food truck food

Philly Cheese Steak, the Kosher way

Philadelphia. City of Brotherly Love. So named (from the Greek words "philos" meaning love and "adelphos" meaning brother) because the city's founder, William Penn, wanted the place to be a refuge from religious persecution. 

I wonder what Penn might think of that today, what with this year's contentious election and the Democratic National Convention at hand in the city.

But, current times aside, Philadelphia has a lovely history.

Home of the Liberty Bell. And Independence Hall, where the founding fathers debated (and adopted) the Declaration of Independence AND the Constitution.

Once the temporary capital of the United States while the newly minted America waited for the District of Columbia to be built.

And, among the more mundane of matters, home of the Philly Cheese Steak.

Philly Cheese Steak.

I have to say, I've been to Philadelphia several times and never ate one.

But thoughts of the city and its famous hoagie (hero sandwich, sub, whatever others may call it) got me to think about trying one at home.


I looked at lots of recipes and saw that they called for different cuts of beef, cut into strips. I decided on skirt steak because it's so juicy and flavorful.

I also noticed that the cheese could be cheddar or American or provolone and even -- OY -- cheese whiz. 

I opted for provolone (non-dairy, soy-based from Daiya Foods) because it has such a magnificent tang to it.

Some recipes called for sauteed mushrooms or other vegetables in addition to the more usual onions and red bell pepper. I decided not to.

In the end -- magnifico!!

Does it taste the way a Philly Cheese Steak is supposed to? 

I have no clue.

All I know is that it tasted good. Very good.

And so, in honor of Philadelphia's few days in the sun again -- my recipe for Philly Cheese Steak.


Kosher Philly Cheese Steak

  • 8 ounces skirt steak, semi-frozen
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced into narrow strips
  • 2 hoagie rolls
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices Daiya soy “provolone style cheese”

Cut the beef into thin slices against the grain. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. Add the meat to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Cut the rolls in half. Move the meat and vegetables to one side of the pan (or temporarily spoon into a plate) and place the 4 pieces of roll, cut side down in the pan. Cook for a minute or so, to lightly toast the rolls. Turn the rolls cut side up. Using equal quantities, place equal quantities of meat and vegetables on each of the two roll bottoms. Top with equal amounts of the soy cheese. Cover with the tops of the rolls. Turn the heat to low. Cover the pan and cook for a minute or so or until the cheese has melted.

Makes 2 sandwiches

Koshary - Street Food

Why is it that "street food" and "food truck food" are always so intriguing?

Take shwarma, for instance, which I first tasted in Jerusalem many years ago. I absolutely couldn't resist, especially after my daughter Meredith, who had been living in Israel for several months, told me that I would fall in love with this particular dish.

I did. I can still remember that first awesome bite.

I am not tempted by all street food of course. I would never, never try one of those greasy-looking hot dogs that sit in cloudy water with those awful fat globules floating on top. 

But when we traveled to Egypt I was fascinated by this wonderful looking/aromatic dish called koshary. Fortunately Ed and I were on a Nile cruise ship and, just our luck! the chef knew how to make it. 

Lucky us. He prepared the dish for lunch one day and also told me the basic ingredients, which I have worked with several times to try to make koshary that tasted the way we like it.

That's it in the photo. This is a dish that takes some time and has several parts (unlike most of my recipes). But it is worth the effort. 

Koshary! Street food. Food truck food. Meatless Monday food. Vegetarian food. Filling. Fabulous, even when it's reheated.




Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 28 ounce can Italian style tomatoes, including liquid, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook briefly. Add the cinnamon stick and cook briefly. Add the tomatoes, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until thick. Remove the cinnamon stick, puree the ingredients (I use a hand blender) and set aside.


The Grains:

  • 6 ounces small pasta (elbows, farfalle, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup Basmati rice
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 cup canned chick peas, rinsed and drained

Preheat the oven to warm (about 225 degrees). Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside. Cook the lentils in lightly salted water for about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. Combine the rice with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the heat but keep the cover on the pan to keep the rice warm. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over low-medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the onions to a bowl and set aside in the oven to keep warm.


Final Assembly:

Reheat the tomato sauce. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the sauté pan used for the onions. Add the cooked macaroni and cook over medium heat without stirring, for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom is crispy. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes to crisp the pasta. Remove the pasta to a serving platter. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the sauté pan. Add the lentils and cook for 1-2 minutes or until lightly crispy. Spoon the lentils on top of the pasta. Top with the rice. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Add the chickpeas and cook briefly to warm them. Spoon the chick peas over the rice. Spoon the tomato sauce on top. Top with the caramelized onions. 

Makes 8 servings