Jiǎozi – Chinese Pot Stickers

For those of you who have followed me on this blog, you know that I have had many cooking mentors in my life: my mother, father, both grandmothers, Uncle Alfred, my second mom Alberta, and my third mom Ying. Ying is not just a cook, she is really a chef who understands the science of cooking, someone who knows if there isn’t enough leavening, if there is too much sugar or too much butter, and knows how to doctor something that was over or under seasoned. She just knows and can explain it. She was my baking science teacher and my Chinese cooking teacher. She and my Dad (z”l) taught me everything I know about Chinese cooking and I will be forever grateful.

I used to make Chinese food a lot, but I got so wrapped up in learning about other ethnic food when I moved to Israel, I put it on the back burner. Also there aren’t any good Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese restaurants here, so I don’t have much inspiration either. But lately, I have had a craving for Chinese food and so I decided to make one of my Dim Sum favorites, pot stickers. I love them steamed and fried, but decided to make pan-fried ones.

From Wikipedia:

Dim sum is usually linked with the older tradition from yum cha (tea tasting), which has its roots in travelers on the ancient Silk Road needing a place to rest. Thus teahouses were established along the roadside. Rural farmers, exhausted after working hard in the fields, would go to teahouses for a relaxing afternoon of tea. At first, it was considered inappropriate to combine tea with food, because people believed it would lead to excessive weight gain. People later discovered that tea can aid in digestion, so teahouse owners began adding various snacks.

The unique culinary art of dim sum originated with the Cantonese in southern China, who over the centuries transformed yum cha from a relaxing respite to a loud and happy dining experience. In Hong Kong, and in most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises. For many in southern China, yum cha is treated as a weekend family day. More traditional dim sum restaurants typically serve dim sum until mid-afternoon. However, in modern society it has become common place for restaurants to serve dim sum at dinner time, various dim sum items are even sold as take-out for students and office workers on the go.

While dim sum (literally meaning: touch the heart) was originally not a main meal, only a snack, and therefore only meant to touch the heart, it is now a staple of Chinese dining culture, especially in Hong Kong.

On a trip, many years ago, to Seattle, I went to a great cookery shop near the famous Pike Place Market that was then only know to locals and a few tourists, Sur La Table. It was and still is a cookery lover’s dream. I came home with three things that I still have: a funky bespoke hat, a 1987 edition of Paula Wolfert’s Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco and Huang Su-Huei’s Chinese Snacks, which is written in Chinese and English. Chinese Snacks contains recipes for many Dim Sum favourites like steamed buns, steamed dumplings, won tons, etc. It has step-by-step photos, but with that said, it really helps to have a Chinese grandmother to show you some of the tricks of folding and shaping the dumplings. If you don’t have access to one, there are YouTube videos that show you how to do it.

Chinese Pot Stickers

My folding technique is not perfect and the dough is not quite as thin as packaged gyoza skins, but I was rather proud of the way mine turned out.

Jiaozi – Chinese Pot Stickers

Yield: 50 dumplings

Jiaozi – Chinese Pot Stickers

For a vegetarian filling, use cabbage, bok choy, spinach, celery, carrot, etc.

500g (1lb) ground beef

6 tablespoons sesame oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

4 - 6 garlic cloves, crushed in a garlic press or minced finely

500g cabbage, chopped finely

1 teaspoon salt

6 green onions (green part only) or garlic chives, chopped finely

Dipping sauce:

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon white rice vinegar

2 teaspoons chilli oil


3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups cold water

1/2 cup flour (for kneading)

or use Gyoza Skins

For the filling:

Mix the ground beef, the sesame oil, salt, pepper, grated ginger, and garlic together. Set aside.

Mix the chopped cabbage with 1 teaspoon of salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and add it and the green onion to the beef mixture. Mix the mixture until everything is well incorporated and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

For the dipping sauce:

Combine all the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

For the skins:

Place the flour in a large bowl and add the water. Knead into a smooth dough and set aside for 10 minutes. Roll it into a long snake and cut it into 50 pieces and then roll each piece of dough into a 7.5 centimeter (3-inch) disk, making the outer edge thinner than the center. Dust them liberally with additional flour, and stack them (the flour will help keep them fresh and prevent them from sticking to each other).

