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The wide world of Jewish cuisine

1997
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If you can’t find menu ideas in Leah Koenig’s new book, The Jewish Cookbook, you have to go back and look again.

A food writer, teacher, blogger and author of such cookbooks as The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook and Modern Jewish Cooking, Koenig offers more than 400 recipes from around the world, including ones that are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, contain five ingredients or less, or that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

The book starts with breakfast foods and goes on to include breads, salads, soups, vegetables and grains, fritters, kugels, main dishes and desserts.

She says that Jewish cuisine falls into two categories: foods eaten during the week and those served on Shabbat and holidays.

Her goal in writing the book was to highlight as many types of Jewish food from around the world as possible. “I sought to shine a light on the dishes that sustain cooks during the week and those that delight them on Shabbat and the holidays,” she says.

There is a Hungarian take on noodle kugel, which embellishes the sweet pudding with poppy seeds and decadent pockets of jam. There is an Italian version of haroset that includes roasted chestnuts, and another from Yemen that features sesame seeds. There is also a sweet egg meringue that Moroccan Jews eat at the close of Passover, and a dish of sauteed zucchini peels that Turkish Jews make to avoid wasting food.

She says it was difficult to decide which recipes to include because Jewish food is not only regional, it changes from family to family, “with each cook insisting that he or she holds the secret for the most authentic and delicious recipes.”

Koenig says her own definition of Jewish cuisine includes any dish that holds cultural, sacred or ritual significance to the Jewish communities that cook and eat it.

 

Roasted Red Pepper Salad

o 1 jar (680 gram) roasted red peppers, drained and patted with paper towels

o 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) kosher salt, plus more as needed

o 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

o 3 garlic cloves, minced

 

Slice the peppers into long, thin strips and place in large frying pan set over medium heat

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers begin to release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, reduce the heat to medium-low and keep cooking until almost all of the liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Add the oil and garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to let the flavours meld. Taste and add a little more salt or oil, if desired.

 

Cabbage Strudel

o 175 ml (3/4 cup) vegetable oil

o 1 large onion, finely chopped

o 1.125 l (4½ cups) shredded green cabbage

o 6.25 ml (1¼ tsp) kosher salt

o 3.75 ml (3/4 tsp) pepper

o 5 ml (1 tsp) sugar

o 8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

o 120 ml (8 tbsp) dried breadcrumbs

 

In a large frying pan, heat 45 ml (3 tbsp) of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the shredded cabbage, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until tender and lightly browned. Stir in salt, pepper and sugar and continue cooking, uncovered, until tender and lightly browned. If pan looks dry, stir in a couple of teaspoons of water. Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a clean dish towel on a flat surface and place 1 sheet of phyllo on top. Keep the other phyllo sheets covered with a damp cloth so they don’t dry out. Brush the sheet with some of the oil and sprinkle with 15 ml (1 tbsp) breadcrumbs. Repeat the process 7 more times to make a stack of phyllo sheets.

Spoon the cabbage mixture in a thick line along the short side of the phyllo dough, leaving about 1 cm (1/4 inch) clear on either side. Use the parchment paper to help roll the dough snugly around the cabbage, tucking the filling inside and ending up with a long, stuffed cylinder. Carefully transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet and brush the top with a little more oil. Bake until the phyllo is crisp and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool slightly. Use a serrated knife to slice. Serve warm.

 

Huevos Haminados

o skins from 5 large onions, rinsed

o 6-12 eggs in the shell

o 30 ml (2 tbsp) coffee grounds (not instant)

o 15 ml (1 tbsp) distilled white vinegar

o 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil

 

Lay the onions skins on the bottom of a slow cooker. Nestle the eggs in the skins and top with coffee grounds, vinegar and olive oil. Cover with 5 cm (2 inches) of water. Set the slow cooker on low and let the eggs cook for 8-12 hours (less time for lighter, milder tasting eggs, more time for more intensely flavoured eggs). Remove the eggs from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

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Sweet And Sour Fish

o 125 ml (1/2 cup) pine nuts

o 75 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil

o 75 ml (1/3 cup) red wine or apple cider vinegar

o 45 ml (3 tbsp) mild honey

o 7.5 ml (1½ tsp) salt, plus more for sprinkling

o 125 ml (1/2 cup) golden raisins

o 6 large shallots, halved and sliced

o 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

o 6 firm fish fillets, such as red snapper, sole or flounder

o Fresh parsley for serving

Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).

 

In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat, shaking the pan occasionally until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper until well combined. Stir in pine nuts and raisins. Arrange shallots and garlic on the bottom of a 23×33-cm (9×13-inch) baking dish. Drizzle about half of the oil and vinegar mixture on top. Lay the fish in a layer on top of the shallots, sprinkle with a little more salt and the pepper, and drizzle with the remaining oil and vinegar mixture.

Cover the baking dish with foil and roast for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue roasting, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until the fish is tender and cooked through, about 10-20 minutes. Serve hot or warm, with pan juices spooned on top and sprinkled with parsley.

 

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