The food at The 2nd Ave. Deli is what your grandmother, mother, or a friend's family cooked. (Especially if you are not Jewish but loved being well fed.) From its recipes for Schmalz (the rendered chicken fat indispensable to real, old-fashioned Jewish dishes) and what is arguably the best chopped liver in the world, to Health Salad (a mayonnaise-less, sweet coleslaw), potato kugel (a dense, crisp-crusted pudding), six versions of chicken soup, a Honey Chiffon Cake served for Jewish New Year, and Mandelbrot, an almond-studded Jewish biscotti, this cookbook offers the best of the hefty, soul-satisfying Jewish cooking that is the ultimate comfort food.
Having survived World War II, and, at 19, hungry to succeed, Abe Lebewohl arrived in New York City in 1950, a Jewish immigrant from Russia. His first job was working in a deli on Coney Island. In 1954, he took over the tiny luncheonette near New York's bustling Lower East Side, which he renamed the 2nd Ave. Deli. From that day forward, he looked after his customers (and everyone else he felt needed it) with spontaneous generosity. The stories in this book from his daughter and other people who knew Abe bring to life the passion and love he served along with the best authentic Jewish home cooking--making it clear why he was called the Mayor of Second Avenue. The deli, a magnet for tourists and New York City locals, is now also a memorial to Abe Lebewohl, who was killed in 1996 during a robbery after the restaurant had closed for the night. His daughter wrote this cookbook as a memorial to him, as well as to share the family's recipes for elemental Jewish cooking. Its 166 recipes, black-and-white photographs, and inspiring text make this a joyful celebration by his family and friends. --Dana Jacobi
From Publishers Weekly
This is a cookbook that will bring a tear to readers' eyes, and not just because it will have them chopping four onions for Chopped Liver. In 1996, Abe Lebewohl, owner of New York's famed Second Avenue Deli, was murdered; now Sharon, Lebewohl's daughter and current deli steward, and food writer Bulkin present recipes from the New York establishment as well as touching and funny anecdotes from the many people who adored him. The famous and less-famous contribute recipes along with their stories: food critic Mimi Sheraton recalls hearing Lebewohl explain matzo ball soup to a Japanese journalist (a monologue that included an overview of the Old Testament) and offers her Favorite Matzo Balls. Alfred Portale, chef and owner at the swanky Gotham Bar and Grill, recalls Lebewohl's generous praise and provides a recipe for Whole Roast Red Snapper with Tomatoes, Lemon and Thyme. Lebewohl, who was such a friend to working people that he once provided free lunches to striking NBC workers for 21 weeks, would appreciate the profile of veteran waitress Diane Kassner, famous for her quips (Customer: How is the stuffed breast of veal served? Diane: On a plate). Recipes from the restaurant itself are traditional Eastern European Jewish fareAe.g., Kreplach and Gefilte Fish. There are also a smattering of such Middle Eastern dishes as Falafel and Tabbouleh and a few concessions to today's lighter eating habits (Turkey Meat Loaf and Broiled Fillet of Sole ? la Second Avenue). The latter recipes belie a talk Lebewohl once gave on the topic "Is Deli Dying in New York?" where he quipped: "What am I gonna tell you? My food will kill you." (Oct.)
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