• From the Publisher
May 3, 2016

Jef­frey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern are two of the lead­ers of the move­ment to rev­o­lu­tion­ize Ashke­nazi cui­sine. Togeth­er, they co-found­ed The Gefilte­ria, a Brook­lyn-grown busi­ness that sets out to reimag­ine Jew­ish clas­sics while cham­pi­oning Old World slow food tech­niques, in 2012. In their first-ever cook­book — includ­ing over a hun­dred recipes, pulled deep from the culi­nary his­to­ries of East­ern Europe and the dias­po­ra com­mu­ni­ty of North Amer­i­ca — they draw inspi­ra­tion from the lega­cies of Jew­ish pick­le shops, bak­eries, appe­tiz­ing shops, dairy restau­rants, del­i­catessens, and hol­i­day kitchens. Tap­ping into the zeit­geist of redis­cov­er­ing Old World food tra­di­tions like pick­ling, fer­ment­ing, and bak­ing — as well as the foun­da­tion­al val­ues of these tech­niques for resource­ful­ness and sea­son­al­i­ty—The Gefilte Man­i­festo encour­ages any­one and every­one to incor­po­rate healthy and vital Ashke­nazi recipes into their every­day repertoire.

Recipe: Spiced Blue­ber­ry Soup

Jef­frey: There’s an intrigu­ing tra­di­tion of fruit-based soups in Ashke­nazi cook­ing, much as there is in Scan­di­na­vian cui­sine. Grow­ing up, I was famil­iar with sour cher­ry soup, but I hadn’t heard of blue­ber­ry soup until I began review­ing old Jew­ish cook­books. I’m glad I found it.

Many old recipes call for strain­ing out the blue­ber­ries, but Liz and I pre­fer the tex­ture that the stewed fruit adds to the soup. This recipe is a great way to high­light the berry har­vest in ear­ly sum­mer or a deli­cious way to uti­lize frozen berries when the weath­er turns cold. Also, it is a very quick recipe. You can serve it hot right after it’s fin­ished cook­ing, but the fla­vor devel­ops nice­ly after a day. Once cooled, you can refrig­er­ate the soup and serve it cold (our pref­er­ence) or at room temperature.

SERVES 4 TO 6

Ingre­di­ents
2 cin­na­mon sticks
2 tea­spoons whole cloves
1 table­spoon corian­der seeds
2 tea­spoons whole black peppercorns
6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
¼ cup honey
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup cold water
2 egg yolks, light­ly beaten
2 tea­spoons lemon zest, plus more for garnish
Sour cream, store bought or home­made (page 24), or plain yogurt, for serving

Instruc­tions

  1. Tie the cin­na­mon sticks, cloves, corian­der seeds, and pep­per­corns in a square of cheese­cloth for easy removal later.
  2. In a medi­um saucepan, com­bine the blue­ber­ries, hon­ey, lemon juice, spice bun­dle, and cold water. Bring to a boil over medi­um-high heat, then reduce the heat to main­tain a sim­mer and cook for about 8 min­utes. The berries will break down quite quick­ly and release a good deal of liquid.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat. Very slow­ly spoon 3 table­spoons of the hot blue­ber­ry liq­uid into the egg yolks (1 table­spoon at a time to avoid cur­dling the egg yolks). Whisk with a fork until thick, 1 to 2 min­utes, then return the blue­ber­ry-egg mix­ture to the pot and return the soup just to a boil. Imme­di­ate­ly reduce the heat to main­tain a sim­mer and cook for 3 min­utes more, until the soup has thick­ened. Remove from the heat, and imme­di­ate­ly mix in the 2 tea­spoons of lemon zest.
  4. Remove the spice bun­dle before serv­ing hot, cold, or at room tem­per­a­ture, gar­nished with sour cream and remain­ing lemon zest.

Recipe: Lilya’s Sum­mer Beet Borscht

Liz: One sum­mer day, Jef­frey and I head­ed to Lit­tle Odessa in Brighton Beach, Brook­lyn. We were vis­it­ing our busi­ness part­ner Jackie’s nine­ty-two-year-old Russ­ian-born great-aunt, Lilya. She had immi­grat­ed to Brighton Beach from the Sovi­et Union in 1989. Lilya was known for her borscht, and she’d invit­ed us to spend time with her while she salt­ed and sea­soned three vari­eties of the soup. At nine­ty-two, she was extra­or­di­nary, foist­ing shots of vod­ka on us and show­er­ing us with words of wis­dom. We left Brighton Beach inspired and feel­ing lucky to have met her. She passed away a cou­ple of years lat­er. We devel­oped this recipe with her in mind.

