Pascale’s Kitchen: A tasty Greek tale

Like other Mediterranean cuisines, Greek food uses a lot of fresh vegetables, olive oil, fish, grains, and beef, as well as cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, herbs and olives

(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Greek cuisine is not overly sophisticated. In fact, it’s quite simple and pure and uses fresh and natural ingredients that together form a symphony of beautiful colors and flavors. 

Every gathering among friends or family in Greece is an excuse to set the kitchen table, serve ouzo and enjoy an all-around good time. Greek meals begin with a bountiful selection of appetizers served in little bowls, whose purpose is to open the palate, appetite and curiosity as to what is yet to come. The appetizers are served with freshly baked bread and ouzo, a dry anise-flavored aperitif. 

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Like other Mediterranean cuisines, Greek food uses a lot of fresh vegetables, olive oil, fish, grains, and beef, as well as cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, herbs and olives. In addition, savory and sweet filo dough pastries filled with beef, cheese, nuts, honey or fruit form an important part of Greek cuisine. 

Many Greeks grow herbs in their own herb gardens, such as oregano, mint, dill, basil, thyme and bay leaves. It’s also not unheard of for people to grow garlic, onion and fennel in their yard as well.

I have always found Greek cuisine enticing, and in an effort to expand my knowledge, I invited Eddy Mizrahi to spend time with me in my kitchen. Eddy runs a catering business called Shuk Yavani (Greek Market) and provides his clients with quality, traditional Greek dishes. 

 THE WRITER with Shuk Yavani’s Eddy Mizrahi.  (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) THE WRITER with Shuk Yavani’s Eddy Mizrahi. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Eddy is tall; I’d even say very tall. He wears small, round glasses that perch on the edge of his nose, and he almost always has a warm expression on his face. During our time together, I got to hear all about his background. He’s a seventh-generation Israeli, was born in Tel Aviv’s Florentine neighborhood, and grew up in Jaffa, which is where his culinary journey began, though he didn’t realize it at the time. 

Eddy, 58, has two children – Lia and Omri. He began his career in textiles. Through his work, he traveled around the world, including Italy, Turkey and Greece – especially the cities of Thessaloniki and Athens. 

In Athens, he met Alexander Zakamanidis, whose family engaged in the cotton trade, and the two became fast friends. Through this relationship, Eddy became smitten with the simplicity and genius of traditional Greek cuisine. 

Alexander would take him to restaurants that were off the beaten track, far from tourist centers. These were small, family establishments that served simple, authentically Greek food. The more Eddy was exposed to new flavors and textures, the harder he fell in love with this cuisine and became even more curious to delve deeper. 

After having spent decades working in the textile industry, Eddy decided to switch careers and go back to what he learned as a child growing up in Jaffa. He worked in a number of businesses before opening his current Shuk Yavani catering business (Instagram: 

Eddy also offers cooking workshops and works as a culinary adviser. Recently, he moved his business to Kfar Saba, where he renovated an old building with his partner, Alon Cohen. His kitchen is covered with blue and white tiles, and there’s a host of traditional cooking utensils. Eddy entertains guests in the garden, next to his abundant herb garden. 


Makes 15 sticks or 5 circles.


  • 1 kg. flour, sifted
  • 1 level Tbsp. dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 550 or 600 ml. water
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil


  • 2 eggplants, roasted over an open flame
  • 1 package (500 gr.) Canaan cheese
  • 1 container (200 gr.) sour cream, 27% fat
  • 1 cup Kashkaval cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For dipping:

  • Bowl of water
  • 1-2 cups sesame seeds

Add the flour, yeast and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, and begin mixing. Gradually add the water while continuing to mix for 8 minutes. Add the salt and oil, and continue mixing for another 4 minutes. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and place it in the fridge overnight. (If you want to prepare the pretzels the same day, let the dough rise on the countertop for 3 hours.) 

Separate the dough into 5 equal-sized pieces, and roll them into balls. Place the balls on a floured surface and let them rise for 45 minutes.

Take the roasted eggplants and make an incision in the burnt skin. Then, scoop out the cooked insides of the eggplant into a bowl. Drain off all the liquid, then transfer to a large bowl and add the rest of the filling ingredients. Mix well.

Roll out each ball into a thin rectangle. Take some of the filling and spread it along the edge of the rectangle, then roll it up and pinch the edges to seal. Next, take the two ends and press them together to form an oval shape. Do the same with the rest of the dough balls. 

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Dip the stuffed dough circles in the water, then dip them in the sesame seeds. Arrange them on the tray with space between each one, and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200° for 10-12 minutes. 

Level of difficulty: MediumTime: 1 hourStatus: Dairy



Makes 6 servings.

  • 3 cups dry chickpeas, soaked in 1.5 liters of soda water overnight, then rinsed and drained well
  • 4-5 beets
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, crushed
  • ¾ cup raw tahini
  • 1 tsp. salt

Place the chickpeas in a medium-sized pot and add water to cover. Cover the pot and cook for 40 minutes over low heat until the chickpeas have softened. Drain, keeping ½ cup of the water that the chickpeas were cooked in for later. 

Wrap the beets tightly in aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour until they’ve softened. Peel the cooked beets and keep the liquid for later. 

Add the cooked, lukewarm chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor, along with a little liquid from the beets (depending on the consistency you desire), lemon juice, garlic, tahini, salt and the leftover water from the chickpeas. Process for 2-3 minutes, then add the beets and process for 8 minutes until smooth. Taste and add salt, lemon juice and garlic as needed.

Level of difficulty: Easy-mediumTime: 1 hourStatus: Parve



Makes 6 servings.

  • 10 zucchinis
  • ¼-½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 cup arugula, chopped
  • 1 cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 200 gr. feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

Cut the zucchini in half and use a crinkle cutter to slice pieces at an angle. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the zucchini pieces, with the ribbed side facing down in the pan. Sauté until the zucchini pieces have browned on both sides. Remove from the pan.

Add the lentils to a pot and pour water on top to cover. Cook for 12 minutes, then drain.

Transfer the zucchini pieces to a large bowl and add the arugula, mint and cooked lentils. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top, then toss and add a little olive oil. Add the feta cheese just before serving. 

Level of difficulty: EasyTime: 20 minutesStatus: Dairy



Use 2 iron pans or a 30 cm. x 40 cm. pan.

  • 1 kg. flour, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. dry yeast
  • 600 ml. lukewarm water
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 level Tbsp. salt


  • 1½ cups cherry tomatoes (2 different colors)
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • Olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Olive oil
  • Chopped parsley

Pour 1 cup of room temperature water into a bowl, then add the sugar and yeast. Set it aside to ferment. 

Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. While mixing, add the dissolved yeast, gradually adding the rest of the water. Mix for 10 minutes. Add the oil and the salt, and continue mixing for another 4 minutes on slow speed. 

Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 3 hours. 

Grease your pans and line them with baking paper. Separate the dough into 2 pieces and place them in the pans. Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes. Using your fingers, make dimples into the dough.

Slice the tomatoes and olives in half and place them on top of the dough, and gently press them into the dough. Mix a little olive oil together with the garlic and parsley, then brush this mixture on top of the focaccias. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top.

Heat your oven to at least 250° on turbo grill mode for 30 minutes. Then, place the pans with the focaccia dough on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until they’ve browned. Remove them from the oven and brush with olive oil and sprinkle parsley on top. Serve hot.

Level of difficulty: MediumTime: 1.5 hours, plus time for risingStatus: Parve

Translated by Hannah Hochner.