by Sybil PrattSeptember, 2008
Of kreplach, kishka and knishes
It's easy to imagine Arthur Schwartz, IACP award - winning food writer and master maven of New York City dining, atop a Manhattan skyscraper singing "Tradition" in his most Tevya - like style, pointing to barrels of kosher pickles, vats of matzoh ball soup and bushels of bagels. Instead, he wrote an affectionate, wonderfully informed ode, liberally salted with stories, to the Eastern European food that came here with the "huddled masses" of Jewish immigrants "yearning to breathe free." Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking celebrates the food made by Yiddish - speaking Ashkenazi Jews, hence the subtitle "Yiddish Recipes Revisited." Most of what Americans think of as Jewish food comes from the Yiddish kitchen - gefilte fish, chopped liver and, of course, the now omnipresent bagel. Most of these traditional treasures are dated, meaning too many calories and too much fat for today's cholesterol - counters, and most are now made only for holidays. But Schwartz insists, and proves with his 100 - plus recipes, that with "a lessening of the schmaltz [FAT!] and a few tweaks," like serving green veggies and salad along with the Pot - Roasted Brisket, Kasha Varnishkes and Potato Kugel, old Yiddish dishes, redolent of the history, joy and pathos of Jewish life, can be welcome at the contemporary table. A great Chanukah gift. You don't have be Jewish to love Jewish food.
MARVELS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN
I've reviewed dozens of Mediterranean cookbooks and browsed through countless others offering taste sensations from these sun - soaked lands. So, when I found myself marking almost every recipe as "must try," I knew I had a real winner in Sara Jenkins' Olives & Oranges: Recipes & Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus & Beyond. Sara roamed the Mediterranean with her parents as a child, lived in a rural Tuscan village and has been a chef in a number of well - known New York City restaurants. Her innate understanding of the building blocks of Mediterranean flavor infuses these dishes, whether a classic Italian Meat Rag
A TRULY MOVEABLE FEAST
Saluting the seasonal and the local and cooking what's fresh on a particular day isn't new. It's been the mantra of American cuisine ever since Alice Waters' revelations caused a revolution in the way we think about ingredients. Jim Denevan, a true believer in the Waters doctrine, has taken it to the next level - the diners at his dinners come to the farm instead of the farm produce coming to them. Every summer, he and a few cooking companions pile into a large bus (does this make him the ultimate busboy?) named the Outstanding, and crisscross the country, finding small farms, ranches and vineyards where they set up long tables, cook with ingredients from the land they're on, and serve dinner alfresco to as many as 100 people. Now, Jim has gathered his favorite recipes from these culinary journeys in Outstanding in the Field. You can re - create these delicious meals from your local harvest whether you're cooking for two or 20, eating in the kitchen or under the stars, serving up Pumpkin and Persimmon Soup, Cider - Braised Pork Shoulder, Dried Tomato Conserve, Blueberry Granita and many more flavorful delights inspired by Mother Nature's edible abundance.