Orly Ziv

Orly Ziv – Israeli Culinary Tourism Pioneer & Author: Chanukah (Day 3 of 8 for 8!)

Orly ziv pic

We are celebrating day 3 of our effort to meet a cookbook author for each day of Chanukah with Orly Ziv of Israel. Orly offers a wonderful insight into Israel through her culinary tours and through her writing. And I really appreciate that she has agreed to join the 8 for 8 project: Eight cookbook authors for the 8 days of Chanukah! Orly  is a pioneer in Israeli culinary tourism, which is all the rage these days. She is a trained dietitian who has been using her passion for the produce and dishes of Israel and the Mediterranean to introduce tourists to Israel. Via shopping trips to the local markets and cooking classes in her kitchen, Orly has helped many to fall in love with Israel and her food. After many of her visitors had said repeatedly “you ought to write a book”, she did and Cook in Israel was born.

Orly Shuk

The Machane Yehuda shuk in Jerusalem

Orly shuk hacarmel

Shuk Hacarmel in Tel Aviv

What stands out for you about celebrating Chanukah as you grew up? What about when raising a family? Any special food memories?

Lighting the candles everyday was and still is our tradition every year. I have warm memories from the Levivot (latkes) my mother used to make which I also make for my children. Recipes for my different types of Levivot are included in my cookbook. The traditional ones I make with potatoes but I also like to diversify by using grated carrots as an option to enrich the nutritional value .

How has your Chanukah changed since you became a chef and author?

Practically speaking, not really. Although every year I try new recipes but at the end of the day my family ask for my originals 🙂

What do you do during Chanukah to create a memorable holiday atmosphere for your family? 

We make time to get together every evening to light the candles and of course, to eat.

Are you eating different foods for Chanukah now than you did in the past? What are they?

I like to make the zucchini latkes recipe from my cookbook and serve them with yogurt.

What are the top questions people ask you about cooking for Chanukah? For other holidays?

My guests are often not Jewish and we talk about the significance of eating fried food as a symbol of the oil tin miracle of Chanukah. I am careful to explain that the Jewish holidays always involve special foods to symbolize the specific holiday. Non-Jewish people find it very interesting and different from their own culture.

What is one dish you must eat during Chanukah no matter what?

Levivot! (latkes)

Finally: On the  Latkes or sufganiot debate, your vote?


What recipes can you share with us for this Chanukah?

I want to share some of my favorites. Of course, Levivot (latkes). As people outside of Israel are increasingly aware, donuts (soufganiyot) are also a big part of Chanukah in Israel, so I am going to share a recipe for those as well. And something less traditional, Zucchini Pancakes. Enjoy and Chag Urim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights)!

Chanukah-Levivot-13-Large-257x300Hanukkah Levivot

Often called latkes, these Eastern European Jewish potato pancakes are delicious no matter the name. Fried foods are served on Hanukkah since the oil represents the miracle of one night’s worth of oil lasting for eight days during the rededication of the Second Temple.

4-5 potatoes, peeled

2 Tbs. flour or potato flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp. salt (less if you want to eat them with sugar)

Ground pepper (omit if you want to eat them with sugar)

Oil, for frying

  1.                   Grate the potatoes using the coarse side of a box grater. Put in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  2.                    Put the shredded potato in a bowl and mix with the flour, eggs, salt and pepper.
  3.                     Heat the oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan (it should fully coat the bottom of the pan).
  4.                   Add batter by the tablespoonful and fry on both sides until evenly browned and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack while you finish cooking  the remaining pancakes.
  5.                    Serve immediately with sour cream or sugar.


Add 1 grated onion, 2 grated carrots, or 1 grated sweet potato to the mixture before frying.

TIP: Keeping the hot pancakes on a wire rack instead of paper towels keeps them nice and crispy.

Serves 6


Probably the most famous Israeli Hanukkah food, soufganiyot are fried donuts. While they are commonly filled with jelly or other fillings, this recipe makes easy drop donuts. The cheese in the dough gives them a particularly wonderful texture.

Sufganyot-32 (Large)








1¼ cup self-rising flour

250 g (1 cup) soft white cheese (like ricotta)

2 eggs

2 Tbs. canola oil

¼ cup sugar

Zest of ½ lemon (optional)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Oil, for frying

Powdered sugar

Strawberry jam (optional)

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cheese, eggs, canola oil, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
  1. Pour oil into a small, deep pot so it comes up about 7 cm.
  1. Using a spoon, make small balls with the dough. Working in batches, drop them into the hot oil and fry until golden. Transfer to a wire rack or a paper-towel lined plate.
  1. Top with powdered sugar and serve with strawberry jam, if you like.

Serves 6


Zucchini Pancakes

These zucchini pancakes are another variation on Hanukkah latkes. They taste wonderfully fresh, especially if you serve them with minted yogurt.

Zucchini-Pancakes-45 (Large)

6 zucchini

2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup flour

Salt & pepper

½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

½ cup finely chopped fresh mint

Canola oil, for frying




  1. Grate the zucchini using the coarse side of a box grater. Put in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  1. Put the eggs, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine.
  1. Mix in the zucchini, parsley and mint.
  1. Heat the canola oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan (it should fully coat the bottom of the pan).
  1. Form the zucchini mixture into patties and carefully put in the hot oil. Fry on both sides until evenly browned and crispy.
  1. Serve with sour cream or yogurt mixed with chopped fresh mint.

