Tasting circle: Save room for a honey of a cake

  • Chopped Israeli Salad

  • Frieda Howards’ Definitive Honey Cake Katy van Geel

  • Frieda Howards prepares a luncheon for her classmates in the “Five College Learning in Retirement” program cooking class.

Published: 8/18/2016 12:38:20 PM

Frieda Howards is an intrepid 91 year old with Polish-Jewish roots. A former elementary school teacher, she learned Yiddish from her grandparents.

Frieda says she doesn’t particularly like to cook, but that wasn’t reflected in the luncheon menu of Chopped Israeli Salad, fruit blintzes, Mandelbrot and Honey Cake she served to our cooking class from the “Five College Learning in Retirement” program.

The Chopped Israeli Salad can be made with ingredients available all year round. In spite of the name, this salad is known all around the Mediterranean: Turkey, Iran, Palestine, etc. In Israel, Frieda told us, it is served three times a day, including for breakfast.

“Jews, wherever they live, have to accommodate to what foods are available,” Frieda told us.

Frieda reported that the salad recipe estimated it would take 25 minutes to prepare, but it actually took her various hours of constant chopping. The ingredients must be diced very finely. (Apparently, cooks in Israel pride themselves on a perfect, small dice of the ingredients.) The salad benefits from sitting for a few hours before serving, and is delicious with toasted fresh pita chips.


Chopped Israeli Salad

Makes 4­6 servings

( Source: Frieda Howards and ”The Moosewood Cookbook”)

Note: Other vegetables may be substituted, or added.

2 young, 6­inch cucumbers

2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes

½ cup radishes

2 scallions (include green part)

1 large dill pickle

1 medium­sized bell pepper

½ cup pimiento­stuffed green olives

½ cup Spanish or red onion

½ cup fresh parsley

¼ cup olive oil

1 large lemon's juice

Finely chop ingredients and toss together gently with olive oil and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste, then chill.

The Definitive Honey Cake

3½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

4 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. allspice

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup honey

1½ cups white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup warm coffee

½ cup orange juice

1 cup shredded, peeled apple (optional)

½ cup flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously spray a 9­ or 10­inch tube pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the first seven ingredients. Make a well in the center and stir in the next nine ingredients. Combine the ingredients thoroughly.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Place the cake on a baking sheet and bake about 60­75 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when gently pressed with the fingertips.

Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding.

Nina Scott, a retired UMass Spanish professor, and Katy van Geel, a retired librarian and CPA, both live in Amherst.

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