Japanese eggplant salad from levanacooks.com

The Shabbat Table is the latest CJN column from noted chef and food blogger Norene Gilletz. Click here for last week’s recipes.

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! Summertime is officially here, so it’s the perfect time to serve foods that can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature and don’t require heating. Cookbook author Lévana Kirschenbaum has kindly shared her quick and simple recipes for a cold Shabbos summer lunch, which fits the bill perfectly. Best of all, it’s completely pareve. The recipes are from her best-selling cookbook, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glorious Meals Pure & Simple (2011).

Her other best-selling cookbooks are Lévana’s Table: Kosher Cooking for Everyone, Lévana Cooks Dairy-Free, and In Short Order. Lévana blogs on her popular site, Lévana Cooks, and also does cooking demonstrations throughout Canada and the United States.

Her latest exciting culinary adventure, Lévana Complete Meal Replacement, is a wonderful way to get maximum, complete balanced nutrition, whether you have special dietary needs or want something on-the-go. Lévana developed these right in her kitchen, from all natural, pure, simple ingredients (never any chemicals or additives). She offers both “sweet” and savoury options that can be mixed with liquid, or added to your favourite recipes. She offers hundreds of revamped recipes using her meal replacements. Lévana’s products are now available on Amazon.com. She is currently looking for a Canadian distributor, so stay tuned!

Find more delicious recipes here. Enjoy!



Lévana writes: “Dare I include this tired horse of the cold soup repertoire? Yes! Because I have a couple of wonderful secret ingredients that do wonders with this perennial favorite: Watercress, and capers. The upgrade will certainly not be lost on you—liquid salad never tasted so good. Do not be tempted to substitute stem tomatoes or grape or cherry tomatoes, to make gazpacho, no matter how luscious they look. We want much meatier tomatoes here, like plum or beefsteak.”

8 plum tomatoes, halved (or 4 beefsteak tomatoes, quartered)

2 red peppers, cut in large chunks

1 medium red onion

4 large cloves garlic

Half a bunch watercress, stems and leaves

1/4 cup capers

4 cups tomato juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup fresh lemon or lime juice

3 tablespoons bottled hot sauce, or a little more to taste

1–2 Tablespoon cumin

3 Tablespoons paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, in batches, blend all ingredients until smooth. If you like it chunkier, stop blending before it gets completely smooth. Add enough cold water to give the soup the right texture. Serve chilled, topped with lemon or lime slices.

Makes a dozen ample servings.

Variation: Gazpacho with Mock Crab and Guacamole

If you would like to make a main course out of this soup, top the soup with a handful of crumbled mock crab and a generous dollop of guacamole (see below).

Guacamole: Lévana’s daughter Bella is always told she makes the best guacamole and is always called on to make it. Not so much because of what she does to it as because of what she doesn’t do: She always says, “All you need to do is respect the avocado!” And respect it she does: Avocadoes, lemon juice, salt, and bottled hot sauce to taste. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Place in a bowl with its pits, which prevent the avocado’s discoloration. End of story! No added tomatoes, mayo, onion, garlic, and whatnot—it is always served with dishes that likely include all those flavors, so leave it alone!

Pickled salmon


(Adapted from www.levanacooks.com)

Strictly speaking, pickled salmon is not cooked. Please don’t gasp! Pickled salmon pickles much the way herring and pickles do—in a brine. The combination of vinegar-salt-sugar cures the fish quickly and effortlessly. The ketchup imparts wonderful color and a pleasing sweet-and-sour flavor to the pickled salmon. No, there doesn’t seem to be a limit on how many hats salmon can wear: All delicious, all quick, all healthy!

Pickled salmon is delicious alone, with tiny boiled potatoes or on top of mixed greens. This is a Russian favorite that takes only a minute to prepare and keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator. Move over once in a while, pickled herring, we love you, but here is a most welcome change! Pickled salmon makes a great first course, or a great buffet dish.

