Zucchini Tofu Napoleon — Joint Post

Zucchini Tofu Napoleon

The blogging world has opened up so many new culinary opportunities.

The beauty of blogging is that I get to virtually visit the kitchens of people all over the world and then adapt the recipes to suite my family’s taste. Hence, I recently posted a recipe which I called Lentils Napoleon. Here is the link: https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/lentils-napoleon/

I adapted the recipe based on The Eggplant Napoleon recipe posted by Dolly, who is behind the apron of koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com.

Here is the link to her wonderful blog: https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/

Here is the link for her post on Eggplant Napoleon:


However, I must apologize for an inadvertent culinary faux pas: Lentils Napoleon is really a misnomer.

Through this joint post, I have learned that my lentil dish should have been named Lentils with Cumin and Sumac.

And, how did I learn this?

Because Dolly, who is a dedicated teacher, kindly reminded me that “Napoleon” really refers to anything baked in thin layers interspersed with something creamy.

My lentil dish was certainly not that. I simply liked the spices she used and thought I would use lentils instead.

BUT, my malapropism has led to this current hands-on learning experience.  Dolly is a genuine educator: she suggested that we do a joint post on a “real” Lentils Napoleon.

Our goal is to post as simultaneously as possible both of our recipes, using the culinary concept of layering vegetables interspersed with something creamy, the real culinary definition of Napoleon-style dishes.

Here is the link to Dolly’s post on Beets and Beans Napoleon. I am sorry but I don’t know how to make a short link:

Beets and Beans Napoleon – koolkosherkitchen


For me, this has been a real opportunity to see how unique we all are.  We infuse our own special spark into everything we do.

Our own special spark

Raizel’s painting from camp.

Based on a more careful reading of Dolly’s post, and some online research, I discovered that Wolfgang Puck, the original creator of Beets Napoleon, used goat cheese between layers of beets.

For this post, I decided to use thinly sliced zucchini between a tofu-lentil creamy layer.  I thought that tofu, with a dash of vinegar, would recreate a more goat cheese-like texture. In addition, I had run out of lentils, and I didn’t feel like shopping for more.

Raizel was my hands-on helper in this activity. She came home from camp this week, and was very excited when I suggested we make this dish for our joint post.

Raizel helped with the actual cooking, and she also took some of the photos. Raizel has a unique gift for coming up with recipes that are often quite good. But, photography is one of her passions; and of course, she loved using my phone as a camera!

Lentil-Tofu Napoleon


For Tofu-Lentil Layer:

1 lbs. firm tofu

Spice mix:

1 tablespoon garlic salt

1-2 teaspoons garlic power

1 teaspoon pepper, and cumin

½ teaspoon coriander, and sumac

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Optional: fresh cilantro

Optional: Leftover Napoleon Lentils

Vinegar to taste, in order to get a slightly tangy taste for the tofu. I used red wine vinegar, but I think that apple cider vinegar would be good too.

Vegetable Layer:

3 Zucchini, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste.


Lentil Tofu Creamy layer: Slice the tofu about 5 mm thick and sprinkle spices on top. Spray oil grill, and cook the tofu until done.

I took the leftover lentils from when I first posted the recipe and pureed it together with the tofu and added the vinegar.

The vinegar gives it a nice tang and a creamy texture.

Then I adjusted the seasoning.

Raizel said, “It looks terrible but it tastes great.”

Vegetable layer: Slice the zucchini is thin slices. I have a wonderful compact grater/slicer that I used. It is very sharp and is able to slice 2 different thickness. It also has 3 blades for various grating. Raizel actually sliced the zucchini and she did it very well!

Sauté zucchini in pan, sprayed with olive oil. Add crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Layer zucchini in a small, lightly oiled dish. Next add layer of tofu-lentils, and continuing layering until near the top. Top layer should be of zucchini.

Bake covered for 20 minutes or until cooked.

I made this in individual servings. I think that it could be made in a larger pan, and then sliced when cooked. However, it might be difficult to  maintain the desired layered look. Wolfgang Puck, I believe, used a cookie cutter to get a uniform and attractive serving portion.

Serve with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Here are the pictures. Since I made it with Raizel and she likes photography, we took quite a few.


Tofu marinating with the spices.

Raizel slicing the zucchini. Go Raizel!

Sauteing the zucchini.

