Archive for the 'cookbooks' Category



24
Dec
10

The Joy of Cookbooks


There was a time when cookbooks were written dry as a road map, the writing was limited to exact cooking directions, nothing more; in their current generation, cookbooks tell a story – besides presenting us with succulent recipes – we are regaled with personal anecdotes, or the various transformations of the specific dish, something about the region or culture that created it and so on. Quite often the result is very readable and interesting, even if you do not plan to make the specific recipe at the moment, there is something about it that catches your eye, excites your imagination and makes your taste buds salivate.

Food writing, differs from other types and yet it combines so many staple features of all the others. More than any other writing, however, it affords us huge insights into its author’s personality, interests, quirks, likes, dislikes and sometimes, personal life. Oft, you come away with the feeling you reunited with an old friend or that you just met someone you’ll love revisiting time and time again.

From books that trace Jewish influences on a specific country’s cuisine (like Joyce Goldstein‘s Cucina Ebraica), to books that bring us anecdotes, personal stories and more about the author’s or the recipes’ background (like Lévana Kirschenbaum‘s Lévana’s Table), or the incredible well researched Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods by Gil Marks (I’ve only seen a few random pages of the last, but I found it absolutely fascinating!!!), reading food writing – specifically kosher food writing – connects us with our past as a people, connects us with new friends we’d probably never have met otherwise, connects with our traditions. Yes, gentle reader, reading a cookbook is not what it used to be, there is a lot to learn from it – far more than how to prepare a flavorful dish. As Gil Marks so aptly puts it in his Encyclopedia:

Food is more than just sustenance. It is a reflection of the history, culture and values, and this is specially true of the Jewish people–a community that spans the globe. From Brooklyn to India and everywhere in between, Jewish food is represented by a fascinating array of dishes, rituals, and traditions.

Jewish cuisine is truly international. In every location Jews settled, they brought culinary traditions and also adapted local dishes modifying them to fit dietary laws, lifestyles and tastes. Unique traditions and dishes developed within the cuisines of North Africa, Europe, Persia, and the Mediterranean, but all are recognizably Jewish.

Enjoy your reading, gentle reader, and excite your taste buds.

CS

RELATED POSTS

Practical But Delicious

Pam Reiss’ Passover – a Kosher Collection

The Kosher Baker

Maple Roasted Pears and Sweet Potatoes and More

Contest!!!

Kosher By Design: Teens and 20 Somethings

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06
Sep
10

A Talk with Susie Fishbein


Chatting with Susie Fishbein was just delightful. The woman is the consummate kosher icon, renowned for her best selling Kosher By Design series. Unpretentious and generous, food talk flows from her like honeyed streams of culinary consciousness.

All you KBD lovers out there are going to love Susie’s new cookbook Kosher by Design Teens and 20-Somethings, cooking for the next generation, it’ll arrive on shelves near you on October 27th. Susie was amazed at just how savvy her new target audience was. Many of these kids had grown up on her recipes, and possessed rather cultivated refined palates. This generation of teens and early twenties had choices we never had; they’ve grown up with a wide array of kosher fast food and fine dining choices; many of them developing knowledgeable health conscious preferences. The expansion of the kosher product landscape and the extraordinary array of new kosher products hitting supermarket shelves has made designing fresh new recipe ideas so much easier as a result.

Susie held 14 tasting parties for audiences of this demographic and was impressed with the sophisticated and intricate comments she received on the recipe evaluations. Desserts of course had big appeal, but taste testers were enthralled with almost all of the recipes included in the final version. Her upcoming book speaks to her young fans and tweenlings who want to get involved in the kitchen preparing fun, healthful, easy to make recipes. The new cookbook even includes markation features for vegetarian, gluten and nut free recipes.

Nowadays, most families have two working parents, three meals a day to put on the table; it’s a great gift for the kids to get involved in the kitchen preparing meals and lightening the load. I expect that we’ll love this new KBD entry, and can’t wait to be dazzled by the table-fare our kids will be easily preparing, as we relax –feet up-with our martinis after a long day at the office, waiting for the supper call. Hey, I can dream can’t I? But just think, we can send our young adults off to college, seminary, and their new apartments armed with a handy kitchen survival manual that will keep them happily healthfully engaged in Bistro Mio 101.