To get perfectly circular wrappers, use a biscuit/scone cutter that is 7.5 - 9 centimeters (approximately 3- to 3.5-inches) in diameter, roll out your dough to a slightly larger size, and use the cutter to cut out a perfect circle.

Moisten the edges of the dough with water and place a teaspoonful of the filling in the center of the dough. Fold the circle in half and using the index finger and thumb, bring the sides together to pleat the front of the dumpling while keeping the back of the dumpling smooth. For an excellent tutorial of how to fold the dumplings, go here.

To cook:

Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of canola or peanut oil. Arrange the dumplings, flat side down in the pan. Don't be afraid to put them close together. Turn the heat to low and fry the dumplings for one minute or until golden brown. Add 1/2 cup of water and cover. Cook for about 6 minutes over medium heat or until the water has evaporated. Flip the potstickers onto a plate and serve with the dipping sauce.


Lemon and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli

Lemon Goat Cheese Ravioli

Italians are passionate about just about everything, but when it comes to food, they have a passion for the ingredients that make up a dish as much as for the final result. I was recently speaking to a friend of mine from Firenze about garlic while he was making spaghetti con aglio, olio e peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers). Although he was chopping up the Chinese garlic that is the most commonly available kind in Israel, he told me, “I only cook with Italian garlic or red garlic from France!” I explained to him that I only cook with local Israeli garlic that I buy fresh in season at the shuk. At that moment it hit me that I too am passionate about my ingredients.

If I am making homemade pasta, I will only make it with ’00’ flour, which is finally readily available here. And the reason for that is not because I am a flour snob, but that the all-purpose flour here in Israel behaves differently from flour in the US or the UK. I remember going to a cooking shop in Tel Aviv about 10 years ago that carries special ingredients for cooks and asking them if they had ’00’ flour. They had no idea what I was talking about, so I explained that doppio zero is a high protein flour that is the most highly refined and is talcum-powder soft. A few months later they ordered some and it has been available ever since. Even Stybel, a local flour mill, is offering it (Stybel 9 pasta flour).

My pasta maker was out of commission for several years because the handle was misplaced in one of our moves. I finally ordered the handle in the States and a friend’s parents were kind enough to bring it with them when they flew to Israel. What better way to try out the handle than whipping up a batch of pasta dough. The pasta dough recipe comes from a wonderful Italian cookbook called Two Greedy Italians: Carluccio and Contaldo’s Return to Italy by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo, which Mr BT brought back from London as a “just because” surprise. This is Gennaro Contaldo’s recipe with the exception of the turmeric and the lemon zest.

I changed Yotam’s recipe a little by serving the pasta with a drizzle of  homemade basil oil. It was a nice addition and didn’t overpower the lemon in the ravioli.

Lemon Goat Cheese Ravioli

Lemon and Goat's Cheese Ravioli

Serving Size: 4 as a starter

Pasta dough

300g (3 cups) Italian '00' flour

100g (1 cup) semolina

1/4 tsp turmeric

Grated zest of 3 lemons

4 eggs


300g (11 oz) soft goat's cheese

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pinch of chilli flakes

Black pepper

1 egg white, beaten

To Serve

2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, finely crushed

1 teaspoon chopped tarragon

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Rapeseed, olive oil or basil oil (see recipe below)

Lemon juice (optional)

Mix the flour, semolina, tumeric and lemon zest together on a clean work surface or in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. With a fork, gradually mix the flour into the eggs until combined and then knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and pliable, but not sticky. Shape into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and let it rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Divide the dough into four pieces. Flatten the dough and dust each side with flour before placing it in your pasta machine. Set your machine to the widest setting and roll the pasta dough through. Turn up the setting on the machine by one and repeat the process until you get to number 10 (or follow your manufacturer's instructions) and your dough is almost wafer-thin. When the pasta sheet is rolled out, keep it under a moist towel so it does not dry out.

Use a 7cm (3 inch) round ravioli stamp or the rim of a glass to stamp out discs from the sheets of pasta. Brush a disc with a little egg white and place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center. Place another disc on top and gently press any air as you seal the edges of the raviolo. Place the ravioli on a tea towel or tray, sprinkled with semolina, and leave to dry for 10-15 minutes or cover with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator for one day.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for 2-3 minutes, or until al dente. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns, tarragon, and lemon zest. Drizzle with rapeseed, olive oil or basil oil, sprinkle with salt and a squirt of lemon juice.


