Archive for the ‘special ingredients’ Category

I love granola bars. I have tried making them myself a number of times. Each time, while they turn out tasty, they are either hard or crumbly. Now I’ve found the perfect recipe so the bars turn out soft and delectable. The downside – they are rich in processed sugar and they are dairy, as this recipe is based on sweetened condensed milk 😦 However, I calculated the calories etc. using SparkRecipes calculator and I deem it worth it, as these are truly delicious, easy, and packed full of healthy nuts and fiber. Perfect for breakfast on the go, and they freeze very well as well. I’ll keep searching for the perfect recipe, but in the meantime…

This is based on Easy Granola Bars. I actually came across this recipe by chance as I was searching for a way to use up sweetened condensed milk. A huge storm was on, and I needed an extra cup of milk to make Belgian waffles. I used 2 tbsp in some water for the recipe, and then had a whole can to use up. Since then, we haven’t had even one storm, but I keep using up sweetened condensed milk 😉

Ingredients: (about 30 servings)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (400 gr)
3 cups instant oatmeal
2 tbsp tahini from whole sesame seeds/peanut butter/other nut butter
3-4 cups additions. I use:

1 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
4 tbsp flax seeds
~1/2 coconut, shredded
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
handful chocolate chips sometimes

All nuts and seeds are unroasted with no salt added. I shred all nuts and seeds in the food processor (the almonds I buy ground as my food processor isn’t strong enough to grind them). Mix all ingredients (us a mixer with dough hooks if you have them or your fingers, it’s hard). Then press into an oiled pan using some baking paper (waxed paper) to prevent your hands from getting sticky. Bake at 175°C for 10 minutes or until edges are brown. Do not wait until it looks cooked in the middle! If you bake it until it’s more browned it will cool hard.

In the pan, brown edges only!

In the pan, brown edges only!

In the plate, just before they disappear...

In the plate, just before they disappear…

Some nutritional info per serving:

Calories: 160 cal; fat: 10g out of which saturated: 2 g; carbs: 16g out of which fiber: 2.5 g; protein 3.5 g; Rich in calcium, copper, iron and manganese. This was calculated on a version without chocolate chips and with tahini.

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On the one hand, every Passover I find myself  wondering what to make for dinner with a kind of desperation: no pasta, nothing bread or dough based (pizza, grilled cheese), meat was eaten for lunch, no pulses (beans, chickpeas, peas, etc.), sick and tired of potatoes again, etc. On the other hand, it’s only one week. Surely I can manage for one week without all this stuff, and without a stomach-ache? Every year I’m challenged anew 🙂

This year I partially solved the eternal problem by making astronomical amounts of Passover rolls. This is puff pastry with matzoh flour instead of regular flour. It’s tasty, but not so filling and a bit heavy, so I needed additional solutions.

My mother found an excellent Passover Pancake recipe. I made some as written for the kids, and made some without sugar for the grownups, serving it with mushroom sauce. That was tasty and filling, and with a salad was a very satisfying meal. In addition, there’s always Mirj’s Matzoh Lasagna recipe that never fails. Another option is Matzo pizzas – mix tomato paste with some spices, spread on matzo  place on top sliced mozzarella and top with sliced olives or mushrooms. Zap in microwave for 30 seconds.

So far we’re holding in there, only two days to go!

Passover Rolls

Ingredients (for 20 rolls, I always double the amount)

2 cups water
50 gr margarine
1/4 cup oil [1]
1 tsp salt (I use 1/2 tsp)
2 cups matzo flour
6 eggs (I use 4.5 eggs – I double the amount and use 9 eggs total)

Bring water, margarine, oil and salt to boil. Add the matzoh flour at once and stir.  Add eggs one at a time and mix until egg is fully incorporated (my husband does this part 😉 ). Place heaped tablespoonfuls on baking sheet.

18 rolls

18 rolls

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 30 minutes. Then close oven without removing the rolls and leave in the oven an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and eat.

One or two rolls

One or two rolls

Keep in a plastic bag as long as it lasts. 😀

Kid's breakfast

Kid’s breakfast

Passover Pancakes

Ingredients (about 10 pancakes)

3/4 cup matzoh flour
4 tbsp brown sugar (originally 2 tbsp sugar + 2 packets vanilla sugar)
1 cup boiling milk
2 tbsp oil
3 eggs
1 heaped tsp baking powder

Pour matzoh flour & sugar in large bowl. Mix well. Pour boiling milk on top and let rest for 5 minutes (it becomes a dough). Add eggs, oil and baking powder and mix using an egg beater until smooth.



