Review – Moroccan Lentil Soup

Thank you Beverlee for sharing this Moroccan Lentil Soup recipe from Levana’s Whole Foods Cookbook

Musings from the Yellow Kitchen

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to receive a gift from a very sweet friend. The totally unexpected package contained a cookbook I had not previously seen, Lévana Kirschenbaum’s recent publication, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen. I immediately sat down and started poring through page after page of mouth-watering recipes, making mental notes about which ones I wanted to try first.

Life got a bit crazy, as it is wont to do at the end of the year, and I finally made my first dish from this lovely book last Friday night. After a cold, cold week, complete with ice storms, snow storms, blackouts and whiteouts, we needed a rich, hearty soup, and that is what I sought.

The Moroccan Lentil Soup that I made came together easily. Her instructions to finely chop most of the “problem veggies” (onions, celery, herbs, etc) in the food processor made…

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Ethiopian bread: Injera

Originally posted on Musings from the Yellow Kitchen:
I have a friend, a violinst with whom I play frequently, who has a lovely little girl she adopted from Ethiopia. Her family is also vegetarian, and we often talk about food.…

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A RICH Dried fruits and Nuts Cake for the coming Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat


What is the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat and what does it symbolize?

Where does the tradition of eating both fresh and dried fruits stem from?

You can read about it here:

Here is a rich Dried fruits and nuts Cake – for Tu Bishvat and all year round:

Yields:2 disposable loaf pan cakes
100 g (3.5 oz) dried apricots – diced
100 grams (3.5 oz) dates – diced
100 g (3.5 oz) dried figs – diced
50 grams (1.75 oz) raisins
50 grams dried cranberries (preferably sugar free)

200 g (7 oz) walnuts- chopped
80 g (2.8 oz)hazelnuts (skin on) – cut in half
80 grams (2.8 oz) natural almonds (skin on) – roughly chopped
40 grams (1.4 oz) of natural pistachio

4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract qualitative
60 grams brown sugar
30 g maple syrup

120 g whole wheat flour
Grated rind of one lemon and one orange

For decoration: sliced or slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 130 degrees C.
Grease the tins and line the bottom with baking paper.
Chop (manually) the dried fruits and nuts except for the raisins and cranberries.
Whip eggs, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a mixer for about two minutes. Add the flour, finely grated citrus peel and mix till the flour is incorporated in the mixture. Add all the nuts and dried fruit and mix them all together.
Divide the dough into two equal parts, transfer to the tins and sprinkle with sliced almonds (cover the entire surface of the cakes).
Bake for an hour and a half. Separate the sides of the cakes from the pans, remove from the pans, peel off the baking paper from the bottom and stored in the refrigerator.
After several hours in the refrigerator: use a serrated knife (like the one used for bread) to cut very thin slices (about 30 slices per each cake).


And this is how one THIN slice looks like:


Posted in Dried Fruits Sweets | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Tu Bishvat – The Jewish “New Year of Trees – is coming up in a couple of weeks


“The first time Tu Bishvat – Rosh Ha’shanah La-Ilanot – New Year of trees – is mentioned in the Mishna (the book of the Oral Torah) is in connection with tithing of fruit.

According to the sages at this point the tree has
supped the winter rains and is starting to produce fruit and therefore it is possible to calculate the tenth of the crop that is due as a tax to the Temple. As it was a purely administrative holiday no liturgy was created.

After the destruction of the temple the day, which has lost all its agricultural and administrative relevance developed into a minor holiday. The symbolic consumption of fruit was meant to affirm the Diaspora’s allegiance, to the land of Israel.

The land which is referred to in Deuteronomy 8:8 as ‘a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs and pomegranates, of olive trees and honey’.

Traditionally, the word honey, here and elsewhere in the Bible is interpreted as fruit trees – according to the Sages honey was not farmed or used until the return from the Babylonian exile (except in Samson’s foible where the habit of opportunistic gathering of honey – from the Lions carcass, is mentioned). The Biblical honey is thought to be a thick syrup extracted from sweet
fruit such as dates, figs and carob. This kind of honey is still used all over the Middle East to sweeten and give a pleasant, characteristic acidity to many sweet and savory dishes.

In the European Diaspora dried fruit – the only fruits that are available when the holiday occurs, at the end the European winter, were symbolically eaten on the day.
Raisins, figs and dates where eaten by those who could afford them while the poor celebrated the holiday with Carobs – which were cheap and readily available. Nuts where also eaten, almonds in particular.
Being, traditionally, the tree to herald the spring the almond is the symbol of rebirth and purity.

