Ess Gezint: “Jewish Soul Food,” “Kosher Taste,” and “100 Best Jewish Recipes”

Oct 11, 2016 by

Three new cookbooks have made their presence felt just in time for Sukkoth. With all the meals that have to be produced in and out of the sukkah for four days of yuntif , one Shabbat, and three days of Chol HaMoed, these books could not come at a better time.

Jewish Soul FoodCarol Unger’s Jewish Soul Food: Traditional Fare and What It Means (Brandeis University Press) recognizes that the Jewish preoccupation with food is “fundamentally human.” We all need to eat, and, since life is with people, there are few more convenient places to socialize than at the mealtime table. But Ms. Unger is convinced that many of our favorite foods carry “spiritual messages.”

For example, her challah recipes all have seven ingredients—and, boy, are there a lot of challah recipes in this book: three-braid; six-braid; the vav-shaped oval (because two vavs equal 12, the number of loaves of showbread); a bird-shaped challah for Kol Nidrei night (just as a bird flies from its captors, so, too, will G-d rescue the Jews from their foes); a challah in the shape of a hand for Hoshana Raba; a Torah-scroll challah for Simchat Torah; and maybe a dozen more.

The Frankfurter Goulash, she says, is an “Old Country fast food” that doesn’t freeze well, But not to worry, she says, “You aren’t likely to have leftovers.”

Kosher TasteAmy Stopnicki’s Kosher Taste: Plan, Prepare, Plate (Feldheim) is in the popular tradition of beautiful cookbooks that are very useful as gifts. A mother of four and a successful event-planner, Ms. Stopnicki loves to entertain. Her love of planning can be a bit intimidating to those of us who fly by the seat-of-our-pants, but her organizational tips make sense (even to those of us who know we will never use them). You don’t have to use all her menus to enjoy them.

Her pumpkin loaf makes as good as dessert as it does a side dish, and the Greek potatoes are a great alternative to fried, even if you don’t peel and slice the potatoes in advance and leave the soaking in water in the refrigerator.

For many years, Evelyn Rose, the author of the very popular The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook, was the food editor of the London-based Jewish Chronicle. Just recently, her daughter, Judi Rose, also a food writer, took on the ambitious task of winnowing down the number of her mother’s best-loved recipes.

100 Best Jewish RecipesThe result is 100 Best Jewish Recipes: Traditional and Contemporary Kosher Cuisine from around the World (Interlink Publishing Company).

“With over a thousand recipes in The New Complete alone, choosing just one in ten was no mean feat, but this selection represents not only some of her personal favorites—as well as those of her fans—but her conviction that Jewish food is a living, evolving cuisine, rooted in tradition, but inspired by the present, just as it has been for centuries,” says Judi Rose.

To all our readers, Shana Tova and Gmar Chasima Tova. May it be a year blessed with health, happiness, success, and peace (with security) for you, your loved ones, and Klal Yisrael.


Carol Ungar’s Frankfurter Goulash

2 Tbs vegetable oil

1-2 medium-size onions

½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 clove garlic, chopped

8-10 all-beef franks (reduced fat is fine), sliced into rounds

4-5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

16-oz can tomato sauce

2 Tbs teriyaki sauce

1 tsp paprika

Pinch of black pepper

Heat oil in Dutch oven over a medium flame and sauté onions, pepper, and garlic. When onion is translucent (or even before if you’re rushing), add frankfurters and sauté everything for 1 minute, mixing with a wooden spoon. Add potatoes, tomato sauce, teriyaki sauce, paprika, and pepper. Cook covered on a low flame, checking occasionally to make sure potatoes don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. If they seem to be sticking, add more water. Taste and adjust seasonings. When potatoes feel fork tender, about 20 minutes, it’s done. Serve immediately. Serves 4


Carol Ungar’s Honey Cake

3½ cups flour

¼ tsp salt

1½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

⅛ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground ginger

4 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 cups honey

½ cup brewed coffee

1½ cup walnuts or almonds

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl. In a second bowl, beat eggs until light, gradually adding sugar, oil, honey, and coffee. Combine wet and dry ingredients and fold in nuts. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes.


Amy Stopnicki’s Pumpkin Loaf or Muffins

1½ cups flour

⅔ cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

⅓ cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin purée

⅓ cup water

⅛ cup roasted sunflower seeds

⅛ cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ground ginger in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add oil, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin purée, and water, and mix until combined. Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan (or muffin tin). Top with sunflower and pumpkin seeds. If a loaf, bake for 40-50 minutes. If muffins, bake for 20-25 minutes. In either case, top should be golden brown. Freezes well.


Amy Stopnicki’s Greek Potatoes

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 large lemon

2 Tbs dried oregano

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 large potatoes (Yukon Gold), peeled and cut into wedges, about 6-8 wedges per potato

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Dry the cut potato wedges with paper towels. Pour mixture over potato wedges and coat well. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Bake potatoes on the prepared baking sheet for 25 minutes, toss, and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are golden. Serves 8-10.


Evelyn Rose’s “Fried” Fish

1½ cups breadcrumbs or matzoh meal

1 tsp salt, plus more to salt the fish

4 fillets or steaks of white fish (cod, haddock, tilapia, sea bass, flounder, red snapper, etc)

1 egg

¼ cup sunflower or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400°. Put the breadcrumbs or matzoh meal in the oven to brown as it heats up, taking them out when they are well colored. Wash and salt the fish and set aside to drain.  Beat the egg with the oil and 1 tsp salt and put in a shallow casserole dish. Have ready a piece of wax paper with the coating crumbs on it. Dry each piece of fish thoroughly with paper towels, then brush with the egg mixture, and coat with the crumbs. Arrange the coated fish side by side on flat baking trays (no need to grease then). (At this stage, the fish can be placed in the refrigerator until ready to bake). Put fish in the oven and allow to bake, without turning, for 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness. Serve hot. Serves 4.


Evelyn Rose’s Fillets of Salmon with a Crushed Pecan Crust

Oil, butter, margarine, or non-stick spray for greasing

1⅔ cups shelled pecans

¼ cup snipped chives

2 Tbs unsalted butter or margarine, melted

1⅔ lb thick salmon fillet, cut into 6-8 pieces


White pepper

2 Tbs reduced-calorie mayonnaise

Lightly grease a shallow baking pan wide enough to hold the pieces of salmon in one layer. Then, make the crust. In a food processor, pulse the nuts until coarsely ground. Then mix with the chives and melted butter or margarine in a small bowl. Arrange the salmon pieces in the baking pan and season lightly with the salt and pepper. Then spread the surface of the fish with a thin layer of mayonnaise and cover completely with the nut mixture, patting it on well. Set aside until ready to bake. About 15 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 425°. Put the salmon in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork. Serve warm. Serves 6-8.


Evelyn Rose’s Cinnamon Balls

2 egg whites

½ cup sugar

2¼ cups ground almonds

1 Tbs ground cinnamon

Sifted confectioner’s sugar, for coating

Preheat oven to 325° and grease a cookie baking sheet. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently stir in all the remaining ingredients (except the confectioner’s sugar), mixing until even in color. With wet hands, form into 20-22 balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until just firm to the touch. Roll in confectioner’s sugar while still warm and then again when cool.




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