Taking full advantage of the moment, I asked Susie if she could give us a few pointers for the up-coming Yomim Tovim and how to avoid getting overwhelmed. Organization and advanced planning seemed to be the keys to success. Susie’s appreciates an artful elegantly set table. Don’t overdo the presentation by making too many dishes. Plan for a soup or salad, no more than two main dishes, a side dish and vegetable; end with an exciting delicious dessert at each meal. “You’re not looking to kill anybody at your table”; the courses should resemble service at a fine restaurant. “They don’t overwhelm you with tons of dishes, but rather serve singular aesthetic dishes that you’ll remember.” Prepare what you are comfortable with; tried and true recipes, with something new to add to the mix. Keep to fresh and healthy ingredients, don’t freeze, do your chopping and sauces in advance where possible, and have 80% of the food prepped and ready for the oven or stove. Don’t overcook; almost every culinary faux pas can be saved except for overcooking. Susie does her math, she takes the time to figure out how many 4- 6 ounce servings she’s going to need, so that she doesn’t overbuy or over prepare. “If you’ve put too much food on the table, people are going to eat more than they should.” With the four grand meals of Rosh HaShana plus Shabbat, it can really become too much of a good thing.

We look forward to reviewing Susie’s Kosher by Design Teens and 20-Somethings. Judging by the series popularity, by Susie’s passion for cooking and infectious enthusiasm I have no doubt it’ll be very successful. I’ll venture that even those of us a few days, or so, past the 20-somethings might also learn a thing or two.

SYR

23
Aug
10

The Kosher Baker


A 1996 graduate of the Ritz Escoffier Ecole de Gastronomie Française in Paris, Paula Shoyer owns Paula’s Parisian Pastries Cooking School in the Washington, DC. area. She recipe tested and edited Susie Fishbein‘s Kosher By Design Entertains and Kosher By Design Kids In The Kitchen. Paula is also the author of the brand new book The Kosher Baker. Not only is this a beautiful tome, the attention to detail in its execution, the direction given in the recipes, make its publication an unparalleled event among kosher cookbooks.

I got the book last week and immediately started leafing through it. It has great great photos without being overbearing, the detail of explanation in the recipes will make for perfect results by whoever follows them fully. Each of the over 160 recipes is preceded by a little anecdote which makes it very friendly and offers us small tidbits of its author as very real and down to earth.

Having never outgrown my childhood sweet tooth, I was pleasantly surprised to find a recipe for the cinnamon buns I always loved. I made a batch of 20, on Thursday evening.

In a very uncharacteristic display of will power (likely due to being tired at such a late hour), I did not have even one! Friday morning, however, I had  intended to eat only a few myself and share the rest with SYR,  but alas… such was not to be! My will power failed and I finished the whole lot. As we are in Elul, I felt very guilty and confessed my dastardly deed and – predictably – SYR was rather upset with me. On Sunday – yesterday – she made two batches of cinnamon buns, thereby proving (again!) she’s a far better person than I. The buns looked better than mine, which gave me the opportunity to photograph them since in the losing battle against my sweet tooth I had entirely forgotten to do so. Best of all, her teenage son told her these were the best pastry she ever made!

Choosing just one recipe is hard; having gone through the book I can tell quite a few are destined to become new favorites (especially that Crème Brûlée on page 240!). Meanwhile I”ll quote the one recipe both SYR and I thoroughly tested:

Cinnamon Buns

MAKES ABOUT 20 BUNS
STORAGE
Store covered in plastic at room temperature for up to four days or freeze up to 4 months

Dough

1 cup parve plain soy milk
1/2 ounce (2 envelopes) active dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) parve margarine, softened, plus extra to grease pan (if pan-baking buns)
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

Filling

1 cup (2 sticks) parve margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

The remnants of SYR's double batch...