2 pounds salmon fillets, skin and bones removed, cut in 1-inch cubes

1 medium onion, cut into very thin slices (use a food processor)

1/2 cup natural ketchup

1 cup cold water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

4 bay leaves

12 whole black peppercorns

4 whole cloves

1 Tablespoon sea salt

Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add salmon and blanch, for just a minute or two. Drain the salmon thoroughly. Transfer to a wide mouth glass jar without crowding or squeezing (2 jars if you are using smaller jars. My estimate is, two 1-quart jars total), layering it alternately with onions.

In a saucepan, bring the ketchup, water, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves and salt to a boil. Pour the boiled mixture over the salmon mixture in the jar, making sure all ingredients are submerged (add a little water if necessary). Let the jar come to room temperature, then refrigerate. It will be ready in two days. Use the pickled salmon within a week after it’s ready.

To serve the pickled salmon, remove the salmon with a slotted spoon, onions and all, discarding all liquid. Serve alone, with mixed greens and/or tiny boiled potatoes.

Makes 4–6 servings


Lévana writes: “In this dish, as in every dish that involves eggplant, I keep the oil-gobbling monster away from frying with a vengeance. I refuse to submit to its tyranny, so roasting is the answer, and it delivers a great reward besides the lean result—the wonderful added layer of smoky flavor”.

2 medium eggplants, cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

6 large cloves garlic

1 2-inch piece ginger, grated

3–4 Tablespoons brown rice vinegar

2–3 Tablespoons bottled hot sauce

3–4 Tablespoons soy sauce

4 scallions, sliced very thin

1/4 cup minced cilantro

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spray the paper with vegetable oil spray. Add the eggplant cut-side down in one layer, and spray it generously with vegetable oil spray. Roast 30–40 minutes, or until very soft and brown. When it is cool enough to handle, dice the eggplant, using a sharp knife. Transfer to a mixing bowl, with all remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Store refrigerated in a glass jar. Serve at room temperature.

Makes about 4 cups.

Variation: Moroccan Eggplant Salad

Roast and dice the eggplant exactly as above, ignoring all the remaining ingredients in the recipe. Instead, add 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons cumin, 2 Tablespoons paprika, 4 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.


Chocolate chip cookies

Lévana writes: “This recipe is in all my cookbooks, but how can I not include it in here? I can never make enough of these; and apparently, neither can thousands and thousands of people. A few years ago, I was involved with a few friends in a massive fund-raising project and made a million cookies (yes, a million, and then some!). You would think I would get tired of them. Absolutely not! The egg-free version is almost as good—I make them for my egg-allergic granddaughter all the time. Beside high-quality ingredients, the secret of a good chocolate cookie is a soft and chewy texture, achieved by baking them only until they are just cooked, not a second longer. Remember, they continue to cook for a minute or two, even as they cool. No mixing this dough by hand, and no mixer or food processor. A good cookie sheet makes a difference too: The heavier the better, as a heavy sheet will distribute the heat evenly and gradually.” 

2 eggs (only if you are restricted: 1/2 cup flax mixture, below)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar or Sucanat

3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour: all-purpose, whole wheat pastry, spelt (gluten-free—any GF flour)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, best quality

1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Cream the eggs and sugars in a food processor or with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the oil and vanilla and mix in thoroughly. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and pulse (or mix at low speed) until just combined. Fold in the chips and nuts (if using) with by hand. Drop the cookies in heaping teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, 1 inch apart.

Bake 10 minutes. The cookies will firm up as they cool, so do not be tempted to bake them longer, or they will harden. Bake only one tray at a time. Store at room temperature in tin boxes. Separate each layer of cookies with foil or wax paper so they don’t stick together.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Flax Mixture: Egg Replacement:

To replace 1 egg in recipes, mix 1 Tablespoon flax meal with 3 Tablespoons warm water. Let the flax meal mixture rest a minute or two and get to a viscous consistency.

Meal Replacement Version: the following recipe has been adapted using 2 pouches  of Lévana’s Vanilla Bean Complete Meal replacement: https://www.levanamealreplacement.com/recipe/chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/.

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of 12 cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at [email protected].

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, cookbook editor and now a podcaster. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at gourmania.com..