Food has always played an important role in Jewish life. Whether it be special dishes for holiday observance or family gatherings, the operative phrase is “ess mien kind.” Judy Bart Kancigor has gathered the treasured recipes from several generations of her extended family to preserve them and share them with interested cooks. The book contains a family history, as well as a large collection of recipes. Most are traditional Ashkenazic fare — brisket, gefilte fish, borscht. As the family grew, new influences entered. Ratatouille, Cajun sweet potatoes, and Moroccan spice mix add Sephardic and Mizrahi elements. Of course readers will find several varieties of chicken soup and kugel as well as recipes for the New York Egg Cream and the black and white malted. The appetizers, soups, salads, meats, fish, drinks, and desserts are all labeled as meat, dairy, or pareve. The book also has a Passover section. Any cook who can’t quite remember her bubbe’s recipe for tzimes or chopped liver will be able to find an acceptable version here.
Recipe: Malaysian Latkes served with Cucumber Salad with Minty Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup chopped unsalted cashews or peanuts
1/4 cup chopped mint or flat-leaf parsley, or a combination
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher (coarse) salt, or to taste (see Note)
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 large eggs, beaten
2 large baking potatoes (12 ounces each), cut into wedges
1 medium-size onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 recipe Cacik, substituting 1 teaspoon toasted cumin
seeds for the fresh and dried mint
1. Combine the cashews, mint, bell pepper, jalapeno, ginger, salt, curry powder, and eggs in a large bowl, and mix well. Set it aside.
2. Shred the potatoes and onion together in a food processor fitted with the shredding disk. Squeeze the potato/onion mixture between several changes of paper towels to release as much liquid as possible. Add the potato/onion mixture to the egg mixture, and combine well. Stir in the flour.
3. Pour enough oil into a large, heavy skillet to cover the bottom, and heat it over medium-high heat. When the oil is quite hot but not smoking, add a scant 1/4 cup batter per latke and flatten them with a fork. Fry only as many latkes as will fit in the skillet without crowding. Cook on one side until crisp and brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the latkes to paper towels to drain. Keep the latkes warm while frying the remainder. Serve immediately, with the Cacik.
To taste the potato mixture, or any mixture containing raw eggs, microwave a tablespoon or so until cooked, 5 to 15 seconds, depending on the size and strength of your microwave; then taste.
Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family by Judy Bart Kancigor
(Workman; 2007; Paperback $19.95)