Friday, September 30, 2016

Zucchini Leek Latkes

Leeks are another symbolic food that are eaten on Rosh Hashana. The symbolic food usually has a name that sounds similar to what we are requesting from god. The Aramaic word for leek is karti which is similar to the hebrew word karet or cut off. We are hoping that all of our enemies and those who wish evil on us be cut down. 
The inspiration for this dish actually came from another Jewish holiday, Chanukah. On Chanukah it is traditional to eat latkes, potato pancakes fried in oil to commemorate the miracle of when the oil in the Temple that was only enough for one day burned for eight days. This past year I made my latkes with zucchini for a little change up from the starchy potatoes. 
For Rosh Hashana I am making those same zucchini latkes but instead of white onion I am using the mild onion flavor of the leeks. 

On Chanukah latkes are traditionally topped with sour cream for this dish I made a vegan sour cream made from tofu so this dish can be served with a meat meal. 

May our enemies and all those who wish evil upon us be cut down. 

Zucchini Leek Latkes 

4 leeks 
1 tsp olive oil
2 zucchinis 
1 clove garlic, minced
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour 
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of chili flakes 
salt and pepper 

Soy Sour Cream 
150 grams/5oz. soft tofu broken into small pieces 
2 tsp white vinegar 
1 1/2 Tbs lemon or lime juice 
1/4 cup olive oil

scallions, sliced  
chili powder

Like onions leeks have lots and lots of layers. There is usually a lot sand in between those layers. The easiest way to clean leeks is to cut off the root end and the darker green end then slice the leek lengthwise and then cut the leeks into half circles. Fill a large bowl with water, place the sliced leeks in the water and swish the leeks around to separate the layers. All of the grit will fall to the bottom and you just have to skim the clean leeks off the top. Place the leeks on a towel to drain before sautéing.

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Pour in 1 tsp olive oil. Add the cleaned and drained leeks to the heated oil, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 5-8 minutes until the leeks are slightly soft. 
While the leeks are cooking shred the zucchinis. Place the shredded the zucchini in a towel and press out the excess moisture (don’t skip this step! If there’s too much liquid the patties won’t bind well)
In a large bowl mix together the sautéed leeks, drained zucchini, garlic, eggs, flour, baking powder, and spices. 
Add vegetable oil to the same pan you cooked the leeks in and heat over medium heat. 
When your oil is hot add heaping spoonfuls of the latke batter to the hot oil and cook the patties about a minute per side. 
Place the cooked latkes on a plate lined with paper towel and sprinkle with salt. 

To make the sour cream place the chunks of tofu in a food processor, add the lemon, vinegar, salt, and a few spoonfuls of water. Turn the machine on and after a few minutes check for the level of tartness and salt. When the mixture feels smooth begin to stream in the oil while the machine is running. The amount of water needed depends on the tofu you have so start with a little and if the tofu needs some help to breakdown add a little more water. 

Place the latkes on a plate and drizzle with the sour cream, top with sliced scallions and pinch of chili powder. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sesame Squash Dip

Another symbolic food that is eaten on Rosh Hashana is gourd or squash. The hebrew word is kara which is similar to the hebrew word for torn and proclaim. We are praying that our bad decrees be torn up and that our merits be proclaimed before god.
It’s fitting that Rosh Hashana usually coincides with the start of Fall, the time of year that squash and pumpkin are consumed in great amounts (not including pumpkin spice lattes) 
The idea for this dip came from the concept of hummus which is chickpeas blended with tahini paste. There are many posts all over the internet for all different types of “hummus”, but many of them don’t even have any chickpeas in them so there not really hummus. This dip has all the same ingredients as hummus, but I replaced the chickpeas with roasted squash so I will not be calling this hummus. It’s a great served with pita chips or pretzels and vegetable sticks, or spread on challah at your Rosh Hashana meal. 
Whatever you want to call it, it’s still delicious and a great way to enjoy pumpkin this season without any pie spice. 
May our bad decrees be torn up and our merits be proclaimed before god. 

