AriCooks, Dairy Free, Quick Meals, Salad, Vegan, vegetarian

I know it is the tendency of every parent to see elements of themselves in their children. I certainly expected that my child would be like me, both physically and otherwise. But on the days when Auralee is so much like me that I feel as though I am looking in the mirror or hearing a voice recording of myself, I feel a unique mix of utter delight and paralyzing terror. My daughter – as nearly everyone who knows us well, points out – is not “like me”, she is me, only small. She makes the same sarcastic/silly/surprised faces I make, we have the same sense of humor (which is not saying something particularly flattering or sophisticated about me, sharing my sense of humor with a 5 year-old), and we both get ridiculously silly and hyper right before bedtime. We both love goat cheese, and ginger cookies and watching youtube videos of Swan Lake and baby animals doing funny things. We both stomp. A lot. And feel a great sense of injustice over the denial of our basic desires, like having a cat or being able to teleport ourselves to Boston whenever we want. And like me, Auralee excels at creative endeavors, such as arranging my cookie cutters and pastry equipment to resemble a city or a forest, and drawing pictures of flowers, houses, animals and trees.

The joy in this is seeing the funny, quirky, whimsical parts of myself, embodied in an adorable person , while the terror comes from knowing that there is often an inevitable and drastic mood change lurking beyond the next moment. Seeing my own perfectionism, controlling tendencies, and inconsistent (and sometimes, volatile) reactions to basic, every day  life tasks, makes me worry and fear for this little-me, and for the future of our relationship. These are normal, parental feelings and I know that I follow in the footsteps of millions of mothers before me, but no amount of that knowing, or of watching others, can better inform my relationship with Auralee, beyond the simple fact that I am not alone.

In conclusion, there is no conclusion. Just the patient, wonderful, difficult, maddening, amazing process of building a relationship with my daughter (and by extension, myself). And all the learning and failing and sometimes succeeding.

And with the cold weather, and unusually terrible rain, sleet and wind, Auralee and I are spending many hours in close quarters, tucked into our little living room, which we have curtained off from the rest of the drafty apartment. Huddled close to the space heater, we tell stories, draw, play Candy Land, and watch endless episodes of her favorite show, Redwall. When I do leave our blanket pile, it is to turn on the oven, or the stove, and cook or bake. And since there is only so much soup a person can eat (though many of my friends have tried to convince me that endless cups of soup are bound to improve my mood this winter), I am posting a recipe for a black bean quinoa dish that is laughably simple, but very tasty, and a baked tofu recipe with honey mustard sauce. Enjoy!


Ari’s Black Bean Quinoa

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1.5 cups cooked (or canned) black beans

3 Tbs chopped chives

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 small cucumber, finely chopped

3-4 Tbs red wine vinegar

olive oil

salt and pepper

chili flakes (optional)

Rinse quinoa very well (it has a bitter coating on it that must be washed off) and put in a pot with 2 cups water, a little olive oil and salt. Bring to boil, then simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed ~15 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix quinoa, black beans, chives, cucumbers and cilantro. Whisk red wine vinegar and olive oil together with salt and pepper and chili flakes. Pour over quinoa and mix. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed. Serve warm!

Baked Tofu with honey mustard sauce

Tofu, sliced into thin rectangles, enough to cover the bottom of a 9-inch square pan (or you can double the recipe and use a lasagna-size pan)

2-3 Tbs mustard (not grainy)

Tbs honey/sugar/agave

tamari or soy sauce as needed

water/sesame oil

Whisk together mustard and honey and add enough soy sauce to make it into a dressing-like consistency. Taste, and if it is too salty, or no thick enough to pour over tofu add a little water or same oil.

Bake at 375°F/180°C for 20-25 minutes, until the tofu has absorbed the sauce and is a bit brown.

Green City

AriCooks, Salad, vegetarian

Grape leaves growing in Nachlaot.

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.

cooking vegetable kebabs over our campfire during Pesach.

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!

Dusk in the Emek

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.

More for your mezze

Autumn, Dairy Free, Salad, Vegan, vegetarian

We’ve been doing some serious eating lately, it being the holiday season here in Israel. Sukkot is up next and we will be having at least two meals with friends, and others at home in our own sukkah. Although there is a lot of meat and fish on holiday tables, the emphasis on fresh vegetables here ensures that even at a barbecue, vegetarians are unlikely to walk away hungry (stuffed is more like it).

