Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen

Miri Rotkovitz
  • Review
By – October 28, 2016

Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen: A Kosher Cook­book of Beloved Recipes and Mod­ern Twists is an inspired sto­ry of Jew­ish grand­moth­ers and the cook­ing lega­cy they have left for future gen­er­a­tions. My grandmother’s recipes, and the new ones they’ve inspired,” Miri Rotkovitz writes, are a thread between past and future, and a part of the tapes­try we con­tin­ue to weave as a family.”

Index cards, or scraps of paper that bear a fam­i­ly recipe are an impor­tant link in the his­to­ry of fam­i­lies, and need­less to say, when served, car­ry with them the nos­tal­gia of days gone by. Writ­ing a fam­i­ly cook­book often depends on var­i­ous mem­bers of that fam­i­ly as they add their mem­o­ries, notes and sug­ges­tions. If, like my sav­ta,” Rotkovitz advis­es, you find a few recipes you enjoy enough to make your own, scrib­bling adjust­ments in the mar­gins as she did, so much the bet­ter.” This cook­book will not only have your notes but per­haps some ingre­di­ent stains on its pages!

Miri Rotkovitz is a food writer, edi­tor, recipe devel­op­er, and reg­is­tered dieti­cian. As the kosher food expert for About​.com, she shares recipes, enter­tain­ing tips, and arti­cles explor­ing kosher cul­ture online at Kosher​food​.about​.com. Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen opens with rules for cook­ing in adher­ence to kashrut and a dis­cus­sion of a healthy kosher diet. Rotkovitz help­ful­ly lists sug­ges­tions for what should be kept in the pantry, includ­ing sta­ples and sub­sti­tu­tions for Passover, and all the nec­es­sary accoutrements. 

The chap­ters are famil­iar­ly divid­ed by main ingre­di­ent: grains, poul­try, meat, etc., and Meat­less Meals” — heart­warm­ing win­ter dish in that vein would be the White Bean Cas­soulet, redo­lent with the scents of com­fort food. To note the fam­i­ly con­nec­tions, the titles of the recipes evoke their inspi­ra­tion: Ema’s Cold Rice Sal­ad (though the author admits in her mother’s day, they might have opt­ed for Minute Rice and bot­tled Ital­ian dress­ing, Roskovitz skips the short­cuts for a tasti­er, health­i­er dish); Savta’s Semi-Famous Jew­ish Apple Cake comes with a humor­ous sto­ry of a kosher bak­ery in Los Ange­les that baked the apple cake but now comes with input from the author,” whose fam­i­ly matri­arch is known for Nana Elsie’s Czecho­slo­va­kian Cook­ies — which hold a spe­cial place in the fam­i­ly reper­toire of cookies.

Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen also includes Yom Tov (Jew­ish hol­i­day) menus, includ­ing din­ners for a Lag B’Omer cook­out and a roman­tic Tu B’Av menu. Passover is one of the author’s favorite hol­i­days: Per­haps it’s the one I asso­ciate most close­ly with my grand­moth­er,” Rotkovitz explains. She’d extend the table from din­ing room to liv­ing room, host­ing con­vivial Seders with as many guests as the apart­ment would allow…” In addi­tion to charts, sub­sti­tu­tions, and oth­er resources for Passover cook­ing, Rotkovitz shares a refresh­ing approach to the hol­i­day and its culi­nary lim­i­ta­tions: I fix my eye on what we can eat, instead of try­ing to dupli­cate what’s off lim­its for the week and find I enjoy the fresh perspective.”

Addi­tion­al­ly, Rotkovitz is con­scious of the var­i­ous con­t­a­m­i­nants one might find in the foods they pur­chase and pre­pare. On a page enti­tled The Clean Fif­teen and the Dirty Dozen,” the author points read­ers to the Envi­ron­men­tal Work­ing Group, which looks at data sup­plied by the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion on pes­ti­cide residues and com­piles an annu­al rank­ing of com­mer­cial crops in terms of their pes­ti­cide loads. Rotkovitz urges cooks to check the most recent list and addi­tion­al guides — excel­lent advice and infor­ma­tion not often found in cookbooks.

One of the nicer touch­es in Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen is how oth­er cooks are also invit­ed to share their recipes in Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen, as well. Paula Shoy­er, for exam­ple, con­tributes a dessert recipe togeth­er with a mem­o­ry of her grandmother’s reac­tion to Shoyer’s deci­sion to study at a pas­try school in Paris: Who goes to school to learn how to bake a cake? You just bake a cake.”

Relat­ed Content:

Danièle Gor­lin Lass­ner (wife, moth­er, grand­moth­er) retired after 35 years at Ramaz where she served as Dean of Admis­sions, For­eign Lan­guage Depart­ment chair and teacher of French and Span­ish. She owns hun­dreds of cook­books. She has trans­lat­ed sev­er­al chil­dren’s books from French into Eng­lish. She has recent­ly trans­lat­ed “ A Mem­oir of Sanc­ti­ty “ by May­er Moskowitz (Mazo Pub­lish­ers, Jerusalem, Israel) from Hebrew into Eng­lish. No mat­ter the lan­guage, food is a con­stant.”

Discussion Questions