Fry in two tbsp batches until golden on both sides.
For a savoury version, substitute the sugar with a pinch of salt.



Bon Apetit!

1. I also saw a recipe with 1/2 cup oil instead of the margarine & oil, I’ll try that next Passover.

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Finally, the holidays are over. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. I love inviting, and cooking, and visiting people I don’t see that often, and the excuse to be with extended family. But the problem of having three major holidays in one month is that by the end, you’re just dying for a bit of basic routine. And don’t even get me started on the how the kids act during two weeks at home. Also, I tend to forget that I gave birth a few months ago, and still not sleeping more than 4 hours straight. My baby girl, who is sweet, strong and intelligent, absolutely refuses to take a bottle. My husband manages to feed her about 10 cc, but no one else can even get close. So the obvious solution of having my husband feed her during the night so I can actually sleep is out. I’m beginning to get an attractive zombie look, and when people see me the first thing they say is either, “Are you all right?” or “You look exhausted”. Just boosts for my ego, every day 😕

Still, I enjoyed cooking. For Rosh Hashana the undoubted star was the lemon chicken with green rice. I usually don’t make this for Rosh Hashana as it is traditional to serve sweet foods (may you have a sweet year) but my husband asked for this, so I made it. Of course, he doesn’t touch the chicken. But he loves the rice 😉 This is a one pot meal, where rice loaded with fresh herbs is placed at the bottom of a sauteuse pan, chicken pieces are arranged on top, and covered with herbs and preserved lemons. This is all cooked until chicken is done. The results are fragrant and delicious.

I made preserved lemons once, but I use them only for this dish and it wasn’t worth it. So what I do now is use pseudo preserved lemons: Lemons sliced and de-seeded (but with the peel) sautéed in olive oil and salt until tender. This gives the preserved lemon taste without waiting for three weeks or buying special ingredients. You can also make extra and add to salads or sauces.

Chicken with green rice and preserved lemons

Based on the recipe from Derech HaOchel (Food’s Way)

“Preserved” Lemons

One lemon, sliced thinly with the peel, de-seeded
1-2 tbsp Olive oil
1-2 tsp of salt

Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté lemon and salt on medium heat until lemon is wilted and tender. When tasting, lemon should be salty and mildly sour, with no bitterness. If bitter or extremely sour, add more salt and sauté another few minutes.

“Preserved” lemons

The dish

1 1/2 cups long grain rice (I use classic Persian rice)
1 onion
1/4 bunch each of parsley, coriander, spearmint (nana in hebrew) and dill
1 carrot
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper or to taste
1 cup water
3 chicken legs and thighs, without the skin (I use TevaOf, chickens without antibiotics and fed vegetarian food)
4 tbsp preserved lemon, diced or one “preserved” lemon, sliced
about 6 garlic cloves, minced.

Mince onion, carrot and herbs in a food processor.

Minced herbs

Put 3 tbsp aside. Mix the rest with rice, oil and salt and pepper. Place in a sauteuse, leveling the rice. Pour water on rice. On top arrange the chicken pieces in one layer.

Chicken on rice

Mix preserved lemons with remaining herbs and garlic. Cover the chicken pieces with preserved lemon mixture.

Before cooking

Cover and cook on a low fire for 1 1/2 hours until chicken is cooked.

The result – divine!

After cooking

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After I returned home from giving birth, my FIL showed up and left some fruit for me. He remembered that I love cherries, so I got a large box of two kinds of cherries (dark and yellow); a large box of green grapes; strawberries (where did he find strawberries at this time of the year?) and “pita nectarines”, which are flattened nectarines which taste fabulous. He basically dropped by when he knew my husband was in, gave the fruit and left, without even saying hello for fear of waking me up 🙂 Isn’t that a thoughtful gift? It was great to have something healthy and sweet to munch on after breastfeeding, especially when it’s so hot.

Pita Nectarines – from Ben Dor Fruits

The nectarines didn’t last the weekend, they were so tasty; the cherries were almost finished as well; but inexplicably, I had a few strawberries left. They were sweet and succulent, but I wanted something more in the comfort zone.

So I made some vanilla quark and served the strawberries with that. Divine!

Vanilla Quark with Strawberries


3-4 tbsp quark
10 gr (one packet) vanilla sugar
strawberries, cut

Mix quark and sugar.  Sprinkle strawberries on top and serve. Yum!

Summer Snack

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I’m pregnant! (Watch me dancing around the room… and then sitting and breathing deeply for a few minutes :))

As I’m pregnant, I’ve become extremely health concious. Enough to make you sick :). It’s not as though I was stuffing myself on hamburgers before, you know, but still – I’m noticing what I eat a lot more.  I don’t usually suffer from nausea and similar during pregnancy – instead I suffer from semi-starvation. I am literally either cooking or eating, and the temptation to just stuff pizza/cakes/whatever I happen to have in the house into my mouth is sometimes hard to resist. But I (mostly) do.

So what am I more conscientious about?


I don’t drink coffee at any time, also when not pregnant. I find it bitter and icky. What I do love is tea, particularly Earl Grey tea with milk (no I’m not British. I just love their tea). So according to the American Pregnancy Association I should not consume more than 200 mg caffeine a day when pregnant, about one cup of coffee. When trying to find out how much caffeine tea has, I walked into a quagmire. However, on average I could drink up to 3 cups of black tea a day. As I usually drink only one, that was hardly a problem.

However, it soon became apparent that one of the few food sensitivities I’m having during this pregnancy is an aversion to black tea (oh, my beloved Earl Grey…). I found white tea though that gives me what I need in the morning. At first I was extra pleased, because I read that it has less caffeine than regular black tea.

Then I found that it is not that simple. In general, white tea has even a bit more caffeine than black tea, but “in general” is very misleading. There is more difference between different types of the same tea then between different types of tea.  The caffeine in tea depends on the type of plant, the age of the leaf (buds have more than “older” leaves), the  type of fertilizer, and the growing season. And this is only the actual content in the leaf. At this point you can argue about the temperature of the water, the amount of time the tea is steeping (no, most of the caffeine does not go out at the beginning), whether you stirred it or not, etc.

At this point I went back to the “up to 3 cups a day is fine” mantra, where I usually limited myself to one or maximum two (when I brew a pot).

And then the second food sensitivity became apparent – I began to be turned off by white tea as well. So I drank a lot more herbal teas, Internet scares not withstanding (after I got approval from my doctor to drink all herbal teas in moderation. I mean, seriously, no chamomile during pregnancy? Are you kidding me?). However, that still left me without my morning tea.

What to do?

What I’m doing now is spiced tea-less tea with milk, or cinnamon milk: two cinnamon sticks and one whole clove in boiling water , with brown sugar and milk. I feel as though I’m drinking tea without the tea 🙂

Omega 3

I like fish, but my family doesn’t, so I don’t have it as often as I would like. However, now I am trying to have my two portions a week for omega 3. I don’t really count on capsules as the actual amount absorbed by the body is in doubt – I prefer to actually eat fish. As I’m still the only fish eater in the family, I go with canned fish – mostly sardines and mackerel. My mother provides me with fresh baked salmon regularly (heavenly!) so I don’t count only on cans, giving me quite a rounded diet.

And I found a neat dish with canned fish, based on this recipe. This also goes great with canned sardines.


1 cans Mackerel
1 1/2 cups chopped onion, carrot and celery (I make in advance and freeze in ziplock bags)
100 gr tomato paste (I love tomatoes)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Parsely (chopped)
dried chili, to taste
Dried oregano to taste
water, about 1 cup
lemon juice (optional)

Heat olive oil in a pot and saute onions, carrot  and celery for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and water.  Add fish and bring pot to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. While simmering, add lemon juice and seasonings. Stir occasionally and add water if needed.

I made bulgur (just with onion this time) to go with it, and it was soooo tasty…

Canned Mackerel stew with bulgur

Bon Apetit!

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I like the tea termed Chai Masala in Israel. It is a mixture of black tea with spices. But the teabag version always tastes just a little bland to my taste. So I thought – why not make my own?

Ingredients (for about 1/2-3/4 litre)

One cinnamon stick
Two whole cloves
Two cardamom pods, slightly crushed
Fresh nutmeg, grated, about 1/4 tsp
2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (doesn’t have to be fine)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 bag Earl Grey tea (my favourite, but you can use whatever you like)

Coconut milk or regular milk

Put the sugar and spices (without the tea) in a small pot. Add about 2/3 litre water.

Everything in the pot: Here the tea is also in, but I wouldn't recommend unless you like it strong. You can see the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, grated nutmeg. The ginger is hiding somewhere 🙂

Bring to a boil, let boil for at least 10 minutes. Add tea, let boil for another 30 seconds (or more, if you like your tea stronger. I don’t – my husband always laughs at me that I put the teabag in for the colour, not for the taste). Remove tea.