Israel and the Mediterranean region at large are quite famous for its selection of pre-meal salads, known as mezze.  Nearly every Shabbat and holiday meal begins with a wonderful selection of small, colorful salads made from legumes, grains, and fresh or roasted vegetables. The salads a host/ess puts out is a reflection of their ancestry, cooking influences, and personal taste.

Since my own palate is the result of quite a culinary jumble — mixed Ashkenazi-Sephardi heritage, American and Israeli identities, New England and Middle Eastern flavors — I don’t really have a standard when it comes to mezze, and I am always open to new and tasty salads making their way onto our table.

This one is welcome!

Roasted Red Peppers with Walnuts and Raisins, from Gourmet Today

Unlike another red-pepper favorite, muhammara, this recipe does not require a food processor and is more of a salad than a spread.

8 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise, cored and seeded

1/3 cup plus 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs sherry vinegar

1 Tbs walnut oil

1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

3/4 cup raisins (I recommend less, too many raisins make this salad a bit sweeter than I like)

Preheat broiler. Line two large baking sheets with foil. Rub or brush skin sides of bell peppers with two Tbs. olive oil and put 8 pepper halves, skin side up, on each baking sheet. Broil (in two batches) about 2 inches from the heat until skins are blistered and charred, about 15 minutes per batch. With tongs, transfer pepper to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let steam until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, the vinegar, walnut oil, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until the salt is dissolved.

Peel peppers. Teal lengthwise into 1-inch pieces. Add peppers, walnuts, and raisins to vinaigrette and toss until well coated. Cover and marinate at room temp for at least 30 minutes.

This salad tastes best at room temperature.

The Unexpected

AriCooks, asian-inspired, Dairy Free, Quick Meals, Salad, Summer, Vegan, vegetarian

Can't stand the heat? This light and nutritious tofu salad is perfect for summertime lunches.

It’s a tried and true fact of living that few things are what you expect them to be and that life is full of surprises. Of course both those things sound like cliches, but we have sayings for a reason, and as the years go by I am more and more struck by the universality of the human experience.

When we decided to leave Boston it was after a long period of frustration with a place that is undeniably cold and (as a matter of perspective) cold-mannered and, in many ways, ambivalent. Having been a part of a largely non-Jewish (and apolitical) dance community for many years in Boston, few people had much to say to me about our upcoming move in terms of choice of location. Unexpectedly however, a friend who is a well known Irish Dancer mentioned that she knew a fiddle player who was moving to Israel at the same time as we were. I was intrigued.

“An Irish fiddle player?” I asked, “Moving to Jerusalem?”

As it turned out the musician in question was married to a journalist who had just accepted the rather overwhelming job of being the Middle East Correspondent for Public Radio, and they would be transplanted to Jerusalem for the next three years.

“How brave…” I murmured, “To be the wife of a journalist in a land that is so foreign to you, to which you have no idealogical or religious connection. And with small children to boot…”

Seeing as we would both be new in town, the Irish dancer offered to connect us.

“You can show her the ropes,” I believe was the general gist of conversation.

Although I suppose I have showed Ellery around a bit since we both arrived in Israel, our friendship has proven to be a lot more complex than simply a half-Israeli helping out a newbie (who, as it turns out, is quite capable of learning the lay of the land with or without a guide). With Ellery, Matt, and the kids so much a part of our lives here in Israel, I am constantly reminded that Boston is a home. We wax poetic about our favorite cafes, markets and restaurants, and trade anecdotes about Somerville and East Boston (our respective old neighborhoods). I also have the opportunity to see Jerusalem through the eyes of someone who neither loathes nor romanticizes this wild place, a truly refreshing opportunity. Ellery is quick-witted, dry and often very funny in her day-to-day assessments of Israeli society as she sees it. For these and many other reasons (such as my having a partner in Cheesecake Factory-bashing), I am thankful that she is here. I look forward to more adventures with her and the whole K-B crew.

E, this tofu salad is for you!

Ellery and Pookie, drinking a beer.

Tofu Salad, Yerushalmi Style

8 oz firm tofu, drained and crumbled

1/2 cup cooked short grain brown rice (or any cooked grain you have avaiblable)

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs Tamari soy sauce

3 Tbs tahini paste

2 Tbs dijon mustard

1/4 cup mayonaise

3 scallion, green parts only, finely chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

2 small carrots, diced

1 small cucumber, peeled and diced

1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped

a few fresh basil leaves, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the crumbled tofu in a dry skillet over medium heat, until it loses some of its moisture and shrinks slightly.

