Enough already with Turkey…

Thanksgiving was always a big deal in our home. As Sabbath observers, Thanksgiving offered that opportunity to celebrate with family and friends who did not live nearby. Once we moved to Israel, Thanksgiving remained a memory. We just could not replicate the atmosphere or the menu. Turkeys were just not available here. Over the years, as more and more expats wanted to celebrate-turkey became more available. But Thursday is still a workday so what to do. Many families moved the celebration to Friday night dinner. This still didn’t speak to me and anyway we were never Turkey lovers. Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2020. A week before Thanksgiving my local butcher asked me if I wanted to order a Turkey. I thanked him but said no. The following week, returned to the supermarket with my husband and there were about a dozen fresh turkeys piled high. My husband asked if we could purchase one. The butcher turned to me and said (in Hebrew of course) “I told you to order a Turkey last week and you said no- these are all spoken for. BUT.. you are in luck. Someone just called and cancelled their order so this turkey is yours!” We had no choice we had to take it home. I received much advice on how to cook this bird and settled upon Jamie Geller’s simple Turkey.

We enjoyed this big bird Friday night. I have an Israeli daughter in law who had never seen a Turkey. Since we aren’t a turkey loving family, we ended up with a great deal left over. Now what to do. Thank you to Google for helping me with managing the leftovers. I cut up the turkey breast in cubes and froze some in small bags to use later for a stir fry.

I decided to make a lentil soup and use the leftover Turkey. I found this recipe. I made it in the crockpot. I added left over vegetable I had and skipped the tomato. I added the cubed Turkey to the crock pot for the last half hour. It was absolutely delicious.

I also made brown rice– sauteed some vegetables which I added to the rice and cubed turkey. I can honestly say that I put all of the leftovers to good use. Of course, I gave the Turkey carcass to my Aunt Ruthie- who is enjoying it. As Aunt Ruthie would say- it would be criminal to throw out all of those leftovers. So glad I didn’t.

QVC and it’s not what you think!

It has been a while since I last wrote on this blog. Being in isolation over the past several weeks has meant more time at home and in the kitchen. I started thinking about acronyms and adapting them to our times. As zoom entered our lives I thought about FOMO
Fear of Muting Out and MTV   Mute the Video  QVC was inspired  by my Aunt Ruthie, known to family and friends fondly as Phoophoo. Ruthie has been shopping onIine before it was fashionable. She introduced me to QVC (quality, value, convenience). I would compliment her on a lovely bracelet, a beautiful dress, and her response “QVC!”

As we move into the 6th week of quarantine, QVC has taken on new meaning- Quarantine Variety Cooking. We are all looking to introduce new things to our day. I spent the first 2 weeks cleaning and organizing, the 3rd week was Passover followed by a week of recuperation. As the isolation continues, it is important to fill the time in constructive ways.
It is important to frame the day. Keep a schedule with a fixed time to wake up, get dressed, have a plan. I have discovered QVC. No I am not busy shopping on line. I am slowly discovering  Quarantine Variety Cooking. . Being home almost 24 hours a day means making sure that there is proper meal planning. We have been through the foraging stage, opening and closing cabinets and eating anything in sight. I realized that part of keeping a schedule includes proper mealtime. This has been a challenge. Pre Corona, I left the house early to swim and then to work. I ate breakfast and lunch at work- bringing something from home or soup and salad from the mall. Dinner was usually something simple. Since becoming “empty nesters”  we would treat ourselves to dinner out one night a week  or order in. That has changed and now 3 meals and snacks need to be planned and organized. Eating 3 meals with your spouse,significant other can be a challenge but it can also be used as that check in time. The rest of day you are both doing your own thing and the meal time gives you an opportunity to check in with each other. Our breakfast menu has included yogurt with granola, whole grain toast and poached egg, oatmeal. Lunch takes me back to my childhood and I enjoy a tuna salad sandwich and salad or pasta. Dinners have been, grilled chicken and vegetables, an occasional steak. My hubby enjoys salmon- sadly I don’t eat fish. Most important I try to “close” the kitchen by 7-7:30 pm.

