But it is a pungent flavor, so start with 1 tablespoon and taste before adding the 2nd if desired

Shivat Haminim Salad

Shivat Haminim Salad

When Tu B’Shvat rolls around we always make a habit of cooking with the Shivat HaMinim, the 7 agricultural products enumerated in the Torah as special to the Land of Israel. In honor of my move I figured, why wait? Barley, wheat, figs, dates, grapes, pomegranates and olive (oil) are all represented in this salad. The honey is a nod to the land of milk and honey and even the red wine vinegar is a further play on the grape theme. This sweet salad owes its nice crunch to an impulse buy. When I was almost finished shopping for this recipe I spied a generic brand of grape-nuts. There, in big letters on the cereal box it said “Wheat and Barley Nuggets” – it was just calling my name – a welcome upgrade from the donuts that always spoke to me during previous supermarket excursions.

Get the recipes:

Shivat Haminim Salad

Israeli Potato Salad

Rainbow Salad

Beefed Up Israeli Salad

As seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (Winter 2012) – Subscribe Now.


Israeli Food: The Fusion Continues


October 24th 2013

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Israeli cuisine, reflective of the Mediterranean diet, is redolent with fresh produce, legumes, fish, herbs, spices, and olive oil. But it was not always so. The first Hebrew cookbook, How to Cook in Palestine by Erna Meyer (1936), recommended: “We housewives must make an attempt to free our kitchens from European customs, which are not appropriate to Palestine.” Meyer appealed to adopt zucchini, eggplants, okra, and olives and eventually people did (although not so much okra). Diced cucumber and tomatoes became ubiquitous ‘salat’ or ‘Israeli salad.’ From the dining halls of kibbutzim arose a new way of eating and thinking about food, inspired by biblical Israel and based on the modern Levant. Some European food traditions endured.  The German quark cheese emerged as the predominant Israeli processed dairy product, g’vina levana. In due course, immigrants from more than 70 countries contributed to Israel’s culinary diversity and continuing evolution.

The late 1940s till late 1950s, as the population more than tripled with refugees from Europe and Arab countries, was tzena (scarcity), a period of belt-tightening and government regulations. Israelis raised turkeys and chickens instead of cattle, and substituted these (or eggplant) for traditional meats, such as the veal in schnitzel and lamb in shawarma. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion asked Osem to devise a filling and inexpensive carbohydrate, and the company responded with petitim – now frequently called Israeli couscous. From 1950 to 1955, surplus foods came from America, including bulgur. Because of the label on American oats, the Hebrew word for oatmeal became k’vaker (Quaker). A typical Shabbat dinner entailed foods from various cultures – egg challah, perhaps a Libyan fish (h’raimi) followed by Ashkenazic or Kurdish chicken soup (kubbeh) and a main of chicken schnitzel or stewed paprika chicken; dishes that could be cooked on a range or kerosene burner, as few homes had an oven or even refrigerator.

Roasted Garlic Hummus with Oven Baked Pita



The late 1960s was a turning point in Israeli culture and economy, as foreign influences pronouncedly infiltrated and incomes rose. Through the early 1960s, Israeli food consisted primarily of a simple selection of homegrown produce and packaged goods. Breakfasts and dinners entailed fresh rolls, a few simple jellies, ‘salat,’ olives, leben (coagulated low-butterfat milk in plain, strawberry, and chocolate flavors). Many households added a bowl of Shalva (slightly sweetened puffed wheat) or dysah (cooked cereal) and hard-boiled eggs or omelets. Hotels opted for imitating the kibbutz buffet breakfast rather than the sparse continental breakfast of coffee, milk, and roll. Over time, hotel breakfasts encompassed nearly everything allowable in a dairy setting, from Moroccan shakshuka (tomato stew with eggs) to Yemenite melawah (flaky bread). A number of Middle Eastern spreads/dips became integral to the cuisine, including chatzilim (eggplant), babaganoush (eggplant with tahini), matbucha or salat turki (stewed tomato and pepper), muhammara (red pepper relish), and, most important of all, hummus (chickpea). Today, an array of spreads, salads, and olives are sold in every grocery, while in restaurants and homes an assortment of them called a mezze start many meals.