Put the tofu into a mixing bowl and add the cooked rice. While the tofu is still hot, swiftly stir in the lemon juice and soy sauce.

Now add the tahini, dijon and mayonnaise and stir everything together. Add the chopped veggies and herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy on its own, or stuffed into a pita with extra mustard and crisp lettuce leaves.

French Hill Salad

Dairy Free, Salad, Spring, Summer, Vegan, vegetarian

One of the best parts of being back in Israel is reuniting with friends from my past. Although not all my high school friends remained in Israel after graduation, the ones who did are now much more accessible and even the ones who left Israel come to visit with some regularity.

I am quite delighted to now be residing in the same great city as Ilana, a former Pardess Chana-ite, who gracefully mothers three beautiful children while also working full time as an elementary school teacher. Ilana, her husband Ziv and their children live in beautiful French Hill where she cooks, sews, gardens and makes Martha Stewart look like a lazy socialite. She does it all with a smile and a laugh, taking such genuine joy in life that it is contagious.

This salad is an example of the type of simple and delicious food that comes out of Ilana’s classically-Israeli kitchen. Ziv should be credited too, as he is never far from the food-preparations or (as he pointed out) from being the chief “taster”.

French Hill Salad, adapted from the Samberg house

serve 4-6

Whether accompanying a hearty lasagna (or “matzagna” as Ilana served over Passover), or a simple summer lunch, this salad is a refreshing green treat for cilantro lovers. Make sure to chop the herbs very finely, as their stems can be a little tough.  

1 large bunch of very fresh parsley, WELL washed (I usually do several washes) and finely chopped

1 small-medium bunch of cilantro, WELL washed and finely chopped

1-2 scallions, finely chopped

1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped

good-quality olive oil

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Mix parsley and cilantro in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice and a couple glugs of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and top with chopped toasted almonds.

Green Omelette

AriCooks, breakfast, Quick Meals, Salad, vegetarian

Every vegetarian (and non-vegetarian) cook has their particular area of weakness. Mine is leafy greens. Though I love eating them, preparing them in the kind of quantities necessary to receive their nutritional benefits always seems a bit tedious. There’s the washing, which is very serious business unless you want to bite into a hunk of grit or sand (nothing is worse), the air drying, and then the preparation. Sometimes the third step is minimal, especially if you are eating them raw, in salad or on a sandwich. But if you want your greens cooked somehow, more thought must be applied, and the cook-down factor is so very large that in order to get a few decent servings all available counter space must be resigned to drying piles of spinach/chard/dandelion/watercress/whathaveyou. There are no excuses to be made however when one has access to amazingly delicious and fresh variety of greens — and, as was recently pointed out to me by my fellow Israeli food bloggers, I am LUCKY to be living a 5 minute walk to the best shuk in the country (world?), crowds and all.

Green Omelette with Tomato Feta Salad

A little fresh pita and this breakfast would have been perfection. Until Passover ends, however, we’ll just have to settle for pretty-darn-tasty.

makes 2 generous servings

For the Omelette:

5 eggs

1/4 cup goat yogurt

a little water

1/2 cup chopped rashad (watercress or arugula will work as well)

1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

salt and pepper taste

Whisk the eggs well. Whisk in yogurt, greens, salt and pepper. Add a little water if the mixture seems too thick. Set aside for a moment while you make the salad.

For the Tomato Feta Salad:

2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (you can use any tomatoes, the cherry toms at the shuk happen to be the best right now)

1 orange bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled sheep feta

fresh herbs of your choice

olive oil


salt and pepper

mix everything together and heat up the pan for your omelette

Heat a non-stick or cast iron 9-10 inch pan with a little oil. Coat the surface and sides of the pan with oil using a brush or paper towel. Pour the omelette mixture in and cook until underside is quite firm. Flip, fold or finish the top under the broiler (I know, technically this makes it a frittata, but that’s how I do it). Turn omelette out of pan promptly when done to avoid burning.

Fennel Orange Salad

AriCooks, Dairy Free, Salad, Vegan

Every week, I promise myself that I will not save my weekend shopping until Friday, when the shuk here in Jerusalem is bursting at the seams with Shabbat shoppers all running over each other’s feet with our little pulley carts. Yet, every Friday morning I find myself, once again, elbowing my way to the loquats, the onions, and the parsley, and shouting my order at the pickle man, as I try to be heard over the enthusiastic tour group behind me.