Sesame Squash Dip 

1 lb. squash/pumpkin, peeled
1/2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 
2 Tbs tahini paste
2 tsp lemon juice 
3 Tbs olive oil 
salt and pepper 
2-3 Tbs water 

1/2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbs pomegranate seeds 

Heat your oven to 400°F/200°C and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 
Cut the squash into 1 inch cubes then toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread in an even layer on the prepared sheet pan. Roast for about 20 minutes until the edges are golden and the squash is tender. Remove the oven and allow the squash to cool. 
Place garlic in a food process and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the rest of the ingredients  except for the water. Blend all the ingredients together and then slowly stream in the water until you have a smooth and creamy consistency check for seasoning and add more spices or lemon if needed. 
Pour the puree into a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and top with pomegranate seeds and cilantro. 

Black Eyed Pea Salad

On Rosh Hashana it is traditional to eat simanim - different symbolic foods that represent our prayers for the coming new year. Many families have a simanim course at the beginning of the meal filled with different dishes made of these foods. 
When I was growing up my family didn’t do the simanim thing. I remember having the usual apple and honey to symbolize our request for a sweet year and pomegranate so that our merits will be increased like the multitude of seeds in a the fruit. 
The first time I spent Rosh Hashana apart from my family was when I was seventeen years old and I was studying in Israel for a year. I spent Rosh Hashana with people from all different backgrounds and I learned about the different simanim that people eat. 

One of the symbolic foods that was is traditionally eaten by Syrian Jews and now by Jews from all different backgrounds is black eyed peas. In Aramaic the word for black eyed peas is rubiya which is like the hebrew word harbay which means abundance.

This black eyed pea salad is so simple to prepare and has such bright flavors that you should eat it all year round and not just when celebrating the new year. 

May all of our blessings this year be in great abundance! 

Black Eyed Pea Salad 

2 15. oz cans black eyed peas, drained (if you have the time to cook dry beans do it!) 
1 avocado, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced 
1/4 of a red onion, diced 
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lime, zested and juiced 
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced (leave the seeds in if you like things spicy!)
2 Tbs olive oil 
Salt and pepper to taste 

Toss all the ingredients together and enjoy! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sukkot Menu 5777

Check out The Katamon Kitchen menu for Sukkot 5777!
For more information, pricing, and to order please contact
Orders must be placed by Sunday, October 9th
Orders may be picked up in Katamon on Sunday, October 16th (Erev Chag) or delivery is availble in Jerusalem 
for an additional fee. 
*There are limited quantities of each item* 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Cookie Butter Cups aka Little Bites of Heaven

One of the perks of living in Israel is that when you go to the supermarket (at least in most areas of the country) everything is kosher. In other parts of the world you usually have to search for kosher items. Here it’s the exact opposite, kosher food is in abundance and non kosher food is difficult to come by. One of those ingredients that is in great abundance here is cookie butter. 

Over the past few years cookie butter has gained quite the cult following. Cookie butter or biscuit spread is a great alternative to nut butters. It is made from pureed spiced biscuits. While the biscuits and spreads have been popular in Europe for years it was only recently that this decadent spread took the food world by storm! 

Unfortunately it is not so easy to find a kosher brand of cookie butter in America*, so next time you come to Israel be sure to stock up! Maybe get an extra suitcase or two? Be careful because this is a dangerous ingredient to have in your pantry because you will devour the jar by the spoonful. 

If you want to keep yourself from eating an entire jar of cookie butter in one sitting make these little babies but I should warn you, you’ll just end up eating the whole tray in one sitting instead. 


2 cups chocolate chips (you can use any type of chocolate!) 
2 Tbs. butter or margarine at room temperature 

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar 
pinch of salt 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

Sea salt to garnish 


Place 12-15 mini cupcake liners (the smallest you can find) on a small sheet pan. 
Fill small pot with water and bring to a simmer place a heat proof bowl on top of the water, but be sure that the bowl is not touching the water so your chocolate won’t scorch. 
Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the butter/margarine. Alternatively you can melt the chocolate in the microwave just be sure to stir every 20 seconds it will take about 1 1/2 minutes to melt and then stir in the butter. 
With a pastry brush or a small spoon spread the chocolate in the mini liners making sure to get chocolate up the sides of the liners and a thicker layer on the bottom. 
Place in the freezer to set. 

