Author Archives: Shlomo Schwartz

Shlomo Schwartz

About Shlomo Schwartz

Chef Shlomo Schwartz, founder of Your Soul Kitchen, was born and raised in Israel and moved to New York City in 2010. After completing his studies at New York’s CKCA Culinary School, he worked at some of the NYC’s finest restaurants such as The Prime Grill, Porter House, and Boulud Sud, and at Catit and Blue Sky restaurants by Chef Meir Adoni in Tel Aviv. Today Chef Shlomo is a Food and Travel Entrepreneur Chef in NYC. Shlomo runs culinary trips to Israel, culinary workshops instructor, personal and private chef, food writer and recipe developer. Shlomo’s travels and background inspire his food. His passion is in working with healthy, fresh, and seasonal contemporary Israeli, Mediterranean, Kosher, and Jewish cuisine.

Easy Ma’amoul: a Middle Eastern Jewish Dessert

Ma’amoul is a traditional small pastry from the Levant (the area between Syria in the north and Egypt in the south including Lebanon, Israel and Palestine). Muslims, Christians and Jews lived in this area, alongside each other for over 1500 years. Among the many cultural and culinary traditions they share are the date and walnut-stuffed cookies called Ma’amoul.

For many, this Middle Eastern treat is a sweet bite of nostalgia, as the cookies are associated with certain holidays and special occasions. Muslims eat them to break the fast during the month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, Christians nibble on them before the Lent and while celebrating Easter, and Jews enjoy them during Purim, when they’re filled with nuts, and Rosh Hashanah, when they’re filled with dates.

You can find many types of Ma’amoul around the region, with different names, fillings and shapes. In Lebanon, you can find seven kinds of this pastry! Traditional Ma’amoul is round and formed into unique shapes using hand carved wooden molds or by using special decorating tweezers that form different pattern. Jewish ma’amoul stands out in that it’s made with pure white flour instead of semolina

Forming each cookie individually is a labor of love, so you can take a shortcut with my recipe for “Lazy Ma’amoul” if you’re short on time. It tastes just as good as the original. In the spirit of the variety of fillings for Ma’amoul, I added crumbled Halvah and chopped pecans to the traditional date filling.

Israeli-Inspired Mother’s Day Brunch

It is pretty customary for children to treat mom with a lovely brunch in a nice restaurant on Mother’s Day–no cooking or clean-up for mom, what could be better? But in the restaurant industry, Mother’s Day brunch is known as the busiest brunch of the year, which also means one of the most hectic and sometimes crowded for guests. So I say, forgo the hoards of brunch goers this year and prepare a fresh, Israeli-inspired menu at home. 

This Israeli eggplant tart is unique and flavorful, meant for a special day. The combination of sweet caramelized onions and eggplants, creamy Kashkaval cheese (cow milk cheese, originally from Italy and now very popular in the Mediterranean) and crunchy walnuts create the perfect bite. The best part of this recipe for mom? Most of the steps can be done in advance. Just refrigerate the dough and the filling and assemble just before baking.

The tart goes perfectly alongside a Mango, Basil and Cardamom Cocktail, which is inspired by a drink I once enjoyed on the beach in Tel Aviv. The freshness of the mango and lime, with fragrant notes of cardamom, balances the alcohol and represents modern Israeli flavors where new meets old, and east meets west. This can also be prepared as a “mocktail” by omitting the alcohol and adding more seltzer and mango nectar. 

Espranto Tel Aviv: Mango, Basil and Cardamom Cocktail

esperanto cocktail

Serves: 6

Ingredients

3 cardamom pods
2 sprigs basil
½  cup sugar
½  cup water
½  cup rum
½ cup vodka
2 cups mango nectar
2 limes
1 cup seltzer
Ice
mint sprigs for garnish 


Directions

Using the bottom of frying pan, lightly smash the cardamom pods. Place them in a small pot, and add the basil, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from fire and bring to room temperature, remove the pods and basil.

Then, in a cocktail shaker or blender, combine the rum, vodka, mango nectar, juice from 2 limes and a few cubes of ice, and blend until fully combined. Slowly add the cardamom simple syrup to the drink to the desired level of sweetness.  

Pour the drink in a cocktail glasses (add a few cubes of ice if desired) and top with a spritz of seltzer. Zest some lime over the drink, and garnish with fresh mint.

Eggplant, Kashkaval and Walnut Tart

eggplant tart2

Homemade Ketchup for Passover Recipe

Passover is a time our community focuses a lot on food–family traditions, the seder dinner and which products are, and are not, kosher for Passover. But this holiday can also be a time to make healthier choices and ditch some of that extra sugar in your diet.