Basil Oil

Yield: About 1 cup

1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves

3/4 cup olive oil

Add the basil and oil to a blender; puree until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.


An Ottolenghi Dinner

Baked Lamb Kubbeh

Ever since Mr. BT gave me the Plenty cookbook I have been wanting to make everything in the book. Most of the recipes are perfect for the scorching summer when no one feels like cooking. The Friday before last it was blazing hot, and the thought of spending all morning in the kitchen did not appeal to me. I made two quick and easy Ottolenghi dishes: one was a baked lamb pie that I found on his Guardian weekly column and the other came from the cookbook.

Kibbeh, kibbe, kubbeh or koubeiba, which means dome or ball in Arabic, can be found in Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. Kibbeh Nabelsieh is the better recognized torpedo-shaped kubbeh with a shell of bulgur  and lamb that is ground to a paste and filled with ground lamb, spices and pine nuts. There is also Kubbat Haleb which is made with a rice crust and named after Aleppo. This version is served anytime, but especially made during Pesach in a Jewish home.

Kubbeh soup dumplings are made with a semolina shell and filled with ground lamb or preserved lamb. Kibbeh Nayyeh is finely chopped raw lamb or beef mixed with fine bulgur and spices, such as Baharat. There is also Kibbeh bel-saniyeh which is made with a decorative top or covered with a tehina sauce like I made.

The perfect match to the baked lamb pie was a refreshing and light salad with green beans, peas and mangetout, which are called snow peas in the United States.

Baked Lamb Kubbeh

Baked Lamb Pie - Kibbeh bel-saniyeh

Serving Size: 6 serving as a light main course and 8 as a first

125 grams (1/2 cup) fine bulgar wheat

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 green chilli, finely chopped

350 grams (3/4 lb) minced lamb

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons roughly chopped coriander

60 grams (2 ounces) pine nuts

3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

2 tablespoons self-raising flour

Salt and black pepper

50 grams (3-1/2 tablespoons) tahini paste

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sumac

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Line a 20cm (8-inch) spring-form pan with parchment paper. Put the bulgur in a bowl, add 200 milliliters (1 cup) of tap water and set aside for 30 minutes.

Place four tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and saute the garlic, onion and chilli on medium-high heat until soft. Place in a bowl and set aside. Cook the lamb on high heat and cook until brown. Add the onion mixture back to the pan and add the spices, coriander, salt, pepper, and most the pine nuts and parsley. Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. You want the spiciness to come through the lamb.

Check if the water has been absorbed by the bulgar, if not, then strain it through a fine sieve and place back in the bowl. Add the flour, a tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Work into a pliable mixture, with your hands, until it just holds together. Push the bulgar mixture firmly into the base of the spring-form pan until it is compacted and level. Spread the lamb mixture evenly on the top and press down. Bake for 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, 50ml (3 tablespoons) of water and a pinch of salt. The sauce should be thick, yet pourable. Spread the sauce on top of the kubbeh, sprinkle on the remaining parsley and pine nuts and bake for 10 minutes until the tahini is set and the pine nuts are golden.

Before serving, sprinkle the sumac and drizzle a little olive oil on top. Cut into wedges.


Green Beans Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon

Green Bean Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon

Serving Size: 4

250 grams (1/2 lb) French green beans, trimmed and blanched

250 grams (1/2 lb) mangetout (snow peas), trimmed and blanched

250 grams (1/2 lb) green peas (fresh or frozen), blanched

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, roughly crushed with a mortar and pestle

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

1 mild fresh red chilli, seeded and finely diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 handfuls baby chard leaves or other mixed baby leaf lettuce (optional)

Coarse sea salt

Combine the blanched green beans, mangetout and green peas in a large bowl.

Place the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, pour the contents over the bean mixture. Toss together and add the nigella seeds, red onion, chilli, garlic, lemon zest and tarragon. Mix well and season with salt to taste.

Just before serving, gently fold the chard leaves and serve.


Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli

When it is hot and steamy out, we don’t feel like having a big heavy meal. On Saturdays we usually have brunch consisting of bread, cheese, a frittata or omelet and a salad. This Saturday, I finally served two dishes I made from the Plenty cookbook, written by Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, that Mr BT bought for me on our trip to the States and London last month.

