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.
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.