While the chocolate shells set you can prepare the filling. 
Mix together all the ingredients until combined if the filling is too loose add a little more sugar. 
Remove the chocolates from the freezer and scoop a small amount of filling into each shell. Pour remaining chocolate over the top. Tap the pan against the counter to make a smoother top then sprinkle with sea salt. 

Place the tray back the freezer to set for about an hour. 

You might want to double the recipe so it’s 12 cookie butter cups for you and then the rest for everyone else (or you know, you can just keep all 24 for yourself!)


If you can’t find a kosher cookie butter in your area or you’re gluten free just swap out the cookie butter for nut butter, but these are a great alternative to peanut butter cups if you’re allergic nuts. (Oh how I miss Reese’s come to Israel with a bag full of Reese’s cups and I’ll trade you a jar of cookie butter).
If you haven't yet finished your jar of cookie butter here are some ideas for how to use it: dip sliced apples or pears into slightly warmed cookie butter, swirl a couple of spoonfuls into your brownie batter before baking, spread it on toast with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of salt, really you can use it as an alternative to peanut butter in most baking recipes.

*All of the ingredients to make these little treats are available at Seasons! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Double Chocolate Mocha Muffins

People assume that I love to bake because I love to cook.   
Fun fact about me: until recently that wasn't true.
Soon after starting The Katamon Kitchen I became a private chef for a large family. There was so much cooking, shopping, menu planning and so many different palettes to please. I loved my job but at times it was very stressful to get all of the cooking done before Shabbat. There were a few different mains, so many side dishes and of course a few desserts. I used to leave the dessert until the very end of my work day and then scramble to get it done.

A few months after starting this job it was Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year), it was actually a three day holiday that year starting on Wednesday night and only ending after Shabbat. The amount of cooking that had to be done was absolutely crazy with all the simanim (special foods to symbolize a good year), mains, sides and as always plenty of desserts. I kept looking at the menu and thinking, I'm never going to finish and then I kept counting the amount of baked goods I had to prepare, it was daunting. I then got this crazy idea to tackle all six cakes at once. It was then that I realized how simple baking can be. 

When you're cooking there are usually a few different steps from dicing vegetables, sautéing them, seasoning, and so on. With baking many times it's just mix together some dry and wet ingredients, pour into a pan, pop it in the oven, and just let it bake. (I know this isn't the case with all baked goods because I have made my share of multi-step labor intensive recipes.) But sometimes it really is so simple that on that crazy cooking day I busted out all six cake batters in record time and then went back to standing over a hot stove and chopping onions while the kitchen filled with delicious aromas wafting from the cake packed ovens. By the time all the cakes were baked I had just about finished my cooking for the upcoming holiday and my opinion of baking had been changed for the better. 

One thing that I love to bake are muffins and here's why: 

  • I don’t have such a big sweet tooth and muffins are not usually as sweet as their cupcake look alike.
  • Recipes are often easy to tweak so it's simple to create different flavor combinations.
  • They're a great on the go snack.
  • You can bake them jumbo or mini and isn’t everything just so darn cute when it’s mini? 
  • Since they resemble cupcakes so you can pretend like you’re having cake for breakfast 
The best reason is that the batters usually come together relatively quickly which means you can make them fresh for breakfast, giving you yummy reason to get you out of bed in the morning! 

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be sharing some of my muffin recipes. Be sure to check back on #muffinmonday for a new recipe!
This week is dedicated to all those chocoholics (myself included) 
Double Chocolate Mocha Muffins 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
3 1/2 cups flour 
2 tsp baking soda 
2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
2 cups warm water 
1 Tbs instant coffee 
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup oil 
2 Tbs apple cider or red wine vinegar 
1 Tbs vanilla extract 
2 eggs 
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

Confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C

Line 2 standard or one jumbo muffin tin with paper liners. 

In a large mixing bowl whisk together cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined. 

In a 2 cup measuring cup add the warm water and stir in the instant coffee until dissolved.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the water coffee mixture, brown sugar, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs. 

Whisk until just combined and then fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips.

Scoop batter into the prepared muffin tins and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top. 

Bake standard size muffins for 15-17 minutes and jumbo muffins 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Cool for a few minutes on a wire rack and dust with confectioner’s sugar. 
Enjoy when muffins are slightly warm!