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.