Monthly Archives: September 2007

Yaprak: Stuffed Grape Leaves


Me and Talya Enriquez (right) in NYC

Love stuffed grape leaves – in Hebrew, they are “alei gefen” (literally grape leaves) but in Turkey, they are called “Yaprak.” My friend Talya (above right) hails from Izmir Turkey, where her mother Sarah makes the most incredible food. On the last day of my visit there, she made a whole new batch for me – simply delish. Sarah and a group of women in the Izmir Jewish community put together (unfortunately for me, in Turkish) a Jewish Turkish recipe book. We’ll work on Talya to do some translating.

Jenny and Talya

Jenny Goldstein (left), who met Talya while living in Izmir for a year working with the Jewish community.

In the meantime, I’ve included a recipe below from a great book, Mathew Goodman’s, Jewish Food: The World at the Table:

Stuffed grape leaves are enormously popular throughout Turkey, Greece, and the Middle East. When filled with ground beef or lamb, they are served hot; filled with rice, they are served cold and make a favorite Sabbath dish. (Yaprak is the Turkish word for leaf, which is also the derivation of the name prakkes, as stuffed cabbage is known in the Ukraine.)
I’ve adapted this recipe from one made by Jenny Edelstein of Miami, who was born in Havana and came to the United States in 1963; like many of the Jews of Cuba, her family has Turkish roots. These stuffed grape leaves taste even better when eaten the day after they are made.



8 ounces brine-packed grape leaves

1 cup long-grain white rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 limes

1. Drain the grape leaves, rinse well, and pat dry.

2. For the filling: Place the rice in a bowl of cold water. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly colored. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Place in a medium bowl and combine with the mint and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and let cool.

4. Place a grape leaf, shiny side down and with the stem end facing you, on a clean surface. Place about 2 teaspoons of the filling near the stem end. Fold this end up and over the filling, then pinch in the two sides toward the center and loosely roll up the leaf like a cigar, tucking in any wide parts of the leaf and loose ends. (Do not roll the leaf too tightly, because the rice expands somewhat during cooking.) Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

5. Line a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot with the remaining loose grape leaves. Pack the stuffed grape leaves, seam sides down, in one layer over the bottom of the pot, then place any remaining stuffed leaves in a second layer on top.

6. For the cooking liquid: In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, water, lemon juice, and lime juice.

7. Pour the cooking liquid over the stuffed grape leaves. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer gently, covered, until the filling is fully cooked, about 45 minutes. Let the stuffed leaves cool in the pan, then transfer them to a large serving platter. Serve at room temperature.



Filed under Appetizers, Links, Middle-Eastern, sides

Fun: Peanut Butter Popcorn

A favorite website/blog of mine is Apartment Therapy They have a “Kitchen” portion of the site devoted to kitchen design issues – but mainly to cooking. It’s great. Today they had a Fall Snacking Feature – and given my brother’s obsession with popcorn (and another family member’s guaranteed popcorn-induced flatulence!) I couldn’t resist posting their recipe for Peanut Butter Popcorn. Sounds Yum.


To visit the recipe at its home: Click below
Fall Snacking: Peanut Butter Popcorn
makes about 8 cups


1/4 cup popcorn kernels
Vegetable oil
Fine salt
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (should be free of added sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Prepare a clean paper shopping bag or oversized mixing bowl. Heat a large heavy pan over medium heat and film the bottom with vegetable oil. Add the popcorn, shake to distribute, then put a lid on the pan. Leave a small crack for steam to escape. When the popcorn starts popping, shake vigorously to make sure the kernels pop evenly. When the popping slows, take the pan off the heat. Pour the popcorn into the paper bag or bowl to cool, being careful to leave any unpopped kernels in the pan. Coated with peanut butter caramel, the unpopped kernels are a serious tooth hazard.

Mix the honey and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for a couple minutes, then remove from the heat and add the peanut butter. Stir vigorously until all the peanut butter is melted, then mix in the vanilla.

Immediately pour the peanut butter caramel over the popcorn and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until it’s all coated. Once it’s mixed you can put it in a serving bowl. Cover tightly after it’s cooled.

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Filed under Links, Snacks

Sababa’s Lentil Soup

As the leaves outside begin to change colors, I begin to crave soup.  Autumn is by far my favorite season, and this lentil soup is indeed my favorite soup. I have fond memories of lunches at Sababa in Toronto with friends, and the day I got a copy of their soup recipe. Apparently so many people had been asking, they finally included it in an interview in The Toronto Star. The soup tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to mingle and get to know each other. A lot like life, no?

One nice additional touch on this one, is to carmelize some onions, finely sliced, and add them atop each bowl as a garnish. Simply divine. 

For the Sababa Website, click here. 

As appeared in the Toronto Star


1.25 cups red lentils

    .5 cup white rice

  .33 cup vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

6 cups warm water

1 tbsp vegetable stock

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp salt or to taste

lemon wedges optional


  1. Soak lentils and rice in warm water. Add onion to hot vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add the 6 cups water and bring to a boil.
  2. Drain soaking lentils and rice, rinse well then add to boiling water with onion  and boil 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add vegetable stock, cumin, olive oil and salt. Serve each bowl with wedge of lemon.


Makes 8 cups

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Filed under Links, Middle-Eastern, Soup

Video: For Fun- The Sukkot Shake

Tomorrow evening the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (“Feast of Tabernacles”) begins. For more on Sukkot click here: Sukkot from

In the interim, enjoy the clip below.      

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Filed under Holidays, video

Mysteries: How do get that grime off of tupperware?!


Okay kitchen veterans. I need to know, PLEASE – how do you get rid of that gross film that sometimes stays on tupperware even after you’ve washed it 3 times? What am I doing wrong?


Filed under questions

Welcome Eden!

Eden Ronit

Although it will be a while ’till she can enjoy both her savtas’ cooking, Eden is in for a real treat. Marilyn on one side, and Hemda on the other! Lucky child!

Mazal tov to Dafna and Gil, and to the proud grandparents, brother, sisters, aunts, and uncles!!

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Baklawa: Something Sweet for the New Year

From the Great

“Balkava (from the Farsi for “many leaves”), a pastry perfected by royal bakers in the sultan’s palace in Istanbul, consists of layers of phyllo filled with nuts and spices and drenched in a syrup.

It has become a traditional Middle Eastern Rosh Hashannah and Purim treat but is enjoyed at celebrations throughout the year. There are numerous variations of baklava, many a closely guarded secret passed down within families. A walnut filling is more prevalent in the Levant, while pistachios and pistachio-almond fillings are preferred in Iran. Blanched almonds are traditional on Rosh Hashannah to produce a light color so that the year should be dulce y aclarada (“sweet and bright”).

Sephardim refrain from serving dark-colored pastries such as those made from walnuts on Rosh Hashannah, which would portend a dark year. Although purists disdain anything except the classic nut filling, some cooks innovated by adding such items as dates and chocolate chips. Hungarians make an apricot version. This very rich treat is usually served in small portions.

For more – click below:

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Filed under Iraqi, Israeli, Links, Middle-Eastern