I’ve decided that my new mission in life is to get people back into the kitchen cooking. Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family by Judy Bart Kancigor /Workman Publishing Company, just might do the trick. Filled with interesting family stories and a huge variety of recipes from “easy peasy” to “you gotta be kiddn’ me” there’s something for every skill level. I myself am not a baker, so when I see a recipe that says “for the filling” (20 ingredients) and “for the dough” (lots of rolling and kneading involved)… my eyes glaze over and I think about playing angry birds on my iPad. But for the most part this book might just find itself parked next to The Joy of Cooking, my single most used cookbook.
And let me say how much respect I have for Kancigor for writing this tome. 532 recipes. 656 pages long. Holy #%@! I know from writing my own cookbook (You’re Cookin’ Tonight: The Quickest Way to the Bedroom Is Through the Kitchen available now on Amazon.com) what a grueling process it is. And my book is thin enough to slide under your bedroom door.
Part family history/photo album/instruction manual, what Kancigor has done is assemble this massive collection of kosher recipes from a bazillion family and friends. She traveled, tested, tasted and tossed some out. Every recipe in the book is accompanied by a little shpiel about the person who submitted it.
For me that’s what makes this book worth the 20 buck price tag (Barnes and Noble). It’s one thing to read a list of ingredients and instructions and throw something on the table. It’s quite another to get a sense of the soul of the food through its history and context in a family. I never knew the emotions around Israeli Salad. A simple bowl of chopped veggies, lemon juice and olive oil. But as contributor Carolyn C. Gilboa explains, “The pioneers of the first and second aliyah (waves of immigration) worked, when they could get work, with the Arabs, in Turkish Palestine. They earned the same or less than the Arabs, and, like them, had no crockery or utensils. Vegetables and pita were the most affordable food, so with one available knife, they diced the vegetables into one bowl, and used the pita to eat the salad….the next time you eat Israeli salad, remember that it built a homeland and nourished a people. All different, but all eating the same salad.”
Or from Hinda Rabinowitz, Schmaltz and Gribenes. Mama Hinda rendered her own schmaltz (chicken fat) to use in cooking. The by-product, gribenes (skin cracklings), was the Pringles of her day, fought over and devoured by the children. An old Yiddish proverb goes ‘Meshugeneh genz, meshugeneh gribenes’ – ‘crazy geese, crazy cracklings’ (or ‘Like parents, like children’). I remember a small bowl of gribenes on my mother’s stove glowing in the light from the Shabbat candles.
I knew I would be testing a recipe. I could have made Saucy Salami Crisps which has only two ingredients, salami and Chinese duck sauce…weird but probably awesome. But Kancigor mentions that her Cherry Chili Chicken is the most editor-tested recipe she’s written so that was my choice. Kancigor’s Aunt Hilda called it “Holiday Chicken” because that was the only time it was served. The dish was renamed by the author to a more apt description. I hope you enjoy this recipe and this cookbook as much as I did:
Cherry Chili Chicken
¾ cup raisins
1 can (16 ½ ounces) pitted black cherries, undrained
2 large onions, thinly slices
2 chickens (3 to 4 pounds), each cut into eight pieces, rinsed and patted dry
Garlic powder to taste
Paprika to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup dry sherry or white win
2 bottle (12 ounces each) chili sauce, such as Heinz
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1. Put the raisins in a small bowl and pour the juice from the canned cherries over them. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scatter the onion slices over the bottom of a large baking pan or roasting pan. Set the pan aside.
3. Season the chicken with garlic powder, paprika, and salt and pepper.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until it is quite hot but not smoking. Add the chicken, in batches, and cook until browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adding the remaining oil 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. As the chicken pieces brown, arrange them, skin side up, on top of the onions in the baking pan.
5. Remove the skillet from the heat and discard all the oil. Add ½ cup of the sherry to the skillet and scrape up all the brown bits. Stir in the chili sauce, brown sugar, ¼ cup water, and the plumped raisins with the cherry juice. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then pour it over the chicken. Roast, uncovered, basting occasionally, for 25 minutes.
6. Pour the remaining ½ cup sherry around the chicken, distribute the cherries throughout the pan, and baste. Roast, basting occasionally, until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.
7. Transfer the chicken to a warm serving platter and cover to keep warm. Strain the liquid into a medium-size sauce pan, reserving the solids. Bring the strained sauce to a boil over medium high heat and boil until reduced by about one third, or until thick, 8 to 10 minutes (longer if you like a thicker sauce).
8. Spoon the onions, cherries and raisins over the chicken, and pass the sauce.
Israeli Chopped Salad
For the dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Salad:
3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2tablespoons chopped mint
4 ounces feta cheese
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Add the vegetables, herds and feta, and mix thoroughly.
3. Immediately before serving add the toasted seeds and toss well.
Saucy Salami Crisps
1 whole kosher salami (12 ounces)
2/3 cup Chinese duck sauce, such as Saucy Susan
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the salami on a disposable oven tray and cut it into ½ inch thick slices without slicing all the way through (cut about three quarters of the way down), so that salami remains whole.
3. Spoon the duck sauce liberally between the slices and over the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Then fan the salami out, forming a circle, so more service area is exposed. Baste, and continue baking until crisp, 30 to 60 minues.
4. Slice the salami all the way through and cut each slice into 4 wedges. If you like them even crisper, bake the wedges about 15 minutes more.
Filed Under: Noshin'