Archive for the 'cookbook reviews' Category

27
Feb
13

This Evening’s Radio Show, a Book Review & a Recipe


This evening – Wednesday, the 27th of February – at 10:00 pm (Eastern Time) we will be talking to Leah Schapira and Victoria Dweck, the co-authors of the cookbook: Passover Made Easy: Favorite Triple-Tested Recipes on our BlogTalkRadio.com/kosherscene segment.

Easy to prepare, delicious recipes. What more can you ask?

Easy to prepare, delicious recipes. What more can you ask?

Leah and her first cookbook already appeared in this pages, and she also was our guest on BlogTalkRadio in 2011. Victoria Dweck is the Managing Director of AMI MAGAZINE‘s Whisk (the weekly food section – a magazine on its own!). Their backgrounds and customs may be very different BUT, their love of food makes them an unbeatable team.

Looking through their new cookbook with sections on:

  • Food and Wine Pairing
  • Seder Night
  • Building Blocks
  • Starters
  • Soups and Salads
  • Main Dishes
  • Side Dishes
  • Brunch and Dairy
  • Desserts
  • Replacement Index

…it is obvious this book will please the seasoned as well as the new bride who’s just starting to cook! The recipes from Meatballs in Blueberry Sauce to Brisket Eggrolls (my mouth is watering already!) and Antipasti Rolls, from Orange Soup to Butternut Squash Salad and Lime-Infused Pear Salad, from Eggplant-Wrapped Chicken to Veal Chops in White Wine Sauce and Braised Short Ribs in Homemade Duck Sauce are sure to enhance ANY Seder meal!

With side dishes like Stuffed Onions or Potato and Flanken Kugel, with breakfast goodies like Banana French Toast or Pineapple Pie; with desserts like Frozen Lemon Wafer Cake or Truffled Grapes this is the perfect gift to yourself, your family or Seder host (you can purchase this cookbook here).

With 60 easy to make, mouth watering recipes it was hard to choose just one to share with you, gentle reader, but as an incurable chocolate addict I think the following dessert is just perfect:

Chocolate Crackel  Sandwiches

(From page 112…)

Detail of photo by Daniel Lailah on page 113

Detail of photo by Daniel Lailah, on page 113

Yield: 9 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar (optional)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa (scant)
  • pinch salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 cups walnuts halves, toasted

Chocolate Ice Cream Mousse

  • 15 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 9 eggs, separated
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a standard mixer (or using a hand mixer), combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla sugar, and cocoa. Add the salt and egg whites. Beat well. Add the walnuts and mix until incorporated. Do not let the batter sit.
  3. Immediately spoon full tablespoons of batter onto each baking sheet. There should be 6 cookies per sheet for a toal of 18 large cookies (the cookies spread). Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.
  4. Prepare chocolate ice cream mousse: Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, oil, and melted chocolate. Process until well combined.
  5. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff, gradually adding the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar. Add lemon juice. Lower speed and add chocolate mixture.
  6. Pour ice cream into prepared pan. Freeze until firm,
  7. Assemble the ice cream sandwiches: Pair the cookies that are the most even-sized. Using a deep cookie cutter the size of a cookie cut the ice cream. The ice cream should stick to the sides of the cutter; when you lift the cutter, the ice cream should come with it. Push it out onto a cookie. Sandwich it with the matching cookie. Freeze.

Hot Chocolate Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa, sifted
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the sugars, cocoa, salt. water, and oil. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens to desired consistency.

TIDBITCoca-Cola makes a special batch of soda for Passover using real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, which is kitnyiot. A yellow cap identifies the special bottles.

These crackels are a simply delicious cookie that work well either on their own or paired with ice cream. There’s just one rule. Once you mix the batter, drop it into the cookie sheet immediately. If it sits in the bowl, the batter becomes thick and chunky and result in cookies that aren’t as appealing. I haven’t yet figured out a way to reverse that – so work quickly!

Confess! I can see you salivating as you read the recipe, so… enjoy.

Don’t forget to tune us in, this evening, at 10:00pm (Eastern Time) on BlogTalkRadio.com/kosherscene. Meanwhile, in case you missed, just listen to the archive of our last show with Esther Zafrani?

CS

12
Nov
12

Jayne Cohen’s Jewish Holiday Cooking


The Jewish calendar is filled with celebrations, each has its unique foods and traditions. What better way to celebrate than with columnist, blogger, cook author Jayne Cohen‘s Jewish Holiday Cooking? Ms. Cohen covers the spectrum of Jewish cooking around the world. Her dishes – though often traditional – include many a delightful surprise, an update in taste.

