How To Create a Dessert Table for Hanukkah ...


November 5th 2013

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Well I have certainly made a lot of friends since moving to Israel.  My newest pals are a sister team of event designers from the city of Modiin.  Nesia and Daphna run A La Mode Designer Desserts, Designer Parties.  And I tapped them to create a vibrant, modern, unexpected Chanukah dessert table.  Watch this video and learn how to recreate this thing of beauty step-by-step.  It’s also filled with lot’s of little take-away ideas for gifts, sweets, and snacks that can be incorporated into any party.

Here’s a little more from behind the scenes:

This is a closeup of one side of the dessert table.  Note that the sisters from A La Mode (visit them on Facebook here) suggest displaying like fruits together in mini martini glasses instead of a mixed fruit salad – it enhances the bold graphic look of this table.  The black and white zigzag pattern is repeated many times over in the table runner, paper cones, straws, and picture frames.  And check out the messaging, “Take a Gift” lets your guests know these little candy boxes are party favors.  Watch the How To Video and learn how to make the paper cones and candy boxes.

When hosting a house party Nesia and Daphna say it’s important to carry the theme throughout the house – don’t just relegate the goods to one party table.  Here this coffee table doubles as a doughnut buffet including candies, chocolates, and paper goods that mimic the dessert table color scheme.  If the party extends to the outdoors or other rooms of the house don’t forget to put out a little somethin’ to pull the entire look together.

And here I am with the girls building our martini candy menorah.  Nesia is wearing the green skirt Daphna is in the pale blue cardigan.


Do you like this video?  Do you want more dessert table, DIY party favor, candy craft, and sweet styling videos and tips?  Let me know in the comments below and enter to win a candy prize package from Mike and Ike and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews.

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This post is part of an ongoing partnership with Just Born.


Hanukkah Gift Guide


November 4th 2013

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This year Hanukkah begins on Wednesday night November 27, 2013.  I can’t remember the last time Hanukkah was even in November.  And who can miss all the excitement over the convergence of the first day of Hanukkah with Thanksgiving, now coined Thanksgivukkah.  Unless you are my mother in law who buys all her holiday presents before Summer is over, you are probably feeling a bit behind schedule this year.  Here is our foodie gift guide, filled with sweets and treats and more to liven up your holiday table.

Let’s start off with my Hanukkah Chocolate Gift Guide:

Veruca chocolates has finally transformed chocolate gelt into the treasure it is meant to be.  Give the kids the foil wrapped sacks and save these gold coins for yourself.  They are available in 3 flavors and certified Kosher by the CRC.  They are all molded to replicate an actual Judean coin dating back to the 4th decade BCE, and is finished in gold dust. They will also look gorgeous on your dessert table.  Order your Veruca Chocolate gelt here.  (please note that the gelt is currently their only certified kosher product)


thanksgivukah chocolates

Special for Thanksgivukah!!!  Celebrate the once in a lifetime miracle of the calendar and the candelabra with gourmet kosher Thanksgivukkah chocolates.  They also have chocolate dreidels and other Thanksgiving chocolates.  JoyofKosher fans get 10% with coupon code JOYOFKOSHER.  Click here to get your Thanksgivukkah chocolates.

Zelda’s Sweet Shoppe offers decorated Hanukkah cookies and baskets.  Also new this year are their signature chocolate covered marshmallows in dreidel shape as well as a decorated caramel corn.  Email them to order these new items.

One more chocolate gelt that is a step above. These still have the foil covers, but the silver ones are mint flavored!! Get chocolate coins from Lake Champlain.

For those not as in love with chocolate as me here are some food related gifts you might enjoy.

Stick with food, but move to something savory that still makes a great gift.  Natural and Kosher Cheese Sampler package with a recipe and usage booklet inside.  We love this little box set.  You should find it at most Supermarkets and even Costco. Get more information on their facebook page.

I love this stainless Latke Spatula. Cute and practical at the same time.  Get it from Amazon.

Anyone would love to add these to their Hanukkah table.  Blue and white porcelain plates that can be used for everything from salads, to appetizers to desserts.  Sold by Williams-Sonoma.

Move beyond those plastic Hanukkah cookie cutters to these hand crafted Jewish themed cookie cuter set perfect for Hanukkah.  Get the Hanukkah cookie cutters here.  You can also get a Hanukkah Linzer cookie cutter from the Kosher Cook.

If you are looking for something a little fancier, check out this Pomegranate Decorative Dreidel from Quest Gifts, available at most Judaica stores.  Please email us at for specific retailers.

No Hanukkah gift guide is complete with out our New Joy of Kosher cookbook!!!  The perfect gift for every one (even the ones that don’t like cook).  Order your copies on Amazon.

Let us know if you find any other fun holiday gift ideas, share it in the comments below.







