The Mod­ern Menu: Sim­ple, Beau­ti­ful, Kosher

Kim Kush­n­er; Andrew Zuck­er­man, photographs
  • Review
By – July 8, 2013

Kim Kush­n­er, who has been teach­ing the culi­nary arts for years, puts us in a buoy­ant mood as she declares in her intro­duc­tion to The Mod­ern Menu, There’s noth­ing bet­ter than help­ing a fear­ful neo­phyte become a fear­less cook, or turn­ing a reluc­tant taster into a gour­mand, or trans­form­ing a non-bak­er into a pas­try pro … In fact, I nev­er approach any dish with the idea that it will be per­fect. Not only is this atti­tude free­ing, but it inspires me to try new ingre­di­ents, fla­vors, and techniques.” 

The pho­tos of foods and of Ms. Kush­n­er as she pre­pares many of the dish­es jump out at you. Just leaf­ing through the pages of this cook­book, the urge to go imme­di­ate­ly into the kitchen will make you move from your read­ing place.

The titles of the sec­tions appeal to one’s taste buds, for exam­ple: Vibrant, Nour­ish­ing, Piquant, Gut­sy (includes Tequi­la Lon­don Broil with Man­go Chut­ney), Saucy, Clever…

The rich­ness and fla­vor are evi­dent in Chick­en with Pump­kin, Figs, and Hon­ey; or in Crunchy Cur­ry Cau­li­flower with Tahi­ni and Pome­gran­ate; or in Mar­i­nat­ed Veg­etable Sal­ad, and of course in Best Brisket, which is pho­tographed with heap­ing onions in a sauce of red wine and cran­ber­ry, entic­ing one to visu­al­ize rice or mashed pota­toes as the per­fect bed to soak up the juices.

The La Pas­ta (Orange Sponge Cake) with whole eggs, not sep­a­rat­ed (great), evoke Moroc­can music and dis­tant places in one’s mind. Ms. Kush­n­er explains, Cake in Span­ish is pas­tel. Many Span­ish-speak­ing Jews who came from Moroc­co would make this sim­ple, light cake to serve on the Sab­bath, and referred to it as pas­ta, a twist on pas­tel. The syrup and can­died orange slices can be made one day in advance, cov­ered sep­a­rate­ly, and refrigerated.”

I am inspired to visu­al­ize the lus­cious fare as I would serve it to friends and fam­i­ly, which then trig­gers thoughts of loved ones I have not seen in a while. My oh my, what images such a book can stim­u­late. Very clear instruc­tions and index.


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