  1. To make the dough: Heat the soy milk until lukewarm. Pour into a large bowl and add the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the flour, eggs, remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, margarine, and oil and mix well. knead using either a dough hook in a stand mixer for 2 to 3 minutes or by hand until the dough comes together into a ball. Cover with plastic and let rise for 1 hour.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the filling. Place the margarine, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix with a whisk or beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Take a piece of parchment paper about 2-feet long and place on the counter. Sprinkle with some flour. Place the dough on the floured parchment, sprinkle with some more flour, and roll it into 15 x 24-inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon filling all over the dough, all the way to the edges.
  4. Roll up the dough beginning with the long side of the rectangle, so you end up with a log about 24 inches long. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 1-inch slices. You can bake these two ways.
  5. To make soft, pan-baked buns, grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with some margarine. Place the buns in the pan with the cinnamon swirl-side up. Bake for 40 minutes, or until browned on the outside edges.
  6. To make individually baked buns with a slightly crunchy exterior, line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Place the sliced buns cinnamon swirl-side up on the pans 3 inches apart. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden-brown.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan (or on the cookie sheets) and prepare the glaze. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the boiling water and the vanilla. Whisk in another tablespoon of boiling water and see if you have a thick pourable glaze. If you think it is too thick, add another tablespoon of boiling water and whisk to combine. If you accidentally made it too thin, just add some confectioners’ sugar. Use the whisk to drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon buns.

Enjoy, gentle reader, we certainly did!

CS

09
Apr
10

Lévana’s Recipe


[Lévana Kirschenbaum, the power behind Lévana's, the restaurant that pioneered the kosher gastronomic experience paired with wines dry and sweet in New York City, is author of two superb cookbooks:  Levana's Table, Levana Cooks Dairy Free! and a Book/DVD set, based on her cooking classes: In Short Order. I'm a chocaholic and when I saw this recipe on her website, I just had to quote it here! CS.]

Chocolate Espresso Mousse

Posted on April 9th, 2010 by Lévana

This will take you about five minutes to prepare, and will knock your socks (and your guests’!) off. And although it tastes sinfully rich, it contains no eggs and no cream. So what’s the secret? The best chocolate, that’s what: Start with real chocolate (no brand affectionately called “heimish”) brand: They contain a smidgen of chocolate and loads of sugar: Who needs it? Get a good brand, even a price club brand will do. I assure you that if enough of you customers will ask your kosher supermarket to carry some good chocolate products, they will be happy to oblige! So, use good ingredients, and taste the difference!

Ingredients:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or grated semisweet chocolate), only the best
2 tablespoons
instant coffee powder
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup pure cocoa powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoon brandy or rum (unflavored please)
1 pound silken tofu, drained

Instructions:

In a small saucepan, on a very low flame, place all but last ingredient, and cook, stirring, until melted. This will take about 2-3 minutes (Or microwave 2 minutes). Transfer the mixture to a food processor, with the tofu, and process one full minute, until perfectly smooth. Pour the mixture into 6 to 8 dessert glasses or cups, and refrigerate until firm, 2-3 hours.

Enjoy, my mouth is watering already!!!

CS

04
Mar
10

Pam Reiss’ Passover – A Kosher Collection


Pamela Reiss works with her parents catering business and store in Winnipeg, Canada. By her own admission she’s not a trained Chef, yet judging by this book, the lady can cook!!!

I’ve seen quite a few Passover cookbooks over the years, some very good, some mediocre. This one is excellent! It shows imagination, understanding of the subtle nuances of flavor and has so many delicious recipes.

Among my favorites is the Spinach and Zucchini Soup with the Matzo Ball. For the Mains I have a tough time choosing between the Black Currant Miami Ribs, the Old Fashioned Beef Flanken, the Brisket with Onion Gravy, the Slow Cooked Brisket with Tomato Sauce, or the Pineapple Turkey Meatballs. For desserts there are quite a few that could become my new favorites, among them any of the variations of Crème Brûlée

Pineapple Turkey Meatballs

Serves 6 – Meat

To make a lighter version, I’ll often use ground turkey or chicken as a substitute for beef in meatballs. But this recipe was created with turkey in mind — I think the sauce works well with turkey, but don’t let that stop you if you want to try it with chicken or beef!

Sauce

28 oz. | 796 mL canned whole tomatoes
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp. | 10 mL fresh ginger, minced
20 oz. | 565 g canned pineapple chunks, with the juice
2 oz. | 55 g brown sugar (¼ cup | 60 mL)
3 Tbsp. | 45 mL tomato paste

Meatballs

1 ½ lbs. | 680 g ground turkey
1 large egg
5 oz. | 140 g yellow onion, peeled and finely minced
(1 small)
1 tsp. | 5 mL fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp. | 5 mL salt
¼ tsp. | 1 mL black pepper
2 ¼ oz. | 65 g matzo meal (½ cup | 120 mL)
2 Tbsp. | 30 mL cold water

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C.

