The Prime Grill Cook­book: Redefin­ing the Kosher Experience

Joey Alla­ham & David Kolotkin
  • Review
By – January 29, 2014

Joey Alla­ham, the own­er of the Prime Grill restau­rants, is a fourth-gen­er­a­tion butch­er from Dam­as­cus, Syr­ia; in fact, the name Alla­ham means meat” in Ara­bic, he tells us. In 2000, see­ing the need for an upscale kosher steak­house in New York City, he opened his first restau­rant, Prime Grill. Togeth­er with Chef David Kolotkin, he cre­at­ed a high-end, high­ly acclaimed kosher restau­rant pre­sent­ing ele­gant and fla­vor­ful dishes.

The Prime Grill Cook­book opens with a his­to­ry of the restau­rant (yes, they moved to a larg­er loca­tion), pho­tographs of the restau­rant and staff, and an expla­na­tion of how the kitchen func­tions, as well as the restaurant’s mouth­wa­ter­ing lunch, din­ner, sushi, and drinks menus. One sees up close what is involved in the oper­a­tions of this renowned restau­rant. It was par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing to read about the detailed role of a Mash­giach (kosher supervisor).

The chap­ters are orga­nized by cours­es: Hors D’Oeuvres and Appe­tiz­ers, Soups and Sal­ads, Entrees, Sides, and Desserts, along with an offer­ing of Dress­ings, Sauces, and Dry Rubs, includ­ing supe­ri­or glazes and mari­nades. A big favorite of cus­tomers is Chef David’s Sig­na­ture BBQ Sauce, with cof­fee among its ingre­di­ents: it is quite easy for the home cook to pre­pare. The Dry Rubs, ac­cording to the Chef, are great because they can be made in advance and stored in a cool dry place for many months.”

The Chef’s con­tem­po­rary pota­to kugel, Pota­to Cake with Sweet Shal­lot Jam and Thyme, is a delec­table and imag­i­na­tive ver­sion, as are the Quinoa Cake Latkes’ and Yuc­ca Fries.

Oth­er recipes of note are the Thai Peanut Satay, Lamb Turnovers, Corn Chow­der, Falafel Crust­ed Salmon and Choco­late Crepes with Straw­ber­ry Bal­sam­ic Gas­trique (note: Crepes should be Crêpes).

I do hope that when the next edi­tion of this most spe­cial cook­book appears, the var­i­ous typos will be cor­rect­ed so that the pub­li­ca­tion bears the high qual­i­ty of the restau­rant and the recipes. Fur­ther, the index could have been more user friend­ly. One should list cat­e­gories in a cookbook’s index (e.g., sauces, soups, desserts, meats, etc.). This cook­book index lists the exact name of the full recipes and no subdivisions. 

Recipe: Pota­to Cake with Sweet Shal­lot Jam and Thyme

I am proud to be the chef of a world-class kosher estab­lish­ment and always try to incor­po­rate tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish recipes with my own twist. I knew my cus­tomers loved kugels, but I couldn’t serve them a sheet tray of sweet noo­dle kugel. Here is my con­tem­po­rary ver­sion of a tra­di­tion­al kugel.

Serves: 12

15 shal­lots, thin­ly sliced
1 cup bal­sam­ic vine­gar
½ cup sug­ar
½ cup port wine
8 lb. Yukon gold pota­toes, grat­ed (approx­i­mate­ly 12 – 14)
2 ½ tbsp. salt
¾ tsp. white pep­per
1 bunch thyme (approx­i­mate­ly 12 – 14 sprigs)
½ tsp. extra vir­gin olive oil

Pre­heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy gauge pot, com­bine the shal­lots, bal­sam­ic vine­gar, sug­ar, and port wine, bring to a sim­mer, and cook until dry. 

In a large bowl, com­bine the grat­ed pota­toes (remove excess water), salt, white pep­per, thyme, and the extra vir­gin olive oil and mix until ful­ly combined. 

In a greased bak­ing pan (9×13), spread half of the pota­to mix­ture even­ly. Pour the shal­lot jam on top and spread even­ly. Fin­ish with the remain­ing half of the pota­to mix­ture and cov­er com­plete­ly. Place uncov­ered in the oven for approx­i­mate­ly 90 minutes. 

Remove and let the cake rest for 15 min­utes before slicing.

From The Prime Grill Cook­book: Redefin­ing the Kosher Expe­ri­ence by David Kolotkin and Joey Alla­ham, © Joey Alla­ham, used by per­mis­sion of the pub­lish­er, Pel­i­can Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, Inc.

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