On a lovely family holiday to Greece we had the most magical culinary encounter on the isle of Santorini. During our stay at Villa Antelmi we were so lucky to connect with our vibrant host Charalampos a.k.a Hary whose passion, warmth and graciousness made our trip extra special. When Hary saw how intrigued I was with the local cuisine and how eager I was to learn, he arranged a private cooking class for our group with his dear neighbor who is a culinary legend in the local community. Her name is Evgenia and she makes everything from scratch. All of the ingredients come from her garden and you taste the love in every bite. Thank you Hary and Evgenia for teaching us so much and allowing me to share what I have learned.
Bazergan is a middle eastern delicacy traditionally served on Friday evenings to celebrate Shabbat. It is typically accompanied by an array of mazza appetizers served before the main meal. This chutney like relish is bursting with flavor and is a tribute to my heritage. Colorful and vibrant, this dish is named ‘of the bazaar’, the food of merchants. I am fortunate enough to have a copy of my great grandmother’s original recipe from Syria which probably dates back generations. Bazergan is a masterpiece of texture, aroma and taste. Soft yet crunchy, tangy yet savory, bazergan leaves you with a lingering note of sweetness. Serve with pita bread or crackers as a dip, or use to top your salad.
When I entertain I love infusing varieties of water for my guests… It is visually pleasing way to serve a hydrating beverage that is refreshing and delicious! Featured from left to right are spearmint, rosemary and lemon. Effortless to prepare but makes a nice impression - try it!
Here is a sneak peek into crafting the edible jewels home line! Starting with napkin rings and tea strainers! They are hand made in our NYC studio. Stay tuned for the launch…
Savory Middle Eastern rings called ka’ak are nostalgic delicacies of my childhood. Growing up having sabbath lunch at my grandmother’s home every week, I would always snack on ka’ak with tea in the afternoon. Every time my grandmother made a batch, she would send home a small jar for me and I would consume it wisely. These show-stopping crackers are labor intensive so my grandmother would distribute small amounts of these gems to all of her grandchildren who appreciated them. My Nona learned how to make these from her grandmother and these are a treasured family recipe meant to serve afternoon guests with a fresh cup of tea. I may be biased, but my grandmother’s are incomparable to any other kaak I have tried. I have scoured every Middle Eastern bakery and none are as moist or flavorful. To pamper myself and honor my family tradition, I set aside some dedicated time to make these delightful crackers as a treat and I savor every last crumb.
Fennel is an under-appreciated vegetal gem with endless culinary potential. With its unique aroma and soothing flavor, fennel makes the perfect base for a cozy autumn/winter soup. I prefer pureed soups and this one allows me to fully utilize the fennel bulbs, leaves and stalks, blending them into a perfectly smooth consistency. Cooking fennel takes advantage of the vegetables sweet licorice-like notes that intensify when caramelized. This soup is fun to prepare and is an impressive gourmet starter for entertaining.
Fresh almond milk is a delicious treat and a great essential to have on hand. Making almond milk at home is simple, pleasing, nourishing and fun. I have added this recipe to my weekly repertoire. Almonds have a natural sweetness and creaminess with a lovely aroma. My almond milk has the essence of vanilla and cacao and is unsweetened, allowing the almonds to shine. I can’t stop going to my fridge to sneak in another sip. There are so many uses for this nut milk- you can drink this almond milk plain, as a base in smoothies, pour it over granola or cereal and incorporate it into your favorite cooking/baking recipes. All you need is a high powered blender, a nut milk bag, some almonds and water!
Tea is a huge part of my everyday life; black tea is my cozy companion each morning, green tea or darjeeling join me in the afternoon, and herbal tisanes tuck me in at night. Over the years, I’ve learned about the ceremonies and rituals associated with tea preparations from all over the world and accumulated an array of teas and tea gadgets to enjoy this beverage, and do so in style! Last winter, I wanted to create an event to bring people together and showcase my extensive tea collection and accoutrements. So my husband and I hosted our first tea party for some friends and family and it was a big hit! We hope to make it an annual tradition! Here is a peek into our little tea party, including ideas to throw your own event that are inspirational, delicious and fresh!
While visiting my husband’s family this summer I fell in love with the local charm up north in the Canadian Laurentian countryside. Their lovely home is nestled between quaint French Villages and secluded in nature away from the bustle of their hectic lives in Montreal. I discovered the ‘marché d’éte’ and pottery show both of which stole my heart. Anything french enchants me so seeing everything worded in this romance language made it ever so glamorous. Witnessing the passion and love the farmers/artisans put into their products is infectious, and they were quite an interesting cast of characters. The ‘1001 POTS’ show brings all the ceramic makers of Quebec together to sell and exhibit their masterpieces. It was truly inspirational.
This vegan gourmet fudge pie is a dairy free and healthy delight! My mother-in-law Sandy is a master baker and we collaborated on my visit up North to modify her less health conscious original. I use delicious cashew cream to substitute for heavy cream, earth balance instead of butter, whole wheat panko crumbs to substitute for graham cracker crumbs, and we reduced the sugar content dramatically. The whole family was amazed and thoroughly enjoyed this chocolatey delicacy. The scenery, tranquil lake, fresh Laurentian mountain air and country flair was so inspirational for making a cozy and rustic pie.
Shakshouka is Hebrew for “to shake”, or “all mixed up”. My father Jack is of Middle Eastern heritage fused with Mediterranean influence. He is notorious for ‘shaking things up’ in the kitchen. He loves hearty and savory meals and is always changing up traditional recipes adding his unique culinary twist to make them his own. The typical Shakshouka,consists of simple tomato sauce and peppers and is a classic Israeli dish. Sunday breakfast in our household has always been a diverse feast. ”Jacques-Shouka” is the perfect example…. It is a complete meal and a healthy choice that is relatively easy to prepare. Shakshouka à la Jack is nutrient-dense, packed with vitamins, phyto-nutrients, minerals, fiber and protein. Enjoy this masterpiece for a different and healthful weekend brunch. This meal is an inviting crowd pleaser with delicious tomato sauce topped with runny eggs. Shakshouka feels warm and festive looking as vibrant as it tastes.
It’s tomato season and I love to celebrate this bountiful harvest with Bruschetta Pomodoro. This recipe showcases succulent sweet raw tomatoes accented with savory garlic and aromatic basil on top of warm grilled bread. Its an an amazing summer appetizer and a true crowd pleaser that simply melts in your mouth. Preparation is quick and simple. I use unbleached whole grain bread and organic ingredients, making this dish a healthy winner. To enhance this experience, it is important to use the freshest seasonal tomatoes, available at your local farmers market. They are the star ingredient in this recipe so ensure that they are ripe, juicy and perfect. I love to use both red and orange tomatoes to make the dish as visually pleasing as it is delicious. The gorgeous colors of the Italian flag shine brightly, red tomatoes, white garlic and green basil.
This marinated kale salad is perfectly dressed for summer. I wanted to create a fresh dressing that is mouth watering and unique. The savoriness of the garlic, sweetness of the freshly squeezed cherry tomatoes and the tanginess of the lemon merge quite beautifully. I always crave kale and love inventing ways of making it a full meal or a really satisfying starter. Food texture is very important to me so I prep the kale carefully, discarding the stems, and hand pressing the dressing in very well to wilt the kale, making it easier to eat. This salad is simple to make, healthy as can be and the preparation will have you salivating!