Great Israeli Food Creators
Mika Naor, Founder of Mika Fresh, Toronto
For the first in my series on Great Israeli Food Creators, I’m delighted to spotlight a friend of mine from whom I’ve learned a lot about culinary matters. Even better, not only does Mika Naor have a special touch in the kitchen, she also contributes generously to her local community. (For Galya Loves Food, Mika is sharing one of her special recipes which you’ll find below.)
At Mika Fresh, the wonderful restaurant, bake shop and café in Toronto founded and managed by Mika, people enjoy her healthy, home cooking, strongly influenced by her Israeli background.
Born in Kibbutz Hulata in the Upper Galilee in northern Israel, Mika grew up as the youngest of three children, with two older brothers. Her mother immigrated to Israel from Poland and moved to the kibbutz as a young child. Her father moved to the kibbutz with a group of Yemenite friends from Givatayim just before he did his army service.
“As I was the youngest in the family, I spent a lot of time with my parents, including appreciating the joys of which baking with my mom,” says Mika, 44. “This is where my passion for baking began. As time went on, I learned more on my own, trying new things and honing my skills.”
After completing her army service, Mika chose to get her BA in math and computer science and worked for several years in the computer industry. Following a trip abroad, she moved with her partner to Canada, settling in Toronto where they would later have two children.
“I started getting more connected to food and my love for home cooking grew,” Mika recalls. “Making food from scratch and exploring different flavours and traditional techniques fascinated me. These values guided me after I had left the computer industry and opened Mika Fresh. These same values guide me today as I continue my adventure baking and cooking.”
If you live in Toronto or are visiting the city and if you like nutritious, nourishing fresh food prepared with a distinctly Israel and Mediterranean flavour, I recommend you contact Mika Fresh to enjoy what she creates in the open kitchen at Mika Fresh. For now, during ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, you need to call in advance to place an order.
Mika Fresh – 2889 Dufferin St, Toronto. Tel: (416) 519-8583. http://www.mikafresh.ca/
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Lachuch (Yemenite flat bread)
Eaten in Israel on a regular basis, lachuch goes extremely well with labaneh (see previous post). It’s light, easy to make and is perfect for the summer season.
“This recipe reminds me of my childhood, with memories of my father and his family,” says Mika. “It evokes wonderful times spent at my grandparents’ place on Fridays, eating my grandma’s Yemenite chicken soup with rice and bread.”
18 gr dry active yeast
1 tsp fine sugar
1 TBSP salt
2 TBSP semolina
8 cups water
1 kg AP flour
– Place yeast with a bit of sugar and 4 cups lukewarm water and let yeast bubble.
– In the meantime, boil 2 cups of water. Once it starts to boil, add semolina all at once and whisk to mix well. Lower heat and boil for 2 minutes.
– Turn off the heat and add rest of sugar and salt to boiling water mixture. Mix well and set aside to cool down a bit.
– Once cooled down, add 2 cups of cold water to the boiling water mixture and mix well.
– Add the boiling water mixture and the flour to the water and yeast mix and blend well with a hand blender or by hand until mixture is smooth with no lumps. Let sit to double in size. Mixture should be watery.
– Once mixture is double in size and has bubbles on top, you can start cooking on the stove top.
– Use an 8” frying pan. Spray with non-stick spray and use a paper towel to spread and remove extra oil from pan. (You can keep using the same paper towel for the rest of the cooking).
– Spread part of the mixture on your pan (thin or thick as you desire).
– On medium high heat, cook the lachuch until top is shiny and full of bubbles. Top should be fully cooked and bottom should be golden brown (no need to flip over to other side)
– After every lachuch and before spreading the next one, cool the pan. I use cold water on the outside of the pan and dry it with a kitchen towel.
– You can eat as is or dip in chicken soup or dip it in hummus, tahini, babaganush or you can make wraps out of it or you can eat as a pancake.