The Hadas­sah Ever­day Cook­book: Dai­ly Meals for the Con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish Kitchen

Leah Koenig; Lucy Scha­ef­fer, photography
  • Review
By – August 30, 2011
Deli­cious is the best word to describe The Hadas­sah Every­day Cook­book: Dai­ly Meals for the Con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish Kitchen by Leah Koenig. The pho­tographs by Lucy Scha­ef­fer are so lus­cious and vivid that I felt like I want­ed to eat the book while read­ing it! Joan Nathan, the award win­ning cook­book author, says it all in her Fore­word to the book; How lucky Hadas­sah is to have Leah Koenig, one of the ris­ing stars in a new gen­er­a­tion of Jew­ish food writ­ers, com­pose this lat­est Hadas­sah cook­book.”

The recipes are grouped into 1. Break­fast and Breads,” 2. Sal­ads and Spreads,” 3. Sand­wich­es and Piz­zas,” 4. Soups and Stews,” 5. Sides,” 6. Mains,” 7. Sweets,” and 8. Any­time Snacks.” There are the tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish favorites such as chick­en soup but in this case it is a recipe for Lemo­ny Chick­en Soup.” There is the bor­sht recipe or more pre­cise­ly Quick(er) Bor­sht.” Along­side these culi­nary favorites are whim­si­cal­ly named dish­es such as the Drunk­en Veg­etable Chili” or entic­ing recipes such as Sweet Pota­to Kale Soup with White Beans.” Inter­spersed among the recipes are side bar expla­na­tions to help the neo­phyte cook such as Herbs and Spices: Fresh vs. Dried” or Brais­ing” or How to But­ter­fly Chick­en.” What is espe­cial­ly delight­ful about the recipes is that they are all kosher and doable. The At a Glance Kashrut Index” makes it easy for the cook to find a pareve or dairy or meat recipe when in a rush.

The recipes are a diverse group. They reflect the culi­nary pat­terns of Ashke­nazi, Sephardic, Israeli, new wave Amer­i­can cuisines along with tap­ping into the rich­ness of oth­er tra­di­tions such as those of Mex­i­co, Japan, and Moroc­co. The recipes empha­size healthy nour­ish­ment for the din­er and for the earth. Many of the recipes enable the cook to shop local­ly and draw upon the neigh­bor­hood farmer’s mar­ket, organ­ic foods, and the com­mu­ni­ty coop­er­a­tive, all of which are the new focus of the sus­tain­abil­i­ty move­ment. Sup­ple­ment­ing the easy to fol­low recipes is the flow­ing nar­ra­tive that pro­vides an intro­duc­tion to each group of recipes with a dis­cus­sion of the dish­es, and infor­ma­tion about their his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al her­itage.

The recipes are clear and easy to fol­low. The pho­tos cue the chef as to how the dish should look and how b est to serve it. The print is large enough so that one can read the recipes even while whisk­ing eggs in a bowl in front of you. Most of the ingre­di­ents are not so exot­ic that the aver­age cook can­not locate them. And to help those who may have dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing some of the ingre­di­ents, the book pro­vides online sources. The dish­es are appeal­ing, look deli­cious, and are intend­ed for today’s over­worked cook who often doesn’t have the time or ener­gy to devote to mak­ing elab­o­rate meals.

The book pro­vides Menu Ideas” in its con­clud­ing pages. How­ev­er, I think the read­er will walk away with many ideas as to how to pre­pare a meal that is healthy, kosher, delec­table, and fun to make. Index, pho­tographs.


Cous­cous with Dried Cher­ries and Mint

The beans, fruit and grains in this side dish offer the nutri­tion­al pro­file of a com­plete meal. Switch things up by sub­sti­tut­ing less com­mon grains like wheat berries, spelt or far­ro in place of the cous­cous.

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups Israeli cous­cous
1 can rosa (pink) beans or white beans, rinsed and
1/2 cup red onion, halved and thin­ly sliced
1/2 cup dried cher­ries (or dried cran­ber­ries), chopped
5 table­spoons light olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 table­spoon lemon juice
3 table­spoons hon­ey
Salt and fresh­ly ground black pep­per
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup crum­bled feta or goat cheese (option­al)

1. Cook cous­cous accord­ing to pack­age direc­tions; remove from heat and set aside.

2. In a medi­um bowl, com­bine beans, onion and cher­ries. In a small bowl, whisk togeth­er oil, lemon juice, hon­ey, salt and pep­per to taste, mint and feta, if using.

3. Add cous­cous to the bean mix­ture and toss gen­tly with about two thirds of the dress­ing until
com­bined. Add addi­tion­al dress­ing to taste. Tight­ly seal and refrig­er­ate any left­over dress­ing.

© The Hadas­sah Every­day Cook­book: Dai­ly Meals for the Con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish Kitchen, Uni­verse, New York, 2011.
Car­ol Poll, Ph.D., is the retired Chair of the Social Sci­ences Depart­ment and Pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at the Fash­ion Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy of the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York. Her areas of inter­est include the soci­ol­o­gy of race and eth­nic rela­tions, the soci­ol­o­gy of mar­riage, fam­i­ly and gen­der roles and the soci­ol­o­gy of Jews.

Discussion Questions