Spicy Harissa Olives

3 tbsp olive oil, divided 
1 clove garlic
2 cups green olives 
1/4-1/2 cup harissa 
1 tbsp pickled jalapeños or 1/2 regular jalapeño (seeds removed), chopped into tiny pieces 
1 preserved lemon, seeds removed, chopped into tiny pieces 
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Sauté garlic in 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add in olives and harissa. Mix well and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add jalapeño and lemon. Mix well to incorporate. Remove from heat. Once cooled, mix in parsley. 

Homemade Pita, topped with Chicken Shawarma

My good friend, Jenny, used to make homemade pita quite often due to allergies. I was often tempted to try, but going to a store was just so much easier, until now. So below is Jenny’s delicious recipe.

5-6 cups flour (can do 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat)
2 packets OR 4.5 tsp instant yeast 
1/4 tsp sugar
2.5 cups water 
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)

Mix half of flour in a bowl with yeast and sugar. Slowly mix in water and stir. Add salt and oil and stir. Slowly mix in remaining flour. 
Knead dough until smooth and elastic (I did it by hand easily). Let rise for 30 minutes – 1 hour (dough should double in size).
Preheat oven to 500°F. 
Divide dough into 15 balls. Flatten each to 1/4” thick (I used the palm of my hand). Let rise again for an additional 15 minutes. 
Place half the balls on parchment lined baking sheet and bake on bottom rack for 3-5 minutes, until the bottom of pita is lightly browned.

Tonight we enjoyed these pitas fully loaded with – shawarma chicken – Homemade humus – Shawarma eggplant – Pickles, olives, pickled eggplant
– Purple cabbage – Hard boiled eggs – Zaatar – Tahini
You can add add roasted peppers, beets, slaw, roasted cauliflower or broccoli, babaganoush etc etc

To make shawarma chicken, I cut up 4 boneless chicken thighs very small. I then coated chicken with a paste made of 1.5 tbsp shawarma seasoning, 1/2 tbsp zaatar, 1/2 tsp sea salt, pepper and 3 tbsp olive oil. Finally, I plan fried the chicken. 

Taco Baked Potatoes

We haven’t gone grocery shopping since the physical distancing measures have begun. Instead we’ve been ordering, but a lot of the products I had chosen aren’t in the order when I pick up. If I was in the store, I would just substitute, but instead, I have to be creative with what I have. I really wanted to just make quesadillas but it doesn’t work with no tortillas, so the taco baked potato was born and it is so delicious!!

4 medium russet potatoes 
Olive oil to drizzle on top 
Salt and pepper 
1 can black beans, drained, rinsed and dried 
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh chopped up with juices)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili lime seasoning (alternatively use some chili powder and lemon or lime zest)
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425°F. 
Brush potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Pierce holes all over them with a fork. 
Bake for 1 hour. 
In the meantime, prepare the bean mixture. Use a potato masher to mash beans, not too much, you should still see some whole beans and some should be mashed. 
Heat a bit of oil over medium heat. Add beans to pan and cook for a few minutes. Mix in tomatoes and cook until well incorporated. Add in spices, mix well and adjust to your liking. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. 
Once potatoes are removed from oven, allow to cool slightly. 
Slice potato in half, fill with bean mixture. 
Top however you’d like!

We topped with grated cheese and returned to the oven to allow the cheese to melt and then topped with homemade guacamole (mashed avocado, chili lime seasoning and lime juice). You can also add peppers, corn, olives, sour cream, red onion, cabbage etc 

Broccoli Asparagus Soup

2 tbsp butter 
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 bunches of asparagus, washed and hard ends cut off
1 head broccoli, cut into florets and washed
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried basil
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion and shallots in butter and oil until transparents and soft. 
Add in garlic cloves and sauté for an additional few minutes. 
Add in 2 bunches chopped asparagus and 1 head broccoli. 
Sauté for another minute or 2 with salt, pepper and dried basil. 
Cover with 6 cups water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. 
Allow to cool, purée then mix in grated Parmesan.

Halva Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup crumbled halva
3 tbsp halva spread
2 tsp cinnamon 
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans 
1-2 tsp vanilla
1 puff pastry rectangle
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°F 
Mix together all ingredients except puff pastry and egg. 
Roll out puff pastry to form a large rectangle. 
Spread halva mixture over puff pastry, leaving 1 inch of pastry at the far end of the sheet so it’ll adhere better. 
Roll up and refrigerate for about an hour. 
Remove from fridge and use a serrated knife to slice into 1” rounds. 
Place rounds on parchment lined baking sheet. 
Brush puff pastry with egg. 
Bake for about 30 minutes, until browned. 
Serve warm or room temp (but warm is best).

