Ear­li­er this week, June Hersh wrote about her Jew­ish culi­nary jour­ney and unrav­eled the mys­tery of Jew­ish food. She will be blog­ging all week for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ings Vis­it­ing Scribe.

I am not Martha Stew­art, and I don’t have a staff of twen­ty to help me pre­pare a dish or stage a pho­to. But I didn’t need her perks on a sun­ny August day when I was prepar­ing to pho­to­graph my food for,The Kosher Car­ni­voremy sec­ond book. My first book, Recipes Remem­bered, fea­tured his­toric and archival pho­tos of the sur­vivors whose sto­ries I told. Glossy col­or shots and well-set vignettes were not appro­pri­ate for a book focused on the Holo­caust. But for The Kosher Car­ni­vore, we want­ed to show the yum­my food in all its glo­ry, and that meant me and my dig­i­tal cam­era would need to be replaced by a pro­fes­sion­al photographer.

I was not strand­ed on my kitchen island with­out some assis­tance. My two sup­port­ive daugh­ters were there to lend a hand. Jen­nifer would be my enthu­si­as­tic sous chef and clean­er-upper — a skill she inher­it­ed from her very metic­u­lous and help­ful father. Alli­son, would be my set design­er, as she has a cre­ative flair and an eye for pho­tog­ra­phy. But the real hero would be not­ed food pho­tog­ra­ph­er Ben Fink. He has shot images for celebri­ty chefs and Food Net­work icons, and now he was com­ing to my house to film my food.

The night before I dili­gent­ly enforced the three words that every chef evokes: mise en place. In French, that trans­lates to mean every­thing in place,” and for cooks it is what stands between dis­as­ter and deli­cious. Prep­ping ingre­di­ents, stock­ing my pantry, and set­ting a time­line were part of my late night home­work. Ziploc bags became filled with chopped onions, diced car­rots and juli­enned leeks. The fridge was loaded with uncorked wine, lemons wait­ing to be zest­ed and meat and poul­try mar­i­nat­ing the night away.

I didn’t need a roost­er to wake me as I bare­ly closed my eyes, review­ing my notes and plot­ting my course. I had the daunt­ing task of prepar­ing 19 sep­a­rate dish­es to shoot the 11 pho­tos we had hoped to cap­ture. I need­ed to be part cir­cus jug­gler, part Julia Child and part Zen mas­ter as with­out calm the day would be a catastrophe.

With ovens pre­heat­ing exact­ly on time, pans siz­zling when they were sup­posed to and pots boil­ing in antic­i­pa­tion, I began my day well before the morn­ing pun­dits were deliv­er­ing the news. As the beef was sea­soned and speed­i­ly tucked into the oven, the first of sev­er­al timers was set. The bird was but­ter­flied for the spatch­cocked chick­en and it wait­ed its turn patient­ly as the roast began to brown. If the food emerges too soon it with­ers while the shot is being set up. Too late and you lose pre­cious time and nat­ur­al light. Ben and my per­son­al assis­tants were ter­rif­ic. Like Rocky retreat­ing to his cor­ner, I was giv­en quick shoul­der rubs, short pep talks and the occa­sion­al pat on the tush with a go get em mom” to renew my energy!

At the end of the day we had some fab­u­lous pho­tos and more meat lin­ing my counter than a butch­er shop the day before Passover. I was in a ver­i­ta­ble food coma as we devoured every dish that emerged. We ate prime rib and York­shire pud­ding for break­fast, fried chick­en and mashed pota­toes for mid-morn­ing snack and herb crust­ed lamb chops with creamed spinach (that’s right, with­out cream or but­ter) for lunch. Dessert was veal Milanese topped with field greens. Our mid­day feed­ing fren­zy began with sliced hang­er steak fol­lowed by pas­ta tossed with broc­coli rabe and kosher sausage. With not much room left, we nib­bled on brisket and kasha, pret­zel rolled hot­dogs and lamb slid­ers. We washed it all down with the last dish of the day, Asian chick­en noo­dle soup.

I was hap­pi­ly exhaust­ed as the sun began to set and the pho­tos uploaded to Ben’s lap­top. My hair was tus­sled, my apron stained, my feet aching – no one said it would be glam­orous. But in a whirl­wind 24 hours, I gained con­fi­dence – and pounds – and was com­plete­ly sat­is­fied with both.

Abun­dant Asian Noo­dle Soup 

I like to think of this soup as a sal­ad bar in a soup bowl, where every­one can add their own favorite veg­eta­bles to the sub­lime fla­vor of the sweet and sour broth.

About 4 servings

Start to Fin­ish Under 30 minutes

1 quart chick­en stock

¾ pound bok choy, rinsed, white part chopped, leafy por­tion cut into strips.

½ pound Napa cab­bage, leafy part only, chopped

6 ounces white mush­rooms sliced very thin, caps only

1 (7‑ounce) jar baby corn, drained

1 gar­lic clove, smashed

3 table­spoons low sodi­um soy sauce

1 table­spoon mirin

1 table­spoon rice wine vinegar

Pinch of ground ginger

1 (3‑ounce) pack­age ramen, shi­rata­ki or udon noo­dles, pre­pared as directed

2 cups shred­ded chick­en (see pages136-137 to pre­pare fresh­ly roast­ed breasts, or use “ bonus” chicken)

Kosher salt and fresh­ly ground black pepper


2 scal­lions, chopped

Chili-gar­lic sauce, to taste

In a large soup pot add the stock and heat just until sim­mer­ing. Add the white por­tion of the chopped bok choy, chopped Napa cab­bage, sliced mush­rooms, baby corn and gar­lic clove to the soup. In a small bowl, mix togeth­er the soy, mirin, vine­gar and gin­ger, and then add to the soup pot. Heat for about 15 min­utes on a low flame.

While the soup cooks, pre­pare the noo­dles accord­ing to pack­age direc­tions, reserve.

Add the chick­en pieces and strips of the bok choy leaves to the soup and cook until every­thing is heat­ed through, about 5 min­utes. Sea­son to taste with salt and pep­per and adjust the soy (for salty), mirin (for sweet) and vine­gar (for sour) to bal­ance the taste. Even­ly divide the pre­pared noo­dles into the soup bowls and ladle the hot soup over them. Sprin­kle with the chopped scal­lions and for those who like it spicy, top with a shot of chili-gar­lic sauce.


The mix­ture of veg­eta­bles is end­less, and you can eas­i­ly add more veg­gies to this pot, you’ll have less broth to sol­id ration, but that’s OK. Straw mush­rooms, water chest­nuts and bam­boo shoots can all be added after being drained and rinsed. Fresh veg­etable options include snow peas, green peas, thin­ly sliced car­rots, and fresh bean sprouts. Use your imag­i­na­tion and your family’s per­son­al favorites to cre­ate the per­fect mélange.

Check back tomor­row for June Hersh’s final post and recipe for the Vis­it­ing Scribe.

June Hersh is a pas­sion­ate home cook and twice-pub­lished cook­book author. She con­tributes con­tent to many web­sites and food pub­li­ca­tions, con­ducts book talks, holds cook­ing demon­stra­tions and has been fea­tured in many main­stream media out­lets as well as morn­ing TV and QVC, where she debuted the soft­cov­er ver­sion of her best-sell­ing first book Recipes Remem­bered. June is a mem­ber of the Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion of North Amer­i­ca’s Speak­er’s Bureau and has donat­ed all pro­ceeds from the sale of her books to char­i­ty. She lives in NYC with her husband.