The holiday took yet another turn in the Kabalistic courts of medieval Sfad. To the Kabalists the tree has an enormous symbolic value and Tu Beshvat is one of the important tikun olam (mending of the universe) when human actions can correct the harms done to the natural balance – the tree of life. Therefore a Seder (order) ceremony, based on the Pesach Seder was devised
where 3 courses each containing 10 fruits are served. It is believed that by eating them – accompanied by reciting the appropriate portion of the Old Testament, they will bring back the natural balance – the balance that was disrupted by the damage that was done to the tree of knowledge. The ritual also involves, like the Pesach Seder, the drinking of 4 cups of wine.

The first one is white wine, symbolizing the dormant winter; the second cup is of white with a fewdrops of red mixed in the third is mostly red while the last cup is red with just a few drops of white mixed in. The red wine represents activity – nature in bloom.”

Posted in Judaism | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Vegetarian Moussaka (Because it is eggplant season in Israel)

I love eggplants.


I come from a Romanian Jewish family and Romanians love eggplants plus I was born in Israel and since Israel is a melting pot (literally!) of Jews who came back to their land after thousands of years in the Diaspora, from all over the world, and brought with them the different cuisines they grew up on – I’ve been blessed by diversity and richness of foods from different cultures.

In addition to that – the Middle East region has so many delicious eggplant dishes to offer as well !

Moussaka, a Greek dish that consists of eggplants and meat – became a vegetarian dish in my vegetarian Kosher kitchen (-:

This time I prepared the moussaka in small rings but you can make it in a large heatproof dish

4 potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 eggplants
Olive oil or sunflower oil
Salt and ground pepper

Vegetarian “meat” Sauce:
5 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks – diced
1 carrot – diced (little cubes)
6 cloves garlic, minced
400 grams frozen ground vegetarian minced “meat” (made of soy) , thawed
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
800 grams (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes (canned)+ their sauce

100 grams butter
110 grams flour
3 cloves garlic – crushed
1 cup goat milk yogurt
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
2 eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the potato slices for in a large pot with salted water for 10 minutes after boiling.
Preheat oven to 210 degrees C/ 410 F.
Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, soak them in salted water for 15 minutes.

Rinse, dry with paper towels, pour enough olive oil to a wide bowl and dip the eggplant slices in it, squeezing out excess oil.
Sprinkle salt and ground pepper on both sides. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven, 15 minutes on each side. Set aside.

For the meat sauce, which is actually a Ragu sauce:

In a large saucepan, saute the chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Cover and continue cooking for 10 minutes, add the ground vegetarian “meat” substitute and cook on medium heat 5 more minutes.. Turn the heat up to high, add the tomatoes and their sauce and lower the heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes till at least 1/2 of the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens.

For the bechamel:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and when it melts, add the flour, whisking to make a paste. Add the minced garlic and 1 cup of goat milk yogurt and stir constantly with a whisk. Add the milk slowly, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Once the sauce starts to come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes, whisking very frequently. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and set aside. Add the Parmesan and whisk. Allow to cool a little bit and then add the eggs and whisk quickly.

To assemble the moussaka:

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C/ 350 degrees F.

Before assembling, taste each of the 4 layers and make sure they are properly seasoned.

I used small rings so assembling will be a bit different than the traditional moussaka.

Lay out one long eggplant slice so that it covers the bottom and sides of the rings. Lay another eggplant slice on top of it so that it creates a cross. Do the same with the other rings.


Place 1 Tbsp of béchamel sauce on top of the eggplants/inside the ring.


Cover with about 1 Tbsp of Ragu/Bolognese sauce and

cover with a round slice of potato, which you pre-cut with another ring – to fit right in.


Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.

Place a plate on top of the ring, gently slide a palette under the ring and flip it upside down on the plate.
Separate the moussaka from the sides of the ring with a knife.


Posted in Dishes with cheese, EGGPLANT Dishes | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Sabih – A typical Israeli fast food that stems from Iraqi Jews’ Shabbat Breakfast


In Arabic “Sabah el Kheir” means “Good morning” but this Israeli sandwish you see in this photo, which consists of pita bread stuffed with fried slices of eggplant (in my case: I bake them after dipping them in olive oil), hard boiled eggs, vegetable salad, sometimes cooked potatoes, spicy Amba sauce (made of mango) and tahini sauce – is called SABIH and is said to have stemmed from a tradition among Mizrahi Jews, especially Iraqi Jews, who ate it on Shabbat morning.

Some say that the word Sabikh comes from the Arabic word صباح [sˤabaħ], which means “morning”, as the ingredients in the sabich are typical for an Iraqi breakfast. Traditionally it is made with haminados eggs, slow-cooked in Hamin (a slow-cooked dish) until they turn brown.