Sneak Peek Of the New Issue


November 4th 2013

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Consider this issue gift wrapped! It’s our great big special Chanukah gift to you, filled with fresh ideas for your Chanukah parties and enough inspiration to last and last through the winter.  This issue is loaded with the season’s coziest customs like
latke making, doughnut decorating and gift giving. Featuring perfect potato latkes, including classic and cauliflower (page 53); ice cream stuffed doughnuts, sushi doughnuts, doughnut ‘kebobs,’ fillings and glazes galore, oh, my! (page 72); and tips
on how to turn your doughnut designs into a DIY moment for you and your guests with stenciled doughnut decorations that are an exquisite piece of art almost too beautiful to eat (page 76)!

Plus party platters (page 64) and party punches (page 62) both adult- and kid-friendly.  Ahem, and may I suggest the perfect Chanukah gift for just about everyone on your list? My NEW Cookbook, Joy of Kosher: Fast Fresh Family Recipes. These recipes are versatile beyond words. I show you how to dress them up for entertaining and dress them down for everyday. On page 42 I take you behind the scenes and give you a taste of what it really takes to cook up a cookbook.

And just like the recipes in my book do double duty – everyday to holiday – so does this issue. We know it’s a long winter;
we would never leave you cold. So we’ve got wok weeknight dinners that WOW (page 56), and winner recipes for winter
greens (page 24). And is there anything so comforting and tummy-warming as a hot soup and fresh bread? We’ve paired
three soups with three easy homemade breads for three easy winter meals (page 30)!

Did I promise you a BIG present or WHAT?  Now, don’t miss out, order your subscription today and send a friend our Chanukah issue free!!


Subscribe Now!!


Best Uses for Leftover Candy


November 1st 2013

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Can there ever be such a thing as too much candy?  I guess it depends on who you are talking to, but if you find yourself with bags of open candies we have lots of great uses that go beyond popping them in your mouth.  You can separate the candy, make a pretty plate or container to bring over as a hostess gift.  You can serve the candy to your Shabbat guests. The best uses for lots of candy is turning them into fantastic dessert recipe creations.  Here we have 10 recipes to make the best use of your leftover candy.

Mike and Ike Bejeweled Sugar Cookies

Mike and Ike Bejeweled Sugar Cookies

peanut chew cake

Goldenberg's Peanut Chew Vanilla Cake

Brownie Candy Cups

Brownie Candy Cups

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Mike and Ike Rice Krispie Treats

Mike and Ike Rice Krispie Treats

Peanut Chew Doughnut

Peanut Chew Doughnut

Gelt Filled Peanut Butter Cookies

Gelt Filled Peanut Butter Cookies

Baby Ruth Cookies

Chocolate Coffee Toffee Tort

Mike and Ike Lemonade Cookies (main image)


Do you have any recipe creations with other leftover candies? Please submit them to our database, here.


Why I Love Olives


November 1st 2013

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There are a handful of ingredients that not only strengthen the flavor of a dish, but also stand strong as an appetizer-like snack on their own.   My favorite one is small, it’s oily, it’s a fruit, and it’s harvested for its meat and oil.  It is the quintessential olive.

There are dozens of olive varieties encompassing both size and flavor.  Similar to the different nuances in grapes and the wines that grapes become, olives grown in different regions will pick up the fine distinctions of those areas.  The leading growers of olives are the Mediterranean countries ~ Spain, Greece, Italy and Israel where there are groves with some fruit bearing trees dating back thousands of years.  The United States can also claim rights to this delicacy with much younger groves in the Southwestern states.

Not only is the olive’s unique taste affected by its birthplace, but the final flavor of the fruit also depends on how ripe it is when picked, as well as the processing it goes through.  Interestingly, all freshly picked olives are bitter.

Although we are most familiar with the multitude of black olives, there are many that are offered in shades of green.  The green olives are under-ripe when picked.  As they ripen, olives change from green to straw-colored to red.  They are black at full ripeness.  Spanish olives are picked young and fermented in brine for six to twelve months.  When bottled, they’re packed in a light brine and sold in a variety of forms including pitted, whole, or stuffed with an array of delicacies such as pimientos, almonds, onions, carrots, blue cheese and cloves of garlic.  Olives picked in a riper state contain more oil and are a deeper green color.  The common black olive, or Mission olive, is a ripe green olive that obtains its characteristic color and flavor through processing.  Greek Kalamata and the French Niçoise olives are two of the more popular imported ripe olives.  Dry-cured olives have been packed in salt.  The salt removes most of the moisture and creates dry, wrinkled fruit.  These are sometimes rubbed with olive oil and packed with herbs.  Both domestic and imported olives are available bottled, canned and in bulk year-round.

Next time you’ve got a few extra minutes at the grocery store, I recommend a culinary field trip straight to the olive bar.  This is a great alternative to buying olives in a can ~ devoid of flavorful brine and packed with too much processing.  My refrigerator is never big enough when I bring home all those plastic containers filled with a colossal amount of olives.

