Black bean kibbeh with Tahini

May 19, 2015

 041515_0652 copy

Honestly, I didn’t know what to call this dish. Kibbeh was the most appropriate name I could think of. This dish was a complete accident – I had about two cups of black beans leftover from my veggie burger experiment, in which I either over-processed the black beans, or the egg I added to the black bean mixture was too large. What I’m trying to say is that the black bean mixture came out too mushy to make patties for burgers so I decided to put the mixture in the fridge until I think of something. Continue Reading…

Black bean burgers with melted tahini

April 30, 2015
042315_0817 copy

I remember the first time I had a burger. It was in the beginning of nineties, I was 16 or so, shortly after I moved in with my twin friends. One day their father, who was an excellent cook made them for lunch. I have seen an hamburger before at Burger Ranch (One of the first burger chains in Israel) but never had one before. I only learned about Burger Ranch after I moved from Yerucham to Tel Aviv when I was a teenager. Burgers and American food in general arrived into my hometown in late nineties! 


I had my first and last veggie burger at a burger joint in Los Angeles. It wasn’t disgusting but not good enough to want to eat it again. Lately I frequently bump into the recipes for veggie burgers online so I decided to give them another shot. 

Continue Reading…

avocado sandwich – vegan & gluten-free

April 22, 2015

This morning I came back from Larchmont Farmers’ Market starving. I dug in my Ikea shopping trolley and pulled out the avocado, watermelon radish and microgreens, and rapidly made myself this beautiful sandwich.

041215_0436 copy

Up until a few months ago I couldn’t find any gluten-free bread that I liked – most of the gluten-free breads on the market are too dense or have a weird sandy texture – until I discovered the bread at Baby Cakes. It’s not as good as a loaf of rustic or country sourdough but it’s airy and moist and have no grainy texture. It tastes like an Irish soda bread. At $7.50, it’s not cheap (Good gluten-free flours are expensive) but the loaf is pretty big and it lasts me, just me, for ten days.  Continue Reading…

Kale and pumpkin seeds pesto

April 18, 2015

Alex: Mommy, if Anthony Bourdain came over to dinner at our house, do you think he would like your food?

Me: I think he would, but he might need to go eat some pork belly or lobster fat afterwards.

I actually have a few things I wanted to say to Mr. Bourdain:

Dear Anthony,

After watching No Reservations and Parts Unknown I became a huge fan of you.  So I was thrilled when I discovered that you have another show on Netflix. But after I watched five episodes I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping that in The Layover, you would eat, for a change, something other than pork bellies and towers of shellfish. Sometime during one of the episodes (I think the one in Philadelphia) my gut told me that even you, Tony, are not really comfortable and enthusiastic about eating some of these unappetizing, artery-clogging, greasy dishes, but that you ate them anyway to maintain your cool, carnivorous facade. Or perhaps I am projecting. 

Tony, I’m not saying you should change your eating and drinking habits. (I wish I had your immune system! If I consumed even half the amount of alcohol and animal products you do, I would be buried by now next to my sister.) But if you make a new show, it would be great to expose and introduce new dishes. It wouldn’t ruin your reputation if you eat other things than those long, shit-looking sausages and bulls’ testicles.

Come on, Tony, how could you visit the Mecca of healthy food and ignore (was it on purpose?) the excellent vegan restaurants/choices that L.A. offers?! You don’t have to be a sikh or Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal trainer to try vegetarian or vegan food. (If I didn’t already live in Los Angeles, I would love to find out about places like Crossroad Kitchen, Gracias Madre or Sage Vegan Bistro.) Don’t misunderstand me, I love Korean and Vietnamese cuisines, but you already covered those in your previous shows. 

Tony, I love your straightforwardness, sincerity, and your sense of humor, but enough with the poor pigs! Give that intelligent animal a break, and maybe your liver too!

I don’t know how you do it. How can you travel all over the world, suffer jet lag, sit for hours on a plane, eat tons of unhealthy food, drink gallons of alcohol, and still manage to stay healthy? You must have God’s own immune system. 

I challenge you to make a show without pork or lobster, or, even better, without animals. (You can use dairy and eggs.) I know you think I’m a crazy, health-obsessed bitch from California. I am probably all that, sometimes, but, just so you know, I grew up in a Moroccan home in Israel, where meat was served every day for lunch. As a child, I ate braised cow tongue and belly buttons, I sucked on chicken neck bone, and begged my mother to make any type of liver for lunch. I think I ate every part of the cow except its brain. Of course, growing up in a Jewish home, we didn’t eat pork or shellfish (although my dad did introduce me to shrimp at a young age.) I was introduced to sashimi as a teenager in the early nineties. Uni was one of my favorites. I also lived a third of my life in New York City, and three years in Spain, the Land of Jamon. 

So you see, Tony, I have been places, cooked endless meals, and dined in a kazillion restaurants, but after I discovered how we treat and kill animals, I decided to stop buying meat that wasn’t raised respectfully, without exception. I am still not as strict a vegetarian as I would like to be, but I know it will happen eventually. We don’t have to eat meat every day. I’m sure you don’t. I think it would be incredible if you didn’t encourage people to eat so much meat, or at least stop being so cynical about organic, grass-fed, free-range meat. Nobody will think that you’re any less cool. Maybe even cooler, if such a thing is possible. It would be a good thing to do for our obese society and our sick environment. 

