In the Kitchen with Henny: Fruits of our land

When I was growing up in New York, Tu Bishbat was celebrated minimally. In Israel, it’s celebrated with a Seder at a table laden with brilliant colors of fresh fruit, nuts, breads and wine.

 Fresh winter-fruit salad (photo credit: HENNY SHOR)
Fresh winter-fruit salad
(photo credit: HENNY SHOR)

Tu Bishvat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, is the New Year for the Trees. We celebrate with gratitude for all the delicious and diverse produce that grows here in Israel, as well as worldwide. 

When I was growing up in New York, Tu Bishbat was celebrated (I use that term very loosely) minimally in our schools by eating dried-out, break-your-teeth, no-flavor, dark-brown pieces of carob. Many of you may have suffered that same Tu Bishvat trauma, until aliyah. Now it’s celebrated with a Seder at a table laden with brilliant colors of fresh fruit, nuts, breads and wine.

Mushroom Barley Soup

I love making winter soups that give you that warm and cozy feeling. Being that barley is one of the Shivat Haminim (seven species of the land), it’s a great way to warm up for Tu Bishvat – and this hearty soup that can be a meal all on its own.

Yields 8-10 servings.

 Mushroom barley soup (credit: HENNY SHOR) Mushroom barley soup (credit: HENNY SHOR)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 10-12 mushrooms sliced (portobello and champignon)
  • 3 carrots, cubed
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 8-10 cups of water
  • Parsley flakes or fresh parsley, chopped

Measure out 2 cups of barley and place it in a bowl of water. Set aside.

In a large stock pot (6-10 quarts/liters), heat the olive oil, sauté the onions and mushrooms for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt, pepper, carrots, and celery, and sauté for another five minutes. Drain the water from the bowl of barley and add the barley to the pot. Then add water and spices, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and continue cooking for about an hour to 90 minutes. You may want to add another two cups of water, depending on how liquidy you want your soup.

Fresh Winter-Fruit Salad

The winter fruits we have in Israel are full of sweetness, and we anticipate the months of fresh strawberries. Here’s a salad that’s easy to make, beautiful to look at and delicious to eat!

Yields 6 servings.


  • 2 cups baby lettuce leaves
  • 8 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 3 clementines /tangerines, segmented, pits removed
  • 1 apple, chopped 
  • ½ cup Craisins
  • ½ cup pecans


  • ½ cup olive oil 
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar or 1 Tbsp. date honey
  • 5 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper

Prepare all the salad ingredients in a bowl in the order listed. 

In a jar, mix the dressing ingredients and shake well for 2 minutes. 

Pour the dressing on the salad before serving.

 Date honey roast chicken (credit: HENNY SHOR) Date honey roast chicken (credit: HENNY SHOR)

Date Honey Roast Chicken

Dates are a staple fruit and snack in Israel. Date honey, also known as silan, has become extremely popular as a natural sweetener for cakes, cookies, even challah, and now chicken. This is a one-two-three recipe, and it’s always amazing!

Yields 6 servings.

  • 6 pieces chicken on the bone with skin
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half or 12 peeled cloves 
  • 1 cup of date honey
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4-6 fresh dates

Preheat oven to 160C/325F. 

In a roasting pan spread, out the onion slices and garlic and then place the chicken pieces on top. Pour the date honey over all the chicken, sprinkle on the spices, and place the fresh dates in the pan. Cover the roasting pan and cook in the oven for 90 minutes. Uncover and raise the temperature to 180C/350F and bake for another 30-40 minutes.

 Almond crescent cookies (credit: HENNY SHOR) Almond crescent cookies (credit: HENNY SHOR)

Almond Crescent Cookies

No matter what kind of winter we are having, when we see those little pinkish-white flowery almond buds on the trees, we all get a burst of hope and renewal. These almond cookies transport me back into my parents’ 1970s orange-flowered kitchen and I’m shaping these cookies like the letter C. For decades I honestly thought these were “C Cookies” only to find out they are supposed to be crescent shaped.

A couple of years ago I was craving these cookies, but I don’t like baking with margarine, and I try to avoid large amounts of sugar. So I recreated this healthier alternative, and I found the taste and smell still recreated those warm memories, especially when shaped like the letter C. 

Yields 20 cookies.

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup/agave/honey
  • 2 Tbsp. raw tehina
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup almonds, sliced or chopped

Preheat oven to 170C/350F.

In a bowl, add the oils, liquid sweetener, and tehina and mix with a spatula until well combined.

Add in the almond flour and salt and mix all together. Then mix in the almonds. 

Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Take a small amount of cookie dough and roll it in your hands to form a small log. Then shape it into a C or crescent and place it on the tray. Repeat....

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool before serving.

Happy Tu Bishvat to you all, and enjoy the wonderful fruits of our Land! 

The writer is a kitchen coach, inspiring cooking confidence and creativity. Learn how to bring the best out of your kitchen: