Pickled peppers not a tongue twister in Jewish Chef Series

Tired of spending your Sunday mornings watching football? Starting Jan. 24, you can spend them learning about chocolate, the foods of the Middle East and Italy, and how to make quick, healthy meals from local culinary experts during the third annual Jewish Chef Series at Temple Israel in Alameda.

The four-part series will feature chefs and food experts talking about their expertise and their passion for food. Each 11⁄2-hour session starts at 10:30 a.m. and will include cooking demonstrations and tastings.

This year’s lineup will include a “chocolate extravaganza,” with guests from the San Francisco Chocolate Factory and the Berkeley Chocolate Club, on Jan. 24; Israeli-born Vivi Moshonov, the owner of the Mediterranean restaurant Sophia Café in Albany, on Jan. 31; cookbook author Lynne Orloff-Jones (“Can to Pan Cookery”) and cookbook illustrator Linda Hillel (“The Wild Vegetarian”), focusing on fast, healthy meals, on Feb. 7; and Bob Klein, owner of the award-winning Italian restaurant Oliveto in Oakland, on Feb. 21.

For more information or to reserve tickets, which are $25 at the door or $80 for the series in advance, call (510) 593-5285.

The following recipes are adaptations of recipes that come from Hillel, a cookbook consultant and former cooking teacher as well as an illustrator.

The Oakland resident has been influenced not only by her Iraqi roots, but also by having been raised in Japan, which gave her an interest in soy foods. The easy pickled-pepper recipe goes back generations and was a regular part of the family’s meals in both Baghdad and Tokyo.

Miso-Tofu Tahini Spread

Makes a generous 11⁄2 cups

8 oz. firm tofu

1⁄3 cup tahini

2 Tbs. red miso

1⁄2 tsp. minced garlic

1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp. za’atar

1⁄8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

1 to 2 Tbs. minced flat-leaf (Italian) parsley


Rinse and drain tofu. Break up tofu into chunks as you place it in a food processor or blender. Add tahini, miso, garlic, lemon juice, za’atar, and pepper. Purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in the parsley. Serve as a dip with chips, pita bread and vegetables, or spread in fresh pita bread with some chopped vinegar-pickled peppers.

Vinegar-Pickled Peppers

Makes about 32 pieces

2 cups white vinegar

3 Tbs. sugar

1 Tbs. kosher salt

1⁄2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

2 whole dried red chile peppers

4 medium green bell peppers

Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, cayenne and chile peppers in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, cut the bell peppers into 3⁄4-inch strips and trim off any membranes. After it boils, taste the vinegar mixture for a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

Adjust the seasonings to taste. Add the pepper strips, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and have turned olive green.

Set the pan aside and let it cool to room temperature. Transfer the peppers to a glass jar, cover with the liquid, put the lid on the jar and refrigerate.

Once chilled, the pickles are ready to use as a condiment as is, or chop and add to tuna, egg or sardine salads. They will keep for several months in the refrigerator.

Faith Kramer
is a Bay area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs her food at www.clickblogappetit.blogspot.com. Contact her at [email protected]

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].