Raizel placing the tofu on the grill.

Raizel cooked the tofu by herself!

Pureeing the tofu

Ready to cook!

Voila! The final product!


The verdict:  The recipe objectively came out great. However, subjectively, is was not well received.

After it was so beautifully prepared, my husband reminded me that he does not like anything creamy. Raizel, who was very excited and very enthusiastic during the whole process, also didn’t eat it. Despite her protestations, Raizel does not like anything creamy either.

In the end, I was the only one who ate it. I thought it tasted great.

I also ate the leftover tofu “cream” during the week, as a spread on rice cakes.

Overall, I would say that this recipe is delicious, but for someone else’s family.

What did I learn?

I have my own song in the kitchen. 

Everyone has their own song.

For my family, simple is best.

Finally, I had lots of fun discussing and planning this with Dolly. We had a bonding experience!Thank you Dolly!



100-Year-Old Directions for Washing Dishes

Here are some hundred-year-old directions for how to wash dishes: It is not difficult to wash dishes although many people make it a very disagreeable process. The necessary apparatus include a plentiful supply of hot water, a good soap, ammonia or borax to soften the water, a gritty soap or powder. Have a pan for […]


Washing dishes

Sherry posted this great piece on how to wash dishes. I thought it was a wonderful explanation of something that many of us consider to be a routine and mundane task. Frankly, I think that it is brilliant!

I am reblogging Sherry’s post now because over Passover, we do not use our dishwasher.

We also have the pleasure of enjoying many festive meals with family and friends.

I have not yet begun to cook!

Consequently, this is the one time of the year when I must wash everything by hand and I have lots of cooking and therefore lots of dishes to do.

It has taken me a while to figure out a good routine for doing dishes.

I consider washing dishes to be both an art and a science.

In general, I wash dishes with soap and borax acid. I soak the cutlery in soapy water so that they are easier to clean, before I wash them. 

In addition, I also try to conserve water. So, I use one bucket to wash the dishes and another bucket to rinse them with. Then, I dry them on a dish rack, or place them on a towel.

When I really have greasy dishes, I have been known to use ammonia instead of borax. Ammonia is good for cutting grease. 

I believe the borax and ammonia extend the soap’s ability to clean and dissolve grease. But, I do not however, use borax and ammonia at the same time.

Washing dishes in order — not me

I do not wash the dishes in any particular order.  I wash the easiest, fastest and most critical items first. Then, I work my way through the mound of items from there. 

My Passover plates from my mother

This usually translates to mean, first the plates are washed (because they are the fastest) then the glasses and then the cutlery. After that I wash the pots. I dislike washing the plastic containers so I prefer to leave them until the end. 

Really dirty pots, I soak over night and wash in the morning. If they are really, really dirty, I add dishwasher soap, bring the water to a boil and then let it soak until cooled and scrub and scrub and scrub. Sometimes I use borax or baking soda to scrub the pot better.

Washing dishes on Shabbat and holidays 

I am writing what I do to wash dishes on Shabbat and Yom Tov (holidays). At the risk of repeating myself, I humbly submit that my expertise is in cooking. Please be aware that I am not an authority on the finer points of Judaism. If you have any questions, please consult your local rabbi.

Basic Rules For Washing on Shabbat & Yom Tov

One is not allowed to wash dirty dishes or cutlery, on the Sabbath or Yom Tov unless you will need them then again on the same day.

So, right after using any dishes, — before any food particles become dry, I rinse the dishes off using cold water. I also rinse out any pots that were used, and if they are really dirty, add water and then liquid soap to the pot to soak them.

On Shabbat, I often wash the dishes used Friday night that I will need for lunch the following day. I take hot water from the urn, pour it into a cup and then pour it into a bowl. After that, I add liquid soap and borax to the hot water.

On Shabbat and Yom Tov, we only use a plastic pot scrubber to wash dishes. So, I dip the scrubber dip into the warm soapy water and wash each dish, adding more soap to the sponge as needed. Then, I rinse the dishes with cold water.

On Yom Tov, one is permitted to wash dishes that will be needed for the same day. So, using the plastic pot scrubber, I wash the dishes, etc. in a bucket filled with soapy water and borax, and then rinse them.

What can I say? I take washing dishes very seriously!

Thank you Sherry for your excellent post on washing dishes 100 years ago!

Happy Passover to all!

