The Mod­ern Table: Kosher Recipes for Every­day Gatherings

  • Review
By – August 29, 2022

The cov­er of Kim Kushner’s The Mod­ern Table: Kosher Recipes for Every­day Gath­er­ings reveals a feel­ing that is at the cen­ter of the entire cook­book: cama­raderie. Its pho­to­graph dis­plays plates and trays of food ele­gant­ly placed on the table, where guests can pick and choose what they want to eat and fill their plates. Peo­ple can taste each other’s food, hav­ing a bit of this, a lit­tle bit of that. In oth­er words, Kush­n­er intends for the recipes in her book to become meals that bring peo­ple together.

Kush­n­er remarks ear­ly on that she loves the cook­ing process. This is evi­dent in the stun­ning images that accom­pa­ny near­ly every page of the book. Read­ers can see the specks of each ingre­di­ent that make up a food item, as when Kush­n­er details instruc­tions for cook­ing Leek, Lentil, and Chick­pea Tagine. On the page next to the recipe, there is a vivid image of a red bowl that depicts the lay­ered­ness of the dish: the pine-nuts and chick­peas, the feta cheese, the brown lentils, the chopped pars­ley and zuc­chi­ni chunks. Although it’s one meal, the indi­vid­ual com­po­nents nec­es­sar­i­ly stand out. Adeena Suss­man says it best in her fore­word: Clear-eyed, easy to fol­low recipe writ­ing and drop-dead visu­al presentation.”

Beyond its pho­tographs, this cook­book suc­ceeds because of the con­ver­sa­tion­al sec­tions that Kush­n­er includes at the begin­ning and end of recipes and at the begin­ning of chap­ters. She adds tid­bits of prac­ti­cal infor­ma­tion, like advice on how to store left­overs. She speaks to read­ers direct­ly, address­ing them as one might a friend. If you’ve ever won­dered what to do with all the left­overs in the refrig­er­a­tor,” Kush­n­er writes, this sec­tion is for you!” Her enthu­si­asm imparts a sense of com­fort, assur­ing read­ers that no ques­tion about the kitchen is a sil­ly one.

The recipes, mean­while, are sim­plis­tic with a flair. Each can be pre­pared in a man­age­able time frame, despite its appear­ance of hav­ing required hours of care­ful plan­ning. The food is stun­ning and sophis­ti­cat­ed, pro­vides room for cre­ative adap­ta­tions, and gives the chef the chance to con­voke loved ones. With each of its recipes care­ful to sep­a­rate meat and dairy, and to leave out ingre­di­ents like pork and shrimp, The Mod­ern Table should be a sta­ple in every kosher kitchen.

Madi­son Jack­son lives in Pitts­burgh, PA and is the Direc­tor of Jew­ish Stu­dent Life at Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty. She received her Mas­ter of Fine Arts degree in Cre­ative Non­fic­tion Writ­ing from Chatham Uni­ver­si­ty, and her Bach­e­lor of Arts degree in Juda­ic Stud­ies and Eng­lish from Bing­ham­ton University. 

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