israeli chopped salad

Israeli Salad

Continuing Israeli innovation produced pronounced changes in local (and the world’s) dining. In the 1940s on Kibbutz Beit Alpha, Israel created the Beit Alpha cucumber, a high-yielding, seedless variety, at maturity about one-inch wide. In 1973, members of Hebrew University cultivated the cherry tomato. Among Israeli melons are the green-fleshed Galia and Ogen. Israel became a leader in banana technology and responsible for about 20% of all the West’s bananas.

Not only has dining-in changed, so too has dining out. At first, the few restaurants were principally patronized by tourists. Eating out meant inexpensive falafel from a kiosk or perhaps hummus. In the 1970s, grills called steakiya, a synthesis of Middle Eastern and European influences, spread. ‘Fine dining’ meant imitating Europeans. Today, Israel still has grills, but they are joined by an array of quality restaurants, ethnic eateries, and fast-food outlets. Fast-food transformed the way Israelis eat. In the early 1970s, Israeli pizza was tomato sauce on pita bread and hamburgers were associated with a European chain, Whimpies, and neither very popular. Today, McDonald’s, Burger King, and numerous local imitators and American-style pizza have conquered the land. More important are cafes, offering food as well as beverages, reflecting the Euro-Mediterranean style, intended for customers to sit and relax.

By the 1980s, with the general rise in income and lifting of travel taxes, many Israelis traveled abroad, while countless soldiers following mandatory service took a long trek through exotic locales. They returned with an expanded culinary vocabulary and more than a few became chefs or founded eateries. Some Israeli chefs focused on haute cuisine as a vehicle for local ingredients, while others fused Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine with international influences, engendering a genuine Israeli cuisine. After experimenting with butter and cream, many chefs found they preferred olive oil, lemon juice, and native ingredients. Instead of the French tarragon and lavender, they favored the local hyssop and cumin. Fine wines flow from the Golan and Galilee. Once ubiquitous foods vanished. Beginning in 1977, leben was supplanted by yogurts carrying foreign pedigrees and sometimes containing exotic ingredients, such as lychee fruit and passion fruit.

Health and sometimes flavor can be lost in contemporary Israeli dining. Breakfast all too often consists of corn flakes or cloying cereals, such as chocolate-covered oogiot (cookies) and chocolate cups filled with nougat. Ingredients in leading Israeli ice creams include vegetable oil and maltodextrin [a cheap thickener]; it does not taste like ice cream nor taste good. Beef overwhelmingly comes from Brazil, fed on corn and soy, which yields meat lighter in color and heavier in fat. American soft drink brands proliferate as do an array of local juices and nectars with sugar. Snack foods are an integral part of Israeli culture, including the best-selling Babma (with 25% of the snack market), puffs introduced in 1963 as cheese-flavored, but changed in the following year to peanut. Bisli (with 15% of the snack market) are crunchy extruded curls in various flavors. Potato chips rank third. Among the current trends is the use of multiple flavors, such as strawberry-banana and raspberry-kiwi. Pomegranate and mango recently became very popular.

On the other hand, some individuals and organizations emphasize sustainable food production and consumption (using the freshest natural and most flavorful ingredients possible with the maximum regard for the environment, local economy, and health), including organic agriculture, slow food and artisanal food, permaculture and eco-living, CSAs (community supported agriculture), and food co-ops. An increasing number of boutique food businesses, such as cheese, stress quality over quantity and expediency.

Culinary developments have not affected all Israelis. The poorer segments exist primarily on a handful of price-controlled items, a legacy of tzena – i.e. white bread, chicken, eggs, and milk — and tomato cucumber salads. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the 21st century, the evolution of Israeli cooking continues, becoming more cosmopolitan, while accompanied with an emphasis on local and traditional ethnic cuisines.