One of the dishes I made was butternut squash that I roasted with freshly ground cardamom and allspice and served with wedges of fresh lemon (couldn’t find any limes in the market) and a lemon, yogurt and tehina dressing that was light and refreshing and had a completely unexpected mixture of tastes. You can serve this as a meze with other salads, a first course or a side dish.

I can’t wait to try more recipes from this cookbook.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli

Serving Size: 4 to 6

2 whole limes

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium butternut squash (about 900g or 2lbs)

2 tablespoons cardamom pods

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup (100g) Greek-style yogurt

2 tablespoons (30g) tahini

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 green chilli, thinly sliced

10g picked coriander leaves or chopped chives

Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 210C (400F).

Trim off the limes' tops and tails using a small paring knife. Section the lime using the technique shown here. Cut each section into thirds. Place them in a small bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stir and set aside.

Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and discard, Cut each half, top to bottom, into 1 cm thick slices and lay them out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and use the pestle to get the seeds out of the pods. Discard the pods and pound the seeds into a rough powder. Transfer to a small bowl, add the allspice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, mix and brush over the butternut slices. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Peel off the skin or leave it on if you prefer.

Whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt. The dressing should be thick but runny enough to pour; add more water if necessary.

To serve, arrange the cooled butternut slices on a serving platter and drizzle with the yogurt dressing. Spoon over the lime pieces and their juices and scatter the chilli slices on top. Garnish with the coriander or chives and serve.


Shavuot Ideas – Fresh Corn Pudding

Planning a dinner party can be quite daunting, but it helps if you are the “planning type” like I am. I was a meeting planner, by profession when I lived in the States and was responsible for planning meetings, conferences, and special events for anywhere from 10 to 10,000 attendees. My parents and grandparents also entertained a lot, so I learned everything I know about dinner party planning from my Dad and paternal grandmother who both loved to host grand gourmet dinner parties. So, planning this dinner for 11 was not a problem for me.  Here are a few good tips:

  1. Plan the menu before anything else and try to make sure that each course is a good marriage for the next.
  2. Check your wine stash or cellar and liquor stash or cabinet to see if you need to purchase a few more bottles.
  3. Make sure that your oven and Shabbat hot plate (if you have one) will be free for each course you need to make at the last minute or for those courses that need to stay hot before serving.
  4. Check that you have enough plates, silverware, glassware and serving pieces.
  5. Check that the tablecloth you want to use is ironed and doesn’t have that annoying wine stain from the last dinner party.
  6. Don’t overdo on the hors d’œuvre or your guests won’t eat your star attraction, the main meal.

Of course, it always helps to have a partner in crime and Mimi is a great friend, and a great co-hostess to work with. She was gracious to offer her home for the event and allowed me to share her kitchen with her. Her account of the “behind-the-scenes” is hysterical and quite accurate. There was a lot of swearing and “oh, I forgot to put that on the plate” going on in the kitchen.

For our main course, Mimi and I served beautiful fresh sea bass fillets that we bought from my favourite fish mongers, Dubkin Brothers. Mimi made the marinade, which was made with fresh herbs, lemon juice, and hot chilies. It was cooked perfectly and tasted good, but I would have preferred it to be spicier. We erred on the side of caution because some people do not like or cannot tolerate spicy food.  Mimi posted the fish recipe on her blog, Israeli Kitchen.

To accompany the fish, we served fresh, steamed green beans and I made individual fresh corn puddings that are made with corn cut from the cob and quickly pulsed in a food processor, fresh herbs, and a little fontina cheese for an added kick. This can be served as a first course, a vegetarian main course, or as we served it, as an accompaniment. I really like this dish, it is not too heavy and is best made with the sweetest, freshest corn you can find. I would have loved to have made it with Silver Queen corn, but sadly we do not have that variety here in Israel. I have heard that Silver Queen is all but a dying variety in the States, which is very sad because it is a sweet and creamy variety of corn. It was the best corn to use for everyone’s southern favorite, creamed corn.

Fresh Corn Pudding

Serving Size: 8

6 ears fresh corn, shucked

1/2 cup double (heavy) cream

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

50g (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cool

3 large eggs, beaten lightly

2-3 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs: sage, thyme and chives

1/4 cup grated Fontina or other sharp, good melting, cheese

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and butter eight 1/2-cup ramekins.