Yesterday, as I walked up the insanity that is Agripas Street (now that every bus in the city has been rerouted there because of the light rail construction, coming soon…since 1990), I vowed once again that next week I will do my shopping on Thursday, like a normal person.

Under the canopy at Aroma: being caffeinated is essential for successful shuk-shopping, otherwise one might be besieged by chalva sellers and trampled by old ladies wielding large bunches of braided garlic

Shopping amidst chaos presents two problems: one, it’s tough to navigate, and two, I get so overwhelmed, I forget what I came for. Luckily, when I returned to our apartment it seemed I did in fact have the makings of a nutritious though quirky Shabbat dinner.

Auralee helping me make the filling for stuffed grape leaves

Fennel Orange Salad 

Although not exactly a spring salad, it seems fitting since I don’t consider 60° F days deserving of the title. Hopefully the consistent warm weather is around the corner, and whatever the case, this salad is fresh and delicious in any season.

1 large fennel bulb, finely chopped

2-3 small cucumbers (US cucumbers are  much larger, so you could probably use 1), peeled and finely chopped

1 orange bell pepper, ribbed, seeded and finely chopped

1-2 oranges, peeled and chopped

Combine everything in a large bowl and toss to coat with juices from the orange. Add a couple teaspoons of good-quality olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and toss again. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

The future

AriCooks, Quick Meals, Salad, vegetarian

I’ve been absent from my blog lately. Jeff and I are busy (and exhausted) trying to get our permanent housing situation sorted out here, in addition to which all the bad news from Japan and here in Israel has made writing about food seem a little… trivial. Nonetheless, we have continued to cook and eat (thank goodness) in what is soon to be one of the many kitchens-of-our-past. I’ve been thinking lately that these first few months here will seem like a blip in retrospect, a whirlwind of newness, of trying to sort out our life and connect to the ground. It’s a somewhat unfortunate fact of life that one cannot skip over the hard/uncomfortable times in order to get to the better, more settled times. Right now I am looking forward to the future.

Last week was cold and rainy here in Tel Aviv. Although one of my new guilty pleasures is complaining when the temperatures drop below 55ºF, last week I really meant it. I was cold. Especially inside, where there is no central heating, the dampness seeps in to your bones and the laundry hanging in the living room takes 4 days to dry.

Still not a bad-looking country, even on a rainy day

Happily, the sun has returned, making life a little easier as we prepare for our move to Haifa (see above). Although I have enjoyed Tel Aviv a lot, this little cartoon about a young zionist who goes to the Israeli emissary explains some of the reasons why it is not the ideal city to live in long-term (‘Friar’ means ‘sucker’).

Red Quinoa Salad with Walnuts and Ginger

2 cups cooked red quinoa (quinoa must be rinsed well before cooking to remove its bitter exterior. I use 1 1/2 parts water to 1 part quinoa)

2 carrots, finely chopped

1 small kohlrabi, cleaned, and chopped into very small cubes

1 cucumber, finely chopped

1/3 cup cilantro (or parsley) finely chopped

2 yellow bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, and finely chopped

1-2 Tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced

olive oil

salty goat cheese (something that can be crumbled)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (untoasted)

Mix cooked, cooled quinoa with veggies and herbs. Mix in a few tablespoons of a good-tasting olive oil, plus some black pepper (you can add salt too, but our cheese was salty enough). Sprinkle on walnuts and cheese, and mix again. Serve at room temp.

Serves 4-6-ish


AriCooks, Salad, vegetarian, Winter

Look, I’m not trying to brag, but in Israel, food tastes better. This is not a statement on where anyone should live, or some sort of euphemism for our improved quality of life now that we’re here, it’s just the truth. Even Israelis who left the country years ago to make their homes elsewhere will still wax nostalgic about the food in Israel. Breads, spreads, produce, coffee, cheese, even snackfood, this is a land full of people who love to eat and take their ingredients very seriously. The most unassuming, hole-in-the-wall bureka shops and felafel stands serve up flavors and textures that surpass your average American sandwich place or cafe by miles. In fact the only place in Boston that comes close to giving you what I consider an authentic and varied middle eastern food experience is Ana Sortum’s Oleana (and now her bakery-cafe, Sofra in Watertown). The difference is that Sortum gets away with charging absurdly high prices for items I can get for pennies in the shuk (outdoor market). She is a smart woman who knows the value and effect of the flavors of this region and exploits them well.