This article was originally published in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (Winter 2012) – Subscribe now to get all the recipes.

Machane yehuda photography by Katherine Martinelli


Highlights From The Joy of Kosher Cookbook Launch...


October 23rd 2013

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Leah, Yocheved, Ephie and Yael!!!, Donna, Elise, Lisa, Dina, Esti, Hilda, Iris, Jason and Wifey!!! (so sorry forgot your first name), Jill, Judy, Lori, Malki and Malkie, Nancy, Miriam, Rachael, Sharon, Susan, Zessie and everyone else whose name I haven’t mentioned – THANK YOU!!! You all made Monday night the most special and amazing evening of my professional life. Meeting, talking, hugging (lol – you know me, I can NOT help myself!), and laughing with each and every one of you was utterly amazing. I am so touched that you snatched up tickets within hours of our party announcement – so totally cool!!! I am all teary at the thought of it, seriously. I really love you all so much. From Philly, to all parts of Jersey, to Jericho and 5-towns, and Queens and BK and more you came! Did I say I love you all yet?!?!?

We are planning a new and exciting event soon. Until then enjoy these pretty pictures (you are all so beautiful – I am kvelling!).

The Joy of Kosher team celebrating together (Melinda Strauss, Tamar Genger, Jamie Geller, Shifra Klein, Shlomo Klein).

Lots of book signing.  Thank goodness for the Mike and Ike candies near by to keep me going.

Some younger fans enjoying my Pretzel Crusted Chicken.

Stacey Bender my amazing PR manager.

Everyone at the party walked home with a bag filled with goodies.  Not only did they get a copy of the NEW Joy of Kosher (did you get yours yet? Order it now!!)  They also got Mike and Ike Candies, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, French’s Mustard, French’s Flavor InfuserKind Bars, Gefen Whole Roasted and Peeled Chestnuts, Gefen Wonder Melts and Joy of Kosher Magazine.

Meet and greet.

The Buffet

A few of the dishes that were presented at the party.  Ari White from Gemstone Catering brought the pages of my cookbook to life.  See the full menu here.

Royal Wine provided us with this wine list including the best cab:

We enjoyed the Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Baron Herzog Chardonnay, Barkan Pinot Noir, Herzog Alexander Valley Cabernet, Elvi Adar Brut, Morad Passionfruit, Walders Vodka Vanilla, Zachlawi Sweet Potato Vodka including two signature cocktails, the Passionafruit Champagne and the Vanilla Sweet Potato Martini.

Thank you to Yaron Karl for taking these pictures and for getting us some of them so quickly to share with all of you.  Make sure to check out his Facebook page for more pictures.  Thank you to all our sponsors:


Vegan No Bake Brownies With Variations


October 22nd 2013

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Sometimes I really miss baking.  Don’t get me wrong – working as a chocolatier is soul-satisfying, with fine chocolate’s unmistakable taste and aroma and the other fine ingredients I use, I’m in heaven.  On those days when I’m immersed in administrative business tasks and I’m away from the chocolate, I yearn to be back making it.  I love this beautiful food and how happy it makes everyone, including me.

But there is something very special about pastry too, with its varied components coming together in exciting ways when a dessert is assembled and its flavors and textures combined.  When I did pastry full time, I loved coming up with new creations for my clients – whether it was the restaurant needing something special for Mother’s Day or a client with a dietary restriction needing a creative solution.  I miss working regularly with those clients (though many have remained devoted fans of my chocolates too).  And while I still bake for my family, of course it isn’t the same.