This homemade ketchup is Passover-friendly and sugar-free. It also cooks up in no time so you might find yourself whipping up batches of this all year long. You can easily double or triple the recipe to make larger quantities.

 

Homemade Ketchup for Passover

Coffee and Wine Beef Stew Recipe

Passover, the holiday of freedom, comes with a lot of hard work like cleaning, shopping, cooking and hosting…but once we finally sit around the Passover Seder table, a calm happiness spreads around the table. Such warmth fills our hearts, embodying the return of spring. 

This coffee and red wine stew is an easy one-pot-dish with rustic and comforting flavors. It will give you the energy boost you’ll need so that you can sing well into the night!

coffee and wine beef stew1

 

Coffee and Wine Beef Stew

Purim Recipe: Arab-Style Tortellini (Shishbarak)

On Purim it is traditional to eat food with fillings hidden inside to symbolize the hidden nature of the Purim miracle, like hamantaschen, kreplach and stuffed cabbage.  And from this list of “stuffed” treats, one might assume that all Purim foods are Ashkenazi in origin, but this couldn’t be further from the  truth. Of late, more and more hidden culinary secrets from other Jewish communities are becoming more well-known and changing the Jewish food vocabulary. Yes, we might describe this as a miracle too.

One might think that today’s Israeli kitchen is based only on well-known dishes like falafel, shwarma and shakshuka, but Arab dishes have become a staple in many Israeli restaurants and homes.  For example, shishbarak is a festive Arab dish that has been described as a kind of local variation of ravioli. I first encountered this delicious pasta while I was working in Chef’s Meir Adoni’s Catit restaurants in Tel Aviv.

Traditionally this thin pasta pocket is stuffed with a spicy meat filling, cooked in a yogurt-based sauce, and is in the shape of ravioli. In my kosher interpretation of this lovely dish, I hide a vegetarian lentil and mushroom filling inside, cook it in a creamy mint sauce, and shape it in like elegant tortellini.

Arab tortellini pre-cooked

This magical dish is relatively easy to prepare at home and there is no need for a pasta machine! Let’s hope that this year will reveal many more food miracles.

Arab tortellinin up close

Arab-Style Tortellini (Shishbarak)

Ginger Glazed Lamb and Beef Lollipops

Any person who has visited Israel knows that a stroll through the shuk (Israeli market) is a multi-sense experience: the bright colors, the sweet and spicy smells, the mix of loud voices and of course the endless flavors. This magical experience is heightened before Jewish and Israeli festivities, and especially around the High Holidays. The apples and honey, the red pomegranates, round challah bread and many other traditional foods can be found in every corner.

On many holiday tables we can find circular shaped foods that symbolize the cyclical nature of the year. This lamb dish, made with pine nuts, currants, cinnamon and a silan ginger glaze, is inspired by the round shape of holiday foods and also some traditional Persian flavors. In this unique lamb dish, the ground meat gets served right on a cinnamon stick making it easy to eat, elegant and fun for holidays or any special meal.

ginger glazed lamb lollipops2

Basbousa Cake with Halvah Cream and Semolina Crumble

Basbousa cake is a sweet tradition for Rosh Hashanah with a pretty interesting history.

In the beginning of the 20th century, NILI was a Jewish espionage network which assisted the United Kingdom in its fight against the Ottoman Empire in Palestine during World War I. Sarah Aaronson, her brother Aaron, and their sister Rivka, together with Rivka’s fiancé Avshalom Feinberg, formed and led NILI from the town of Zichron Ya’akov on Mount Carmel. In the fall of 1917, the Turks were able to unravel the spy network resulting with the death of Sarah Aaronson and Avshalom Feinberg. A few years before being part of NILI espionage network, Avshalom wrote to Rivka a love song named: “אלף נשיקות” a thousand kisses that later became one of the most iconic love songs in Israel.

Not far from Zichron Ya’akov, in the Arab and Druze villages of the Galil Mountains, basbousa cake was served for hundreds of years during celebrations of joy and love. Basbousa means a thousand sweet kisses in Arabic and today is a favorite delight throughout the Middle East.

Basbousa cake vert
This Basbousa Cake with Halvah Cream and Semolina Crumble continues the spirit of the holidays. The cake is made from semolina flour and is sweetened with rich and floral syrup. This recipe is inspired by the tradition of dipping apples in honey on the eve of Rosh Hashanah to symbolize the ultra-sweet year we hope God will grant us, and is inspired by the love and joy we share with our family and friends during the holidays.

Basbousa cake horiz1

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