Jewish Cookbooks for a New Generation
It's not just matzo ball soup anymore: A spate of cookbooks and raved-about restaurants are reinventing Jewish cuisine for a new generation. Jewish culinary landmarks such as Russ & Daughters in New York have long taken smoked fish to a new level, but old standards of Jewish comfort food are being reinvigorated by a slew of hip new eateries including Mile End in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Kenny and Zuke's in Portland, Ore. Just in time for Passover, we tour fresh cookbooks full of easy recipes so you can recreate your old (and new) favorites at home.
When Joel Russ, a Jewish immigrant to New York city from Poland, changed the name of his self-made Lower East Side fish store to Russ & Daughters in 1933, it was touted as the first American business with the name "& Daughters" in its title. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2014, Russ & Daughters is still a family business specializing in old-world delights with a new-world twist. His smoked fish, herring, bagels, bialys and cured salmon are so good that the shop has been dubbed "The Louvre of Lox." A new cookbook-cum-memoir tells the story of how Russ and Daughters became a landmark of Jewish cuisine beloved by so many (just ask Louie C.K. and Parker Posey).
A more recent culinary immigrant to New York is the Montreal-style smoked meat at hip Jewish delicatessen Mile End, which opened in Brooklyn in 2010 and recently expanded into Manhattan. Fortunately for cookbook nuts and pastrami fanatics, this shop isn't waiting a century to publish its first book: "The Mile End Cookbook: Redefining Jewish Comfort Food from Hash to Hamantaschen is now out." In it, you'll find recipes for homemade charcuterie, smoked chicken, fish and (of course) brisket, plus instructions on how to make their famous sandwiches at home and--since they're based in Brooklyn, after all--even how to make your own pickles.
The Washington, D.C., chefs behind Equinox Restaurant have come out with a new cookbook just in time for Passover, "The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes." In it, they meld traditional, Eastern European Jewish cooking with seasonal American cuisine, with recipes for dishes including Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Latkes, Falafel with Pickled Vegetables and Minted Lemon Yogurt, Matzo-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens and Chocolate Hazelnut Rugelach. Handily, the cookbook is divided into seasons, and each recipe is labeled meat, dairy, parve (no meat or dairy) or mixed.
Perhaps kickstarting out the recent hip-ification of Jewish culinary tradition is this updated take on the Haggadah for your Passover Seder: "New American Haggadah," edited by "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" author Jonathan Safran Foer, with a translation of the Hebrew by Nathan Englander. This Haggadah is richly designed and contains commentary from yet more Jewish literary stars: Lemony Snicket, Jeffrey Goldberg, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein and Nathaniel Deutsch. Use it for this year's Seder or give it as a gift for next's.