So I was gratified to have fit this new chocolate dessert creation into our busy production schedule. My original intention after launching Dear Coco Chocolate was to continue developing new pastry recipes each month, but as our volume increased I found I just didn’t have the time to be creating, testing and refining new ideas that frequently. In preparation for a chocolate class with a dessert demo that I taught last week, I put my pastry hat back on with the goal of creating something easy and approachable but absolutely delicious. The end result is so simple and so yummy (even if technically it isn’t baking since you don’t have to turn on your oven) – this recipe is a raw brownie which uses easy-to-find ingredients from your local supermarket. The brownies are gluten free (perfect for Pesach!), dairy free and can be made vegan by substituting agave syrup for the honey. There are variations which I included at the end of the recipe, but feel free to do some experimenting with your own favorite flavors and add-ins as the recipe is very forgiving.

Get ready for the fastest and most delicious all-natural brownies you’ve ever made!

Here is the full recipe of No Bake Cappucino Brownies with variations.


Bean, Corn and Pear Surprise Salad and Link Up


October 21st 2013

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I used to make a delicious and nutritious black bean and corn salad all the time. It is one of those easy, last minute dishes you can almost always make in minutes when you’re worried there won’t be enough food. All you need is a can of red or black beans, a can of corn and fresh chopped peppers, onions and cilantro.

So, when the Kosher Connection decided to have a Chopped-style challenge this month that required us to use a creative combination of canned corn, pears and Mike and Ike candies (at least two out of three) it didn’t take long for me to come up with my recipe.

Usually, when I watch these cooking shows and imagine myself in their shoes, I think, “I could never pull that off, I can’t decide what to make that quickly!” With our challenge we didn’t have a time limit and I realized I could have done it in seconds. All I did was take my regular salad and add some sweetness with chopped pears, some spice to counter balance the sweet and then some chewy chopped Mike and Ike candies for texture. The candies added a really unique element to this Mexicali dish and it is the perfect way to get your kids to eat their veggies.

Click here to get the full recipe for Bean, Corn and Pear Salad Surprise.

Can’t wait to see what my fellow Kosher Connection group came up with!


Enjoy The Most Comforting Cup of Coffee


October 18th 2013

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Today was the day. Yesterday was flip flop, cotton shirt, free spirited sunny weather, and today was tights wearing, jacket, rain boots attire. Fall is here and the leaves have magically turned colors overnight and have sprinkled the streets with beautiful Autumn hues. It’s that time of year when I go from cooling down with an ice coffee to warming up to a warm brew that really hits the spot.

Comfort food according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is a food that is satisfying because it is prepared in a simple or traditional way and reminds you of home, family, or friends.

My comfort “food” isn’t actually a food at all. It is a warm cup of coffee. It is simple, it is traditional, and for me it reminds me of home, family and friends.

My affair with the aroma of Java started way before coffee went upscale, trendy and served in Italian measurements instead of cups.  When I was just a little girl we used to visit my great aunt Shirley in New York. We would walk up the narrow staircase to her apartment and the smell of fresh brewing coffee was so strong. I was too young to drink her home brew, but not too young too fall in love with all it represented. The memory of her warmth and hospitality has always made me associate the smell of coffee with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Whether with my clan on the slopes of Colorado or while on a family vacation to Israel I would frequently chill with a warm cup of coffee. I have fond recollections of my dad and me in the evenings sitting in a hotel lobby in Jerusalem, drinking “café hafuch”. Coffee brings back good memories.

Few comfort foods can actually be engrained in our DNA. Yet, my comfort food has been embraced by the generations of my past and continues on with me.

Coffee is a multi-sensorial experience. Beyond the sense of taste and smell, coffee has a sound. The sound of coffee is often the first sound I hear in the morning before dawn as my early riser husband, clinks his spoon against his ceramic cup as he stirs his morning java and starts his day. I often shake off the first sounds of morning for a few more hours of shuteye. At which point a second pleasant assault is launched by my daughter perculating her favorite blend before she runs out the door.

While the taste, smell, and sounds all provide ample comfort…coffee is still so much more.