Boil and Bubble

Taste. Add spices if necessary (to your personal taste – the amounts I wrote are simply what I like). Pour through strainer into pot. Add coconut milk or milk if you want to and serve.
Another option is to let it boil down until it is a bit too concentrated (in my case, 15-20 minutes) and then pour it into a glass beaker and add ice. Then you get spiced ice tea (try saying that 5 times fast! 🙂 )

Spiced Ice Tea with coconut milk

Incidentally, don’t throw away the cinnamon stick – it’s good to use again many times. If you think it’s loosing it’s zing you can put it in a jar with sugar and leave it there for a few weeks, you’ll get excellent cinnamon sugar.

After I made this a few times, my eldest (almost five now!) wanted to taste it. I thought that it would be to spiced for him, but he absolutely loved it – I had to make myself another batch 😆


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Something odd happened to me last week. I ran out of oil.

This almost never happens. I don’t use a lot of oil, and I usually know when to buy more. In addition, I usually have one spare in the cupboard. So to run out of oil, I needed to really use it up. How?

I calculated: We made some schnitzels. My husband is the schnitzel cooker in the family. He makes the best schnitzels I’ve tasted (with the possible exception of my MIL, who taught my husband everything he knows 🙂 ) He uses more oil than I would, but his schnitzels come out much better than I do them, so I never complain 😉 However, he doesn’t use that much more oil than I do – certainly not enough to finish the bottle!

And then I realized: cakes. I finally found an oil based cake that tastes wonderful. Each cake uses 1/2 cup of oil. And in the past 10 days I made 5 cakes: two for Shabbat, one for a birthday, one for my mom (who had 10 guests), and one more for us (As I was already baking for my mom, I baked for us as well). That’s 2 1/2 cups of oil!

But the cakes were great!

This cake is almost like a conjuring trick. It has no margarine, no eggs, no dairy, no baking powder. It uses one bowl and a spoon – no food processor, no extra dishes. And the result is a moist and flavorful chocolate cake that everyone loves. In addition, it is the only chocolate cake that my mom can digest. She has some stomach problems and she bid goodbye to her last chocolate cake a few years ago. She was tempted to taste with her guests, and there was no problem at all. My mom was in seventh heaven!

However, a caveat: This is still a cake. it has white flour and white sugar. In other words, it is healthy only up to a point. But otherwise, it wouldn’t be a cake now, would it? 😛

Note: after noticing a bitter after-taste in some cases, the baking soda and vinegar have been replaced with one heaped teaspoon baking powder. Problem solved!

Ingredients (based on this recipe)

  • 1 cups white sugar
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 handfuls chocolate chips, or to taste (optional)
Preheat oven to 175°C. Sift sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder into a  large bowl. Mix. Add water, vegetable oil, vinegar and vanilla. Mix. Pour into 25x25cm pan. sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and eat!
Note: I kept trying to photograph this cake and never managed to (chewing noises). I’ll try and update this later. (gulp)

Sleeping after eating a lot of cake

Edit: Finally got it 😀

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Last post, I showed pictures from my cooking workswhop and mentioned whole nutmeg. I knew it existed, but you can get ground nutmeg so easily at the supermarket, so why bother?

Well, at the cooking workshop I learned why. Whole nutmeg looks like a large nut (actually it is a seed). It actually doesn’t smell that inviting, at least not in my opinion, but it smells better than the ground nutmeg. It smells richer and spicier. It doesn’t need to be peeled or anything. You just keep it in a jar or small box in a cool dark place and numerous internet sites claimed it lasts practically forever. To use, simply take a grater and one nutmeg, grate it into your food, and that’s it. A little nutmeg goes a long way – usually 3-4 back-and forth motions over the grater produces enough for a family.

Nutmeg: One whole Nutmeg; a small (and cute!) grater, and a jar of nutmegs

You should keep the nutmeg out of the reach of children or pets, as nutmeg is poisonous in large (very large) doses. It is even more poisonous for dogs and other animals (See Wikipedia article above).

In the workshop, the cook used a small grater that I really liked. I looked around for it and couldn’t find it, so when my husband said yesterday that he’s going to the other mall (we have two close to our house) I asked casually if he could look around. When I came home in the evening, my husband gave me four of the cutest graters I ever saw (I asked for more than one because I wanted to give some as a gift). And then I was amazed to discover that he was in not one, not two, but seven shops in the area looking for it until he found it. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.


I love using the nutmeg on anything with mushrooms (try it in your next mushroom pasta sauce. Even my husband noticed that it tastes better). It’s also great on spinach, broccoli, almost any vegetable.

Bon Apetit!


A side note: Both the very cute cows in love and the printable stickers I use for my jars (like the nutmeg one) are from graphic garden.

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