Cut the corn off the cobs and place in a food processor. Pulse the corn about three times, until you have a very coarse mixture. Do not pulverise it!

Put all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the corn, and mix thoroughly. Ladle the mixture evenly into the ramekins and place them in a baking pan just large enough to hold them. Place the tray in the oven and add enough hot water to reach halfway up sides of the ramekins.

Bake the corn puddings in the middle of oven for 50 minutes, or until tops are slightly puffed and golden and firm to the touch. Remove ramekins from water and cool slightly on a rack for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around edges of ramekins and invert each pudding onto a serving plate.


Spanish and Indian-Inspired Hannukah

I really like finding interesting recipes that may not be holiday-specific, but fit in with the types of foods that are typically served for the holiday. And I like to mix cultures in a meal. I think it makes the meal more interesting. So, for this meal I decided to serve a Spanish potato fritter which is also made in Italy, and an Argentinian cut of meat with Indian spices. I just love global cooking!

Try it some time, instead of having a themed dinner party where the entire menu is from one country or region, try making the menu diverse by making a Swedish appetizer, Middle Eastern main dish, Thai side dish and a Brazilian dessert.

I decided to make another variation of the Ashkenazi potato latkes and make something a little more Sephardi, so I made potato and sage fritters. These are quite light and are perfect for a hot appetizer. They are very easy to make and can be made a few hours ahead of time and reheated in the oven. The recipe only called for one tablespoon of sage. I like a nice sage flavour, so I added two tablespoons. I probably could have added more. The lemon is rather pronounced, so if you don’t like a strong lemon flavour, you could put in only one teaspoon of lemon zest.

Potato and Sage Fritters

Yield: 40 fritters

For the sponge:

1/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 envelope (1-1/8 teaspoon) active dry yeast

For the fritters:

450g (1lb) pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Cold water

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sea salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

4 to 6 cups peanut oil, for deep-frying

To make the sponge:

In a small bowl, combine the water, flour and yeast. Mix well and set aside in a warm place until yeasty-smelling and covered in very small bubbles, about 45 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and mash the potatoes with a fork. Allow them to cool.

Potato and Sage Fritters

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and olive oil until thoroughly combined. In a bowl, combine cooled potatoes with the sponge, flour, sage, lemon zest, pepper, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the egg mixture to potato mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You should have a thick, sticky batter. Add a bit more flour, if needed. Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or heavy pot to 190C (375F).

Potato and Sage Fritter Batter Risen

Scoop 1 tablespoon of the risen batter at a time, and use another spoon to scrape it into the hot oil. Don't crowd the fryer. Fry fritters until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, turning them over occasionally. Drain the fritters on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.


We got a great deal on Argentinian asado, or short ribs as they are called in the States. The best part was that they had relatively little fat on them. Slow cooking is a must for this cut of meat, so when I saw this recipe and it didn’t call for slow roasting, I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t have time to marinate them for three days, so maybe that makes the difference. I marinated the ribs for a full 24 hours and then slow roasted (roasting pan, 2 cups of water, covered with foil) them in the oven at 150C (300F) for 1-1/2 hours and then grilled them. They were outstanding and I can only imagine what they would be like if I had marinated them for three days.

We actually had a problem with this recipe because the way the asado is cut here in Israel, the pieces of bone (rib) embedded in the meat are almost three inches long, which means that the thickness of the meat is considerably greater than in the States. This means that you can’t expect to cook it through with just a few minutes on the grill, however hot. In a typical South American grill in Israel (we have quite a few of them just up the road in Kfar Saba, where there is a big Argentinian immigrant community), the asado is often slow grilled for more than an hour on a vertical stand placed a few inches from the fire, which brings out the full flavour in this rather fatty cut of meat.

This marinade is also great on chicken. You can put it directly on the chicken and cook it straight away if you want.

Indian-Style Grilled Short Ribs

Yield: 4

Recipe from Chef Floyd Cardoz

6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1/4 cup dry red wine

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey or date honey

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 beef short ribs on the bone (about 450g (1lb) each), trimmed of excess fat

In a blender, combine the garlic, ginger and red wine and puree. Scrape the wine puree into a medium bowl and stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the short ribs. Pour the marinade into 2 resealable plastic bags and add the short ribs. Tightly seal the plastic bags and refrigerate the short ribs in the marinade for 3 days.

