This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Smashed Potatoes: Comfort Food

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 9, 2018


Last weekend we had heavy rain and strong winds. Naturally, I was preparing comfort foods in the kitchen for Shabbat. “Smashed potatoes” are so easy and so delicious.

Boil a pot of potatoes until tender. Drain and place on a foil-covered baking sheet. Smash gently with a potato masher. Sprinkle with chopped garlic, salt, freshly ground pepper, paprika, or whatever takes your fancy (cheese, fried onion). Drizzle with olive oil and bake in a medium oven until the tops are golden and the edges start to look crispy.

Make lots, because you’ll want to eat some the next day. ūüôā

Posted in Food, photography, recipes | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Passover Is Coming….

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 31, 2015

Passover is coming...

One of the signs of Passover is green garlic in the shuk.¬†I’ve seen piles of garlic, braids of garlic, but I’ve never seen¬†it as it is delivered!¬†Layers of garlic bulbs are stacked in a cube and wrapped with nylon netting. That must be quite a trick!

Photo taken in Mahane Yehuda, while rushing to Nahlaot.


Posted in Food, Israel, photography | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Jerusalem Wine Festival at the Israel Museum

Posted by Avital Pinnick on September 10, 2014


This year was our first visit to the Jerusalem Wine Festival at the Israel Museum. We¬†tasted some good wines, some bad wines, wandered around and had a good time. There was plenty of food to go with the wine–cheese, sushi, preserves, and pizza. Most of the wineries were kosher. The ones that weren’t were clearly marked and clustered together, so¬†navigating wasn’t as difficult as I’d expected. Most of the wineries were the large ones like Recanati, Tishbi, and Carmel. I had hoped to see some of the smaller companies, like Saslove, but alas.



The Big Bambu sculpture had free admission¬†during the wine festival. The catch is that you’re not allowed to climb if you’ve been drinking alcohol, so you have to climb before you start sipping.





Posted in Food, Israel, photography | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

War and Whooping Cough

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 20, 2014

Summer ... another war

I haven’t blogged lately because I’ve been too busy with¬†the war in Gaza and¬†the war with whooping cough. My husband caught pertussis¬†first, gave it to me, so we’re both coughing. I’ve learned some interesting things: childhood vaccinations against pertussis do not continue into adulthood. Pertussis can be difficult to diagnose because it starts out with cold-like symptoms and is easily mistaken for flu, asthma, bronchitis, and allergies. It is highly contagious and can be fatal to infants, so if you suspect that you have it (bad cough that goes on for weeks), go to your doctor. A three-day course of azithromycin will¬†greatly shorten its duration and limit the contagion. You’ll still be coughing but not for¬†as much as you would if you did nothing.

Here’s a cough remedy that is all over the Web. I found it helpful. It’s not too unpleasant to drink (like drinking a spicy vinaigrette) and it’s easy to make with kitchen ingredients. I wouldn’t give it to children, though. It’s too strong-flavoured for young palates and¬†unpasteurized honey should never be given to young infants.

Cough Remedy

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine the ingredients in a jar, close, and shake. take by the teaspoon.

I refrigerate mine, but I’ve heard that it’s fairly stable at room temperature. I will also be trying thyme tea, as soon as I can get my husband to pick some up at the healthfood store or the shuk.

We’re slowly getting used to the state of being at war again. August is usually filled with events that we look forward to all year, like the International Arts & Crafts Fair, the Wine Festival at the Israel Museum, various concerts. Almost everything has been cancelled and won’t be rescheduled in the¬†foreseeable future. ūüė¶

One missile fell close to home. I was at work, getting ready to leave for the day, when the alarm sounded in Jerusalem. I grabbed my backpack and went¬†into one of the internal staircases. I waited until I heard a couple explosions (Iron Dome intercepted two of the rockets) and then went out to catch the minibus.¬†At the grocery store I ran into a neighbour who said that the¬†siren had sounded in Maale Adumim, she heard a loud bang, and the ground shook. The rocket landed about a kilometer or two¬†down the road. We’re not protected by the Iron Dome system.

