Below is a book review I got my sister Tanya to write about a cook book called Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family. My sister was brought up on our Mom Bracha’s awesome cooking. Furthermore, Tanya is now married to an ashkenazic man who no doubt makes her cook ashkenazic food classics like, I don’t know, noodles with ketchup sauce, or soup bravely spiced with uh… salt, or geffilte fish or whatever it is y’all eat. So I figured she’d be well placed to review the book because it has both classic ashkenazic recipes as well as some sephardic and international recipes. And I don’t eat meat. And I actually don’t have an oven. And in the past 2 months I haven’t spent more than a week in my own home. And I suck. OK? Happy now? Anyhow, take it away Sis:
I am a foodie. I love eating and I love cooking. Even more so, I love cookbooks and my favorite are ones that have pictures for every recipe. Looking at the finished product gives me a glimmer of hope maybe I too can reproduce culinary masterpieces that may or may not have taken food stylists hours to create. Ok, so usually I don’t get anywhere close in the visual aspect, but the finished product always tastes damn good. So when Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family landed in my kitchen, I was quite skeptical. At first glance, I was not into itâ€¦no food pics, no glossy pages, and 656 pages of text. And who are the Rabinowitz’s ?
I decided to give it a shot. After all, as a Jewess of Moroccan descent married to a super Ashkenazi, I felt it was time for me to delve into the realm of kugels, gefilte, cholent and borscht (blech!). I started flipping through the pages and was soon drawn to the recipes, anecdotes, quotes and photographs of a family obviously food-obsessed and proud of it. Cooking Jewish is a fantastic collection of five generations worth of recipe testing and tasting. With every recipe, I learnt more about the Rabinowitz family as every recipe is preceded by an explanation of the recipe’s origin, the original cook and what makes it all so special. Author and Rabinowitz family member Judy Bart Kancigor writes with humor and wit – which almost makes it hard to get started in the kitchen.
But I did, and was impressed with the uncomplicated ingredient lists for most recipes and the simple directions given for making a great dish. My first attempt was a Crispy Sesame Seed Chicken, which came out juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside – perfect for my half vousvous / half couscous children. And believe it or not, I found a great recipe inside for Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas that came quite close to being as good as my mother’s. And she is a killer in the kitchen.
Next I think I’ll try Grandma Ruchel’s Cholent, whose yield feeds â€œan armyâ€â€¦but I am so not ready for her Pitcha (Calves’ Foot Jelly) that â€œserves one shtetl family, with or without boardersâ€. I also love the variety of cooking styles in the book, not typical to most Jewish cookbooks. In Kancigor’s collection you’ll find recipes for Cajun, Indian, Italian, Greek and more. There’s even a complete assortment of Passover recipes. The book ends on a high with a section on drinks, including Hinda Rabinowitz’s Guggel-Muggel, a concoction deemed a wonder drug made of whole milk, raw egg, honey and scotch. Mmmmâ€¦now that beats goyishe eggnog any day!
Tanya is ck’s sister, wife of Natan, mother of Noam and Eyal and co-founder of TickleTickle.com, an online shop offering all manner of hip baby clothing, supplies and accessories.