I’ve only had my copy of Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family for a few weeks, and already the book is stained and a bit worn. I think that’s a good sign.
As the title might suggest, this book is a family affair. Author Judy Bart Kancigor beautifully describes how the book came into existence, stemming from a desire to pass on her family’s food traditions. As a result, almost every recipe has a story, which can be a bit overwhelming at times, but ultimately brings the recipes to life. It’s not just a cookbook; you feel invited in, as though you’re taking part in the Rabinowitz family tradition by making this food. And the pictures are great – a time-capsule of American Jewish life opened to reveal many embarrassing hairstyles and equally embarrassing bar mitzvah pictures.
More and recipes for banana bread and sesame crusted chicken below the jump.
From Jewish food standards like chicken soup and challah, to world-inspired cuisine like eggplant and Portobello moussaka, Cooking Jewish offers an remarkably thorough collection of dishes and menus. Instead of testing out one complete meal from the book, I picked a variety of recipes to try – sweet and sour meatballs (with tvp), baked sesame chicken (with real chicken) and two desserts; pareve blondies and banana bread.
The overall results were delicious, but as I read and cooked, I was repeatedly bothered by one thing. For those of us who have sworn-off partially-hydrogenated oils and non-dairy creamers, some of the recipes in this book can feel a bit old-fashioned.
For example, I laughed out loud when reading the recipe for “Chicken Stupid!” (which promises to lead to a successful shidduch!) It calls for not only 10 tablespoons of margarine, but 1/2 cup of non-dairy creamer and 1/2 cup of nondairy sour cream. While I think there’s a place for this type of food on occasion, but to me, chicken and creaminess don’t go together – especially when it’s made with artificial ingredients.
With a careful eye, Cooking Jewish would be a useful addition to any Jewish cookbook collection. It’s full of menu ideas and recipes for just about every occasion and simcha. Personally, however, I will nix many of the suggested ingredients that no longer have a place in my kitchen, substituting healthier alternatives that fit my lifestyle. I like to think that by doing so, I might add one more chapter to the Rabinowitz story.
Banana Bread from Selma Zuckerman
I got many thumbs up for this banana bread, which I made lower fat and just as tasty by substituting half of the butter for applesauce, and using non-fat yogurt instead of buttermilk or sour cream.
Butter or vegetable cooking spray, for greasing the pan
3 cups flour, plus extra for flouring the pan (I used white wheat flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup applesauce
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
yolk of 1 large egg, at room temperature *save the white for breakfast!
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 medium-sized bananas) *I think I used two,
and it was just fine.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup yogurt
3/4 chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 raisins *I used chocolate chips.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a large 10 inch loaf pan.
2. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium-size bowl. Set it aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl down after each addition. Blend in the mashed bananas and vanilla extract.Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the yogurt and applesauce in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixtures. Stir in the
nuts and chocolate chips or raisins if using.
4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan and bake until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours (mine took less, so check often).
5. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and cool for 10 minutes. Loosen the loaf by running a knife around the edges, remove it from the pan, and transfer it to the rack to cool completely.
Crispy Sesame Seed Chicken from Erica Choset
I rarely eat chicken, but I happened to have some in the freezer. I imagine this would also work well with firm tofu or seitan.
For the egg mixture:
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
For the dry mixture:
1 cup matzo meal with Italian herbs added *my substitution for Italian-flavored dry bread crumbs.
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken:
3/4 cup flour
6 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, rinsed and patted dry
For the sauce:
12 ounces apricot preserves
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a baking pan.
2. Prepare the egg mixture: Lightly beat the eggs, soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons water in a bowl. Set it aside.
3. Prepare the dry mixture: Combine the matzo meal or bread crumbs, sesame seeds, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl, and mix well. Set it aside.
4. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Dip each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, then the dry mixture. Arrange the chicken in the prepared baking pan, and bake, turning once until the chicken is crisp and cooked through, about 35 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: heat the preserves, garlic, soy sauce, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the preserves have melted and the sauce is hot.
6. Spoon the apricot sauce over the chicken, or pass it separately.
Purchase Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family here.