The Lemon Bombe and other tales from Lori Rapp’s kitchen
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The Lemon Bombe and other tales from Lori Rapp’s kitchen

A Jerusalem catering couple share their secrets, recipes and disasters

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Lori Rapp's Lemon Bombe, a rounded confection of lemon curd, cake and pistachios (photo credit: Rebecca Kowalsky)
Lori Rapp's Lemon Bombe, a rounded confection of lemon curd, cake and pistachios (photo credit: Rebecca Kowalsky)

As usual, Lori Rapp didn’t completely realize what she was getting herself into.

The onetime educator and long-time caterer had sold her share of La Cuisine, the Jerusalem catering company she established and ran with her husband, Marvin. As their next project, the two decided to write a memoir-cum-cookbook about their small-business experience.

Typically, they dreamed big.

“I didn’t realize how big a project it was,” laughed Rapp. “It was more out of a sense of loyalty to our customers, so many of whom had asked for recipes. I used to joke that when I left the business, I would share everything.”

Rapp’s husband, Marvin, who once worked in editing and publishing, was game. A couple of friends who were writers felt a cookbook would be helpful to those who had always wanted to make Rapp’s Lemon Bombe or Chocolate Concorde Cake, but didn’t think they could.

They embarked on the project, with Marvin Rapp acting as his wife’s ghostwriter, adding in an IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign that ended up raising $14,000, $2,000 more than they planned for.

But unlike the catering business — where work was never over — their joint book project was an easier task. Within a year, “Secrets from Lori Rapp’s Kitchen” was in print, and Rapp’s long-researched recipes were being shared.

Lori and Marvin Rapp, from their new book, 'Secrets from Lori Rapp's Kitchen' (photo credit: Michael Horton)
Lori and Marvin Rapp at one of their La Cuisine storefronts, where Jerusalemites came to get muffins and cakes for special events. (photo credit: Michael Horton)

“Now anyone can make the Lemon Bombe!” laughed Rapp, knowing that even with her explicit directions, many home cooks may shy away from the lengthy recipe.

Rapp has always had a certain affinity and patience for time-consuming baked goods, like flaky pastry dough or light-and-crunchy meringues. Her skills set her apart from most home chefs.

Hailing from Toronto, where the Rapps first met and married, Rapp remembers experimenting in the kitchen from the start, testing dozens of chocolate-chip cookie or lemon curd recipes to find the best one, a habit that took hold.

“I would always do insane things,” she said. “And it was the same in La Cuisine. I would find the best way to make certain things; I did the research.”

Lori Rapp's Concord Cake, a confection of chocolate and meringue (photo credit: Michael Horton)
Lori Rapp’s Concord Cake, a confection of chocolate and meringue (photo credit: Michael Horton)

Her cakes were some of the best in the city, write loyal customers on her Facebook page.

As the Rapps write in their book, the catering business was grueling work. They worked for seven years out of their apartment kitchen, raising five boys alongside professional ovens, kilos of flour and piles of fresh salmon. They later opened two storefronts in Jerusalem, selling fresh pastries, cakes and cookies, as well as offering full-service catering.

What they loved was the satisfaction of creating food that people enjoyed, and building friendships and relationships through the business. Now, said Rapp, she’s looking for her next challenge, something to do with food preparation, and people.

Lori Rapp's basic, daily La Cuisine muffins, made with any kind of fresh fruit (photo credit: Rebecca Kowalsky)
Lori Rapp’s basic, daily La Cuisine muffins, made with any kind of fresh fruit. (photo credit: Rebecca Kowalsky)

“I like helping people feel more comfortable in the kitchen, because every week there’s Shabbat and holidays and dinners and it always bothered me to see people so overwhelmed,” said Rapp, who has been holding occasional baking workshops in her home. “That’s the tone of this book, that ‘you can do this too.’ I started in my kitchen, so can you.”

For Marvin Rapp, who wrote his drafts of the book in pencil, the self-publishing route was unexpectedly freeing.

“We wanted to tell a story that would resonate with a lot of people, because it’s about people taking charge of a situation and making the best of it,” he said.

“It was extremely therapeutic,” added Lori Rapp. “I felt like I can help people make this food, it was never rocket science, and I just felt cleansed that I could do this.”

After the whole book process, the two want to be back in the food business. Marvin needs to be back “serving people,” said Lori Rapp. “He misses that.”

As for Lori Rapp, she is at peace with the fact that the world of food is her place of strength, and what she knows best.

This Sukkot, she’s planning on serving one of her favorite meals, a brunch on Hoshana Rabba, the seventh day of the holiday. It’s an opportunity to make last-minute dishes that don’t need to be warmed up.

Rapp's souffle roll, an easy omelet spread with roasted vegetables, pesto or any filling that tempts the palate (photo credit: Michael Horton)
Rapp’s souffle roll, an easy omelet spread with roasted vegetables, pesto or any filling that tempts the palate. (photo credit: Michael Horton)

Rapp recommended making a version of her soufflé roll, a “fancy way” of playing with eggs that can be filled with “anything in season,” and served with cream cheese and diced tomatoes or roasted vegetables. Alongside, one of the flavorful, healthy muffins that were always a La Cuisine favorite.