Olives are not just for nibbling one at a time.  With the ready availability of pitted olives, they are nearly indispensable as an ingredient.  Mediterranean dishes often call for the addition of olives as a flavor enhancer as well as a visual accompaniment. The variety of olives to choose from can be overwhelming when a dish cries out for them.  One way to help me through this daunting chore is to pair up the type of olive with a dish from its indigenous background.  For instance, when I prepare a French dish such as Sea Bass Niçoise, it’s an easy call to use the olive with the same name.  An authentic Greek dish of orzo, tomato and feta would easily call for a Kalamata olive.  An Israeli Meze display would be incomplete without a selection of locally harvested and cured olives.

And speaking of the Mediterranean, the Spanish Tapenade delicacy of finely ground black olives, sun dried tomatoes, capers and extra virgin olive oil is a terrific foundation ingredient ~ great on its own, but even better when utilized within other dishes.  A tray of crackers or small toast points placed to the side will coach any newcomer to this basic chopped olive spread.  The Tapenade does double duty when spread over salmon fillet and baked to a glistening crust in Salmon Olivida  ~ one of our award winning recipes from years ago.  Or, turn your Friday night chicken on its thigh by inserting your hand under the skin and spreading the Tapenade between the flesh and skin.  The skin will be succulent and flavorful; the meat will be tender and juicy.

By themselves, an assortment of olives in the middle of your table is always welcome.  This delicacy is even healthy for you, filled with the good kind of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats.  Olives are naturally salty, and even more so after being flavored in a brine.  So keep in mind, not too much salt necessary when olives are incorporated into your cooking.  Stick a Post-It onto pages 189 and 208 in my  cookbook, Jeff Nathan’s Family Suppers.  There are several wonderful recipes utilizing olives including Black Olive Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Butter.

While you’re adding the finishing touches to this olive recipe, knock back a martini with an olive, not a twist!

Get the Recipe for Chicken Savoy with Olives



Cooking Israeli Food In America


October 31st 2013

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I just came back from New York City where I gave a few Israeli cooking classes. I always find that no matter where in the world I am, cooking with people is fun, creative and delicious, and passion for cooking crosses cultures and places. As a cook I like to learn and teach new recipes, cooking techniques and tips.

Two cooking classes were hosted by two of my dearest clients and friends Ada-Beth and Laurie, who took my cooking tour in Israel a while ago. The third one took place at Manhattan JCC. I so much appreciate the warm welcome and the opening of the kitchens for me.

Even halfway around the world, I felt as at home as if I was in my own kitchen. I had everything I needed to make the Israeli food. I was honored by the number of people who eagerly came to learn how to make Israeli recipes. It was also a very exciting opportunity to cook my recipes with American products, and you know what – all the Israeli dishes tasted exactly the same as in Israel. Now I can really say you can cook Israeli food in America!

Are you curious what dishes we made? I’ll tell you: We made homemade Israeli Hummus (the regular and the green versions), homemade pita bread, Cauliflower with Tahini and Silan, this Baba Ganoush Recipe and more.

This particular recipe has two different unusual ingredients one is the eggplant liquid which gives an extra smoke flavor to the dish. The second ingredient is buttermilk or yogurt which makes it so creamy and delicious! For a non dairy version exchange the buttermilk with water.  Try this Baba Ghanoush Recipe and let me know what you think.



An Updated Israeli Cabbage Salad


October 30th 2013

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A classic Israeli table is covered with about a dozen colorful salads from all over the Middle East. Once you’ve eaten in a typical Israeli restaurant, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Everything from hummus to babaganush gets served on endless small plates so that you can barely see the table. The collection of salads is a sign of the Israel bountifulness, and general generosity found all over the country.

One of Israel’s most famous salads, found in every falafel stand, is the red cabbage salad.

Cabbage weighed down, in thick mayonnaise, with a touch of garlic; this salad is one of those world famous unhealthy salads. I honestly don’t understand why someone would go to the effort of making, or even just eating, a salad that is bad for you; but then maybe that’s why  it’s so popular. Found in shwarmas, falafels, and occasionally a sabra hamburger, that red cabbage salad is consumed in massive proportions in Israel.

While the classic version of a red cabbage salad is considered a standard all over Israel, I thought it deserved an unconventional re-imagining.

Instead of going with something generic like the version of the salad found in every supermarket, I incorporated persimmons in order to celebrate the coming fall. A great way to celebrate the new season is by using some of its finest produce. Using seasonal ingredients has become a bit of a cooking trend and for good reason. By using seasonal produce you end up with a brighter, fresher, and tastier dish.

The sweet and sour dressing and fresh herbs keep the salad feeling light, while the hint of garlic and bright purple cabbage keep it strongly tied to the dish that inspired it. Together, the ingredients make a bright and colorful salad that has no resemblance to the lifeless one that fills endless pitas.

Israeli cabbage salad update

Click here for the Cabbage and Persimmon Salad with Sweet and Sour Dressing Recipe


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.

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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