Redefining kosher:Fresh, seasonal, beautiful flavorful and delicious! (“The New Kosher” review)

new kosherI have cooked from (and reviewed) numerous kosher cookbooks over the years, but I have to say that Kim Kushner’s “The New Kosher” is quickly becoming one of my favorite titles in my collection. True to its title “Simple Recipes to Savor and Share,” you’ll find contemporary gems such as giant ricotta ravioli with cinnamon, miso-tahini glazed cod, braised beef ribs with cider-rosemary sauce, and some fabulous ideas for brunch (the spinach and feta quiche with heirloom tomatoes, asparagus and goat cheese quiche, and caramelized red onion and dill frittata with smoked salmon are going to be in frequent rotation on the weekends in my house!).

Kim’s essentials include great noshes like five-minute sun dried tomato hummus with homemade pita chips with za’atar, butternut squash chips with herbes de provence, and a variety of quick and easy toppings that come in handy for other recipes (spicy maple crumb topping, za’atar everything topping, and lazy crumb topping which is particularly good on baked fish such as the Lazy But Crispy Fish.

In addition to a strong Middle Eastern influence (Kim’s mother was born in Morocco and grew up in Israel) in dishes like charred eggplant dip with maple drizzle, poisson a la marocaine (whitefish marinated then cooked in saffron water with preserved lemons and paprika oil), crispy rice cake with saffron crust, hummus, etc., there is a marked Asian influence, which I particularly enjoyed. Nods to the East include ginger-scallion dip with sesame seeds (this would be amazing as a dip for scallion pancakes!), kohlrabi, edamame and carrots in ginger-miso marinade, arctic char with wasabi-mirin sauce over rice noodles, miso tahini glazed cod, tamari salmon with edamame, and Thai-style summer salmon. There are also kid-friendly recipes like individual mac and cheese, kids’ steaks (marinated and cooked in a low oven rather than grilled), and deconstructed s’mores.

Vegetarians and pescetarians like myself will find many colorful, appealing dishes, particularly the salads and veggies (and fish for those of us that eat fish). I recently tried my first (fresh-off-the-tree) pomelos in Taiwan, and loved seeing the pomelo salad with red onion, mint and cilantro as well as the light, umami-packed Asian salads like kohlrabi, edamame and carrots in ginger-miso marinade, savoy slaw with lemongrass and lime dressing, and avocado, heats of palm, edamame and za’atar salad. Fans of Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” and “Plenty More” will feel right at home here.

And although the dishes are easily doable by a home cook, you’ll also find elegant presentations such as braised beef short ribs with cider-herb reduction, veal roast with porcini, thyme, and garlic rub, lamb rib chops with red wine vinegar, mint and garlic, and seared tuna steaks with sun-dried tomato and jalapeno preserves that are perfect for more formal gatherings or special occasions.

The desserts chapter offered some great alternatives to my usual lineup, my new favorite being the dark bark with rose petals, pistachios and walnuts. I started making my own chocolate bark recently using my rice cooker (!) to melt / temper the chocolate (frequently I’ll make pomegranate bark using fresh pomegranate seeds), and I loved the addition of rose petals to add a real Persian flair. You’ll find time-tested Jewish classics like coffee cake, macaroons, and hamantaschen with three fillings (hello Ferrero Rocher!) alongside biscotti, a healthier take on crostata, and an almond granita.

The book’s graphic layout is clean and eye-catching, with full-page photos and beautifully tiled chapter headers. Ingredients are given in US and metric measurements, which I really appreciated.

Even if you don’t keep kosher, these are great recipes for beautiful, vibrant foods that your family and friends are sure to enjoy. One note for kosher home cooks: recipes are not labeled as dairy, meat or pareve as with most other kosher cookbooks in my collection; generally chapters are separated by meat, seafood, etc., but in some chapters like soups and dips, you may need to scan the ingredients to determine if it is dairy, meat, or pareve.

(Thank you to the author for the review copy and mazel on a gorgeous cookbook!)

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