The Silver Platter: Simple Elegance review

I’ve been a member of Norene Gilletz’s Facebook group for several years and love her kosher cookbooks, so when I saw that Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz’s “The Silver Platter: Simple Elegance” was coming out from ArtScroll, I knew I had to add it to my kosher cookbook collection! The sequel to the bestselling “The Silver Platter,” “Simple Elegance” promises “effortless recipes with sophisticated results” and delivers in spades. The oversized hardcover makes a gorgeous conversation starter as well, with beautiful food photography and eye-catching place settings and tableware that showcases dishes to their best advantage.

In recent years, kosher cookbooks and restaurants have embraced and adapted trends in the mainstream culinary world, so you’re just as likely to see sushi rubbing elbows with baked salmon, Asian-inspired ribs next to flanken, and Sriracha-sauced chicken next to cauliflower “rice”. “The Silver Platter: Simple Elegance” embraces these trends and adds unique international flavor profiles from the Mediterranean, Middle East, and South America.

Divided into eleven chapters, you’ll find simple, sophisticated ideas for appetizers, soups, salads, fish, poultry, meat, dairy, grain side dishes, vegetable side dishes, cookies and treats, and cakes. A kaleidoscope of colors and textures provides a feast for the eyes, from watermelon radish and cucumber salad, fresh fig and tomato salad, pomegranate and persimmon salad, and the jewel like strawberry starfruit salad to beautifully-accented mains (basil salmon with sun-dried tomatoes, nectarine chicken), sides (harvest squash and feta, farro tabbouleh, pomegranate and almond couscous, roasted vegetables with terra chips) and Passover-and gluten-free friendly desserts such as chocolate coconut biscotti, cranberry chocolate chip cake, salted chocolate ganache tart, chocolate chip granola cookies, and a walnut-studded chocolate zucchini cake.

The book is a blessing for vegetarians in particular; in the past, finding vegetarian-friendly recipes in kosher cookbooks could feel more like finding a needle in a haystack, but the rainbow-hued salads, soups, dairy, grain and vegetable sides on offer here will be sure to please everyone at your table.  Most of the salads are on my to-make list, including the kale and roasted chickpea salad, Mother’s Day cabbage salad, edamame and radish salad, and balsamic spinach salad with caramelized onions.  I also loved that all recipes come with complete nutritional info (a rarity in most cookbooks) that is handily color-coded by section. Recipes are labeled as pareve, dairy, meat, gluten-free, Passover and vegetarian as applicable, and many recipes can be adapted for specific dietary requirements. This flexibility means that you’ll be able to quickly and easily prepare dishes the whole family will love without having to prepare separate dishes to meet specific dietary needs. The index also lists recipes by ingredient, which is particularly helpful when trying to find quick ideas for items that you already have on hand without necessitating a run to the store.

I made several of the included recipes including the strawberry and starfruit salad (I candied my own pecans using a recipe I found online), tomato flowers with guacamole, four-bean salad with poppyseed dressing, farro tabbouli with cherry tomatoes, and dilled rice with edamame and cranberries. True to the book’s title, the recipes called for relatively few ingredients, but made a definite splash in terms of visual appeal and layers of flavor. The dilled rice with edamame and dried cranberries is my new favorite way to serve basmati with ingredients readily on hand. Each recipe comes with “Norene’s Notes” with suggested serving tips, variations, and time-saving tips.

This is a fantastic cookbook for any level of home cook; the simple, elegant recipes and Norene’s helpful tips ensure that you will have picture-perfect results every time. Whether you’re cooking an elegant holiday or Shabbat dinner or simply a casual weeknight meals with family and friends, “The Silver Platter: Simple Elegance” is sure to impress!

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