There are a number of reasons why fruits and vegetables pack so much flavor here in Israel, but I think the most obvious one is the proximity of the farms to the markets. Israel is a tiny country, about the size of Massachusetts, if that, and all produce available at the outdoor markets is grown within Israel and the territories. Since the country is 290 miles in length and 85 in width, most produce does not travel more than 100 miles from ground to table, and much of it travels far less. Plus, many people here still shop daily for the freshest food.

When I decided to make a winter salad using some of the root vegetables I’d been seeing at the shuk, I was trying be sure we were getting our greens. What I did not consider was that fresh kohlrabi would taste so good I would nearly eat it all while chopping, before it made it into the bowl. Root vegetables that sit on the refrigerated shelves at Whole Foods have little on the tangy, earthy, crisp flavors of this winter mix. But if it’s the best you’ve got, I still recommend giving this salad a try — at least you’ll be getting your veggies.

Root Vegetable Salad

1 kohlrabi, cut into thin slivers

1 carrot, cut into thin slivers

1 celery root, cut into thin slivers

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 handfuls green beans, cut vertically into halves or quarters

handful chopped almonds

for the dressing

1 Tablespoon zataar

1 tsp finely chopped  hot chili

1 Tbs honey

1 Tbs soy sauce

2 Tbs olive oil

salt and lemon juice to taste

Mix the veggies in a large bowl and toss them with the dressing (you may want to make a double batch depending on the size of the vegetables). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Beach

AriCooks, Salad, Vegan, vegetarian

pony rides at the beach near Yafo

This summer, when I was blogging from Jerusalem, I wrote about the way people love to take their life outdoors here in Israel. Most summer evenings in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, parents, grandparents, babies and teenagers, set up on blankets and plastic chairs, cooked, ate and played together until after dark. Here in Tel Aviv, the beach near our apartment resembles a carnival with families eating, flying kites, smoking hookahs and taking pony rides until sunset. The festive atmosphere is quite contagious, and for a couple hours amidst the cooking smells, the sight of the ocean at dusk, and Auralee and Jeff trying (mostly in vain) to get our kite off the ground, I was able to forget that we are in the midst of a chaotic and overwhelming time.

Rice, Lentil and Wheat Berry Salad, from foodnetwork.com

In an effort to come up with new, interesting and healthy dinner options in my kitchen-of-limited-capabilities, I am turning my attention to the grain family. There are a whole lot of salads to be made in this world that involve a variety of rice, beans, little pastas, vegetables, oils, vinegars and so forth. This one could not be simpler, though it does require a little planning ahead because of the wheat berries, which need to be soaked overnight (or cooked and soaked and cooked again), but those toothsome little tasties are well worth it.

1/3 cup wheat berries

1 teaspoon canola oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed in a strainer

3/4 cup basmati or jasmine rice, rinsed in a strainer

The dressing:

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 large garlic cloves, put through a press or minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

Generous seasoning freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup olive oil (mine is from the shuk here is Tel Aviv and is incredible)

1 carrot, minced (I used 2 bell peppers instead)

1 red bell pepper, very finely diced

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley


Soak the wheat berries overnight, or, as an alternative, place them in a saucepan half filled with water and boil them for 2 minutes, then remove them from the heat and let sit 1 hour. In either case, drain them, then refill the saucepan halfway with water and cook the wheat berries, partially covered, for 1 hour. When done, the wheat berries will be tender but slightly crunchy. Drain them thoroughly and let them cool. (Note: While the cooking method is a little more convenient — especially if you decide to make the salad and want  it the same day — soaking the berried overnight yields a chewier more interesting texture.)

Bring 2 cups of water, the canola oil, and salt to a boil in a mediumsize saucepan. Stir in the lentils and rice and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and cook for 17 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Do not stir the mixture at all while it is cooking. Carefully spoon the mixture into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile combine the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tightfitting lid and shake vigorously. Set aside.

When the rice mixture is completely cooled, use a large spoon to break up any clumps that have formed. Carefully stir in the wheat berries, carrot, red pepper, and parsley. Pour the dressing on the salad and toss. Let marinate at least 20 minutes before serving. (Note The rice greedily soaks up the dressing, so if you want to make this salad 2 to 24 hours in advance, pour on only half the dressing at first, then add the remainder about 20 minutes before serving.)