I have two words for you: Duck “prosciutto.”
If you are reading this around the time of publication (Aug. 31, 2012), you have just enough time to start the two-week curing process that will result in this yummy-sounding kosher version of that “other” cured meat, one which probably needs a better name. Kosher duck breasts may be hard to find locally, though. (Calls to QFC and Albertsons did not find any in store, but there are on-line sources.) And you need to have room in your fridge to hang the meat while it’s curing. The author recommends duct tape — no pun intended — to attach the cheesecloth-wrapped breasts to the top of the fridge.
This is one of the creative recipes in “Kosher Revolution” by Geila Hocherman and Arthur Boehm (Kyle, cloth, $29.95). A photo of it even graces the cover, along with the grilled balsamic figs and homemade baguette crostini.
Hocherman has a Cordon Bleu certificate from Paris and she brings that very French sensibility to kosher cooking, along with particular attention to sauces. The authors include many recipes inspired by other food cultures, including Asian, East Indian, Moroccan and Italian dishes. Each recipe is accompanied by a full-color, equally scrumptious photo. A superficial sampling of recipes resulted in a delicious and completely vegan roasted eggplant and pepper soup (can be made parve, dairy or meat) and a sophisticated and savory chicken liver-stuffed turkey breast with a fabulous sauce. (The recipe calls for veal, but if you substitute poultry, as I did, much shorter cooking time is required.)
This book is not for the novice cook. Some complicated instructions — and an occasional typo — require an experienced cook’s touch.
Two other new cookbooks are rich with approachable recipes suitable for all levels of experience.
“Feed Me Bubbe,” co-authored by the on-line television chef “Bubbe” and her grandson/television producer Avrom Honig (Perseus, paper, $16), brings a heimish (cozy and homey) touch to basic kosher cooking probably very much like your own grandmother used to make, if she was of the Ashkenazic variety. I found recipes here very similar to my maternal grandmother’s style of cooking, although no spaghetti with ketchup that my mother recalls being served on meatless night. “Cucumber and Scallion Salad with Fresh Dill,” hit a nostalgic spot for me. It was truly just like Grandma used to make.
As much of a memoir as a cookbook, Bubbe shares personal stories and recollections such as “First Taste of Lox” and “The Best Hot Dog I Ever Ate.” With lots of instructions and explanations, the book is both entertaining and a great introduction to basic kosher cooking. You can enhance your experience of Bubbe by watching her at www.feedmebubbe.com.
More fun and easy-to-make recipes can be found in Leah Schapira’s “Fresh and Easy Kosher Cooking,” a sure bet with recipes requiring few ingredients and simple preparation enhanced by big color photos (Artscroll, cloth, $34.99).
Schapira is the co-founder of www.CookKosher.com, and says her mother introduced her to cooking as a way of overcoming Leah’s finicky eating.
Schapira also draws on and combines Jewish and other ethnic cooking traditions. Recipes include “Basil Chicken Wraps,” “Lazy Man’s Cholent” and “Sriracha Thai Noodles.” The “Rotisserie-Style Chicken Skewers” were a big hit in my house, made the night before and perfect for a picnic at ZooTunes.
Authors of “easy” cookbooks rely heavily on pre-prepared and processed ingredients to simplify cooking. Store-bought barbecue or teriyaki sauces or breadcrumbs do make life easier and allow for last-minute preparation, but can also mean extra sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and preservatives. You can make sauces like teriyaki sauce and barbecue sauce in advance (as I did for the chicken skewers) and keep them in the fridge.
“Fresh and Easy” is well organized with good menu ideas. Schapira could have improved it with a pantry section, listing ingredients to have on hand. “Kosher Revolution” has an excellent pantry and instruction section, although more sophisticated, and Bubbe includes two helpful pages of cooking definitions for the novice cook and metric conversion charts.