Shabbat meals have also been a challenge. I was so used to preparing for the family and friends-it was a rare Shabbat that we were “alone”. Now that is the norm. After cooking my standard Shabbat menu and having to toss it during the week as there was just too much left over, I have revised it. Rediscovering a Cornish Hen has been a God send. My friend Debbie –60isthenew50
recommended this. As a stuffing she suggested using a Sweet Potato.

Cornish Hen stuffed with Sweet Potato: Clean the hen. I make a mix of himalyin salt, coarse pepper, garlic powder and paprika. I rub the chicken with a bit of olive oil and then this mix. The sweet potato can be softened in the microwave for about 5 minutes. During that time saute 2-3 onions. Add the onions to softened and mashed sweet potato and stuff it into the cavity of the hen. I had left over that I baked in a small dish.

The result was scrumtious and no leftovers.

So while you may be QVC shopping, plan some Quarantine Variety Meals as well.

2 Accidental Desserts

I struggle with finding the right dessert to end a meal. The baked apples were a nice option but I needed something new. With summer fruits in abundance I decided to try what I have coined: Summer Betty. This is a variation of apple betty-one of my standard winter dessert. I went through my refrigerator this week. I pitted and chopped some cherries, plums, peaches and added a few apple. I sprinkled the mixture with sugar and cinnamon and poured it into a greased pie plate.

The topping ingredients:

  • 100 grams of margarine
  • flour
  • sugar
  • vanilla

I know there are no measurements. I create a cumble by mixing all of the ingredients judging by the texture.   Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Top this with some refreshing sorbet and it is a real hit.


I was fascinated by a cake recipe that popped up on my facebook feed this week. A chocolate cake with no eggs or oil. I was intrigued and decided to give it a try. The batter can be made directly in the baking dish. No mess and no kitchenaid to drag out. I thought it was too good to be true but decided to give it a try. The cake was DELICIOUS! It was so unbelievably moist and fluffy.

It is definitely worth a try. Click here for the recipe.




Not Another Brisket!

I just couldn’t help myself. It was just before the Passover holiday and I had planned to make Joan Nathan’s delicious brisket recipe but lo and behold the recipe calls for soy sauce and mustard-2 ingredients that an Ashkenazi Jew cannot eat on Passover as they are considered kitniyot. I was in a panic-I had my heart set on making THIS brisket for seder night. Well there is nothing like Google to save the day. I found this wonderful adapted recipe from The Spruce.  As suggested, I substituted garlic for the mustard powder. I marinated the brisket overnight and put it in the oven at 5:30 AM on Passover eve. The brisket was ready by 10:30 AM. I sliced it cold-put it back in the oven before serving.

What can I say it tasted like BUTTA (pareve of course)!



Another Brisket

For those of you who have been following my blog, you may get the feeling that I am “brisket obsessed”-well I am. I don’t have a large repertoire of  recipes I make. I am not that adventurous when it comes to my cooking. I always feel safe staying with my “tried and true”recipes, using the cookbooks that I feel comfortable with like my dear friend Rachelle’s which features many of the comfort foods of my youth.

But, my son Yehuda, the total opposite of me when it comes to cooking is always looking for a finding new ways to make our comfort foods. This time he introduced me to a new spin on my favorite-brisket. This Joan Nathan recipe is just spectacular and sumptuous-only some of the adjectives I can best use to describe how indescribably delicious the meat was. I admit that I was a bit skeptical about the coke/red wine mix but it worked. Since I made it before Shabbat I don’t have a photo but you will have to take my word for it.

Click here for this absolutely amazing recipe.Image result for brisket with red wine and coke

The Accidental Turkey

I have not written in a while. It’s not because I havent been cooking-life gets in the way; new grandchild, a move-the usual.

The Jewish holidays are over and just as we are settling into a routine, with my winter shabbat menu (more on that in a later blog) Thanksgiving comes along. We have been living in Israel for 24 years and really no longer celebrate this holiday. Thanksgiving was a most favorite time both growing up and later in my own home in Boston. But it is truly an American holiday. It is hard to translate the feeling in Israel when Thursday is a regular workday, there is no Plymouth Plantation to visit (even though it isnt celebrated there on the 3rd Thursday of the month) and my children have not idea what the holiday is all about. For many years one could not even get a fresh or frozen whole Turkey here.

But, times have changed. Turkeys can easily be found here and many “anglos” enjoy celebrating, most deciding to serve the traditional meal on Friday night.

This year we had visitors from the States and at the last minute, without consulting me, a Turkey appeared in the fridg. Now what! It is late Thursday with a short Friday looming ahead-tons of company company and an oven that will be tied up for hours-if we can get it into our small European oven at all.

So, Google came to the rescue and we happened upon Mark Bitman’s 45 minute Turkey. It was hard to believe but certainly worth a try.

Needless to say the Turkey roasting took almost 3 hours-but in all fairness to Mark Bitman-our Turkey was 14 lbs and his recipe calls for an 8-12 lb Turkey-not that I have ever met an 8 lb Turkey. We did follow the directions, took out the backbone and spread the Turkey. That provided the next challenge of fitting it into the oven. With a bit of improv we did-wish I had photos but use your imagination.

I must admit the Turkey was delicious and I am not even a Turkey lover.

So give it a try.


Trying to get Dessert Right

Living in Israel exposes us to many different types of people from various cultures. Over the past few years the French have moved to the neighborhood. Where my other sons had many Anglo friends, my youngest hangs with the French. He recently returned from ah shabbat meal at one of his friends and remarked that they really invest in the desserts. He said the meal was ok but the desserts were just AMAZING. I realize that I invest so much time in cooking the shabbat meal that my desserts do fall flat. One night I was on the phone with a friend from Boston. She described the baked apples she had just put in the oven. My mother in law used to make baked apples but I had never tried it.

Remembering all of the maple syrup I have, I googled baked apples with maple syrup and a few recipes popped up.

I decided to just try my own thing and here is what I did:

I tried both red apples and granny smiths. Core the apples and cut the bottom a bit so that they can stand flat. I filled the core with raisins. Place the apples in a pyrex dish. I then drizzled them with maple syrup. Into a preheated oven 375 F for 45 min (check the apples and if they are not soft may need a few more minutes)

The apples were divine. The granny smiths were a bit more tart than the red apples so keep that in mind.

You can always top the baked apples with whipped cream, ice cream etc and a perfect dessert! So I have now taken my shabbat meal to the next level-ending with a great dessert!

Baked apples

An Accidental Shabbat

I was looking forward to a Shabbat off-invited out for both meals. For those of you who may not understand how liberating this is let me explain. This changes your grocery shopping, it means that Thursday night can be a relaxing evening and I can enjoy my Friday-which in Israel is supposed to be like Sunday (NOT!). As I am enjoying coffee at a local Jerusalem coffee shop with a friend visiting from the States, my phone rings. It is my son who is currently serving in the IDF and his wife is 9 months pregnant. They live in a community about an hour away from the nearest hospital and they do not own a car. So there I was enjoying my coffee, and telling them that of course they could come for shabbat. He told me he would let me know. At 12:30-while celebrating my granddaughter’s 2nd birthday-he calls to confirm that they will be coming. Great, that solves the problem for my almost 17 year old who really would not enjoy either of our invitations. And at that point other family members joined in to say that they would love to have dinner at my apartment with the brother and sister in law they rarely see.

At this point is is 1 PM and Shabbat begins at 4:17. Quickly run to the local supermarket and pick up 2 whole chickens and meat for Cholent. I had my Orange Soup on hand and happened to have done some baking the night before.

So in less than hour here is the menu:

My made up pumpkin soup

Jamie Olivers whole chicken

Kasha and Varnishkes  I grew up with this side dish and it is still a favorite in our household-easy, quick and delicious

Cholent  This is a fabulous easy and delicious meal in one for Shabbat lunch. I use a crock pot.     Spray the pot with an oil spray so as to decrease the sticking on the side. I dont like to use the liners although my sister swears by it. I throw in some onions and the meat-sprinkling with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add 3/4 cup of barley and another 1/4 cup of mixed beans. (I recently discovered a cholent bean mix at the supermarket). Cover with water. I also add a can of baked beans and some bbq sauce to give it a bit of a kick.  Add potatoes-I keep the skin on the white potatoes and also add a sweet potato. You can add pareve kishke as well. Add seasoning and a bay leaf. I start on high and then lower it right before shabbat.

I received rave reviews for the meal and it took an hour to prepare. The siblings enjoyed eating without us around. I can only imagine the conversation.

Shabbat meal


Non stuffed cabbage

The Jewish holiday season has ended. Stuffed cabbage has always been a traditional dish during sukkot-warms the soul and really a meal in one. The problem is that it is as we say in Yiddish-” a puchke”  and I really don’t do anything that requires a great deal of time and many steps.

Thanks to our fabulous chef at Pardes- Daivd Berman, I am now the master of the stuffless stuffed cabbage.

Here is his recipe along with his witty comments (no extra charge)

ome would say that not many, if any foods, are associated with Succot, while so many other festivals have foods that are so obviously related to them (think Kneidelach on Pessach, Dairy foods on Shavuot, Tsimmes on Rosh Hashanah…). Many, however, do have the tradition to eat stuffed cabbage on Succot, the reason most often given is that Succot is a harvest festival and the stuffed cabbage represents the bountiful harvest. Be that as it may, Succot is a time when we sit outside, in our Succah, and not in the comfort of our homes, and in Israel it can be quite cool at this time of the year. It thus seems to be appropriate that we have a comforting, warming and deliciously filling dish on Succot – and of course, stuffed cabbage fits the bill!

Following please find a really easy recipe for a Meat/Besari Stuffed Cabbage Casserole that offers all the deliciousness of stuffed cabbage without all the hard work.

Please note that you can prepare a non-meat/Parev version of this dish, replacing the minced meat with a bought vegetarian meat replacement (such as the Israeli make Tivol), or with a home-made substitute from sautéed onions and cooked red beans and/or brown lentils and/or mushrooms.

I’d be happy to answer any questions that you might have…

With best wishes for a wonderful Shabbat Chol HaMoed and Yomtov!

DSB – David S. Berman, Pardes Catering Manager
Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

500g ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
¾ cup uncooked rice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
¼ cup vinegar

¼ cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 medium head of white cabbage, chopped coarsely

Brown meat, onion and garlic. Drain well, add rice, salt and pepper.

In small bowl mix together tomato sauce, vinegar, water, brown sugar and mustard.

Layer 1/3 of the cabbage in a deep oiled casserole dish. Arrange ½ of beef mixture on top, cover with another 1/3 of cabbage. Top with remaining beef mixture and remaining cabbage. Pour tomato sauce mixture over the top, do not stir. Casserole will be quite full. Let it stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Bake in 350°F/180°C oven for 1½ – 2 hours without stirring, until the cabbage and rice are cooked and the top is nicely browned. If towards the end of the cooking time the casserole looks dry, you can add a small amount water to the dish.

Delicious served piping hot accompanied with roasted potatoes, cooked vegetables and salad, and a glass of good Israeli red wine!.

 Stuffed cabbage

The Battle of the Brisket

I work for a fabulous organization-Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and with an amazing group of people. Before the Jewish holidays we always discuss our various menues. Three of us planned to cook brisket for Rosh Hashana and each of us claimed that our brisket was the best. After the holiday we shared notes and of course each brisket came out soft and delicious. I would say that each of these recipes is a winner so go ahead and try them all:

Donna’s Brisket (From Joan Nathan)

Donna may sit quietly and work all day, but once she gets home she is a wiz in the kitchen and there is nothing accidental about her skills. This recipe from Joan Nathan is her tried and true one for brisket.

Emma’s favorite

Emma is new to the office but it didnt take her long to join the club and the office banter. Emma’s favorite brisket recipe comes from Jamie Geller’s Joy of Kosher-great choice for a young mother.

My tried and true recipe

I am a big fan of Susie Fishbein especially her first cookbook-|The Kosher Pallette-and here it is:

Susie Fishbein