A Decadent Lemon Cake for your Succot Entertaining

Triple Layer Lemon Cake

Succot is almost here. It’s the week of non-stop entertaining, or, if you’re lucky, getting invited out and maybe having to make one thing for the meal. I love it when that happens to me because that’s when I get to invest a lot of energy in one dish that takes too much time to make when you’ve got a whole meal on your cooking agenda.

Lemon cakes are a favorite of mine. Their sweet tartness is the perfect way to round off a meal. This is a cake I eyed in the Better Home and Gardens New Cook Book for a very long time before taking it on because it is quite a bit of work. But if you’ve got something to celebrate, it’s a winner. I made this as a birthday cake for my father-in-law’s 80th birthday. It’s that kind of cake. I had made a dairy meal, which after all the meat eating we’ve been doing over Rosh Hashana is not a bad idea at all, and it was the perfect dessert.

Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s 3 layers – it makes it fun and it just means an extra round of baking if you have a European-sized oven, as I do. Make your own lemon curd – it’s not difficult and it’s so good when it’s fresh and home made. You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it.

The result is a large, festive and delicious cake that feeds a whole bunch of people.


Lemon Curd


½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon corn flour

1½ teaspoons lemon zest

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons water

3 beaten egg yolks

¼ cup butter

How to do it

Le,on Cake Stacked and awaiting frosting

Stacked and awaiting frosting

  1. In a small saucepan, stip together the sugar, cornflour, lemon juice, zest and water until you have a smooth mixture.
  2. Cook over medium heat until the mixture has thickened and is bubbling.
  3. Beat the yolks in a small bowl. Add half the lemon mixture to the bowl while stirring vigorously so that the yolks don’t curdle. When well combined, add the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat while constantly stirring until the mixture comes to a gentle boil (medium-sized bubbles). Continue cooking for a another 2-3 minutes until the mixture is nice and thick.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring until it’s fully melted.
  5. Cover the whole surface of the curd with plastic wrap – the plastic should be touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for an hour or overnight if you want to make this ahead of time. If you do, when you take it out the next day, give it a good stir to loosen it up again.



1 cup butter

4 eggs

2 1/3 cups flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup buttermilk

How to do it

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)
  2. Line 3 20 or 22 cm (8 or 9 inch) round cake pans with baking paper and spray them with non-stick spray. If you only have 2 then prepare them and you will keep aside one third of the cake mix and bake the third layer separately.
  3. In an electric mixer beat the butter for 30 second till softened. Add the lemon zest, juice and sugar and beat until well combined.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time on high speed till very well mixed – mixture should be fluffy.
  5. Turn the mixer down to low speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt alternately with the buttermilk, beating until just combined.
  6. Spread the mixture evenly between the baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the layers on a cake rack for 15 minutes then turn them out and cool completely so they are ready for assembly.

    The cut lemon cake

    The cut cake

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


180g (6 oz) cream cheese (at least 25% fat)

½ cup softened butter

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Up to 4¾ cups powdered sugar

How to do it

  1. In a mixer, beat the cheese, butter and lemon juice on medium speed until light and fluffy
  2. Slowly add the powdered sugar until you have a good spreading consistency – the mixture should clump around the beater but be soft to the touch. It must not be running in any way.

Assembling the cake

  1. Turn out two of the cake layers, bottom side up (flat side). Give the lemon curd a mix so it’s spreadable and spread half the curd on the first layer. Place the second layer of cake round side down on top of the first. Spread the rest of the curd on top of that layer. Place the third layer round side up on top of the 2 layers.
  2. Frost the top and sides of the cake.

Antipasti Lasagna – a Vegetarian Feast

Antipasti Lasagna

Traditional lasagna is not something you’ll be seeing recipes for on this blog. But the lasagna framework is a fun one for trying new things. This recipe is not so new to me. I’ve been making it for years. A couple of months ago I opened by blog to get the recipe (for me, this blog is where I store all my favorite recipes) and I was shocked to find that I had never posted this one. So it’s time to rectify that error.

I cannot say that this recipe is a quick fix dish – it has a few steps and does require time and effort. but the result is just spectacular. The roasted vegetables lighten up the dish and make it a great summer pasta main course, great for vegetarians. Don’t be shy with the vegetables – use your favorite antipasti veggies – the more the merrier.



2 tablespoons oil

4 large  red peppers cut into quarters (I slice the cheeks off the core of the pepper to avoid using the white bits)

1 medium sized eggplant peeled cubed into 2 cm pieces

1 large onion peeled and cut into 8 segments (cut the onion in half then with the round side down, slice from the middle outwards at an angle so you get 4 crescents from each half)

3 medium sized zucchinis cubed into 2 cm pieces

6-7 large mushrooms washed and stemmed cubed into 2 cm pieces or 2 cups of small fresh mushrooms washed,stemmed and quartered

1 whole head of garlic (remove the loose papery skins on the outside by hand but leave the inner layers on)

Coarse salt

(Make sure you have enough cubed vegetables to amply fill a large (European) oven baking tray – about 10 cups full)


1 batch basic tomato sauce without the onion

18-20 lasagna noodles (the ones that don’t require pre-cooking – I use Barilla)


250 g (12 oz) ricotta cheese

1 egg

Salt and ground black pepper

400 g (14 oz) grated mozzarella cheese

100 g (3.5 oz) grated Parmesan cheese

How to do it


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. On an oven tray lined with baking paper, sprinkle the olive oil and place all the cut vegetables in an even layer, turning them through the olive oil so they are lightly oiled. Make sure the peppers are skin side down. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

3. Place in the upper part of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Then, using tongs, turn over the peppers and stir the rest of the veggies around. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the pepper skins start blackening.

4. Remove the peppers from the oven (leaving the rest of the veggies to roast if they are not yet cooked through for another about 10 if required). Place the peppers in a small plastic bag, seal and leave them for about 15 minutes while the rest of the veggies cool. Then remove the pepper skins – they should slide off easily.


1. Prepare the tomato sauce as per the recipe, including the red wine but omitting the onion

2. Beat the egg in a medium-sized bowl and add the ricotta cheese, salt and pepper and mix till smooth. Add the cooling antipasti vegetables to the ricotta mixture and gently mix together.

3. Grease a large Pyrex lasagna pan.

4. Spread about 4-5 tablespoons of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish, just barely covering the whole surface.

5. Arrange one layer of lasagna noodles on top of the sauce (make sure there are no spaces). Break up one of the noodles to fill any gaps.

6. Carefully spread half the antipasti mixture over the noodles, then spread one third of the tomato sauce on top of the antipasti. Sprinkle just under half of the mozzarella over the sauce.

7. Then another layer of noodles, the rest of the antipasti mixture and another one third of the tomato sauce, followed by most of the remaining mozzarella – leaving about half a cup for the top.

8. Add the last layer of noodles and cover with the rest of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top.

9. Place the lasagna in a pre-heated 180°C (350°F) oven for 30-35 minutes (or until the cheese on top is golden – don’t let it burn).

This serves about 8.


Meatballs – Great Comfort Food

Meatballs in Sweet and Sour Sauce

There’s something about meatballs in a thick and hearty sauce that makes a the cold and rain of a chilly winter’s day feel like perfect weather. For years I’ve been making a traditional Italian style meatballs in tomato sauce that goes perfectly with spaghetti. I decided to mix it up a bit this winter and make a sweet and sour version. I get a little worried when introducing change into family favorites, but this one went down a treat.

When you have a family like mine that likes to eat, especially my son who’s an athlete and needs his protein, you’ll want to make this recipe with about 1.5 kg of ground beef at least. Don’t be shy! They reheat very easily and well, if there are any leftovers.



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion finely chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic crushed

1 800g (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes (you can also use whole peeled tomatoes and crush them yourself)

2 cups of beef or chicken broth


½ cup brown sugar

Juice of half a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon or so)

Meat Balls

1kg (2 lb) fresh ground beef

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons ketchup

½ teaspoon meat spice (preferably BBQ flavor)

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Salt and ground black pepper

About ½ cup of bread crumbs (preferably freshly made)

How to do it

  1. Prepare the sauce by heating the olive oil in a large pot. Saute the onions until they are soft (they will just start to color, don’t brown them). Add the crushed garlic and stir around in the pot for a few seconds until they just start to get some color (do not let them brown otherwise they will burn). Add the tomatoes, sugar, lemon and seasoning. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer uncovered for a few minutes. Turn the sauce off while you prepare the meatballs.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, add the spices and ketchup, and mix together. Add the ground beef and mix well until combined. Add the breadcrumbs and mix well. Check to see that you have a consistency that allows you to shape a ball that retains its shape. If the meat mixture is too soft, add some more breadcrumbs, but don’t make the mixture too dry or your meatballs will be dry.
  3. Bring the sauce to the boil. Make small golf-ball sized meatballs (I use a heaped tablespoon to give me a consistent amount of meat per ball) and drop them carefully into the sauce. Shake the pot occasionally to ensure the meatballs are all covered with sauce. If you find that there isn’t enough sauce, then top up the pot with a little more stock, making sure you don’t add too much so as not to dilute the flavor.
  4. When all the meatballs are in the pot, turn the heat down low, cover the pot and allow the meatballs to simmer for about an hour.

This makes about 20-25 meatballs.

Serve with brown or white rice.


Decadence is Best Served with Chocolate

Chocolate Eclair Cake

Whenever I make cream puffs, they get snapped up. I love making them, but they are a little time consuming. So here’s a way to enjoy the decadent taste experience of a cream puff without a lot of the finicky work that’s involved. Behold, the chocolate eclair cake. Looks great, feeds a whole bunch of people and is simple to put together. It also works very well as a parev dessert.



For the pastry

8 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine

1 cup water

1 cup flour

4 large eggs

For the cream filling

4 cups milk or soy milk

3 sachets. instant vanilla pudding

1 container cream cheese, softened (225g/8 oz) (for parev you can use one container of Tofutti cream cheese or you can add one more sachet of vanilla pudding)

1 cup sweet cream or non dairy cream

Chocolate topping

300g (12 oz) dark chocolate

100 g (4 oz) butter or margarine

How to do it

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F)
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, heat butter/margarine and water over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Add flour all at once. Reduce heat to low and stir quickly until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the pan (this will take a few seconds only). Make sure all the flour is stirred into the liquid mixture.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes. Then beat in eggs, one at a time, combining well after each egg.
  4. On a large oven tray covered with baking paper, spread the dough into a large round shape, creating a lip around the sides. The base will expand in baking, so leave space around the sides. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool completely.

    Dough ready for baking

    Dough ready for baking

  5. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth and add the milk slowly while still beating. Add pudding powder and beat until thickened. Spread over cooled shell and allow to set – at least half an hour in the fridge.
  6. To make the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate and butter/margarine over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Very carefully spread over the top of the vanilla pudding, making sure not to mix the chocolate with the vanilla filling.
  7. Keep refrigerated until serving. Serve on the same day.Serves about 20.

The Yellow Salad that isn’t Yellow

Yellow Couscous Salad

Sometimes you find good food in the most unlikely places. This is the story of such a dish, a salad to be exact, that I found in the most unlikely of places – a small gas station convenience store called Yellow.

I was rushing around one day, and coming from Jerusalem and on my way to Petah Tikvah, with no time for food in between. I was hungry and needed sustenance. The only place for miles was a Yellow store at a gas station. On the shelf, between the sandwiches was a small salad that looked like it may not kill me. That’s just about all I could hope for at that point – this was a gas station after all. So I bought it, closed my eyes, and started eating. This one one of the best surprises, and a real “don’t judge a book by its cover” or in this case, “don’t judge a salad by its surrounding” moment.

It was fresh, tasty and most of all, an original combination of salad ingredients that prompted me to recreate it that very week. So while I call this my Yellow Salad, it’s really a couscous based salad with a lot of added, tasty ingredients.



1 500g (1lb) bag of instant couscous – large grain

1 cup finely shredded red cabbage

2-3 small cucumbers finely cubed

1 cup of garden peas (I recommend frozen)

1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

¾ cup dried cranberries

2 stalk of fresh celery finely chopped


½ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Juice of half a lemon

A dash of garlic powder or granulated garlic

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

How to do it

  1. Prepare the couscous according to the instructions on the bag. Allow the prepared couscous to cool down to room temperature. (You can prepare this the day before as well, but it doesn’t take very long)
  2. Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the couscous and mix.
  3. Shake the dressing ingredients together well and pour over the salad. Allow the salad to sit for a few hours before serving. If you are keeping it in the fridge, remove the salad about half an hour before you serve it so it isn’t too cold.

Serves about 8.

Welcome Summer with an Italian Inspired Salad

Italian Flag Pasta Salad

Finally! Summer seems to have broken through the grip of the nasty winter. This means a return to colder food, and of course, salads are on the menu.

I recently had to prepare a filling dish that was easy to transport. Nothing like a good old pasta salad to fit this bill. Bored with my regulars, I decided to come up with something new, pretty much hauling out whatever was in my fridge, and it worked!

I was so inspired by the colors of my favorite country in the world to visit – Italy. The red, white and green are covered by the pasta and zfatit cheese (white); roasted red peppers and cherry tomatoes (red); and rocket and basil (green). With a few additional colors abd tastes to round out the flavor, this salad is just yummy, and looks great on a table. You can also adjust the quantities of the vegetables and cheese according to your own preferences.



500 g (1lb) penne pasta (or any other sturdy noodle)

1-2 cups of roasted pepper pieces (if you’re in a hurry, you can used bottled roasted peppers, or for a more tasty option, roast them yourself – click here for the “how to”).

200 g (7 oz) Tzfatit cheese cut into small cubes (I recommend the Meshek Tzuriel brand – very creamy) If you can’t get Tzfatit, use a very mild feta cheese. For the parev version, just omit the cheese.

½ cup of chopped black olives (I buy the pre-cut olives – saves tons of time)

¾ cup corn kernels

About 15 cherry tomatoes cut into quarters

A large handful of rocket leaves

A small handful of fresh basil leaves chopped


¾ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 heaped teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

How to do it

1. Roast the peppers (if you’re not buying). You can prepare them ahead of time and refrigerate. Cut the peeled roasted peppers into small pieces.

2. Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the box. When you drain the pasta, rinse with cold water to cool down quickly and set aside. Rinsing also stops the pasta from sticking together.

3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, peppers and all the rest of the ingredients and gently toss.

4. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad and mix

Serves about 12 as a side dish.



Pasta-free Zucchini Lasagna for Pesach

Zucchini Lasagna

You know those recipes that people post on their Facebook statuses? I am sure most of you ignore them. But recently, one caught my eye for a zucchini parmesan. Coming just before Pesach, I decided it was worth a second read as it didn’t have any chametz.

I wasn’t excited about the part that called for frying the zucchini, but I saw the potential and decided to transform it into a “fake lasagna” that would work well as a side dish or even main dish for vegetarians for Pesach. So I went all mad-cook on the recipe, and came out with a dish that will definitely become part of my year-round repertoire. It’s got all the flavors of lasagna without the pasta, so this means it’s also good for those who stay away from gluten.



2 tablespoons olive oil

4-6 large zucchinis sliced lengthways into half centimeter (¼ inch) slices (if you only have small zucchinis, then make sure you have enough to cover two full oven trays). Slice off a thin slice of skin on either side of the zucchini so that there aren’t any slices that are half skin. zucchinilasagna1

300 g (12 oz) grated Mozzarella

400g (14 oz) crushed tomatoes

4-5 garlic cloves crushed

6-8 fresh chopped basil leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

250 g (½lb) ricotta cheese (you can also use cottage cheese)

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

100 g (4 oz) grated Parmesan or Emmental cheese (any cheese with a nice tang)

How to do it

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF)

2. Line two large baking trays with baking paper and lightly spread them with olive oil. Line the trays with the sliced zucchini – squeeze them all in there; there’s no need for space between the slices.

3. Roast for about half an hour till just starting to get color, turning them over halfway through. (Make sure not to overcook them as they will get too soft and you won’t be able to handle them.)

3. In a small saucepan, heat some olive oil and fry the garlic just until it starts to get golden. Add the crushed tomato, chopped fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper, and sugar. Allow to come to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

4. In a bowl, combine the egg, ricotta cheese, salt and pepper. Mix till combined. Set aside.

5. To assemble, grease a medium-sized baking dish with a little olive oil or cooking spray. Evenly spread about 4-5 tablespoons of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish.

6. Place a layer of zucchini strips on top of the tomato sauce, trying to cover as much of the area as possible. Spread the ricotta mixture over the tomato sauce, spread about one third of the tomato sauce over the ricotta, and then sprinkle about half the grated Mozzarella over the tomato sauce.

7. Add another layer of the zucchini strips on top of the cheese, and spread another one third of the tomato sauce over it, followed by the rest of the Mozarella.

8. Add a final layer of zucchini strips, followed by tomato sauce and the Parmesan or Emmental cheese, spreading it evenly over the top of the dish.

9. Bake at 180ºC (350ºF) for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese starts browning slightly.

Serves about 8 as a side dish.