From my Great Aunt’s kitchen, to the social venue, my comfort food provides it all. There is a coffee shop I often walk to down the road. I love the smell, environment, people and music. If I want to catch up with a friend, we “do’ coffee. Many of my business meetings have been around the local coffee shop table. My friendships have been strengthened while sipping my brew. My son in law asked us for my daughters hand in marriage over a decaf. One of my daughters got her college internship while having mocha and a chance meeting with one of my clients. I have organized fundraisers and even secured one of my son’s college acceptances while downing an espresso. I have met clients at the shop and have established future business deals. And many times I just look forward to when my sister and I can just chill at the local perk. My hot brew has been good to me; like an old friend—always there when I need a little cheer.

So as the days become shorter and the cool air is beckoning, I find myself reminiscing of the fond memories of my childhood in the comfort of my warm cup of joe.

For those of you who make the old fashion coffee, like me, when I am not gallivanting to the local coffee house, here are some tips to fabulous tasting brew.

Great ideas for your coffee

  • Add some pumpkin pie spice and/or cinnamon. Yum!!
  • If you are really adventurous and have time, you can add real pumpkin puree, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to your milk and coffee
  • A little vanilla extract goes a long way
  • A little hot chocolate mix, milk, and your brew makes for a great mocha
  • Put a peppermint patty on the bottom of the cup and pour your coffee on top, mix and enjoy
  • A little bit of ice cream on top works really well

How has coffee been comforting to you?

Now you can prepare your coffee in style with my hand designed coffee scooper, to order this coffee scoop and to see my other designs please visit me at or on Facebook here.


In Season Persimmon Recipes


October 18th 2013

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Persimmons are tropical-tasting fruit that come in various shades and textures; the most common being the Fuyu persimmon (firm, round and light orange) and the Hachiya persimmon (soft texture, oval and dark orange). The firm, pale orange persimmons are the most versatile and can be eaten both raw and cooked. The deep orange varieties are extremely soft and are best used in soups, purees or jams. Fuyu persimmons ripen after they are picked, while Hachiya do not. Make sure not to eat unripe (firm) Hachiya persimmons as they can leave an uncomfortable, dry feeling in your mouth.

Persimmon tart

Persimmon Tart

Persimmons are full of vitamin A and C and a great source of dietary fiber. They are in season for a short time, so if you spot them at your local market, pick up a bag and eat them raw, or enjoy them in salads, soups, and pastries.


Persimmon Tart

Persimmon Salsa

Persimmon Soup

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (Winter 2012) – Subscribe Now.



Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas


October 17th 2013

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If your life is anything like mine your mornings are crazy and getting everyone to sit and eat their breakfast before the bus comes is the worst part of my day.   I know breakfast is important for all of us and in case you missed it you can get some great breakfast tips and cereal advice here.  This year we have tried to implement a schedule, Monday is oatmeal, Tuesday is eggs and Toast, Wednesday is waffles and veggie sausage, Thursday is bagels, and Friday we decide the night before.  Having a schedule has definitely helped, but I still wish I could get more veggies in since none of my kids do well with lunch at school and some days even just toasting a waffle seems to take too long. Oh and did I mention they don’t really do healthy cereal.

What I have discovered is that there are some breakfast ideas you can make the day before and either serve cold or quickly heat in the microwave, the days that I cook ahead I find I have a minute to twiddle my thumbs (yeah right, maybe a minute to put away the laundry).


Hazelnut Chocolate Chia Pudding

We are a major chocolate loving family, so I give in to the craving especially when I can get my kids to eat other healthy foods with it.  You prepare this chia pudding the night before and it is so easy, even your 5 year old could do it. Leave it in the fridge and you are ready to go in the morning.  We like ours a little warm like a thick hot chocolate filled with protein, fiber and omega 3′s from the chia.  You can also make with your favorite flavors and serve with fruit.

Baked Quinoa and Oatmeal

Baked Quinoa and Oatmeal

Try a Baked Oatmeal.  This version has quiona too for added protein, but either way, you make it the night before, leave it to cool overnight and serve room temperature in the morning.


