Recent Cookbooks for Sophisticated Jewish Palates
Follow these cookbook authors as they take us on a journey from classic dishes to a new and mouth-watering collection of recipes.
By Susan Tomchin
At one time, many regarded Jewish cuisine with disdain. Dry chicken. Overcooked vegetables. Unimaginative seasonings. An over-reliance on fat. Thanks to many inventive cooks, however, Jewish cooking has been transformed. It now possesses a variety, style, and healthy outlook that was unimaginable a few decades ago.
Among those who helped to spur and continue this transformation are the authors of recently released cookbooks.
Just say the first name of this woman, and everyone in New York City Jewish cooking circles will take notice. Lévana Kirschenbaum is a legend for her catering, her cooking classes and the upscale kosher restaurant she co-owned for 32 years. In recent years, she writes, she has devoted herself to re-exploring “the whole spectrum of foods, this time focusing on cooking as a means of healing by using the darkest greens, the reddest fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and seaweed.” Her new book, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen ($39.95), is the outcome of her exploration.
This coffee-table book, which features dramatic color photos by Meir Pliskin, is filled with a fascinating collection of recipes. Among them are Beef Stew With Green Tea and Root Vegetables; Curried Apple Kale Soup; Salmon in Pomegranate Sweet and Sour Sauce; Balsamic Roasted Chicken Breasts (your chicken breasts will never come out dry again); and Vegetable and Dried Fruit Couscous.
In addition to the recipes, she offers valuable advice on healthy eating. One tip she shares (which she attributes to her son, who lost 60 pounds and has never regained it): “Eat things that take time to eat!” These include such whole foods as apples, watermelon, sandwiches prepared with dense whole grain bread, and salad. Learn more at levanacooks.com.
Born in Cracow, Poland, Helen Nash has been a New Yorker for many years—and an accomplished cook, cookbook author, teacher and lecturer. She has demonstrated cooking techniques at NYU and the legendary De Gustibus Cooking School at Macy’s. Known for her knack for creating Jewish dishes that appeal to a modern palate, she emphasizes fresh ingredients and uncomplicated techniques, with gourmet-caliber outcomes.
Her creativity and skill are showcased in her new book, Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine: Healthy, Simple & Stylish (Overlook Press, $35). Featuring more than 200 mouth-watering recipes that are perfect for weekday dinners or holiday meals, her book is ideal for anyone who wants to offer family and friends dishes that are stylish and delicious. Here are a few examples: Black Cod With Honey and Soy Sauce; Turkey Scaloppini With Two Sauces; Chicken With Potatoes and Olives; Shredded Sweet Potatoes With Cumin and Scallions; and Chocolate Hazelnut Torte With Raspberry Sauce.
Nash also provides many helpful tips and notes on ingredients, techniques and equipment to help her readers achieve superb results.
One way to add variety and interest to your cooking and entertaining is to explore Jewish cuisines from around the world. Food writer, artist and Sephardic cuisine aficionado Stella Cohen’s new book, Stella’s Sephardic Table ($50), takes cooks on a cultural journey to the isle of Rhodes, where a Judeo-Spanish community flourished during the height of the Ottoman Empire. Her great-grandfather Yaakove Capouya was the esteemed sage and Rabbi of Rhodes. The family subsequently emigrated to Southern Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe), where Cohen raised her family and continued the Sephardic tradition. Her book is filled with authentic, flavorful, easy recipes and more than 230 full-color photographs. Anecdotes, Ladino sayings, stories and insights also adorn the pages of this beautifully appointed book.
If time is short and you need a resource for High Holiday meals, download the new e-book Cooking for the Jewish New Year: More Than 40 Recipes for the Food Lover (Wiley, $9.99) by Jayne Cohen. A noted cooking expert, speaker, author and food blogger, Cohen makes beautiful use of fresh, seasonal herbs, vegetables and other ingredients. The recipes include: Brisket Braised in Pomegranate Sauce With Onion Confit and Pomegranate Seeds; Egyptian Ground Fish Balls With Tomato and Cumin; and Double-Ginger Caramelized Pear Noodle Kugel.
Salmon in Pomegranate Sweet-and-Sour Sauce (From The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glorious Meals Pure and Simple by Lévana Kirschenbaum)
Turkey Scaloppini With Two Sauces (From Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine by Helen Nash)
Shredded Sweet Potatoes With Cumin and Scallions (From Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine by Helen Nash)
Black-Eyed Bean Salad (From Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish Family Recipes From the Mediterranean Island of Rhodes by Stella Cohen)
North African Cooked Carrot Salad (From Cooking for the Jewish New Year: More Than 40 Recipes for the Food Lover by Jayne Cohen)