The Arti­san Jew­ish Deli at Home

  • Review
By – August 29, 2013

Veg­e­tar­i­an though I may be, The Arti­san Jew­ish Deli at Home by Nick Zukin (of Ken­ny & Zuke’s Del­i­catessen) and state court judge/​serious ama­teur bak­er Michael C. Zus­man has been a delight to peruse and take for a spin. Zukin and Zus­man serve up the clas­sics — bagels, bialys, blintzes, and borscht — with both rev­er­ence for the time-hon­ored stan­dards and cre­ativ­i­ty with jazzy updates. To the cheese blintz (com­plete with well-pho­tographed in­structions for fold­ing your home­made crepes) they sub­sti­tute farmer cheese for ricot­ta and add a fruit com­pote top­ping for every sea­son: straw­ber­ry-bal­sam­ic for the spring, black­ber­ry-laven­der in sum­mer, spiced pump­kin (what else) for autumn, and blood orange in win­ter. But, did you know: before wheat flour became more acces­si­ble in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, blintzes were orig­i­nal­ly made from buck­wheat? Zukin and Zus­man have that cov­ered, as well, with a choice of pota­to or smoked salmon filling. 

The buck­wheat blintzes exem­pli­fy the authors’ ded­i­ca­tion to con­nect­ing infor­ma­tive, well-writ­ten cul­tur­al and culi­nary his­to­ry and the­o­ry to each dish. The Arti­san Jew­ish Deli at Home applies the same com­pli­ment of tried-and-true with inno­va­tion (and the same appre­ci­a­tion for the her­itage of each dish) to its reper­toire of soups, sal­ads, schmears, and slaws, pep­pered with pro­files of del­i­catessens across North Amer­i­ca, inter­views, and the ori­gins of each recipe. Zukin and Zus­man unfurl the rich his­to­ry of the sal­ads and sides nobly slop­ing behind glass deli cas­es the coun­try over in writ­ing as com­pelling as the attend­ing fare. Where else would you find the con­cept of uma­mi defined in rela­tion to Hun­gar­i­an mush­room-bar­ley soup or learn the Roman­ian roots of pas­tra­mi — as you make it yourself? 

The meat dish­es are savory, pre­sent­ed with the same cre­ativ­i­ty and sea­son-by-sea­son con­siderations: brisket with leeks and wild mush­room in spring; toma­to, fen­nel, and sum­mer herb in sum­mer; apple cider and but­ter­nut squash for fall, and ries­ling sauer­brat­en for the win­ter. They don’t just sound good, either: test­ing out Zuke and Zusman’s stuffed cab­bage against her own tra­di­tion­al (and very tasty) Sukkot recipe, my moth­er (and her review­ers) found the for­mer much more fla­vor­ful, albeit more labor-inten­sive. So you don’t have to take a low­ly vegetarian’s word for it.

Relat­ed Content:

Recipe: Hun­gar­i­an Casi­no Egg Salad

Serves 4 to 6 

This egg sal­ad sup­pos­ed­ly orig­i­nat­ed with a chef who cooked for Euro­pean roy­al­ty before a stint at the Nation­al Casi­no in Budapest, Hun­gary. Odds are you won’t find this deli­cious dish on any Las Vegas or Atlantic City menu, but it is a sure bet for lunch or at the din­ner hour. But­ter and sour cream lend a rich foun­da­tion, but it’s still lighter than a typ­i­cal may­on­naise-based egg sal­ad. And the anchovies add a hint of salt and briny depth. This is ter­rif­ic served with let­tuce and fresh veg­eta­bles as a sal­ad, or with let­tuce and toma­to on toast as a sandwich. 

6 hard-boiled eggs, halved
3 table­spoons unsalt­ed but­ter, melt­ed and cooled slight­ly
3 table­spoons sour cream
2 tea­spoons dis­tilled white vine­gar
¼ tea­spoon fresh­ly ground black pep­per
3 anchovy fil­lets packed in oil, drained and minced
1 table­spoon chopped capers
1 table­spoon snipped fresh chives
1 table­spoon fine­ly chopped red onion or shallot 

Scoop the yolks from the halved eggs and put them in a medi­um bowl. Add the but­ter, sour cream, vine­gar, and pep­per. Whisk to­gether until a creamy, smooth paste forms.

Coarse­ly chop the egg whites and add them to the egg yolk mix­ture, along with the anchovies, capers, chives and red onion. Gen­tly fold the ingre­di­ents until ful­ly mixed. 

Serve imme­di­ate­ly, or cov­er and refrig­er­ate until ready to serve. The egg sal­ad can be made up to 3 days in advance.

From The Arti­san Jew­ish Deli at Home by Nick Zukin and Michael Zus­man/​Andrews McMeel Pub­lish­ing, LLC.

Nat Bern­stein is the for­mer Man­ag­er of Dig­i­tal Con­tent & Media, JBC Net­work Coor­di­na­tor, and Con­tribut­ing Edi­tor at the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and a grad­u­ate of Hamp­shire College.

Discussion Questions