Sabikh was brought to Israel by Mizrahi Jews who moved in the 1940s and 1950s. On the Sabbath, when no cooking is allowed, Iraqi Jews ate a cold meal of precooked fried eggplant, cooked potatoes and hard-boiled eggs.

In Israel, these ingredients were stuffed in a pita and sold as fast food. In the 1950s and 1960s, vendors began to sell the sandwich in open-air stalls.

For those of you who don’t want to fry the eggplants, this is the method I use:
Preheat oven to 210 degrees C/ 410 F.
Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, soak them in salted water for 15 minutes.

Rinse, dry with paper towels, pour enough olive oil to a wide bowl and dip the eggplant slices in it, squeezing out excess oil.
Sprinkle salt and ground pepper on both sides. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven, 15 minutes on each side. Set aside.

Posted in Middle Eastern Food | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

“Green” Tahini sauce/Tarator – with herbs


You can use it on vegetable salads, falafel, sauteed or roasted vegetables, patties, meat (I’m vegetarian so I use meat-like-soy-products instead), french fries, cooked rice !!! We put it on so many things just like you guys use Ketchup ! (((-:

100 grams (3.5 oz) – about 5 Tbsp raw Tahini
40 grams (1.4 oz or 1.4 fl oz US) cold water
2 garlic cloves – crushed
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
10 Nana (spearmint) leaves – finely chopped
Lots of fresh parsley – finely chopped
1/2 tsp chopped green chili pepper

Mix all ingredients (wit a fork or a whisk) except the chopped herbs and chili until it becomes lighter (in color and texture) and smooth. Add the herbs and chili, taste and correct seasoning.

Posted in Gluten Free, Middle Eastern Food, Tahini - both savory and sweet | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Hummus: served with tahini sauce/tarator and sauteed mushrooms

Who invented the Hummus? Was it the Lebanese? the Jordanians? Maybe the Israeli Arabs? (((((((((((-: Frankly, I don’t care ! Whoever invented it was a genius !

In Israel there’s another version eaten with mushrooms (on top of the hummus with tahini sauce and lots of olive oil).


My hummus recipe can be found here but you can always play with the amounts (especially if you want it to be lighter in texture/less thick, you can add a bit more water):

For the tahini sauce, with or without herbs (called Tarator in Middle Eastern countries):

And as far as the mushrooms: You just need to saute finely sliced onions in olive oil till they are golden brown and then add fresh sliced mushrooms, a bit of garlic and let the mushroom release their liquids till they are brown and “roasted”.


Posted in Fresh Vegetable Salads, Gluten Free, Hummus - and more..., Middle Eastern Food, Tahini - both savory and sweet | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Haifa – my hometown (in Israel), a few days ago


Some information about Haifa: ( )
“The largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 291,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city…

Together these areas form a contiguous urban area home to nearly 600,000 residents which makes up the inner core of the Haifa metropolitan area. It is also home to the Bahá’í World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, the history of settlement at the site spans more than 3,000 years. The earliest known settlement in the vicinity was Tell Abu Hawam, a small port city established in the Late Bronze Age (14th century BCE).
In the 3rd century CE, Haifa was known as a dye-making center. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands: It has been conquered and ruled by the Phoenicians, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British, and the Israelis. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948; the city has been governed by the Haifa Municipality.

Today, the city is a major seaport located on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa covering 63.7 square kilometres (24.6 sq mi).

It is located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) north of Tel Aviv and is the major regional center of northern Israel. Two respected academic institutions, the University of Haifa and the Technion, are located in Haifa, and the city plays an important role in Israel’s economy. It is home to Matam, one of the oldest and largest high-tech parks in the country.


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Mushroom Soup

Check out this mushroom soup at “Musings from the Yellow Kitchen” – I love mushrooms and soup is so appropriate for this cold weather (-:

Musings from the Yellow Kitchen

mushroomsA couple of weeks ago I had a hankering for mushroom soup, but not any mushroom soup I’d ever had before. I’m not a big fan of cream of mushroom soup, and many other recipes I’ve found have more of an oriental flavour than I was in the mood for right then. I scoured my recipe books, and when nothing seemed right, I decided to take matters into my own hands and just make what I wanted.

This is a warm, comforting soup with enough vegetables in it to make it a light meal, and full of umami, that elusive fifth taste that satisfies us so much. The soup can be made pareve by using oil instead of butter, and while I’ve thickened it slightly with flour, you can easily make it gluten-free by using corn starch or potato starch instead of the flour. I hope you like it.


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