Our son is halfway through his military service. We don’t see much of him these days. He works 12-hour shifts and tries to find time to call us every few days. I’m such a Jewish mother–I live on the top floor of¬†a building that is about as well-constructed¬†as a cardboard box; the other day I called him and demanded to know what the army was doing to keep him (and the other soldiers) safe. He reassured me that most of the time he works underground. During an air raid they all go underground. So even if my knitting goes up in a puff of smoke, at least my little boy is safe! Just kidding, folks. We hope this ends with as little loss of life as possible.

Posted in recipes | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Recipe: Fresh Fava Beans

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 20, 2013

Fava beans out of pod

It’s that time of year again, the oh-so-brief period when fresh fava beans are plentiful in the shuk. They have to be shelled twice — first to remove the outer pod and then to remove the tough inner skin. You don’t get many beans to the kilo but they’re worth the effort. In the photo above, you can see the tough, pale green skin surrounding the shelled beans.

Below is about half a kilo of unshelled beans sitting in my sink. I only remembered to grab my camera when I had already started shelling the kilo.

Fava beans in pod

Although some people recommend piercing the tough skin with a knife, I find it much easier to use my thumb nail.

Here’s the method:

  1. Hold the bean in your right hand and use your left thumb nail to dig the short black “seam” out of the skin.
  2. Slide your left thumb and first finger over the bean, and under the skin, to separate the bean from the skin.
  3. Grab the bean firmly under the skin with your left thumb and first finger and use your right hand to slip the skin off the bean.

The reason you want to grab the bean at the end with the seam is because that’s where the bean is naturally joined together. You don’t want to break the join because the beans look prettier when they’re whole (breaking them into halves is unavoidable if the beans are very small, but it’s easy to keep them intact when they’re older and larger).

That kilo of unshelled beans yielded 350 grams of beans, enough for bean salad for the two of us for a couple meals. So delicious!

The photo below shows the beans before I made them into a salad. The salad is less photogenic because the beans have been cooked with spices.

Inner skin removed

Moroccan Fava Bean Salad

Serves 4

350 gm shelled, peeled fresh fava beans

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tbs olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tbs fresh lemon juice or to taste

2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Put the fava beans, garlic, paprika, cumin, olive oil, salt and pepper into a pot with about half a cup of water. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and pour  lemon juice over the beans. Serve with fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.

Posted in Food, recipes | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Recipe: Apple Pecan Cake

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 7, 2012

Apple Pecan Cake

This is the tried-and-true, much loved apple pecan cake that graces my table during the High Holidays. I would make it more often if someone would invent a self-peeling, coreless apple that dices itself. Since I find the apple-chopping tedious, even with a corer, I only bake it once a year.

I use Granny Smith apples because they’re tart, firm, and somewhat drier than the yellow and red apples at my local store. Because apples vary significantly in water content, you may find that your cake is extremely moist. If so, bake it for an extra 10 minutes to dry it out.

Try to find genuine vanilla extract and fresh pecans. I don’t mean that you have to pick and shell them yourself! Treat yourself to a new bag from the health food store instead of using the package at the back of your baking supplies.

This is a dense, moist cake that freezes well. If you wish to substitute different sugars or whole wheat flour, it will still be delicious. It’s a very flexible recipe.

Apple Pecan Cake
Yield: Two 9×4″ loaves (or two 8×5″ loaves or one 9″ round)

600 gm (= 4) Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored, 1/4″ dice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
150 gm (3/4 cup) margarine or butter
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup pecans; coarsely chopped

Combine the diced apples, cinnamon, and sugar (this can be done in advance if necessary) in a bowl and stir well. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease the pans.

In a large bowl, cream the margarine (or butter) with sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour and baking powder, until just combined (it’s OK if there are a few dry specks of flour showing but you don’t want big dry patches).

Stir in the apples and sugar, scraping all the juices into the batter. Stir in the pecans. The batter will be very sticky and stiff, so you will need a wooden spoon and a rubber scraper to wrestle it into the pans: pick up a large glob of batter with the wooden spoon and scrape it into a pan. Repeat until both pans are a little over half full. Smooth the tops.

Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife stuck in the center comes out moist but without streaks of raw batter and the center of the cake springs back when pressed gently. If your cake is very moist, bake it for a few minutes longer, covering with foil if the top is getting too brown.

Let the cake sit in the pan for a few minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out carefully onto a cake rack to finish cooling.