Think about it. I’m not saying kale juices and chia puddings – just no piggies, shellfish and sausages. Continue Reading…

Thai coconut soup

April 13, 2015
Tom Kha Gai is a spicy coconut soup made with all kinds of aromatic Thai herbs and roots, and is my favorite Thai dish.
Since we moved to Los Angeles five years ago and rediscovered Vietnamese, our little family have been neglecting Thai cuisine. The truth is that it wasn’t only the Vietnamese fault. As much as I love Thai food, most Thai dishes are cooked with a lot of sugar, which is not so healthy, unless you make them at home and add very little sugar or agave or non.
On my way back home from a hike at Griffith Park, I stopped by Bangkok Market  to buy ingredients to make this yummy soup. I bought herbs, roots and vegetables but forgot to buy that most basic yet crucial Thai ingredient, fish sauce, a salty and stinky yet fierce and powerful liquid. In retrospect it wasn’t a bad thing after all. The recipe for the soup is now purely vegan.
To compensate for the fish sauce, I added extra herbs, extra galangal and tamari. It worked! The soup came out aromatic, silky, rich, spicy and sour with a perfect mild sweetness. (While writing this post I found a recipe for vegan fish sauce on a site called The Kitchn.)

Continue Reading…

Radish and carrot salad

April 6, 2015
031315_9279 copy

I adapted this recipe from a cookbook, but God knows which one it was. It was a while ago while I was at Barnes & Noble with Leo and Alex. I took a quick a snapshot only of the recipe, like I always do. Usually I don’t even look back at my phone for the recipes I stole but I had many radishes and I remember how simple and delightful this salad was.  Continue Reading…

DIY chocolate bars

March 23, 2015

Maybe that’s what I should make for living. Good dark chocolate bars. Just like the crafty ones they make at Dick Taylor or Dandelion. Pure, dark, rich, slightly bitter and mildly sweet chocolate. Chocolate that is made with only two or three ingredients, cocoa and sugar. No soy lecithin, artificial flavors, or any other crap that industrial chocolate makers put in almost every chocolate bar on the market today, even in the fancy ones. I want to see more that pure chocolate that makes milk-chocolate people change their minds about dark chocolate. 

Lately I see more and more hand-crafted chocolate bars or organic pure dark bars. They are not cheap, but they are definitely worth their price (ranging from $4 to $12.)

Theo is a good chocolate brand that isn’t hand-crafted but is organic, fair trade, and relatively cheap ($4 for a 3 oz. bar) compared to the other bean-to-bar chocolates.
Continue Reading…

Mushroom and lentil soup

March 20, 2015
031315_9204 copy

Who makes soup when it’s eighty-something degrees out? I do. For some odd reason I was craving soup. Luckily, the weather in Los Angeles gets much cooler in the evenings, so my guests didn’t think that something was wrong with me and my culinary choices when I served this soup. However, they were a bit shocked when I said it needed parmesan. Normally I’m the one who says, “It doesn’t need any cheese.” But it’s good either way.

I adapted this recipe from Green Kitchen Stories, one of my favorites food blogs. I really wanted to make this soup with Chanterelle mushrooms, just like in their recipe, but (a) I didn’t have any, and (b) I would need to take a mortgage to buy a pound of chanterelles. Okay, I’m exaggerating, they’re not that expensive, only $42 a pound. (In Los Angeles you can find them at the LA Funghi vendor in the farmers market.) I don’t mind investing in them once in a while, but I wouldn’t use them for soup. Continue Reading…

Vegetable tagine with chermoula sauce

March 4, 2015


It’s weird, and I’m not sure why it happened, but for someone who grew up in a Moroccan home, I only discovered chermoula sauce in my early twenties, after I moved to New York City from Tel Aviv. The first time I had a dish with this sauce was at Mogador. Not the city in Morocco (where my grandmother was born and lived in until she moved to Israel.) I mean Café Mogador on St. Marks Street in the East Village. Before kids, this place was our (my husband’s and mine) second home. Our apartment was only eight blocks away from it. We ate most of our meals there and sometimes twice a day.

At Mogador I started to embrace and connect to my Moroccan roots. (When I was a teenager, we moved from a small town in the Negev of Israel, to the northern part of Tel Aviv, where the majority of the population was Ashkenazi Jews. Being the only Moroccan family in the neighborhood, as a teenager, already embarrassed by almost everything about me or my family, I tried to hide my Moroccanness.) I remember I was amazed at how the people in New York thought that north African cuisine is sophisticated, while for me it was trivial and barbaric.

The Chicken Tagine with chermoula sauce at Mogador was one of my – and millions of others’ – favorites dishes. Although my mother cooked and braised many dishes with the same ingredients, she somehow never ground them into a paste. (Maybe it wasn’t a jewish dish; I keep forgetting to ask her.) I wish she had, because grinding the herbs and spices together makes such a big difference in the flavor. The dish gets an amazing depth and aroma that happens only when you process everything together into a paste. Continue Reading…