The recipes are peppered with quotes from the vast world of Jewish writing ranging from the Talmud to Nathan Englander, from Chaim Grade to Sholem Aleichem, from the Zohar to Shmuel Hanagid and more. It is obvious this is not just a cookbook, it is a paean to Judaism, its timeless spiritual and cultural values, with the recipes representing a way to celebrate it all.

As I browse through the pages, it is obvious the author loves many genres of books, her quotes, her references, her intros to the individual recipes, her writing in general becomes “unputdownable.” As you leaf through, as you read through, not only do you see yourself at the very locals she’s traveled but you can smell and taste as well. Written in the best tradition of M.F.K Fischer, Joseph Wechsberg, Hillaire du Berrier and Ruth Reichl, Ms. Cohen leaves you begging for more…

With Chanuka coming up in less than a month, what could be better than an interesting latke recipe to whet one’s appetite?

Garlic-Rosemary Potato Latkes

Pareve
Yield: About 4 servings

These exceptionally fragrant potato pancakes require no topping or sauce as adornment. They are perfect as is, ready to accompany any roasted or grilled chicken or meat.

Ingredients:

  • About 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold or 3 large russet (baking) potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon matzoh meal or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • About 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • About 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Sea salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Shred the potatoes, using the shredding disk in a food processor. (Don’t wash out the food processor–you’ll be using it again right away.) Transfer the potatoes to a colander or strainer and use your hands or a wooden spoon to press out as much moisture as possible.
  2. Remove the shredding disk from the processor and replace with the steel blade. Return about one third of the shredded potatoes to the food processor. Add the garlic and rosemary and process, using the pulse motion, until roughly pureed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the remaining potatoes, the egg, matzoh meal or flour, salt and pepper to taste, and the baking powder to the bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. Let stand for 10 minutes to mingle the flavors.
  3. In a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (cast-iron is ideal), heat about 1/4 inch of oil over high heat until hot but not smoking. Drop 1/4 cup of the potato latke batter into the pan and flatten with a spatula. Repeat with more batter, cooking no more than 4 or 5 latkes at a time; crowding the pan will give you soggy latkes.
  4. Regulate the heat carefully, reducing it to medium as the latkes fry until golden and crisp on the bottom, about 4 minutes. To prevent oil from splattering, use two spatulas (or a spatula and a large spoon) to turn the latkes carefully. Fry until crisp and golden on the other side.
  5. It’s best to flip the latkes only once, so that they don’t absorb too much oil. So, before turning, lift the latkes slightly with the spatula to make sure the underside is crisp and brown.
  6. As the latkes are done, transfer them to paper towels or untreated brown paper bags to drain.
  7. Continue making latkes in the same manner until all the batter is used. If necessary, add more oil to the pan, but always allow the oil to get hot before frying a new batch.
  8. Serve straightaway, sprinkled with a little coarse salt, if you’d like. Or if necessary, keep the latkes warm in a 200 degree F oven (arrange them in a single layer on a rack placed over an oven-proof platter or baking sheet) and serve when they are all ready to be brought to the table.

From Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics and Improvisations
by Jayne Cohen (print edition: Wiley 2008; e-book: 2012).
Visit jewishholidaycooking.com

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy! And… don’t forget to tune in this coming Wednesday at 10:00pm (Eastern Time) when we will be talking with Jayne Cohen; we’ll be waiting!

CS

01
Nov
12

Kosher By Design Cooking Coach


Mark van Doren once said: “A good teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” Susie Fishbein – that quintessential teacher – is looking to wean devoted Kosher by Design cooks, off the book and onto self-actualization in the kitchen with her new cookbook “Kosher by Design Cooking Coach.

Cover Used by permission: ArtScroll Shaar Press

With over 400 full-color pictures by the talented John Uher, 10 pictorial coaching sections and a cross referenced index of 120 new recipes, this 8th title in ArtScroll‘s Kosher by Design series, imparts essential skills, techniques, tips and tools to help us excel in the kitchen. Cooking Coach includes sections on essential kitchen equipment, why 3 culinary knives will do the trick, key tips on buying and preparing fish, meat, chicken and side dishes, and my favorite, an easy to follow playbook of recipe variations that help stretch the budget without being mealtime boring or left-over repetitive.

