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.
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
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.
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.