Feast­ing: A New Take on Jewish Cook­ing

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - MICHELLE ANNE SCHINGLER

Amanda Ruben Hardie Grant (MARCH) Hard­cover $34.99 (224pp) 978-1-74117-526-4

Res­tau­ra­teur Amanda Ruben makes two generations of Ruben women who fell into cook­ing as a joy­ous ca­reer. Flip­ping through her tan­ta­liz­ing new cook­book, it’s easy to un­der­stand why she was pro­pelled to par­lay her recipes, with their si­mul­ta­ne­ous in­ter­est in in­her­i­tance and in­ven­tion, into a way of life.

The book leads off with po­ten­tial hol­i­day and host­ing menus. They keep kashrut re­stric­tions in mind, and graz­ing is pre­sumed. Recipes are pref­aced with a few lines each that con­tex­tu­al­ize their treats, both within Ruben’s fam­ily story and within Jewish gas­tron­omy as a whole. They bring the fun of feast­ing for­ward, us­ing apt terms like “sexy” and “knob­bly” to de­scribe in­gre­di­ents, and boasting as war­ranted: “If cook­ing is the way to a man’s heart, then our pas­trami is a di­rect in­jec­tion.”

Tra­di­tion is a given, but the book also brings deli tech­niques home, mak­ing it seem easy to oven smoke white­fish your­self or to trans­form a side of sal­mon—boned by your fish­mon­ger— into lox. In­struc­tions are brief and ap­proach­able. Some dishes re­quire just a few in­gre­di­ents each, and plenty can be com­pleted the day be­fore, for Shab­bat con­sid­er­a­tion. Recipes pull from new tra­di­tions and out­side cul­tures as well; quinoa salad done Ruben’s way in­cludes home­made sriracha. Pomegranates are here; so are Thai fla­vors.

Col­ors pop in the book’s lus­cious, bright pho­to­graphs, which move be­tween high­light­ing beau­ti­ful sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents and fea­tur­ing tempt­ing fi­nal prod­ucts. Think: fried fish gar­nished with pine nuts and cur­rants. Blanched as­para­gus with cheese, chal­lah crou­tons, and duck eggs. Poached veal with saf­fron aioli. Ac­com­pa­ni­ments, like blood or­ange dress­ing, are sim­ple and en­tic­ing.

Jerusalem meets Joan Nathan in Feast­ing, a play­ful, invit­ing ad­di­tion to Jewish cook­ing li­braries that is well worth pass­ing down.

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