The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glo­ri­ous Meals Pure & Simple

  • Review
By – April 30, 2012

Lévana Kirschen­baum, co-own­er of a high­ly regard­ed kosher restau­rant for thir­ty years and author of two pre­vi­ous cook­books, has now turned her atten­tion to whole foods and their place in a health­ful diet. And because Kirschen­baum has the instincts of a teacher, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen offers more than recipes.

After a painful bout of irri­ta­ble bow­el syn­drome and frus­tra­tion with inef­fec­tive med­ica­tion, Kirschen­baum decid­ed to fol­low her mother’s advice, The cure is in the pot,” and changed her diet. Focus­ing on dark-col­ored and deep red veg­eta­bles and fruits, low-fat pro­teins, and whole grains, she not only felt bet­ter but also lost weight — all with­out sac­ri­fic­ing fla­vor or her plea­sure in eat­ing.

An avid advo­cate of home cook­ing from scratch, Kirschen­baum serves up a host of the uncom­pli­cat­ed fla­vor­ful dish­es that she devel­oped on this basis. More impor­tant than the recipes, how­ev­er, are her kitchen skills and prac­ti­cal advice — how to make and always have on hand a vari­ety of sal­ad dress­ings, spice rubs, mari­nades, and oth­er fla­vor enhancers that make any dish notable. An exam­ple of the prac­ti­cal­i­ty and flex­i­bil­i­ty of her approach is found in Stove-top Chick­en Vari­a­tions, which also apply to fish and meat. With just three ingre­di­ents — chick­en pieces, cel­ery, and turmer­ic, plus water — Kirschen­baum pro­vides a basic recipe then gives four­teen vari­a­tions by chang­ing the cel­ery for anoth­er ingre­di­ent. Vari­ety is also achieved with a wide range of fla­vor­ings — Moroc­can, Japan­ese, Indi­an, Chi­nese. And treats are by no means neglect­ed; bev­er­ages, breads, and desserts are par­tic­u­lar­ly appeal­ing.

With dietary require­ments in mind, there are index­es for gen­er­al and Passover recipes but also for gluten-free recipes. In addi­tion, through­out the book Kirschen­baum explains var­i­ous ingre­di­ents and their uses and ben­e­fits and pass­es along many help­ful tips. Full-col­or illus­tra­tions in this large-for­mat book add to its appeal for the health-con­scious kosher cook seek­ing easy-to-pre­pare fla­vor­ful food. An enclosed DVD cov­ers a Shab­bos and a seder feast. 

Read Lev­ana Kirschen­baum’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

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Maron L. Wax­man, retired edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor, spe­cial projects, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, was also an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Harper­Collins and Book-of-the-Month Club.

Discussion Questions