Sweet & Smoky Garlic Strip Steak

2 tbsp instant coffee grounds
1 tbsp Smoky paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 tbsp fresh rosemary 
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt 
Freshly ground pepper 
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
4 strip steaks, approximately 2 lbs

Mix together all ingredients, except steaks, to form a paste. 
Spread on steaks on both sides. Allow to marinate for a few hours. 
Heat some oil in a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side. 

Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa Patties

1 cup cooked quinoa 
1 medium zucchini, grated and liquid squeezed out
1.5 cups grated cheese (I used a blend of mozzarella and cheddar)
2-3 eggs 
Salt and pepper
1 tsp smoky paprika 
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
Oil for frying (I used avocado)

Mix together all ingredients. Heat oil in frying pan. Form small patties. Fry until you see the edges browning. Flip GENTLY and fry the other side.


2 medium eggplants
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 + 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, divided
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
3 tsp cumin, divided
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 lbs minced beef or veal or lamb
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp smoky paprika
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup tomato purée or tomato sauce (I used @tuscaninifoods crushed tomatoes thanks to @kosherdotcom )
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 tbsp potato starch or flour

Preheat oven to 450°F.
Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Brush lightly with oil, salt and pepper. Bake until nicely browned. Flip and bake until second side is also browned (not burnt). Marinate in mixture lemon juice, 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, shallot and 1 tsp cumin for at least an hour and up to 1 day. .
Sauté onion, remaining garlic and ginger over medium heat until soft.
Add meat, parsley, remaining cumin, smoky paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, curry, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until meat is just cooked through. Add tomato and cook for an additional 10 minutes. .
Preheat oven to 350°F
Assemble moussaka – spread meat mixture in a 9×12 Pyrex. Remove eggplant from marinade and spread over eggplant.
Beat 2 eggs with flour or potato starch and drizzle mixture over eggplant.
Bake for 20 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered.

This freezes well.

Zaatar Marinated Eggplant

Pictured centre with olive dip and garlic confit

1 eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp salt, divided
Zest 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp zaatar (I used @peregnaturalwhich is klp)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper

Mix together 2 tbsp oil, 1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper. Use it to coat eggplant.
Place eggplant in a single layer on a large, greased baking sheet.
Broil on top rack for 2-3 minutes per side. I turn the light on in my oven and watch carefully – every oven is different. It should not burn but should get lightly browned. (Do not use parchment, it could easily burn)
Mix together remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over eggplant and refrigerate for a few hours or up to 4 days.

Marbled Chocolate Pecan Meringues

Not everything goes as planned. These meringues were inspired by the “hazelnut chocolate meringue cake” recipe from @foodandwine (which looks incredible and i highly recommend you making it if you have the ingredients) – I was going to make a coconut whip cream as topping, but the coconut cream had a bad taste. I next tried making vanilla pudding with coconut milk and it wouldn’t whip up. They’re still delicious without the topping though so we’re just going to enjoy them as is. Our Seder also is not going to be what we expected and we’ll miss our extended family around our table. But we will make the best of it and enjoy our intimate Seder and hope that next year, we are surrounded by a busy table with our loved ones. Wishing everyone who celebrates a happy and healthy Passover .
1.5 cups pecans
3/4 cup chocolate chips 
6 egg whites, at room temperature 
Pinch of salt
1.5 cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 tsp vinegar .
Preheat oven to 350°F. 
Place a large metal mixing bowl and metal beaters from electric whisk into freezer. 
Roast pecans for 10 minutes. Removed from oven, reduce oven temperature to 225°F and chop into small pieces (I pulsed in a food processor). In the meantime, melt chocolate chips in double boiler. 
While chocolate is melting, remove bowl and whisk from freezer. Place egg whites in bowl and start beating at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, while continuing to beat until peaks get stiff. Next add vanilla and vinegar, continuing to beat. 
Stop beating and gently fold in nuts and melted chocolate (pour down the sides of the bowl). Fill meringue mixture gently into a ziploc bag and pipe into individual meringues onto parchment lined baking sheet. In this picture, the meringues don’t have high peaks because I wanted to fill them but since that didn’t work, I would try to make them nice and tall! 
Bake for 1.5 hours. Turn off oven and leave them for a few hours (I left them overnight) without opening the oven. .
Tips for meringues ** make sure bowl and whisks are perfectly clean and cold
** not even a drop of yolk should be in the white