“Once there was a tree…”

    I love Tu B’Shvat. It’s a no pressure holiday. You don’t need to spend days in advance preparing, theres usually not a lot of company involved making it quality family time, and best of all, to me it means spring time is just around the corner!!!!!!!


    Most years I take my kids to the local botanical gardens to plant some trees and then come home and we have a really fun Tu B’shvat seudah. We eat all the different simanim, make brachos and just have a really nice quality family dinner talking about the beautiful world Hashem gave us to live in.

    This year, everything is different. Tu B’Shvat has graced us with its presence on shabbos. That means no planting on the actual day and any tradition “shiva minim” foods need to be incorporated into our shabbos meal. Luckily for me, most of these ingredients are pretty standard in Moroccan and middle eastern cooking (which is not surprising since they are the 7 species indigenous to this region).

    Just for the record here is a list of the shiva minim (don’t feel bad if you don’t remember them. I had to ask my 9 year old son….)







    Olive Oil

    So, I decided this year to incorporate our 7 delicious species of fruits and grains into one crazy delicious Friday night shabbos meal. I wrote up a menu with some of the usual shabbos staples, and included a bunch of new  and some recycled but perfectly appropriate recipes. I broke the recipes for you so that you can pick and choose or mix and match the recipes that your family would love. Of course feel free to use my menu in it’s entirety and we can be twinning this shabbos!

    Here it goes:


    Moroccan fish


    Chicken Soup with matzah balls

    Main Course:

    Sun- dried Tomato and Olive Ciabatta topped with Shredded Pomegranate Braised Brisket

    Chicken with Olives

    Barley Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

    Roasted Cauliflower with Moroccan Date and Fig Crunch Topping


    Spiced Poached Pears

    Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

    I figured you all have your own chicken soup and matzah balls recipe so I did not include those recipes. All the other recipes are listed below with clickable links to a printable version!

    I want to wish everyone out there a spring and summer, inspired by the trees we plant,  filled with growth, fruitfulness and beauty.

    “And the tree was happy.” -Shel Silverstein



  • Moroccan Fish


    1. 1 1/2 cups very hot water
    2. 1 tsp. saffron
    3. 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
    4. 1 cup fresh cilantro, stems and leaves separated
    5. 6 garlic cloves, peeled
    6. 2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into four strips
    7. 1/2 jalapeño, halved (if you like it less spicy, you can remove the seeds and ribs)
    8. 8 fillets of any thick piece of fish (halibut, salmon, sea bass)
    9. 1 tsp. paprika
    10. 2 tsp. salt
    11. 1 tsp. black pepper


    1. In a large cup, place saffron and hot water. Stir and cover tightly with saran wrap. Set aside.
    2. In a large skillet over low heat, drizzle olive oil.
    3. Sprinkle cilantro stems all around the bottom of the pan.
    4. Arrange red pepper slices, skin side down, on top of the stems.
    5. This will create little “cups” where the fish will go.
    6. Place jalapeños, skin side up, in between red pepper slices.
    7. Fit garlic cloves in any crevices between the peppers.
    8. Raise heat to medium, and allow peppers to cook for 3-4 minutes.
    9. Place fish over peppers, nestling them into the “pepper cups”.
    10. Sprinkle salt and pepper over fish.
    11. Pour the saffron broth over the fish.
    12. Sprinkle paprika and cilantro leaves over the top of the fish.
    13. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, cover the pan and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes.
    14. Remove cover and allow liquid to reduce for another five minutes.
    15. Don’t worry! There will still be enough “juice” to dip your bread into!


    1. The only change I’ve made to my grandmothers recipe is that I don’t put chickpeas in mine. I don’t have a good reason for leaving them out, except that it’s one less step and sometimes I get lazy.
    2. If you however, are not lazy, you can add a can of rinsed chick peas around the fish before you pour the saffron broth in.

    Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Ciabatta


    1. 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    2. 2 large onions, diced
    3. 2 tbsp. tomato paste
    4. 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    5. 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
    6. 1/4 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
    7. 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
    8. 1/2 tsp. salt
    9. 1/4 tsp. black pepper
    10. 3 tsp. dry yeast
    11. 1 tsp. suagr
    12. 1&3/4 cup warm water
    13. 1 tsp. salt
    14. 2&1/2 cups flour (plus more for dusting)
    15. 3/4 cups semolina


    1. In a large pan over medium high heat add oil.
    2. Add onions, salt and pepper and cook until lightly caramelized (about 10 minutes)
    3. Add tomato paste and crushed pepper flakes.
    4. Cook for another two minutes until tomato paste darkens slightly.
    5. Add olives, sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes and stir.
    6. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

    For the bread

    1. In a large bowl combine yeast, sugar and water.
    2. Let stand for 10 minutes until mixture is bubbly.
    3. Whisk in remaining 2 tbsp of oil and salt.
    4. Add flour and semolina into the bowl and stir until fully combined (about 4 min, the dough will be very wet)
    5. Stir in tomato-olive mixture.
    6. Cover the bowl with a towel and set it aside until it doubles in size (about 2 hours)

    To cooke the bread

    1. Preheat oven to 450f and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Liberally flour your board or counte top and pour dough out.
    3. Flour your hands well, and divide dough in half.
    4. Take each half and form into a long loaf on the baking sheet.
    5. (It does not have to be perfectly shaped!!!!)
    6. Bake for 25 minutes until loaves have slightly risen and are golden on top.
    7. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
    8. Enjoy!


    1. I don’t remember where I found the original recipe I worked off of to create this, but ever since I made it the first time, many years ago, we have been addicted!
    2. You can swap[ out the flavors for different ones to change things up because this recipe is verrrry forgiving!
    3. Just be warned, if you make it, the likelihood of eating two, 2 foot loaves of bread by yourself is extremely high!

    Pomegranate Braised Brisket


    1. 1, 2nd cut brisket

    For the Rub

    1. 3 tbsp. sugar
    2. 1 tbsp. kosher salt
    3. 1 tbsp. sumac
    4. 1 tbsp. ground mustard powder
    5. 1 tbsp. paprika
    6. 1 tbsp. garlic powder
    7. 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
    8. 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

    For the meat

    1. 2 tbsp. canola oil
    2. 3 medium onions, halved and sliced
    3. 1 tsp kosher salt
    4. 1 tsp black pepper
    5. 3 cloves garlic, smashed
    6. 1 bottle (330 ml) hard apple cider
    7. 1/2 cup tomato sauce (not marinara)
    8. 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses (syrup)
    9. 2 cups beef stock (or 1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in 2 cups hot water)


    1. Mix all the ingredients for the rub in a bowl.
    2. Rinse and pat dry brisket very well.
    3. Rub the spice mixture all over both sides of the brisket.
    4. (The spice rub makes more than you will probably need. Freeze the rest for another brisket)
    5. Place spiced brisket in a ziplock bag and refrigerate over night. (If your short on time just let meat come to to room temp for an hour with spice rub on it. Then continue with the recipe)
    6. Remove from the fridge and allow brisket to come to room temperature.
    7. Preheat oven to 350f (180c)
    8. Heat a large dutch oven or pan over high heat.
    9. Add oil and brisket.
    10. Sear both sides of the meat for about 4-5 minutes until nicely browned.
    11. Remove from pot or pan and set aside.
    12. In the same pot or pan add onions.
    13. Cook for 4 minutes until onions are soft and translucent.
    14. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
    15. Pour in hard cider ad using a wooden spoon scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
    16. Add the rest of the ingredients.
    17. Bring mixture to a boil and return brisket to the pot.
    18. If you used a pan, pour the sauce and onions over the brisket.
    19. Cover the pot or seal the pan tightly.
    20. Place in the oven and cook for about 1 & 1/2 hours.
    21. Remove from oven and turn brisket over.
    22. Replace in the oven.
    23. At this point cooking time will vary based on the actual size of your meat.
    24. I suggest giving it another 45 minutes, no matter the size, and after that checking it every 30 minutes until it is soft and tender.
    25. Mine took 3 hours all together for a 4lb. brisket.
    26. Remove from the oven and allow to brisket to cool completely in the sauce.
    27. (taking the brisket out of the sauce while it is hot will result in a dry brisket.)
    28. If you want to shred the brisket, wait 45 minutes after you take it out of the oven and while it is still warm, use to forks to shred it in the pot. Again, it is best to do this in the pot where it can stay in the liquid while you are shredding.
    29. To slice brisket, allow it cool completely then remove from sauce, slice against the grain and put it back in the sauce!