Indian-style short ribs

Light a grill. Remove the short ribs from the marinade, scraping off any excess. Grill the short ribs over moderately high heat until they are lightly charred and medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side.



The medieval walled town of Bergamo is a charming town with piazzas, palazzi and frescoed churches that owes much of its beauty to 370 years of Venetian rule.

We decided to stop here on the way to our first stop of our trip, Verona. I had been to Bergamo about 14 years ago when I was living in Lugano and I remembered it as a charming town. It was still as charming as I remembered and it was a perfect stop on the way to Verona.

Bergamo is made up of Bergamo Basso (Lower Bergamo) and Bergamo Alta (Upper Bergamo). Bergamo Alta is high above the lower town and can either be reached by taking the funicular or driving up and parking in one of the public parking lots that are hidden in the narrow cobble-stoned streets of the old town.

The main sites in Bergamo Alta are:

  • Piazza Vecchia (old square)

  • Palazzo della Ragione. It was the seat of the administration of the city in the communal age. It is now the site of exhibitions. Erected in the 12th century, it was rebuilt in the late 16th century by Pietro Isabello. The façade has the lion of St. Mark over a mullioned window, testifying to the long period of Venetian dominance. The atrium has a well-preserved 18th century sundial.

  • Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major). It was built from 1137 on the site of a previous religious edifice of the 7th century. Construction lasted until the 15th century. Of this first building remains the external Romanesque structure and the Greek cross plan, while the interior was widely modified in the 16th and 17th centuries. Noteworthy are the great Crucifix and the tomb of Gaetano Donizetti. The dome has frescoes by Giovanbattista Tiepolo.

  • Cappella Colleoni (Colleoni chapel), annexed to Santa Maria Maggiore, a masterwork of Renaissance architecture and decorative art.
  • The Rocca (Castle). It was begun in 1331 on hill of the Sant’Eufemia by William of Castelbarco, vicar of John of Bohemia, and later completed by Azzone Visconti. A wider citadel was also added, but it is now partly lost. The Venetians built a large tower in the Rocca, as well as a line of walls (Mura Veneziane) 6,200 metres long.

  • Palazzo della Ragione and the nearby Biblioteca Angelo Mai (Palazzo Nuovo), designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi.

One of Bergamo’s famous son’s is the famous opera composer Gaetano Donizetti. He was most famous for writing the opera Lucia di Lammermoor.

Bergamo is also famous for its polenta and cheeses. Unfortunately, we did not have time to try either of these, but I have fond memories of eating polenta with taleggio cheese and a wild mushroom ragu. The soft, creamy polenta mixed with taleggio cheese and sage and served with a delicious wild mushroom ragu. It was the perfect meal for a cold day. Of course the cold didn’t stop me from having gelato. I had some at the same gelateria with my husband and the pistachio gelato was a good as I remembered it.

Soft Polenta with a Wild Mushroom Ragu

Serving Size: 4 to 6 as first course

For the polenta:

1 cup polenta

4 cups water

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan Reggiano

For the ragu:

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced (¼ teaspoon dried) thyme

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

1 teaspoon virgin olive oil

1 cup small cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and quartered

1/2 cup assorted wild mushrooms, cleaned and, if large, sliced

2 medium shallots, minced (2 tablespoons)

1 small clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

Place the polenta and water in a heavy-bottomed 2 ½ quart saucepan (preferably one with fluted sides) and stir to combine. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the grains are soft and hold their shape on a spoon, about an hour. Whisk in the salt, pepper, butter, and parmesan. Cover and keep warm. (The polenta may be transferred to a bowl, covered and set over barely simmering water. If necessary, thin the polenta with hot water before serving.)

While the polenta is cooking, pour the cream into a second heavy-bottomed saucepan and simmer over low heat until it is thick and reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Whisk in the thyme, nutmeg, and parmesan. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over high heat, 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the cremini mushrooms. Sear and stir intermittently until the mushrooms release their juices and begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the wild mushrooms, shallots and garlic and continue to sautée over high heat until the mushrooms are tender, 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper. Add the reserved cream and parsley and stir to coat. Taste for seasoning.

