Kosher Ele­gance: The Art of Cook­ing with Style

  • Review
By – October 31, 2011
Most home cooks look at the beau­ti­ful­ly pre­sent­ed foods in mag­a­zines and won­der how they can repli­cate the ele­gant look. Israeli chef Efrat Libfroind makes it easy. Her cook­book, Kosher Ele­gance: The Art of Cook­ing with Style, pro­vides detailed instruc­tions and handy tips to guide both novice and expe­ri­enced cooks through the prepa­ra­tion of a wide vari­ety of dish­es. A full-page col­or pho­to­graph of the fin­ished dish accom­pa­nies each recipe. The chap­ters are orga­nized by theme rather than by type of dish. Sophis­ti­ca­tion” includes fan­cy dish­es such as pis­ta­chio liv­er pâté with caramelized onions. Occa­sions” cov­ers recipes for Shab­bat and hol­i­days. Brunch” con­tains dairy dish­es for break­fast, lunch, and infor­mal gath­er­ings. Sim­plic­i­ty” has quick recipes and Temp­ta­tion” and Choco­late” pro­vide desserts. With dish­es such as let­tuce, sweet pota­to and apple sal­ad; egg­plant rollups with cashew, cheese, and herb fill­ing; and pome­gran­ate-topped choco­late cups, any kosher cook will be able to pre­pare a well-pre­sent­ed, deli­cious, ele­gant meal. This book would make a love­ly wed­ding present.

Recipe: Mediter­ranean Focaccia

From Kosher Ele­gance by Efrat Libfroind (Feld­heim; 2011)

Makes approx­i­mate­ly 15 focac­cias, depend­ing on pan size

In this recipe I man­aged to take focac­cia, which is nor­mal­ly roundish and asym­met­ri­cal,
and turn it into a per­fect square. The new shape, togeth­er with a rich Mediter­ranean
top­ping, makes this dish unbeatable.

3½ — 4 cups flour
1 table­spoon active dry yeast
1½ — 2 cups water
2 table­spoons sug­ar
1 table­spoon salt
4 table­spoons olive oil

3 table­spoons olive oil
1 bunch rose­mary leaves
1 red onion, diced
2 zuc­chi­ni or 1 small egg­plant, diced
1 hand­ful cher­ry toma­toes, quar­tered
2 cloves gar­lic, crushed
1 hand­ful olives

Dough: Put yeast in a mix­er bowl. Add sug­ar and ½ cup of the water. Let yeast stand for 10 min­utes. Add remain­ing ingre­di­ents and com­bine until a soft dough forms. Let rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Top­ping: Heat olive oil and rose­mary in a fry­ing pan. Add onion and sauté on a high flame for about 3 min­utes. Add zuc­chi­ni or egg­plant, toma­toes, and gar­lic, and sauté for 5 min­utes. Remove from heat. Dis­card rose­mary and add olives.

Pre­heat oven to 350°F. Press the dough into any sym­met­ri­cal sil­i­cone mold you choose. If you don’t have sil­i­cone molds, you can make tra­di­tion­al­ly shaped focac­cias. (Divide dough into about 15 balls (for mini-focac­cias, divide into 20 – 25 balls). Shape each ball into a flat oval and pierce with a fork.)
Top dough with a gen­er­ous amount of top­ping and bake for about 20 minutes.

Tip: You can sub­sti­tute whole wheat flour for white flour, but you may need to add ¼ cup water.

Tip: For an even rich­er taste, sprin­kle focac­cias with cubes of feta cheese 5 min­utes before they are fin­ished baking.

Read Efrat Libfroind’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

Recipe: Ganache, and Kids

The Kosher Stu­dent

Cook­ing and Self-Improve­ment

My Tribe

The Gourmet’s Kids Ate Junk

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

Discussion Questions