    1. This brisket is delicious on it’s own or shredded as a topping for flat breads, mashed potatoes, polenta etc.
    2. For a tu b’shvat meal shred brisket and serve on top of my Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Ciabatta.

    Spinach and Barley Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

    For the Dressing

    1. 3 Tbsp. Pomegranate Molasses
    2. 3 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
    3. 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
    4. 1 clove garlic, minced
    5. 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    6. 3/4 tsp salt
    7. 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

    For the Salad

    1. 1 cups barley
    2. 1 tsp salt
    3. 1 tsp black pepper
    4. 2&1/2 water
    5. 6 cups fresh spinach leaves
    6. 1 purple onion, halved and thinly sliced
    7. 1/4 cup pomegranate arils

    For there dressing

    1. Put everything in a bowl or jar and mix or shake vigorously.
    2. Refrigerate until serving.

    For the barley

    1. Rinse barley under cold water for 2 minutes.
    2. Add barley, salt, pepper and water to a medium sized pot.
    3. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
    4. Barley should be tender at this point.
    5. If not just recover and simmer a bit longer.
    6. Strain out any excess water and allow barley to cool.

    For the salad

    1. Combine spinach, barley and onion in a bowl.
    2. Drizzle dressing over the top and garnish with pomegranate arils.
    3. Serve right away!


    1. *the dressing can be last in the refrigerator for up to a week.
    2. **the barley can be made up to 2 days in advance.
    3. ***For a complete meal I like to Grill some chicken cutlets seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh garlic and then add it to the salad…yummmmm!

    Roasted Cauliflower with Moroccan Date and Fig Crunch Topping

    For the Cauliflower

    1. Florets cut from 3 small heads (or 1 large bag frozen
    2. 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
    3. 1 tsp. salt
    4. 1 tsp. black pepper

    For the topping

    1. 2 medium or 1 large onion, halved and sliced
    2. 1 tbsp. canola oil
    3. 1/2 cup blanched, peeled and halved almonds
    4. 1/2 cup slivered almonds
    5. 3/4 cup halved (crosswise) and thinly sliced dried figs
    6. 3 dates, halved and chopped
    7. 1 cup hot water
    8. 3 Tbsp. honey
    9. 2-3 tsp. orange blossom water (optional but traditional and recommended)

    For the Cauliflower

    1. Preheat oven to 350f .
    2. Lay cauliflower on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil.
    3. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
    4. Stir to combine.
    5. Place baking sheet in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes or until cauliflower edges begin to char.
    6. Do NOT stir the cauliflower or it will get mushy!
    7. Remove from the oven.

    For the topping

    1. In a medium sized saucepan add oil, onion, salt and pepper.
    2. Cook over high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly until onions become golden.
    3. Remove onions form the pot and set aside.
    4. Add both types of almonds to the pot.
    5. Continuously swirl the pot so that the almonds do not burn.
    6. Once lightly toasted and fragrant lower heat and onions back to the pot.
    7. Add all the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.
    8. Raise heat and bring mixture to a boil.
    9. Lower heat and simmer until water has evaporated and mixture is syrupy.
    10. Serve hot!


