Jew­ish Mama’s Kitchen

Denise Phillips
  • Review
By – September 13, 2011

I would have liked to serve the beau­ti­ful pho­to­graph of Denise Phillips’s Moth­er-in- Law’s Boiled Gefilte fish as a tempt­ing Erev Shab­bat appe­tiz­er, but where­as pho­tos won’t do, the actu­al prepa­ra­tion will, in a dis­tinct way. The charm­ing pho­tographs are of a fam­i­ly in the kitchen busi­ly prepar­ing all the good­ies. The recipes are excel­lent exam­ples of home pre­pared vict­uals and I know the aro­ma and pre­sen­ta­tion will draw you to the table.

There are hand­writ­ten” hints scat­tered through­out to encour­age you. Along­side the mouth-water­ing Pota­to Sal­ad with Lemon May­on­naise recipe, we read, Mama says: To save cur­dled may­on­naise, grad­u­al­ly add one egg yolk while whisk­ing the may­on­naise con­stant­ly.” 

The fare reflects the tra­di­tions of East­ern Euro­pean, Sephardic, and the cui­sine of Israel as well as mod­ern Jew­ish cook­ing every­where. 

For Purim, Frit­lach” are also fea­tured, which Ms. Phillips explains is the gener­ic Yid­dish word for any­thing fried…Resembling half moons, these frag­ile gold­en bub­bles are meant to rep­re­sent Haman’s ears (Hamans Ohren).” The Haman­taschen with Apple are a delec­table twist on the pop­u­lar pas­try. 

This review­er was pleased to see the instruc­tions for Goulash with car­away seeds as part of the plan. What could be bet­ter than these pieces of chuck steak, redo­lent of papri­ka, served on a plate of noo­dles, or rice, or pota­toes, or just by itself? 

Ms. Phillips runs her own cook­ing school in Lon­don, has writ­ten reg­u­lar columns for Jew­ish news­pa­pers in New York and Toron­to, and has host­ed a radio show. 

Be ready to cel­e­brate with Denise Phillips and thus in many ways with her Boo­ba and fam­i­ly, whose voic­es are lov­ing­ly recre­at­ed in this book. Index, glossary.

Recipe: Hearty Lentil Stoup

This rus­tic win­ter soup was a real favorite of my mother’s when she was a lit­tle girl. I’m not sure that she was aware that lentils are nat­u­ral­ly low in fat, high in fiber, and rich in pro­tein — she just loved the taste! I like to make this with red lentils, as they give the soup a won­der­ful col­or, but green lentils can be used instead, if desired. 

PAREVE: con­tains no meat or dairy products/​can be made in advance/​can be frozen up to 1 month 
PREPA­RA­TION TIME: 15 min­utes
COOK­ING TIME: 45 min­utes
SERVES: 6 to 8 


2 table­spoons veg­etable oil 
2 medi­um yel­low onions, peeled and chopped coarse­ly
2 medi­um car­rots, peeled and chopped coarse­ly
2 cel­ery stalks, chopped fine­ly
1 medi­um pota­to, peeled and chopped coarse­ly
7 cups hot veg­etable stock
1 12 cups dried red lentils, rinsed
Two 14 ounce cans toma­toes chopped with juice
Salt and fresh­ly ground black pep­per 
6 to 8 sprigs fresh Ital­ian pars­ley, for gar­nish

1. Heat the veg­etable oil in a large saucepan over medi­um-low heat. Add the onions, car­rots, cel­ery, and pota­to, and sauté 5 min­utes, stir­ring occa­sion­al­ly.

2. Add the veg­etable stock, lentils, and toma­toes. Salt and pep­per to taste. 

3. Increase the heat to medi­um-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and sim­mer 40 min­utes. Adjust sea­son­ings, if nec­es­sary.

4. Trans­fer to large, indi­vid­ual soup bowls. Gar­nish the bowls with pars­ley sprigs and serve hot.

From The Jew­ish Mama’s Kitchen by Denise Phillips. Copy­right © 2009 Octo­pus Pub­lish­ing Group Ltd. Reprint­ed by per­mis­sion of Octo­pus Books USA

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