Beyond Chopped Liv­er: 59 Jew­ish Recipes Get a Veg­an Health Makeover 

  • Review
By – May 10, 2021

In her new cook­book, Beyond Chopped Liv­er, Kenden Alfond, author of the Jew­ish Food Hero blog, offers veg­an and health-con­scious recipes that are sure to expand the palates of all, veg­an or not. Alfond takes on 59 Jew­ish recipes — includ­ing cholent, brisket, and Yemenite soup — and, in her words, gives them a makeover.”

Fol­low­ing an infor­ma­tive intro­duc­tion on the devel­op­ment of Jew­ish food cul­ture and the con­cept of eth­i­cal eat­ing in both Jew­ish and veg­an prac­tices, Alfond presents her read­ers with the broad range of the Jew­ish palate, artic­u­lat­ed through veg­an ingre­di­ents and nifty oil replacements.

Although the title may sug­gest an Ashke­nazi focus, the recipes span Mizrahi, Sephardic, Indi­an, and Ethiopi­an fla­vors. Par­tic­u­lar­ly intrigu­ing is Alfond’s recipe for a Tunisian far­ka cake — a cake made with cous­cous and dried fruit bound by sug­ar and oil, and tra­di­tion­al­ly eat­en dur­ing Hanukkah. Instead of sug­ar and oil, how­ev­er, Alfond uses fresh fruits, apple juice, and maple syrup. Oth­er entic­ing recipes include the Sephardic orange-scent­ed bimue­los (bimue­lo is a Ladi­no word for Span­ish bunue­los, mean­ing frit­ters), var­nishkes topped with fresh herbs and lemon, and a crispy tofu schnitzel. Also includ­ed is a recipe for a veg­an and gluten-free chal­lah, a rare find in the Jew­ish cook­book genre.

Per­haps the best aspect of Beyond Chopped Liv­er is the care Alfond takes in intro­duc­ing the tra­di­tion­al ver­sions of each veg­a­nized recipe. In her recipe for jack­fruit brisket, she explains that, typ­i­cal­ly, Ashke­nazi brisket is made with beef which becomes ten­der after slow cook­ing in a suc­cu­lent sauce. In her ver­sion, how­ev­er, she uses jack­fruit — a trop­i­cal fruit with tendi­nous flesh that mim­ics that of meat. It is a recipe that veg­an read­ers will be excit­ed to make for their Passover seder, after endur­ing many years of only smelling the clas­sic dish.

Beyond Chopped Liv­er is an excit­ing, con­tem­po­rary addi­tion to Jew­ish cook­ery, and is sure to sat­is­fy those look­ing for lighter, brighter ver­sions of beloved Jew­ish fare.

Han­nah Kres­sel is a cur­rent fel­low at the Pardes Insti­tute of Jew­ish Stud­ies in Jerusalem. She holds a Mas­ters in Art His­to­ry from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford and a Bach­e­lors in Art His­to­ry and Stu­dio Art from Bran­deis Uni­ver­si­ty. Her research exam­ines the inter­sec­tion of con­tem­po­rary art, food, and reli­gion. She is an avid bak­er and cook.

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