To serve: Scoop the polenta onto warm appetizer plates, leaving an indentation on the top. Spoon the mushroom ragout over. Serve immediately.


Rosh Hashana 5768

Chag Sameach everyone! I hope you had a nice meal with your family. We went to my cousin’s house for the first night of Rosh Hashana and had a lovely time.

We invited some friends of ours for dinner last night. My husband made a Rosh Hashana favourite and I introduced several new surprises to our repertoire. Everything was delicious.

The cake calls for sour cream and one of my guests has a dairy allergy and can only tolerate butter in baked goods, so I substituted a non-dairy yogurt in its place. It worked fine.

And in case you are wondering about why I served a dairy cake, we keep kashrut according to the Italian tradition which is one hour between meat and dairy.

Our menu was:


Provence des Papes Savoury Biscuits

Rosemary Cashews

First Course
Apples with honey
Pomegranate seeds

Ducklava with Chestnut Honey

Main Course

Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken
Green beans

Round Challah with dried fruits and nuts
Golan Winery Sion Creek red wine


Beekeeper’s Honey Cake
Mango-Nectarine sorbet

Provence des Papes Savoury Biscuits

Yield: 24 biscuits

Recipe from Restaurant: La Garbure (Châteauneuf du Pape) Chef: Jean Louis Giansilly

5 garlic cloves

3 sprigs of basil

5 tbsp olive oil

50g (3.5 tbsp) pine nuts

300g (1.3 cups) flour

10cl (.4 cup) warm water

10cl (.4 cup) olive oil

2 tsp salt

25g (1.7 tablespoons) baking powder

4 egg yolks

Ground pepper

Prepare a pesto by crushing the garlic cloves with the basil, olive oil, and pine nuts.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, virgin olive oil, egg yolks, warm water, and some ground pepper. Add the pesto and blend well to obtain a smooth dough.

Roll into a long snake and slice the into 1/4 inch (6mm) wafers and bake at 180C (350F) for about 10 minutes (depending on size).


Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken

Serving Size: 4 to 6

This recipe was created by my husband for the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashana. It is a fruity, but not an overly sweet dish.

1 chicken, cut into eighths

1 onion, thinly sliced

4-5 whole garlic cloves

2 cm fresh ginger, grated or chopped finely

1 quince, cored and cut into eighths

10-20 majhoul dates, pitted and cut into quarters

10 dried figs, stem removed and cut into eighths

10-20 dried sour apricots, cut into quarters

20 walnut halves

Couple of pinches of black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp cloves

1 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup water

½ c pomegranate molasses

½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

On a low heat, place the olive oil in the clay pot, just to cover the surface. Add the onions when the oil is hot, but not sizzling. When the onion is soft, add the garlic. When the onion is lightly brown, turn up the heat and add the chicken pieces, stirring constantly until browned, approximately 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on a low flame for approximately 1 ½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes and checking that there is enough remaining liquid for a nice sauce.

Server with nut-studded rice or couscous.


Hot Colombian Night

Tonight for Shabbat dinner, I decided to make an appetizer to remember my Uncle Alfred’s life in Colombia. We have a large Argentinian community here and with that comes delicious Argentinian empanadas, but empanadas are found all over South American, including Colombia. I decided to try making empanadas with a masa dough and beef filling. I used top sirloin ground beef instead of steak.

Note: If you your dough is too wet, add a little flour to the mixture until it is elastic.

Colombian Sirloin Empanadas

Serving Size: 12

For the filling:

1 cup peeled boiling potatoes cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil

2 cups sirloin steak, 1/4-inch dice

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions, white and pale green parts

1 cup seeded and diced ripe tomatoes

2 tsp. ground cumin

For the dough:

1 tsp. roasted garlic

2 cups fine-ground cornmeal

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

2 1/4 cups hot chicken stock, canned low-sodium chicken broth, or water

Empanada Filling

For the filling:

Place the potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Cover and bring to a boil, then boil until just tender, about 5 minutes, and drain.