Trademark La Cuisine Muffins

This is the famous muffin that we made just about every day at La Cuisine, changing the fruit according to the season, availability, and my mood. I also made these as mini-muffins for breakfast events. Most muffins should be eaten within a few hours of baking; these, however, will stay moist and yummy for two days (this is due to the generous amounts of brown sugar and canola oil). Because the batter itself is a bit sweet, I find that tart fruits — such as blueberries, mixed berries, red or black currants, apples, cranberries and plums — work best, but they also are amazing with mangoes, peaches, and apricots in season. If and when you can get your hands on fresh or frozen uncooked rhubarb, it’s a real treat in these muffins.

  • 300 grams (1½ cups) brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 160 ml. (⅔ cups) canola oil
  • 350 grams (2½ cups) flour
  • 250 ml. (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping cup diced fruit (if it’s small blueberries, or other berries or currants that you’re using), or whole fruit
  1. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper muffin cups.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (338°F).
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix brown sugar, egg, and oil with a wooden spoon.
  4. In a measuring cup, pour in buttermilk and add the baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix it well in the cup with a small spatula (or a small whisk, but you’ll be using the spatula to scrape out the mixture, so you can save dirtying a utensil here…), making sure not to leave any lumps.
  5. Add half the flour to the mixing bowl, and mix it lightly with the wooden spoon. Don’t mix too aggressively — let most of the flour still show.
  6. Now add the buttermilk mixture (scrape it all out of the cup with the spatula, don’t leave any behind!).
  7. Give 2-3 more strokes with the wooden spoon. Now add all the rest of the flour and the fruit. Toss the fruit a bit with the spoon to cover the chunks with flour, and then carefully and delicately give a few stirs with the spoon to mix everything together. Don’t be too thorough, otherwise you’ll have tough little muffins. Let some flour still show. It will continue to mix as you spoon it into the pan.
  8. Divide the mixture evenly into the 12 paper-lined muffin cups.
  9. Bake the muffins at 165°C (325°F) for 25-30 minutes, until they are golden and the tops feel dry to the touch.
  10. Take them out of the pan and cool them on a rack.

Soufflé Roll with Creamed Spinach (serves 8, makes one roll)

An elegant way to entertain with eggs. The spiral slices of this roll are very pretty served warm either as a main course, or as a side dish with a sauce on the side. Try it with different fillings and sauces, such as mushroom, zucchini, or pumpkin. The roll is also good filled with salmon or tuna mousse and served cold.

Filling ingredients

    • 28 x 38 cm (11 x 15 inch) baking pan lined with baking paper, plus an extra sheet of baking paper
    • 500 g (18 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
    • 240 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
    • 5 g (1 teaspoon) salt
    • 1 g (¼ teaspoon) pepper
    • 1 g (¼ teaspoon) nutmeg
    • 5 green onions, cleaned and chopped

Mix all the filling ingredients together and set aside.

Soufflé ingredients

  • 6 eggs, separated (put the whites in a mixer bowl and the yolks in a separate large mixing bowl)
  • 56 g (2 ounces) butter
  • 360 ml (1½ cups) hot milk
  • ⅓ cup flour (47 grams)
  • 5 g (1 teaspoon) salt
  • 1 g (¼ teaspoon) pepper
  • 1 g (¼ teaspoon) nutmeg
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes until it just starts to turn golden. Whisk in the hot milk and stir it until it thickens and bubbles break the surface. Take it off the heat, and whisk a little bit of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, and then whisk in the rest. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and let cool for about 15 minutes.
  3. Whip the egg whites in the mixer with the whisk until the peaks are stiff but not dry. Fold some of the beaten egg whites into the egg-yolk mixture and then fold in the rest, gently but thoroughly.
  4. Pour the mixture into the baking pan. Smooth it gently, preferably with a long metal spatula.
  5. Bake the soufflé for about 20 minutes until golden. Take the soufflé out of the oven and let cool.
  6. Turn the soufflé over onto a sheet of baking paper. Carefully peel off the paper that is now on top. The soufflé should now be upside down.
  7. Spread the spinach filling on the soufflé. Using the baking paper as a guide, roll the soufflé up and roll it back onto the baking pan, ready for warming up.
  8. Before serving, cover the spinach-filled soufflé roll loosely with the removed baking paper so it doesn’t dry out in the oven and warm for a few minutes on low temperature.
  9. Serve warm slices with tomato cream sauce.

Tomato Cream Sauce

  • 400 g (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 260 g (9-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 240 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
  • 30 g (2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 5 g (1 teaspoon) garlic powder
  • 5 g (1 teaspoon) salt
  • 2 g (½ teaspoon) pepper
  • Handful fresh basil, chopped

Heat the cream, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a small saucepan until it simmers. Add the basil. Serve warm.

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