August 26, 2012 § 3 Comments
The end of summer is rough. The weather makes it feel like anything is possible, but the calendar says there is real-life business to be done, school beginning, meals to plan, rent to pay, and so on. (Although I was less despondent than I’d expected to be when we returned to Jerusalem on Friday, there is still that heaviness in the air that always comes when September is in sight.) The sight and smell of our neighborhood hit me hard after almost a month in the States — the floral, smokey fragrance of Nachlaot, the soft, hazy sunset on Friday evening over the still, quiet landscape of Shabbat. Our time removed from this place came with the usual reflections and re-realizations: I love Israel, yet its size makes me terribly claustrophobic but, at the same time, it is the only place I have ever felt safe. Driving up and down the coast of Maine earlier this month, its magnificent wide-openness dotted with farm houses (including our friend, Sharon Kitchen’s new place, which is absolutely perfect), clean lakes and green forests, I felt grateful and relieved to be able to stretch out in that expanse. Yet, for me, the feelings of strangeness and of not-belonging are still present even after years of living in New England. This feeling of belonging to two places and to none simultaneously is what I was trying to leave behind during those eleven years in Boston. Unfortunately, once an identity has been split, it is not possible to make it whole again. So here I am, looking very much forward to being back in Jerusalem — to the heartbreakingly sacred and lovely quiet of Shabbat settling over the city, to the smell of cookies and breads baking in Machaneh Yehuda, to the intimacy of the community in our tiny neighborhood, to being at my little shop and with the wonderfully creative group of friends we have found here, to a million things about being a Jew in a Jewish land that cannot be translated into words — but never whole in this place anymore than I am over there. Goodbye Summer, you were grand as always!
June 23, 2012 § 4 Comments
Hello food blogosphere! I am missing you terribly, but have been completely consumed with seamstressing (mainly), private-chefing, food tour-leading, and very occasionally modeling for the shop.
I have been seriously considering adding a sewing category to this blog, but have no idea if that would be of interest to any of my current readers. If you are an aricooks follower who might be interested in things like basic sewing alterations (zippers hems, taking in/out pants and skirts), and more specifically, alterations of vintage dresses and other women’s clothing, let me know!
April 28, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The warm weather has arrived and we are seeing some early summer fruits in the shuk as well as the beloved shesek. Young grape leaves are growing all over the neighborhood and the air smells like orange blossoms. Jerusalem, while not my favorite place during the winter months, more than redeems itself come spring. Very warm days, give way to soft, breezy evenings, and the nights are still cool enough to enjoy our down comforter, but not so cold that I can see my breath in our bedroom (yes, that happened in February).
We’ve been picnicking and having campfires like crazy, to make up for all the dark evenings spent indoors and the park near our house is filled with other families doing the same.
The warmer weather brings cravings for things like melon (the honeydew are juicy, sweet and delicious right now), iced hibiscus tea, and fresh salads. The recipes that follows is my own, and was published over Passover in The Forward, as part of a piece I did on green foods for Pesach. Enjoy!
Mixed Greens Salad with Figs, Roasted Pepper and Balsamic-glazed mushrooms
1 container of mixed baby greens, ~4 cups
6-7 dried figs, chopped
1 cup lightly steamed green beans, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 sweet red bell pepper, roasted (as demonstrated here), peeled, seeded and cut into strips
small box of baby bella or white button mushrooms, quartered
⅓ cup mild soft white cheese, crumbled/cut into small pieces (ricotta salata or goat cheese work well here)
½ cup balsamic vinegar, divided
½-¾ cup olive oil
1-2 teaspoons honey
salt & pepper
Put baby greens in a large mixing bowl. Add green beans, roasted pepper and figs, set aside.
Pour enough balsamic into a medium saute pan to just cover the bottom of the pan. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes, until slightly reduced, then add the quartered mushrooms. Toss mushrooms in the balsamic until evenly coated. Drain excess liquid from mushrooms and when cool, add to salad. Crumble cheese over the salad.
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk ¼ cup balsamic vinegar with the honey, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil while whisking well until emulsified. Toss salad with the dressing and serve immediately.
*If you are making the salad ahead, wait until just before serving to add the cheese and dressing.
March 31, 2012 § 5 Comments
The unripe fruits appearing on our shesek (loquat) tree off the balcony are telling me that it’s been one full year since we moved into our Jerusalem apartment. A friend once told me that it takes at least that long for a new residence to feel like home and I agree. Having experienced each season here feels comforting, and gives the impression (illusion?) that I know what to expect.
So here it is, the cusp of April 2012 and things could not really be more different than they were not too long ago. Although there are things I miss very much about our Boston life, the life that has taken shape here is so wildly apart from that time, that trying to compare and contrast is… irrelevant. One of the only constants is my food writing and this blog, which I’ve struggled to maintain and to stay in touch with. My Israeli food-blogger friends have been extremely supportive and are an amazing professional network. Through them I’ve gotten jobs, writing gigs, emotional support and inspiration beyond what I could have possibly anticipated, especially so quickly after arriving.
