Versatile meals for family get togethers

(Barbara Silverstein photo)

Shabbat Shalom! This week I’ll be be having Shabbat dinner with my brother and sister, all our children and their partners. My nephew is visiting from Australia and when he’s in town we always try to get together. The cousins have a great time on these occasions; we all do. There’s always good food and lots of kibitzing.

When I was growing up, I saw my first cousins every week. Dinner with my extended family was a regular event. We didn’t have elaborate meals and you ate what was on your plate. No one was vegetarian, lactose intolerant or gluten sensitive. And in those days there was no such thing as an ethical eater.

Organizing a dinner with my siblings entails significant collaboration to plan the food. My bother, his partner and his son are vegetarians, so is my daughter-in law. One of my sister’s daughters is lactose-intolerant and another daughter has a peanut allergy.

My middle son does’t like fish, but he eats sushi. Go figure. My youngest son is a vegan six days a week. He’s limiting his consumption of meat and chicken to minimize his environmental footprint. It’s a noble cause, but when he visits me I never know what day of the week I’m cooking for.

My sister will be making a salmon dish. It’s always a hit. We’ll also be ordering some platters of sushi. When it comes to millennials, I’ve learned that you can’t go wrong with sushi.

I’ll be making a family favourite – caprese salad and I’m volunteering my husband to make smashed potato latkes – it’s his new specialty. We use a recipe that I acquired from food maven, Norene Gilletz and it will be in her upcoming book, The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory.

For dessert, I’ll be bringing fruit and my sister’s baking a blueberry cake.



From Bite me too, written by sisters, Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat


4 salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each, with skin removed

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

112 tbsp sesame seeds


2 tbsp orange juice

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp lime zest

Wasabi Dip

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp wasabi paste

1 tsp fresh lime juice


For the marinade: In a small bowl whisk the orange juice, honey, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, ginger and lime zest.

Place the salmon in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the marinade, turn to coat the fish and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with non-stick cooking spray.

Remove the salmon from the marinade. Discard the marinade.

Place the salmon on the baking sheet and season each fillet with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the tops evenly with the sesame seeds, pressing lightly to help them stick.

Bake the fish for 10 minutes or until the fillets are flaky.

For the wasabi dip: In a small bowl whisk the mayonnaise, soy sauce, wasabi paste and lime juice until they are combined.

Serve with the salmon.

Makes 4 servings



Caprese salad, literally means salad from Capri. This dish, essentially made of fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes, was introduced in the ’50s at a restaurant on Capri, an island off the coats of Italy. Because this salad is so simple, it’s important to use quality ingredients.

This following recipe comes from the website Trial and Eater Easy Vegetarian Recipes and Travel.

1 10 oz. container grape tomatoes, halved or quartered

4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (about 25 small leaves), torn

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or balsamic glaze)

Optional sea salt to taste


In a medium bowl, toss together the cut up tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil leaves.

Add olive oil to bowl, and lightly toss the tomatoes, basil and cheese together.

Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the top of  the salad. Sprinkle salt as desired.



From The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory, by Norene Gilletz and Dr. Edward Wein


12 baby red-skinned potatoes

Lightly salted water

1-2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Additional seasonings to taste: basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika


Place the potatoes in enough lightly salted water to cover them.

Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are fork-tender.

Drain the potatoes well. (The potatoes can be prepared in advance up to this point and refrigerated for a day or two.)

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F).

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or sprayed foil.

Place the potatoes in a single layer, about 3 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover them with a piece of parchment paper.

Smash each potato once or twice with the flat part of your palm, making a flat disc. Round off any ragged edges by pushing them together with your fingers.

Brush the potato tops lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings.

Bake the potatoes, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are golden and crispy. If desired, turn the potatoes over halfway through the baking and brush the tops with oil.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.



From The Baker in Me by Daphna Rabinovitch

2 1/2 cups sifted cake and pastry flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tbsp finely grated lime zest

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup cream cheese, softened

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

2 1/4 cups fresh blueberries


1/4 cup cream cheese, softened

1 cup icing sugar

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice


Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-cup Bundt pan; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl making sure the three ingredients are well mixed.

In a separate bowl, stir together the sugar and the lime zest until the zest is well distributed.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the cream cheese for 1 minute or until well combined.

In a thin stream, gradually add the lime-infused sugar.

Beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beat in the egg yolk.

Remove the bowl from the stand. Switch to using a wooden spoon.

In three additions, stir in the flour mixture. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed, about 55 to 60 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Unmould and cool completely on a wire rack.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.

Pour in the lime juice and beat just until the mixture is of a drizzable consistency.

Drizzle the icing over the cake, allowing the excess to drip down the sides.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.