Spinach Ricotta Quiche

Instead of eggs, I am going to start making quiche.  This way I can make it ahead and I can add veggies.  Quiche can be made with or without crust, it can be made large or in muffin tins, you can even freeze individual ones for later. They are really easy to make if you leave off the crust.

Polenta Sausage Casserole

Polenta Sausage Casserole

Here is an unusual breakfast idea especially for those of us not used to eating meat for breakfast.  Take polenta and layer it with cheese and and veggie sausage.  You can even add some cooked frozen spinach or mushrooms.  It is hardy for an every day meal, but can be made ahead and reheated quickly.  High in protein and fiber.

Carrot and Apple Latkes

Carrot and Apple Latkes

Maybe I am just getting ready for Hanukkah early, but we all like anything fried and they reheat well and are filled with veggies.  I am totally happy if my kids start their day with a couple of these babies.

Don’t discount dinner leftovers and other savory foods as good breakfast choices.  Hummus is incredibly filling on a slice of bread or in a pita and is another great breakfast option.  I didn’t even include breakfast muffins, yogurt parfaits, regular oatmeal or cream of wheat in the list above, you already know about those.  I hope these ideas inspire you to think differently about your breakfast options and to work ahead.


Choose The Best Cereal To Eat For Breakfast


October 17th 2013

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Hear the word “breakfast” and you may conjure up a picture of the archetypal cereal bowl and milk or perhaps you envision a mad morning dash where you’re just lucky to get all the kids out along with their lunches.

Breakfast has long been touted as the most important meal of the day, with very good reason. Besides for providing the needed start up for a long day (we have been fasting for at least 7 hours), it also…

  • Provides us with key nutrients we may not be able to make up later in the day (such as iron, calcium, B vitamins and fibre)
  • Keeps us eating less fat and cholesterol
  • Reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes, as indeed one large study found that men who skipped breakfast had higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease mortality.
  • Boosts brain power- keeping us alert through the morning
  • Preserves our feeling of satiety and prevents snacking on less nutritious foods.

While some people may avoid breakfast in the hopes of losing weight, skipping breakfast may in fact increase one’s risk of obesity as eating breakfast puts us on track for making healthier choices throughout the day and gives us extra energy to be more physically active.

So now that we know the whys of eating breakfast, what should we be eating? Should we go stock up on cereal and dust off our bowls and spoons?

The breakfast meal should include foods from three of the four food groups (grains; fruits & vegetables; milk & alternatives; meat & alternatives), and include fiber and protein to keep us feeling full for longer.

Some breakfast ideas:

  • French toast topped with yogurt and sliced peaches
  • A whole wheat English muffin with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes
  • A homemade muffin and fruit smoothie or even warmed-up supper leftovers!

If you go the cereal route, choose varieties with less than 5 grams sugar and 2 or more grams of fiber. Eat with milk and a handful of berries or dried fruit and you have 3 food groups!  Look for cereals high in fiber (2+ grams) and low in sugar (less than 5grams). Keep in mind that a low fat cereal has less than 3 grams of fat.  Use the chart below to help you choose the best cereals.

Flake Cereals  

Flake cereals are usually low in fat, but they do vary in fiber and sugar content.

Children’s/Sugar Cereals

Even with the use of whole grains these cereals are too high in sugar and should be limited maybe to once a week.

High Fiber Cereals

Cereals with 6+ grams of fiber are perfect for adding fiber into the diet, keeping you feeling full longer, and helping with regularity.   Just be sure to drink lots of water.


Most granola style cereals are highly caloric with added oils and sugars.  A better option may be a home-made granola of rolled oats, sliced nuts, seeds and fruit to control the sugar and fat while increasing fiber.

Make Your Own

Combining cereals can give you the best of both worlds; high fiber, low fat and sugar.  Minimize the amount of high fat or sugar cereal and combine with a high fiber cereal to make your own tasty creation.  Add fruits, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds or other boosts for flavor and fiber.  Get experimenting and think outside of the cereal box!