TIP: Put a piece of carrot in the pan while frying to prevent the oil from burning.

Serves 4 to 6


Meet Orly Ziv Creator of Cook in Israel – Our First Author Interview.

Authors are fascinating and important people. I also admit that as a publicist, I am biased. However, it is important to remember these are the people who actually have dreamed of a book and published it. I always say “Mazel Tov” to an author when they contact me. I explain that just getting the book out is worthy of being acknowledged. If authors didn’t stick to it and actually publish their books, what would the world be like? It is not a pretty thought.

I work with authors every day. They are often unsung heroes, many times well known. Some are confident of success, others quite doubtful. But they all share the success of publishing their books. Their experiences are interesting and often quite helpful to others. With that in mind I am going to offer occasional interviews here with published authors. I will usually focus on people who are or have been clients. I am confident that their reflections and experiences will be of interest to many and might just help the person writing a book right now or an author wondering how to make their book a success.

Cook in Israel

For our initial interview I am excited to introduce Orly Ziv who is a culinary tour guide from Tel Aviv, Israel. A lifelong food lover, Orly worked for many years as a clinical nutritionist before launching her company Cook in Israel in 2009 where she offers culinary tours around Israel and intimate cooking classes in her home. Orly’s first book Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspiration has received wonderful reviews and has been selling well in the US and Israel. A quick look at the reader reviews on Amazon and the excitement of readers is obvious. I have had the honor of being the publicist for Cook in Israel and it has been a terrific process (plus the preserved lemons recipe is amazing!).

 Orly, what made you decide to write a cookbook?

I’ve been asked several times by my guests about a cookbook of my own. I was encouraged to do it by one of my guests who is a chef from California who told me “just do it” so I did! I also wanted to leave some of my recipes as a legacy to my children.

What vision did you have in mind when you set out to write the book? Did the finished book match that?  How long did it take?

I had in mind to bring out the inspiration of the Israeli melting pot through cultures and flavors and of course my personal home cooking based on my family’s preference and my personal taste. I included all the recipes I teach in my classes that are successful and added recipes for Jewish holidays. I wanted to emphasize daily home cooking  and easy to make recipes with a short list of ingredients and very simple, easy to follow instructions. My vision is to use ingredients as everywhere else but the spices and the cooking techniques we use are different and this what makes it Israeli. My vision was also to bring the flavors of Israel to the world and to introduce Israel to more people through our food, culture and flavors.

The finished book matches exactly what I had in mind. It took 6 month to work on the book.

 What surprised you while writing the book? Is there anything you would do differently?

What surprised me is how easy it can be when you follow your vision.

 What advice do you have for someone who would like to publish a cookbook?

Make sure to have a personal touch in your book and include  added value for the readers. My added value is the simplicity of preparing the recipes and the inspiration of the flavors. For example, including a recipe for a typical Israeli salad with the addition of avocado and pomegranate seeds is an unusual combination which makes for a really nice difference.

 Now that your book is published, how have you found the experience? What is it like to see your book in stores? On Amazon?

It is exciting to see my cookbook in the stores and also to know that the book now has a life of its own. Marketing and bringing the book to the knowledge the readers is the hard work.

 What have been some of the most effective methods for promoting your book?

Reviews, Facebook and email marketing.

What are 3 food tips you can offer people for Passover?

If you like almonds there are delicious cakes you can make based on almond meal.

Look for flourless cakes instead of trying to substitute the flour in regular cakes.

I always prefer bake instead of frying.

 Can you please share a recipe  which you didn’t include in your book?

Sure! Chocolate and Almonds Cake great for Pesach (Passover). Recipe below.


A Personal Recipe from Orly Ziv

Chocolate and Almond Cake - Kosher for Passover. Great year round.

Chocolate and Almond Cake – Kosher for Passover. Great year round.

Chocolate & Almonds Cake

Kosher for Passover



200 gr. chocolate chopped

200 gr. butter

200 gr. ground almonds

1 cup sugar

5 eggs separated






  1. Heat the oven to 1800C (3500F).
  2. Melt the chocolate with the butter.
  3. Mix gently into the melted chocolate the yolks and the almonds.
  4. Beat the whites with the sugar until a firm foam is created.
  5. Fold gently the beaten whites into the chocolate almonds mixture.
  6. Bake about 30 min until a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean.


Cook in Israel – If Life Gives You Lemons…..Preserve Them.

I am excited to be working on publicity for the new cookbook succinctly entitled Cook in Israel. Author Orly Ziv is a culinary tour guide in Israel. She takes people to the places that provide the best produce and food making for a different experience than most tourists have. For foodies…..this is really a great way to get to know Israel from a different angle. Orly also teaches cooking in her home in Tel Aviv. Her new book is a great way to take the flavors and colors of Israeli food home or for those abroad to experience and learn Israeli cooking at home. After looking through the book (there are 100 recipes, they all look terrific) I chose to make the preserved lemons. I buy something like this in the supermarket and have been looking for a way to make it home. I am providing some pictures here. This is not professional food photography but I think it  may get you to pucker your lips anyway. Check back here in a week or so when I open the jar and test this lemon delicacy.