Latest Stories

Country Cooking

A taste of Israel cooking from two Israeli women


BOUREKITAS or filo pastry triangles filled with feta cheese and eggplant

Two Israeli women active in the culinary world were here recently. They can be said to personify eye candy celebrities because both are in television, hosting and judging.

Brunette Ruthie Rousso is a certified chef who has worked in New York. She writes restaurant reviews, recipes and culinary features for a newspaper and magazine. But in Israel, she was a judge in her country’s version of “Iron Chef.”

Blonde Michal Ansky, on the other hand, has been on television for a long time, hosting several shows and serving as judge in “MasterChef Israel.” She is probably more well-known for starting several Israel markets where farmers can sell their products.

Both were on their way to Vietnam but took a detour to the Philippines to give a sampling of their recipes at a dinner. The venue was Restaurant 9501 at ABS-CBN and guests were invited by Israel Ambassador and madam Eli Bar On.

Days before the dinner, I e-mailed my questions to Rousso and Ansky. It was a surprise to know that Rousso’s mother also writes about food for a competing paper. So for a while, Rousso felt compelled to write about other topics. But the pull to combine food and writing was difficult to disregard.


“Sometimes destiny is stronger than what you expect,” she wrote. “I love writing and must write—it’s in my soul. I love to cook and deal with food and explore it further. By a stroke of luck, I found a way to combine these two joys.”

Apart from her television work, Ansky creates markets to sell Israel food products. She bemoans the fact that the good agricultural products which Israel is known for are mostly sold abroad. She is said to have initiated with two others the first indoor market at the Tel Aviv port called “Shuk Hanamal.” Another is the 7Farmer’s Market that connects farmers with consumers. By eliminating the middlemen, products are cheaper and the variety is wider.

When dinner guests filed in, they included Rousso and Ansky which meant that the cooking was done by the chefs of Restaurant 9501 albeit based on their recipes.

Salads made up most of the appetizers. One had greens and pomegranate, the fruit flown in, I suppose, from Israel. Grilled eggplant was served with tahini, chili and tomatoes. Tomatoes made up the dudu salad. And there was spicy carrot as well. The only non-salad was the bourekitas, crisp triangles of filo pastry filled with eggplant and feta cheese.


Shawarma salad

One of the main courses was Shawarma salad. A recipe of Ansky, it is composed of spring chicken marinated in spices like turmeric, paprika and cumin in olive oil seasoned simply with salt and pepper. After several hours, the chicken is fried, sliced thinly, spread throughout a rice mixture that has lemon juice, onion, parsley and green chili. She says it is street food in Israel and is what she would choose if asked to give one dish that would typify Israeli cooking. But, she adds, the salad also reflects the healthy food trend that is prevalent in her country today.

Rousso agrees about healthy food being the trend but adds that some Asian restaurants have opened recently in Israel among them Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Indian. She cites how the Israeli diners are “hooked on [the] taste, spice and color.”

Eggs and peppers

For the dish that represents Israeli cooking she chose shakshouka. And this is her description: “The dish is served sizzling and made up of tomatoes, bell peppers and hot peppers topped with eggs. One eats this by breaking into the eggs with bread—using [the bread] as a utensil as you mix the egg yolk and the sauce.”

Crispy calamari or squid covered in batter then fried was another main course. There was lamb kebab with grilled tomatoes and pita and mujadarra or black lentils with bulgur, a kind of cereal.

Israeli culinary personalities Ruthie Rousso andMichal Ansky

Finally, desserts. Yogurt ice cream was mixed with spices and honey. The other was salep or custard made with orchid flour used also in the ice cream of Turkey, topped with pistachio, roasted nut, coconut and rose water.

The e-mailed interview also included comments about their TV cooking competitions.

Ansky said “MasterChef Israel” is a popular show whose winners have done well. One opened a popular restaurant while another developed a passion for cooking instead of going back to his former life of substance abuse. For Ansky, it was also wonderful to see religious groups coming together in the show.

“One of our episodes featured an orthodox Arab woman and a Christian-German immigrant competing to stay on the show,” she said.

It was Rousso who was definite about what she thought a TV cooking competition should be. “I admit that the program (“Iron Chef”) put a lot of emphasis on presentation and less on taste, which really bothered me,” she wrote. “It’s just not my style. I was approached by one of the show’s editors, who told me to be more enthusiastic—but I really do not care.” The journalist in her surfaced with that answer.

E-mail the author at pinoyfood04@yahoo.com.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Brunette Ruthie Rousso , Cooking , Food , Israel , Israeli women , Shawarma salad , “Iron Chef” , “MasterChef Israel”

  • Mux

    This is not Kosher. Milk and meat are being eaten together.

  • Iggy Ramirez

    Sorry, Ma’am. Do you include pork in your menu?

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Lover’s quarrel linked to hunger – study
  2. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  3. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  4. ‘Heaven is for Real’: Nonfiction book on life after death reaches screen
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  7. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  8. Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  9. Encounter with a ‘Mangkukulam’
  10. Finalists announced for best translated books
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  8. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors


  • Luzon grid power reserve ‘enough’ for Holy Week
  • Pimentel proposes incentives for companies that will hire ex-convicts
  • State seeks guilty verdict for Abalos
  • SBMA execs, 2 others face graft raps
  • Pangasinan beachgoers warned vs jellyfish
  • Sports

  • My ideal weight is 140, declares Pacquiao
  • Freddie Roach: I’m satisfied; Manny Pacquiao did well
  • New-look Azkals tie Qatari side
  • San Miguel Beermen eye No. 2 slot, battle Air21 Express
  • Filipinos yield to Iraqis anew Asian club volley
  • Lifestyle

  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Summer treat for your aspiring astronomers
  • Entertainment

  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • 2NE1 returns to Manila with “All Or Nothing” Tour
  • Gary Valenciano just keeps moving
  • Noisy celeb spews venom, backs off when confronted
  • Business

  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Make a stylish statement with the all-new Yaris
  • Hearing set in Olarte case
  • BOC sues steel importers
  • BIR continues to miss collection target
  • Technology

  • Tech company: change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Philippines may watch ‘blood moon’ online
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • No travel restrictions to Middle East amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Measures set against entry of MERS-CoV
  • Japan backs PH in case before UN
  • Las Vegas union starts pickets over wages, benefits
  • Fil-Am Daly City councilor has eye on Superior Court seat