The lay out is so picture laden and easy on the eye it could pass for an idiot’s guide to the kitchen were it not for its elegant descriptive content. I think what we all love about Susie most and what’s made her series such an enormous success, is her ability to deliver fool-proof recipes that are delicious and make us look like culinary heroes to our family and friends. In this latest cookbook, Susie wants to up the ante and move her loyal audience beyond the written recipe, teaching us essential skills to help us develop, discover and explore our own creative cooking abilities beyond the text and within our own selves; the ultimate gift of a true teacher.

From the book, page 184:

Bulgogi

Used by permission: ArtScroll Shaar Press

Photo by: John Uher, on page 185

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Bulgogi is Korea’s most famous street food. It is also served in homes and restaurants, prepared on tabletop hibachi-style grills.

The key to this dish is slicing the meat paperr thin so it absorbs all the flavors of the marinade and cooks quickly. If you freeze the meat for 30-45 minutes out of it packaging in a piece of foil or parchment, it will be much easier to slice nicely.

  • 8 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce **
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 pounds filet split, cut into paper thin 1/16 inch slices
  • 1 head Bibb or Boston lettuce, separated into leaves.

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted or toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. In a medium bowl mix the garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne. Add the sliced steak. Toss and stir to separate the slices and make sure they are well coated. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove the meat from the marinade and discard any remaining marinade. Sear the meat, in a single layer, allowing room between slices, you may need to do this in batches. If so, wipe out the pan between each batch and heat a bit more. oil. Don’t move the meat around. Get some good caramelization and then, using tongs, turn each slice over and repeat on the second side, 3-5 minutes in total cooking time.
  3. Roll 1/2 cup meat in a Bibb lettuce leaf. Repeat until all the meat is rolled. Transfer to a plate or a platter.
  4. In a small bowl, prepare the the clipping sauce. Whisk together the soy sauce, honey , ginger, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes.

** True Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. If the kosher certification mark stands alone, then the percentage of anchovies is less than 1.6% of the whole product. Many rabbinical authorities say that this is okay to use with meat. If the kosher certification is on the label has a fish notation next to it, the level exceeds 1.6%; do not use it in meat dishes.

Page 27,  in the Playbook section, lists what you can do with the leftovers of the above recipe:

Make a tasty ASIAN BEEF SOUP with your leftovers: In a soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add 1 sliced onion, 10 sliced shiitake mushrooms, and 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger. Sauté until the mushrooms and onion sare wilted. Add 6 cups chicken stock.  1/4 cup shredded carrots, a handful of pea pods, and 1 thinly sliced stalk bok choy. Bring to a simmer; cook for 10 minutes. Mix in 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon sriracha chilli sauce. Chop the leftover bulgogi and add to the pot along with 2 scallions thinly sliced on the diagonal.

Enjoy, enjoy!

SYR

16
Oct
12

Manna From Heaven


Richmond,VA’s Rudlin Torah Academy, published Manna from Heaven – while it differs from cookbooks designed to woow the reader as he or she imagines the various recipes, this one shows that you need not be a Cordon Bleu trained Chef to prepare succulent, wholesome dishes.

The underlying philosophy behind this cookbook is that food and Judaism are inextricable parts of each other, as stated in the preface. As such, you will find recipes for every holiday, for every occasion whether a party or just for the immediate family.

This is a cookbook designed to make the average cook shine, with sections such as:

  • Effortless
  • Breads
  • Spreads and Dips
  • Appetizers
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Meat Poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy and Bruch
  • Side Dishes and Vegetables
  • Desserts

From the easy – last minute preparations – to more complex dishes everything here is easy to make, and yet every recipe from Strawberry Bread to Blue Cheese Ball, from Marinated ‘Shrooms to Tomato Soup with Herbs and Feta, from Brandied Fruit Salad to Fail-Proof Rib Roast, from Arroz con Pollo Valenciana to Salmon in Orange-Honey Marinade, from Mediterranean Strata Lite to Ratatouille in Phyllo, from Peanut Butter-Chocolate Crispy Treats to Rugelach and more, are

During chol hamo’ed and the last days of yom tov I was in Richmond, VA and had the privilege of tasting a superb challa (one of the best I ever had!) made by the lady who created it for this cookbook. Here’s the recipe:

No Need to Knead Challah

(page 21)Yields 8 loaves

Ingredients

  • 6 packets quick rise yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 5 pounds plus 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 8 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups oil.
  • 1 egg plus 3 tablespoons water for wash
  • Sesame or poppy seeds, optional