    1. This is a very traditional Moroccan topping for couscous. You can use any dried fruit you have lying around and of course can top anything from rice to cauliflower.
    2. I like to use two types of almonds for texture but you can easily change the amounts and just use one.
    3. Also, please do not be afraid of the orange blossom water. It is not perfume like rose water. It adds a beautiful sweet slightly citrusy note under the heaviness of the nuts and almonds. However ion you do not have any, just leave it out. It will still be delicious!

    Chicken with Olives


    1. 1 whole chicken, cut into ten, with out skin
    2. 2 Tbsp. oil
    3. 2 onions, diced
    4. 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
    5. 2 tsp. salt
    6. 1 tsp. black pepper
    7. 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
    8. 1 Tbsp. paprika
    9. 1 can of tomato sauce
    10. 1/2 cup water
    11. 1-1&2 c green pitted olives (depending on how much you want!)


    1. Preheat oven to 350f. (180c.) and spray a 9×13 tin pan, pyrex or roasting pan.
    2. Put chicken in the pan and season with salt and pepper.
    3. Heat a pan pan over medium high heat. Add oil and onions and sautee for five minutes until onions are translucent.
    4. Add paprika, black pepper, garlic and olives and stir.
    5. Add tomato sauce and water and bring mixture to a boil.
    6. Add olives
    7. Remove from heat and pour sauce over the chicken.
    8. Cover with Aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour covered. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes.
    9. Serve hot and enjoy!

    Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

    For the cake

    1. 1&1/2 cups flour
    2. 2 tsp baking powder
    3. 1/2 tsp salt
    4. 2 tbsp grapefruit zest
    5. 1 cup white sugar
    6. 3 eggs
    7. 1/4 richs whip (I actually used coconut cream)
    8. 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    For the glaze

    1. 3 cups confectioners sugar
    2. 2 tbsp grapefruit pulp (optional but pretty)
    3. Juice from 1/2 a grapefruit

    For the Cake

    1. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and zest.
    2. Set aside.
    3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat sugar with eggs until pale and fluffy.
    4. Slowly add in “creamer” and then olive oil.
    5. Turn mixer off, add flour mixture and use a spatula to mix it in until it is just combined.
    6. Bake in 350f (180c) oven for 35 min.

    For the Glaze

    1. Mix pulp and conf sugar in a small bowl.
    2. Slowly squeeze in juice mixing until you get desired glaze consistency.
    3. Go slow because it gets liquidy very fast.
    4. Once cake has cooled completely, pour glaze over the top!
    5. Enjoy!

    Spiced Poached Pears


    1. 1 bottle any red wine (I used cab)
    2. 1 1/2 cup sugar
    3. 1 lemon, juiced
    4. 6 large pears, peeled
    5. 6 cardamom pods
    6. 2 star anise
    7. 1 cinnamon stick
    8. 1/2 tsp whole cloves
    9. 1/2 tsp all spice berries


    1. Fill a bowl with cold water and pour in the lemon juice.
    2. Peel pears, place in lemon water and set aside.
    3. In a pot, add cardamom, cinnamon stick, all spice berries, star anise and cloves.
    4. Stir around the dry pot until they become fragrant.
    5. Add sugar and wine stirring until sugar is dissolved.
    6. Add pears to the pot.
    7. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover.
    8. Allow to simmer for 45 hour, turning pears every 15 mintutes.
    9. Uncover the pot, raise the heat and reduce liquid for another 15 minutes.
    10. At this point your pears should be soft and the liquid should be ver syrupy.
    11. If it is not syrupy enough, remove pears to a container and return wine mixture to a boil.
    12. Allow to boil until sauce has thickened and become syrupy.
    13. Pour over pears and serve right away or refrigerate.


    1. I like to let them come to room temperature when I serve them on shabbos.

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