Imported ingredients give American classics a distinctly Israeli flavor

Finding Israeli ingredients has never been easier since Israel’s food exports have been climbing steadily, with an estimated $115 million worth of tasty products imported by the U.S. in 2010.

Israeli imports are available at food stores and specialty markets across the Bay Area. I use some of my favorites — tahini and Sabra brand chocolate-orange liqueur — to give a few American classics an Israeli accent.

Most people think of tahini (sesame seed paste) only as an ingredient for hummus and other Middle Eastern dishes, but it is very versatile. Try it as a dressing for Asian noodles or as the base for a salmon or tuna salad.

Sabra, produced by Carmel Winery, probably was the first Israeli “food” I ever tried when I snuck a sip of my mother’s unattended glass as a teenager. I loved its taste of bittersweet chocolate and Jaffa oranges, and combining chocolate and orange flavors is still a favorite of mine.

In the recipes below, tahini replaces mayonnaise in potato salad and Sabra flavors a chocolate mousse.

Tahini Potato Salad

Serves 6

1 lb. very small Yukon gold or new potatoes

1 small green or red bell pepper, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces

1⁄4 cup chopped red onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1⁄2 tsp. salt or to taste

1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper or to taste

1⁄4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

1⁄2 cup tahini

juice of 1 lemon

about 1⁄2 cup hot water

Boil the potatoes until just tender. (If you can’t get marble-size potatoes, use the smallest ones you can find and cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks after cooking.) Drain. While still warm, mix well with bell pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Mix tahini with lemon juice and half of the hot water. Add additional water until it forms a smooth sauce, and stir into potato mixture. Mix well. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve while still warm or at room temperature.

Sabra Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4-6

Brandy or a chocolate- or orange-flavor liqueur can substitute for the Sabra brand liqueur in this recipe. If consuming raw egg is a concern, use 6 Tbs. of pasteurized egg substitute instead.

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1⁄2 cup sugar

2 Tbs. Sabra brand chocolate-orange liqueur

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (not chips)

4 egg yolks at room temperature, beaten

1⁄4 cup orange juice

additional whipped cream, grated orange zest and or chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

Whip cream, sugar and liqueur together until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Melt chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat. Immediately add a small portion to the egg yolks, mix well, then add the egg yolk mixture to the rest of the warm melted chocolate, whisking until smooth. Stir in juice. Mix well.

Fold a quarter of the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, gently combining until well mixed. Repeat with remaining chocolate and whipped cream. Transfer to serving dish(es). Cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour. Remove from refrigerator right before serving with optional garnishes.

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