Cookbook Review


Cooking Kosher the New Way
by Jane Kinderlehrer

As a child brought up in a kosher home, changing to a vegetarian diet was not so difficult. I already had a restricted menu that was devoid of pork and shellfish, and dairy and meat meals were not mixed in any one meal, in according with Jewish dietary law. So I keep a couple of Jewish cookbooks on my kitchen shelf to get ideas or to find recipes not only for Jewish holidays, but also for vegetarian meals.

Every Jewish cookbook has recipes for meatless dishes using grains, beans and vegetables, fruit and dairy dishes, and pareve dishes. (Pareve foods are those that can be used with either a meat or dairy meal and these include eggs and fish, as well as fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans.)

Unfortunately, many commercial kosher foods are not healthy; they are heavily processed with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, as well as questionable additives, preservatives, and artificial colors. Fortunately, I have a copy of Jane Kinderlehrer’s Cooking Kosher the New Way: Fast, Lite & Natural. (I also owned her first version of this book, Cooking Kosher the Natural Way, so this is its updated sequel or second generation cookbook.) Now I can create healthy vegetarian meals and keep my culinary traditions as well.

The Introduction sets the tone of the book, because it is entitled “Kosher is Not Enough.” In this section the author explains the actual meaning of the word kosher, which literally means “fit or proper to be used.” Meat must be slaughtered in a certain way by a person trained to do this. There are other restrictions, which the book delineates, but for my purposes, the non-meat sections are my main interest. For example, Chapter Five is entitled “Expand Your Vegetable Horizons” and Chapter Fifteen is labeled “TOFU: The Pareve Wonder.” In browsing through the chapters, I think there may be more non-meat than meat chapters, which makes this a good recipe resource for me.

Perhaps the best part of this book is Jane Kinderlehrer’s emphasis on keeping traditional Jewish foods in her book while changing the recipes to be healthier. Thus, the next section of her Introduction is entitled “How to Add Nutrition to Tradition.” She actually states the following: “Let’s face it. Grandma’s old favorites were high in sugar, salt, and hydrogenated fats.” In Cooking Kosher the New Way, the author promises to give families both tradition AND nutrition, thus combining “the taste of love and an enduring link to our culinary roots.”

For Hanukkah, I consulted two Jewish cookbooks: the one reviewed here and another one called The Gourmet Jewish Cook by Judy Zeidler, which I will review in a future posting, probably around Passover, because that cookbook has some interesting variations on a traditional food used at the Passover Seder. But for the December posting, I am printing Jane Kinderlehrer’s Potato Latke (pancake) recipe, since this is a traditional food for Hanukkah. It is one of the few times that I deep fry in oil. Because it is a Jewish holiday, I bend my rule for not frying and indulge myself with luscious latkes.

Jane Kinderlehrer’s Crispy Potato Latkes (Pancakes) from p. 113 in Cooking Kosher the New Way

(This photo is from my kitchen, not from the book.)

5 medium-size unpeeled potatoes, well-scrubbed and cubed
2 eggs
1/4 cup wheat germ, whole wheat flour, or matzo meal
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste, or omit the salt and use herbal seasoning or a dash of cinnamon
Oil for frying*
In the bowl of a food processor, using the steel blade, blend all the ingredients (except the oil).
In a large frying pan, heat oil about 1/4 inch deep until it sizzles.
Drop the potato mixture by the tablespoon into the hot oil. Brown well on both sides, then drain on several layers of paper toweling. Serve the latkes piping hot with applesauce, sour cream, and yogurt.

*Note from Ellensue: When I fry, I use olive or macadamia oil, butter or coconut oil, whatever is available in my pantry or refrigerator at the time.

Yield: About 30 latkes, 6 to 8 servings

Baked Potato Latkes Variation: If you’d rather not fry the latkes, place them on an oiled cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until they are well browned. They’re not so crispy as the fried, but they are good-tasting nevertheless.

Potato Kegel Variation: Pour the misture into 8 X 12 baking dish and place in a 350 degree F. oven for 45 minutes or until well browned. Cut into squares and serve piping hot.

Muffin Latkes Variation: Spoon the mixture into greased muffin tins and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degree F. (Check Kitchen Nutrition Recipe for my own recipe for potato-vegetable latke muffins.)

Note: You can freeze potato latkes, which will save you lots of hassle when you have a big crowd of latke-lovers to feed. After making the latkes, place them on a cookie sheet, freeze, then transfer to a plastic bag for easy storage. When you are ready to serve, arrange them on a cookie sheet and heat in a 450 degree F. oven for about 5 minutes.

Cooking Kosher the New Way is published by Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., MIddle Village, NY and was released in 1995.

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