Directions

  1. Dissolve yeast plus 2 tablespoons sugar in 2 cups warm water in a medium bowl, Set aside. In an extra large bowl, mix flour and salt together  and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl mix together remaining sugar, eggs and oil.
  2. Add yeast mixture and 2 additional cups of warm water to sugar, egg amnd mixture. Slowly pour egg and yeast mixture into the well in the flour and mix. Make sure that all the flour is mixed into the dough. Mix only enough to combine all the ingredients. Cover with a damp cloth and either leave in the refrigerator overninght or let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 -3 hours. In the morning, remove from refrigerator and place on a clean surface. Divide up dough into 8 portions, roll each portion into 3 ropes and braid loaves.
  3. Spray baking sheets or large loaf pans and place challa on or in them. Cover again with damp cloth and allow to rise for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat egg with water and brush on challah. Sprinkle with either sesame or poppy seeds if desired. Bake 25-30 minutes until loaves are golden brown. Remove from oven and place on racks until cool. Challah may be wrapped in foil and frozen.

Each section opens up with a quote from sifrei kodesh, because this is more than just a cookbook, it shows the connection between what goes into a Jew’s mouth and his/her spiritual growth. You can order the cookbook online at the Rudlin Academy’s website. While you most likely did not attend the Culinary Institute of America nor Johnson and Wales University, you will still wow your family and friends with these recipes!

CS

03
Feb
12

An Author and Her Cookbooks – Part 1 – The Kosher Carnivore


June Hersh is one remarkable woman. She’s got this articulate impresario presence that combines wisdom and know-how in a Jewish Oprah/ Martha Stewart kind of way. Pick a subject matter and June will research, write and perfect a delightful, informative product that is instantly marketable. Here I am, a Holocaust survivor’s daughter internally struggling for years to articulate some memorial to my parents’ heritage and experiences while, American rooted, June comes up with a sensitive sideward entrée onto the experience through recipes and stories of Holocaust survivors. Her first book (Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival) is compassionate to their plight, a paean to their survival and achievement in a new land.

I gave a copy to my mother and she began sharing some of her own kitchen experiences with her mother; the last of which was her locking the pantry the day they were taken away, her mother saying “Little one, you won’t need to lock the pantry anymore.” My family’s memoirs, though ever present, are still too raw to pen.

In June’s new cookbook The Kosher Carnivore, she again does thorough research and walks us through the kosher meat process; from the biblical origins of what makes an animal kosher or not, through the koshering and cuts of meat. The recipes present us with core popular, culturally mixed, dishes that bring out the best in the various cuts of meats described in her cookbook.

Ben Fink‘s photography is well done in warm tones that subtly speak of treasured old dishes and new favorites (I wish there was more of it!). The layout is very functional, easy to follow with “Behind the Counter” and “Side Note” tips, the cross-section of variety all make it a cookbook I will refer to again and again! I highly recommend it not just for audiences familiar with kosher but also for those who are just discovering the world of Jewish culinary traditions.

Choosing a favorite dish from the book, was no easy task, there were quite a few I had tried and so many more I can’t wait to try; but I thought this one – which I’ll be trying this evening on Shabbat – was an interesting update to a cut of meat of meat I’ve always loved.

Coffee-Crusted Hanger Steak

Why not save time and have your coffee with your dinner rather than after? Freshly ground espresso beans and lots of companion spices combine to give a little jolt to the seared crust of this full-flavored steak.

Serves 2
Start to Finish: Under 30 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons espresso or strong coffee beans, freshly ground
  • 1  teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chilli pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (1 to 1 1/2 pound) hanger steak, halved
  • Canola Oil

Detail from Ben Fink’s photo in The Kosher Carnivore

Preheat the grill or a stovetop grill pan. Grind the coffee and then the spices in a spice or coffee grinder and pour the ground mixture out onto a large plate. Let the steaks come to room temperature, then coat them in oil and roll each steak in the ground-coffee-and-spice-mixture. Grill about 15 minutes for rare to medium-rare, turning the steaks to brown on all sides. Let rest for 10 minutes, loosely covered in foil, then cut into large slices on the diagonal.

Feedback
Did you know that the humble jar of paprika, which many people think is reserved for sprinkling on deviled eggs, not only provides a great splash of color, but also a terrific flavor boost? Your pantry probably holds a jar of sweet supermarket paprika, but let me tempt you to invest in the Hungarian variety, which will wake up most dishes with its earthy and slightly peppery flavor. Paprika was first processed in Hungary and is derived from red peppers, and can have a bit of a bite. For a spicier kick, try using hot paprika, and if you want that mellow smoky taste then reach for Spanish paprika, also known as pimentón.

Enjoy!

SYR




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