Sheva Brachot DIY Centerpieces & Set Up

Sheva Brachot are a time of celebration. The bride and groom are treated like a king and queen for the week. In their honor, it is customary to decorate the table and make it beautiful. 

I am time challenged. The drive for beauty needed to be tempered with a practical need for an easy clean up. 

The salads were made by my sister-in-laws. I didn’t know this, but the mother of the groom, my sister-in-law, Hana, loves to make salads. They were a work of art. I could taste the love!

 We bonded in the kitchen, while chopping vegetables and washing pots, and setting the table.

You can see how great and beautiful they were. 

To save time, we used store bought ranch and Caesar salad dressing. Raizel was very happy! They are her favorites.

In addition, my other sister in law also brought the wine. She and my husband are minor wine connoisseurs. So, her selections were perfect and well chosen.

For the tables, we used very fancy plastic tableware, tablecloths, runners and napkin holders. I was very pleased with the results:


For such a special events, many people make beautiful and often creative centerpieces. I was very excited with the centerpieces I made:


In general, I have a set of mirrors, bud vases, silk flowers and colored stones that I use for special occasions. This time, I thought I would try something different.

I took the mirrors and using a glue stick, put glue over them. Then, I put silver glitter over glued mirrors and let them dry.


After that, I put a heart shaped candle holder and a tea light in the center for the final effect. 

The tablecloths, plates and napkin rings were also silver, so everything matched.

To make it a little more brighter and more festive, I put flowers on the table too.

When the ShevaBrachot were over, I simply washed the glitter off the mirrors. Despite my husband’s concerns, there was very little mess.

Simple, fast and easy with a touch of elegance!

Mazel tov!🎉

Schwarma Spice Blend Hamburger  & The Attack By The Burger Intruder 

This title was suggested by Raizel. She has confessed to being our very own Burger Intruder. 

Recently, I have been experimenting with different spice blends. Most of my recipes are low fat, all natural and fast and easy. Therefore, I find the best way to add pizazz to a dish is by interesting and balanced seasoning. 

Last week, I thought I would try making schwarma hamburgers.


1 lbs. ground meat

1 tablespoon schwarma spice blend, approximately 

1 teaspoon meat spice blend (posted earlier on blog)

Schwarma Spice Blend

Blend together:

1 tablespoon cumin, coriander and garlic 

1/2 tablespoon paprika 

1 teaspoon turmeric, and pepper 

1/2 teaspoon cloves, cinnamon and cayenne pepper 

Store in covered jar.

Instructions for hamburgers:

Blend spices and meat together. Shape into patties.

The secret to making these burgers great is to not over crowd them in the pan.  This way they become grilled and not steamed.

 Here are the pictures:

In the pan:


Half eaten, before I could get a picture:

Caught by the Burger Intruder!


Raizel said, “It was so good and I had to get my hands on it. I don’t know why. It is so addicting?!”

It’s a funny story, so I thought I would share it on the blog.


Off Topic: Raizel’s Words Of Wisdom Today 

This is an off topic post that I feel I just have to share!

Today, I did my usual morning routine: wake up the girls; give them breakfast; make their lunches and then put them on the bus to school.

Raizel is at the stage where she is thinking about her yearbook and what she wants to write for it. So, this morning she asked: “what do you think of this: don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect?”  I liked it so much that I wrote it down.

Then, we walked to the bus stop. The leaves are changing colour around us and the fall foliage is fantastic!  So, as we were waiting for the bus, Raizel took this picture with my phone.

I felt like I needed to capture the moment, so I combined the two.

Living a life that matters is forged through our meaningful emotional connections with our loved ones. It is not, “those were the days my friends,” but rather “these are the days my friends.”

Waking the girls up, giving them breakfast, making their lunches, putting them on the bus and even washing the dishes are the stuff that really matter in life.


Off topic: Cat Story

This is an off topic post. 

As I have shared, I am a cat lover. 

Often, rather than talk about work, I tell my husband stories about any cats that I might have seen during the day. 

My husband is very kind — through experience, he has learned that sometimes it is wiser to hear about cats than to hear about what ACTUALLY goes on. Another side benefit is that every time my husband sees a cat, it makes him think of me. 

Yesterday he sent me a picture of this cat, saying “thinking of you.” I was so touched by the picture, that I thought I would post it. 

I am a sucker for a cute cat.