kosher kitchen

Yom Yerushalayim … and delicious Israeli food


It’s hard to believe that it is more than 50 years ago that Israel prevailed and won a war in six days, reuniting Jerusalem. Riding up the road to Jerusalem on a visit to Israel in 1973, right before the Yom Kippur War, I saw broken and damaged artillery and jeeps on the sides of the road; remnants of the war fought just six years before. I marveled at the beauty of the city and was in awe of the ancient color palate of the land and within the “shuk.” 

I loved Jerusalem and the ancient aura of so much of our history that enveloped the city like a warm glove. This week we celebrate the beautiful city where antiquity and modernity are so closely entwined. This new-ish holiday commemorates that reunification and the claim that Jerusalem is ours and will always be ours. While there is joy and solemnity in this young holiday, because it is so new, not many foods are associated with it. 

Unlike Chaukah and latkes, Shavuot and cheesecake, Shabbat and chicken, there are not a lot of foods that one can connect with Yom Yerushalayim — yet. My guess is that soon enough, there will be iconic foods that connect this holiday to our stomachs. That is what we do! Meanwhile, there is plenty to eat. Jerusalem is a city bustling with world class restaurants and more.

Today, Jerusalem — and all of Israel — is a go-to destination for food lovers from all over the world. In addition, celebrity chefs like Ottolenghi and Solomonov have popularized Israeli foods throughout the United States and Europe. 

Celebrate Jerusalem Day with some delicious Israeli food and let’s all pray for peace in Israel and the world.

Silan Roasted Salmon (Pareve)

Silan is Israeli date syrup. It is a common ingredient in many Israeli and Middle Eastern dishes, but is just becoming popular here.

2-1/2 pounds salmon filet, equal thickness throughout 

Pinch freshly ground black pepper 

1/3 cup Silan 

1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar

Juice of one lemon, about 2 tbsp. 

4 Tbsp. mustard, coarse brown or Dijon style

4 to 7 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2-1/2 Tbsp. tamari sauce or soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Brush a heatproof roasting pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

Pat the salmon dry and place, skin down, on the prepared pan. Season with black pepper. Set aside.

Place the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Drizzle half over the fish and place in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes, baste with the rest of the sauce and roast until just opaque and the fish flakes easily. Do not overcook.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Place on a serving platter and spoon the sauce over the fish. Serves 5 to 6. 

Homemade Hummus (Pareve)

Homemade Hummus can be made from canned chickpeas, but making it from dried chickpeas results in a creamier and far more delicious dish.

2-1/2 cups dry chickpeas

2 tsp. baking soda

2 cups excellent quality tahini

Juice from 2-3 lemons, to taste

2-6 garlic cloves pressed through a garlic press, to taste

1/2 tsp. cumin

Extra virgin olive oil

TOPPINGS: See below

Place the chickpeas and 1 tsp. baking soda in a large bowl and cover with water so that the water is at least 4 inches above the chickpeas. Cover and let soak overnight.

Drain the chickpeas and place in a large saucepan with the remaining teaspoon of baking soda. Cover with water at least 1 inch over the chickpeas. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Skim foam as needed. Cook chickpeas until they are very soft and begin to fall apart, 60 to 90 minutes. Drain chickpeas over a bowl to reserve the liquid. 

Place about 2 cups of the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add some of the cooking water and process until very smooth. Scrape into a bowl and repeat until all the chickpeas have been processed. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Place 2 cups of the processed chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor. Add the tahini and the juice from 1 lemon. Add the garlic and half the cumin. Process until very smooth. Stop, taste and add more lemon juice, cumin, or garlic as desired. Pulse again to mix. 

Place in a serving bowl and make a well in the center. Drizzle with olive oil or fill the center with some of the garnishes below. Makes about 7 to 8 cups of chickpeas. Make several kinds of hummus or use chickpeas in things such as meatloaf or mixed with ground turkey for turkey burgers or in falafel.

Easy Mashed Roasted Garlic (Pareve)

1 cup garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed. 

2 cups extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil

Place the garlic and oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When the oil begins to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the cloves begin to turn golden and are softened. Watch carefully to avoid burning. The garlic is done when it is a golden color. Let cool. Take some of the garlic and mash it. Place in the center of the hummus. Drizzle with the garlic infused oil.

Roasted Red Peppers (Pareve)

2 to 4 red peppers, washed.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until charred, about 40-60 minutes. Turn peppers once or twice.

Remove from the oven and immediately place in a paper bag. Close the bag and let cool for 20-30 minutes. 

Remove the peppers from the bag and the skin will slide off. Rinse as you do this. Remove the stem and seeds. Cut into strips or chop as desired. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Almond Delight (Dairy or Pareve)

This is adapted from Michael Solomonov’s cookbook, Zahav. It is delicious and easy to make a great snack or dessert. Use pareve margarine for a pareve dessert. 

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/3 tsp. pure almond extract

2 cups (11 to 12 ounces) good quality semi-sweet chocolate, 60 percent or more cacao, melted and cooled

4 large eggs

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds

1/2 cup finely chopped chocolate

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 9-inch, square, cake pan and line with parchment. Oil the parchment. Set aside.

Place the butter, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts in the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the paddle and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cooled, melted chocolate while the mixer is running on low. Scrape the bowl as needed. When blended, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Keep the speed on low and add the almond flour. Mix to incorporate, scraping the bowl as needed. Remove the bowl from the stand and mix in the chopped chocolate.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool and then remove from the pan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving. Makes 36 small bites or fewer large dessert bars.