Put the whole tomatoes with the juice into a mixing bowl and use an immersion blender to puree. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir together.

In another mixing bowl, combine the meatball ingredients and mix well.

Ladle some sauce into the bottom of an oven-safe baking dish.

Form the turkey mixture into balls the size of large walnuts — you should get about 24.

Lay as many meatballs as you can on top of the sauce in a single layer and pour some sauce over them.

Add the remaining meatballs in a second layer and add the remaining sauce, spooning it on and making sure that all the meatballs are covered.

Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 1 ½ hours.

Remove from the oven and serve or chill and reheat for serving later.

The book’s title refers to Passover but, frankly, with so many delicious recipes it’s a book for all seasons. Ms. Reiss has taken heimish cooking to new heights.

You can obtain the book directly from her website, amazon.com or Eichler’s in Brooklyn

CS

03
Feb
10

Practical but Delicious!


Chef Jeff Nathan is a celebrity in his own right. Yet… like his first, this second cookbook is not only easy to follow, unpretentious in tone, but above all, the results are delicious!

Cooking for the family, even on a normal weekday, is fun again. Yes, the recipes are kosher but they have that international flair that only someone of Chef Jeff Nathan’s caliber, imagination, mastery of the mysteries of food preparation and understanding of the delicate flavor nuances of the various ingredients, could produce.

I’ve tried many of these book’s recipes and liked them, to pick one as an example here is not easy. I’ll find something that illustrates how well the New Jewish Cuisine has become a superb blend of the old traditions and the newest trends.

The recipes in this book have a relatively short cooking time, yet their tastes are not compromised. Everything we’ve tried was delicious!

So… what to choose to feature on this pages? I’ve tried the soup recipes like the Tuscan Vegetable Soup, the Chilled sweet Pepper and Pineapple Soup, the Sherried Cream of Mushroom Soup, any of these easily attests to the author’s passion for food.  But… I am basically a carnivore to the core, I will therefore give you one of the many mouthwatering meat recipes here.

Since hardly anything is more heimisch than a good brisket, I chose the following… heimisch yes, but with a twist. As I always liked cooking with wine or liqueur, this one’s is my newest favorite:

Brisket with Port Wine and Mushrooms Sauce

Makes 7 to 10 Servings

Tender melt-in-your-mouth brisket is one of my favorite dishes to serve to friends and family. Every time I make it home I make it differently. My latest version simmers the meat in rich port wine with lots of mushrooms, so much the better for a deep, dark sauce that is made for pouring over noodles. It’s a waste of time to make only a three pound brisket, so this recipe makes enough for precious leftovers. If you have the time, make the brisket the day ahead, which makes it easier to to slice thinly.

3 tablespoons canola oil
Two 3-pond first-cut beef briskets, trimmed
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half-moons
8 garlic cloves, halved
13/4 cups tawny or ruby port
2 pounds assorted fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered, depending on size
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat at 325° F

2. Heat the oil in a very large, deep Dutch oven over medium-high heat.One at a time, add the briskets and cook. turning once, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a platter.

3. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the port, mushrooms, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits in a pot with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 5 minutes. Return the briskets and any pieces on the platter to the pot. Add enough cold water to barely cover the briskets and bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and bake until the briskets are fork-tender, about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.

4. Uncover and let the brisket cool in the pot. Cover and refrigerate until the next day.

5. Scrape off and discard any hardened fat on the on the surface of the cooking liquid’ Transfer the briskets to a carving board and slice thinly across the grain.

6. Meanwhile bring the cooking liquid to a boil over high heat. Taste, and if the flavor needs concentrating, boil for a few minutes to evaporate excess liquid.

7. Whisk the flower and water together in a medium bowl to dissolve the flour. Whisk in about 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Whisk this liquid into the pot.. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the the sauce thickens and has no raw flour taste, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Return the sliced briskets to the sauce, and simmer until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot with the sauce.

Enjoy, we certainly did!

CS




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