This beet borscht is per­fect served chilled on sum­mer days or served hot in the cold­er months. The ide­al borscht, writes Alek­san­dar Hemon in The New York­er of his Bosn­ian fam­i­ly tra­di­tions con­tains every­thing … and it can be refrig­er­at­ed and reheat­ed in per­pe­tu­ity, always bet­ter the next day. The cru­cial ingre­di­ent is a large, hun­gry fam­i­ly, sur­viv­ing togeth­er.” Jef­frey thinks that this recipe should uti­lize rossel (the brine from fer­ment­ed beets, oth­er­wise known as beet kvass) instead of vine­gar to add tang, since tra­di­tion­al­ly borscht’s cov­et­ed sour fla­vor was cul­ti­vat­ed by first fer­ment­ing the beets. But I dis­agree. I like the fla­vor that vine­gar adds, even if it isn’t as Old-World. This recipe uses vine­gar (I won!), but if you’d like to be more old school and first wait a week to fer­ment your beets, fol­low the Beet and Gin­ger Kvass recipe (on page 290 in the book) but omit the gin­ger. And while this recipe calls for roast­ing beets and adding them to the soup, it also tastes great with­out roast­ed beets. Just cut the beet amount to 1 pound if omit­ting the roast­ing step.

SERVES 6 TO 8

Ingre­di­ents
2 pounds whole beets, scrubbed but unpeeled
2 car­rots, unpeeled and coarse­ly chopped
2 cel­ery stalks with leaves, coarse­ly chopped
2 medi­um onions:
1 quar­tered, 1 diced
5 gar­lic cloves: 2 left whole, 3 minced
2 dried bay leaves
2 table­spoons kosher salt
2 table­spoons whole black peppercorns

2 table­spoons car­away seeds
4 cups cold water
2 table­spoons olive oil
3 table­spoons honey
3 table­spoons apple cider vinegar
Sour cream, store-bought or home­made (see page 24), or crème fraîche, for garnish
Chopped fresh dill, for garnish

Instruc­tions

  1. Pre­heat the oven to 400°F. Wrap 1 pound of the beets indi­vid­u­al­ly in alu­minum foil and set on a bak­ing sheet. Roast until they can be eas­i­ly pierced with a fork, 40 min­utes to 1 hour, depend­ing on the size of the beets (larg­er beets take longer). The skin should peel off eas­i­ly under cold run­ning water. Dice the beets into bite­size pieces and refrig­er­ate until serving.
  2. While the beets are roast­ing, in a large soup pot, com­bine the remain­ing 1 pound beets, the car­rots, cel­ery, quar­tered onion, whole gar­lic cloves, bay leaves, salt, pep­per­corns, car­away seeds and 9 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and sim­mer for 1 hour. Remove from the heat.
  3. Fill a large bowl with water and ice. Remove the boiled beets from the pot and place them in the ice-water bath. When cool, peel and coarse­ly chop them. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strain­er into a large bowl, dis­card­ing the solids.
  4. Rinse and dry the soup pot and set it over medi­um heat. Add the olive oil and diced onion and sauté until the onion is fra­grant, about 3 min­utes. Add the minced gar­lic and sauté for 3 to 5 min­utes more, until the onion begins to turn gold­en. Add the beet broth and coarse­ly chopped boiled beets to the pot and sim­mer over low heat, cov­ered, for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and purée the soup in the pot using an immer­sion blender. (Alter­na­tive­ly, trans­fer it in small batch­es to a stand­ing blender and purée — just be care­ful!) Add the hon­ey and vine­gar and sim­mer over very low heat for 5 minutes.
  6. If serv­ing hot, place 2 table­spoons of diced roast­ed beets in the bot­tom of each bowl and then ladle the hot soup over them. Gar­nish­ing with sour cream and chopped fresh dill. If serv­ing chilled, remove from the heat and let the soup cool com­plete­ly and then refrig­er­ate overnight. Be sure to stir the soup well and taste imme­di­ate­ly before serv­ing. Once cooled, many soups require a touch more salt. If nec­es­sary, add more salt, a tea­spoon at a time. As with hot borscht, place 2 table­spoons of the roast­ed beets at the bot­tom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top. Serve gar­nished with sour cream and chopped fresh dill.

Excerpt­ed from the book The Gefilte Man­i­festo by Jef­frey Yoskowitz & Liz Alpern. Copy­right ©2016 by Gefilte Man­i­festo LLC. Reprint­ed with per­mis­sion from Flat­iron Books. All rights reserved. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Lau­ren Volo.

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