I normally serve the cake plain but if you need something with more pizzazz, bake the cake in a 9″ springform pan. Peel, core, and thinly slice an additional two apples and arrange in concentric circles. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of melted margarine or butter over the top, sprinkle 7 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Bake for an hour (larger pan), checking for doneness around 50 minutes. The apples on top should be tender. It looks like you slaved for hours in the kitchen, which isn’t far from the truth…. ūüôā

If you don’t want to go that far, dust the top of the cooled cake with sifted icing sugar or serve with a scoop of very good vanilla ice cream.

Posted in Food, recipes | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Recipe: Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Posted by Avital Pinnick on September 24, 2012

Slow Cooker

(Photo: Slow cooker with Picasa fake HDR filter) This is the recipe I pull out whenever I need to cook for a crowd. The slow cooker works wonders on tougher cuts of meat, so I use shoulder roast (#5, in Israel). I made it for Rosh Hashana, but it would be welcome for cool evenings in the sukkah.

I use a mandolin to julienne the carrots but you could use a food processor if it has a julienne blade. If you want to slice the carrots, you’ll have to add them earlier in the cooking process. The garlic may turn a distressing shade of blue-green but it will look normal by the time the meat is cooked.

The roast is not easy to slice while it’s hot. I prefer to cook it a day or two in advance and slice it when it’s cold (I don’t bother thickening the sauce with cornstarch if the roast is going to sit in the fridge).

Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Serves 6-8.

1.5 kg boneless shoulder roast
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup julienned carrots
2 cups sliced mushrooms (white button or porcini or a combination)
2 tbs cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water (optional)

Place the meat in the slow cooker and top with sliced onions. Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, and cider vinegar and pour over the meat. Add bay leaves and minced garlic.

Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours or until meat is very tender.

Add mushrooms and carrots and cornstarch mixture (if using) and cook for another half hour. Serve with rice.

Posted in Food, recipes | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Lady with Unicorn Update and Other Stuff

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 30, 2012

Sense of Hearing: Lady with Unicorn

By now y’all are probably thinking I traded in my needles and thread (not to mention beads, bobbins, lace pillows, fiber, and spinning wheel ….) for a camera and tripod. This blog originally started as more of a crafty blog and changed direction slowly as I ventured out with my camera. So here’s proof that I still remember how to use a needle. I haven’t posted an update since last October¬†because I hardly worked on it this year.

I’ve just completed the third page of 25 pages, about 22,000 stitches. This pattern is “Sense of Hearing: Lady with Unicorn,” purchased from Scarlet Quince.

318 x 410 stitches (total: 130,380 stitches)
130 colours (good thing I like red, because I’m seeing a lot of it)
18-count Aida (= 18 stitches/inch)
Started Nov. 23, 2009

Holiday Cooking

A couple comments from Perky Poppy¬†reminded me that the High Holidays are almost here! Time for me to tie on my bright red, floor-length bistro apron and disappear in a cloud of flour…

Here are links to my Rosh Hashanah posts from last year. I’m reviewing them so that I can put together menus. If you have any ideas for a killer appetizer or dessert, pass them on! ūüôā

Rest of Life

I haven’t been posting much recently and I’m way behind on my photos (still stuck in the Florence set!) because I’ve been so busy teaching a course at work on Enterprise Architect, a UML tool. I was sent to the UK for a four-day course this summer (with a side trip to Stonehenge) to learn the program.

I’ve prepared lectures, exercises, guides, and just finished a second session with the system architects. That leaves about two more sessions with architects, who-knows-how-many sessions with component owners and developers (they’re an unknown quantity), and one session with the technical writers. My brain hurts just thinking about it. But at least it will get easier with time. The only thing that doesn’t end is the technical support and hand-holding….

I’ve got a couple photo jobs lined up but they’re non-paying, so I may or may not blog them. One of them required me to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), which means you won’t hear about it before it takes place.

Getty emailed me about one of my images. I opened a Getty account, forgot about it, got a reminder (from a real person — imagine that!), and dutifully uploaded a high res copy. It was a good lesson in the necessity of archiving my images in their post-processed form. I don’t want to repeat the experience of staring at a RAW file and thinking, “How the heck did I process this three years ago?”

