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

Rachelle’s Quiches Redux and a Made Up Pumpkin Soup

I have a staple menu for breaking the fast each year. It of course includes bagels, lox and cream cheese. I always have a soup-this time it was a sweet potato-pumpkin soup made in my pressure cooker (more on my pressure cooker later). Then I serve, Rachelle z”l quiches- recipe from her private cookbook. This recipe along with her homemade crust are tried and true. I make an onion quiche and a mushroom quiche.

This year however I added a bit of a twist to the recipe. Rachelle’s recipe calls for 1 and 1/3 cups of milk and she said that one can use 1% milk. This year I decided to do 2/3 of a cup 15% cooking cream and 2/3 of a cup 1% milk. I received rave reviews. The calorie and fat count went way up but I think it was worth it.

Pressure cooker sweet potato/pumpkin soup

Drizzle some olive oil in the pot and heat. Add 1-2 onions cut in chunks and let simmer for a few minutes. Add pumpkin chunks and 1-2 sweet potatoes. Cover with water. Add a tablespoon of powdered broth (I use a pareve chicken or a vegetable powder). Seasonings: tumeric, cumin (2 recent spice discoveries very sephardic- never used them in the States) salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and once the pressure is up cook for about 10 minutes. Let the pressure out on its own. I then use the hand blender to make it nice and smooth and thick.

Rachelle’s Quiches


Pie crust

Quiche Recipe

What to do with Maple Syrup

I live in Israel and often brag that “you can get everything here”. That wasnt always true. It was hard to find 100% maple syrup and pure vanilla. With the opening of a fabulous supermarket Osher Ad-which sells many Kirkland brand products-we can now get both of these. Of course I bought the maple syrup which came in a huge jug for 80 NIS. So now, what to do with maple syrup.

Well my first accident was that I bought the wrong turkey breast. I usually buy an already seasoned turkey breast which I just put in the oven with some onions and water. I grabbed what I thought was that turkey only to discover that it was unseasoned. What to do? I googled Turkey Breast with maple syrup and chose the following recipe which seemed to be the least complicated. I did not have the smoking flavoring but it was still amazing and tender. Click here for the recipe

Addendum: The following week I bought dark meat turkey by accident and used the same recipe and it was absolutely divine!Turkey breast