Meanwhile, in a large non reactive skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add the sirloin and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the cooked potatoes and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Empanada Dough

For the dough:

To make the dough, in a large bowl, mix the garlic with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Add the cornmeal, salt, pepper and parsley. Add most of the hot stock and mix just until well combined — the dough should be sticky and elastic. Add more stock only if needed. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to let the dough set. Cover your work surface with plastic wrap and turn out the dough onto it. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and roll the dough flat with a rolling pin, using short strokes, until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Without removing the plastic wrap, and using a cup about 4 inches in diameter, cut out rounds of dough.

Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap. Clear out the dough between the rounds and reserve. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round with the beaten egg. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling on the lower half of each disk. Working on one empanada at a time, grab the plastic wrap and use it to fold the dough over to create a half-moon shape. Pressing through the plastic wrap, gently seal the empanada with the edge of the cup. Remove from the plastic wrap and set aside on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining empanadas, re-rolling the scraps of dough until it is all used up.

Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil in a heavy medium-size pot, or heat the oil in a deep fryer. When the oil is hot, about 365 F (use a bit of leftover dough to test it; the dough should quickly puff and turn gold), drop four empanadas into it and fry until golden. Remove and drain on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining empanadas.

Serve hot.


Baby It’s Cold Outside…Soup and Socca

It snowed in Jerusalem this morning and we had hail this afternoon in central Israel. Spring has not sprung yet. Jerusalem gets snow about once a year, but yesterday it didn’t stick.

I like visiting Jerusalem. I think it is a romantic city with all of the Jerusalem stone buildings and the skyline of the old city. The best way to get an overview of the old city is to climb on the roofs of the houses there. The view is amazing.

I really like going to outdoor markets. They are full of sights, sounds, smells and are also a great place to people watch. You can find some amazing faces in the market, like the amba man and the juice man. Their faces are timeless….just put another period costume on them and it could be the market 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.

Mahane Yehuda market is just the market to see all of the things I described above. It has also revamped itself with chic cafes, restaurants and other shops. I was always afraid to go there because of the bombings. I only went there last summer, for the first time since I moved to Israel over six years ago.

The market is always busy, but it is very crowded on Thursday night and Friday morning. Everyone is busy finding things to prepare their Shabbat meals.

I found chickpea flour at the market. My husband and I went to Provence last summer for a glorious vacation and every since we tried the Nicoise specialty, socca, we wanted to try and make it at home. We had our first socca at Lou Pilha Levain Nice.

They prepare theirs on a copper pan. They specialize in serving Nicoise dishes and they do a wonderful job.

They have delicious gargantuan tourte de blette (upper left corner of the above photo), which is a sweet tart filled with swiss chard, raisin and pinenuts and sprinkled with icing sugar. Typical tourte de blette are not as thick as theirs.

Socca is a type of savoury pancake made of chickpea flour and water. It is dead easy to make, but not always easy to reproduce. You need to cook it at a very high temperature for a short period of time. It is typically cooked on a large round copper pan over a very hot wood fire or gas flame.

Of course we don’t have the big round copper pan and open fire they have to make this, but I thought I would give it a try with our cast iron plancha in the oven.

The other night, my husband made a delicious pot of minestrone con ceci (chickpea minestrone). He is refusing to give up the recipe. It is basically the farmers market, sans the fruit, in a bowl. Suffice it to say it was delicious and gave me an idea to try to finally make socca so we could say we had a ceci or hummous festival at our house. I decided to add fresh chives and fresh thyme to mine. It reminded me of Nice, but that is for another posting…..

Chive and Thyme Socca

Serving Size: 4 to 6

300g (1 cup + 5 tbsp) chickpea flour

500ml (2 cups) cold water

1 tsp salt


2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

Heat a cast iron skillet in a 240C/475F oven.

Mix together all of the ingredients above and whisk until you have a smooth batter. The batter should be thinner than crepe batter.

Socca batter

Brush a generous amount of oil on the pan. The oil should be smoking. Pour the batter on the hot plancha and cook with the oven door slightly ajar for the first couple of minutes and then turn on the grill (broiler) to maximum so that the socca can get crisp on top.

Socca on the Plancha

Keep an eye on it as it bubbles and rises, but make sure that it doesn't burn. It should only be slightly brown.

It should be slightly crisp on the outside, but creamy on the inside even though it should be about 1/8 of an inch or 3mm thick.

Cut it into squares.

I tried making it on the stovetop and it works, but you have to cook it like a crepe and turn it over. I prefer the oven method.

Socca with Chives


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