This past month I was thrilled to write my first piece for the Forward’s Shabbat Meals section (thank you Liz!), which includes a couple of our favorite mezze dishes. You can click here to read that piece.
I also want to take some space to announce food-writer Katherine Martinelli’s new e-cookbook! Katherine wrote, photographed, and developed & tested recipes for all of this 54-page brunch cookbook herself, in cooperation with hangtime press!! You can check it out here.
Also, I am announcing a new category on my blog: Gluten Free. Long after a very lame attempt at trying out some GF recipes back in 2009 when we thought Jeff might have a gluten intolerance, I have been quite serious about trying a gluten free diet myself for the past six weeks due to some health issues. Although it is still unclear whether or not my body is actually intolerant of gluten, I have had a lot of fun discovering the world of GF baking and cooking and all the flours I had no idea existed.
Lastly I want to share with you all that I am no longer working full time at the cafe, and have opened my own seamstress shop next to and in cooperation with a Vintage Clothing Store here in Jerusalem. I would like to thank the owners of the shop, Shira and Judy, for all their help and also Emunah, who was running the seamstress shop before I was, for the loan of her sewing machine and all her great advice.
Hope you have a happy April and a chag sameach, and keep a lookout for a new Forward piece on my favorite spring dishes for Passover, coming out later this week.
March 17, 2012 § 4 Comments
Nothing like opening up my blog and realizing that somehow it’s been a month since I last posted. It was a long winter of shivering in our little house, and turning on space heaters, the oven, the hot plate, and boiling pots of water to set out in our freezing bedroom. There were beautiful red flowers and holidays that promised spring’s arrival was near, and then another stretch of cold rain and wind. There were crazy busy days at the cafe, as people shuffled in for soup and warm coffee drinks. We catered a lovely party for a new bride and groom, and baked sheet after sheet of hamantaschen for Purim.
Then in the midst of a rare Jerusalem snowstorm, my friend Anna arrived, her hair all golden from the california sun, and bringing a fresh, warm energy to our home. Her visit coincides with a big transition in our lives, my leaving my full-time cooking job at the cafe to pursue something new and exciting that I will be posting about soon. There are few friends that I would feel comfortable sharing my space with as I navigate the stress, and feelings of uncertainty during this time, but Anna is an amazing and supportive person who is helping me laugh my way into a new reality this month. More on that to come….
In the meantime I’d like to share these gluten-free recipes with you, as I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free eating this month. The following are new favorites (they all work, I promise!), enjoy!
Ari’s Qunioa Salad:
Rinse two cups of quinoa and cook in 2 cups of boiling water with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil. Bring to a boil and then simmer until done.
Toss quinoa with 2 peeled and diced carrots, a handful of chopped parsley, a handful of chopped mint, 1/2 cup raisins and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts.
Toss with this dressing:
juice of 1/2 an orange
juice of 1 lemon
salt, pepper, pinch of cayenne, pinch of cinnamon
1/3 cup good quality olive oil, drizzled in, while whisking vigorously
February 4, 2012 § 2 Comments
After a week of rain and cold, were were lucky to have a truly gorgeous Saturday here in Jerusalem. Families were out in the Emek (Valley of the Cross), enjoying the almond blossoms, cyclamen and the bright red anemones that look incredibly vibrant against the greenest grass we will see this year. Auralee, Jeff and I wandered the valley for hours, until the sun began to set, enjoying the colors and the glimpse of spring-weather.
After wearing ourselves out, we went home to enjoy apricot sage scones, roasted tomato salad with white beans, butternut squash stew, and an apple crisp. Not bad for a short weekend.
Apricot Sage Scones, adapted from Martha Stewart Living, 2005
I’ve had this recipe in my binder of clippings ever since I first made it in 2005. When my friend Caitlin, a personal chef here in Jerusalem, asked if I had ever made savory-sweet scones, I immediately began singing the praises of these, which reminded me that it had been too long since we’d had them ourselves. You can put the leftover sage leaves on a sheet pan, covered with a paper towel, and allow them to dry for a week or so at room temp. Then crumble them up and keep them on hand with the rest of your dried herbs and spices.
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
1//4 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking power
3/4 tsp salt
5 Tbs cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 Tbs + 1 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped
1 cup cold cream or milk (I used soy milk)
standing sugar and milk/cream for brushing and sprinkling
Put the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse until mixed. Add the sage and apricots and pulse again. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of peas. Then add the cream slowly (you may not need it all). The batter should be tacky, not so wet that you can’t handle it. If your scone batter gets too wet, you can add a little extra flour. Turn the batter onto a lightly floured surface and quickly shape into a flat-ish circle (handling the dough as little as possible), about 8 inches around. Cut it into triangles (first in half, then quarters and so forth) and place the scone on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush each scone with a bit of milk/cream/soy milk and sprinkle with standing sugar.
Bake at 350°F/175°C until done ~ 18 to 20 minutes. These will make your house smell divine and are best eaten slightly warm.