Posted in Crafts, embroidery, Food | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Recipe: Azzime Dolci, Unleavened Cookies in Venice

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 18, 2012

Azzime Dolci

Azzime Dolci translate as “sweet unleavened,” so a Google search will take you to a lot of Italian Passover recipe sites (but not these cookies, alas). I took the photo above at the cafe of the Jewish Museum in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice. The lower photo was taken at Panificio¬†Volpe, the kosher bakery around the corner from the Jewish Museum (you can buy azzime dolci there as well, and that’s probably where the Jewish Museum gets them).


I didn’t taste the “unleavened bread” (pano azimo = matzah) in the second photo but I did have the Azzime Dolci. They were very tasty, a bit tough, with whole anise seed. I tried to find a recipe on the Web, without success. However, I did find it in my stained copy of Edda Servi Machlin’s Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews (Giro Press, 1981), vol. 1. It’s a Passover recipe and calls for Passover flour. You probably won’t ¬†have access to Passover flour, so I suggest you use all-purpose flour and make it during the year when it’s not Passover.

Azzime Dolci al Vino (Sweet Wine Matzot)

2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and form a dough. Turn out over an oiled surface and knead until smooth. Roll into a cylinder; then cut the cylinder into 6 equal slices. Roll each slice down to 1/4-inch thickness. Pinch two concentric rows of holes [see note below] and arrange on a lightly oiled and well-floured baking sheet. Bake in 450¬įF oven for 15 minutes. Serve as a wholesome snack or breakfast food.

Note: The instructions for making the holes are provided in her recipe for matzah.

To trim the edges: place your thumb at an angle at the edge of the disk and then pinch with thumb and index finger to create a small bump. Repeat this motion at the same angle all around so the bumps are the same distance apart. Now for the holes: a quarter of an inch from the pinched border, attacking the disk from one side, pinch a piece of dough with thumb and index finger, making two holes. Move the index finger into the hole made by the thumb (toward you) and pinch another hole. Repeat all around until the first loop of holes is completed. A quarter of an inch in from the first row, pinch the dough and make another loop of holes.

Yields 6

Posted in Food, Italy, photography, recipes | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Recipe: Vegetable Parmesan Bake

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 5, 2012

Vegetable Parmesan Bake

I saw a beautiful Vegetable Parmesan Bake photo on Pinterest and was so disappointed to find that the page was no longer available. So I searched for a similar recipe and made it on Friday, with a few adaptations (the original recipe called for so much pasta that we’ll be eating it the rest of this week).

This dish is just a variation of the Provencal tian, with pasta added to turn it into a one-dish main course. You could omit the pasta and substitute leftover cooked rice. Or stir in a cup of cooked chickpeas or black-eyed peas. That’s the beauty of these dishes ‚ÄĒ¬†they’re really a method rather than a recipe. Omit vegetables that aren’t in your fridge or add ones that need to be used up.

Vegetable Parmesan Bake
Yield: 6 servings

250 gm (= 4 oz) thin spaghetti (spaghettini)
Omit for low-carb variation.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion; chopped
3 cloves garlic; minced
1 red pepper; cored and diced
1 cup white mushrooms; sliced
2 medium zucchini; diced
3 cups fresh spinach; chopped (Israeli equivalent: 1 bunch alei selek)

2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 cup cheese, grated (your choice)
2 eggs; lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese; grated

Lightly spray 8 x 11″ ovenproof casserole dish with cooking spray.

Cook thin spaghetti according to package directions. Drain pasta and
arrange in pie plate or casserole. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350¬įF (180¬įC).

In large pot, heat oil over low flame. Add onion and garlic and saute until
soft. Add bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach (alei selek or
Swiss chard) and cook until moisture has mostly evaporated.

Sprinkle vegetable mixture with flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove
from heat. Whisk in milk, a little at a time. Return to medium-low heat,
stirring until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Cool mixture slightly;
stir in herbs, cheese, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour
mixture over pasta and sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake until filling is set and heated through and top is golden, about 30
minutes. Serve hot.


This is a soft casserole. If you want it firm, like a kugel, add extra
cheese to the vegetables and 3 eggs to the pasta.

The vegetable mixture and pasta can be cooked in advance. Run hot water over the cold pasta and drain well if it has hardened into a block.

Peeled diced tomatoes would be a good addition.

You can substitute 400 gm cottage cheese for the milk and flour. Stir it in
with the grated cheese and eggs.

Posted in Food, recipes | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »