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The Mensch Chef: Or Why Delicious Jewish Food Isn't an Oxymoron Paperback – March 5, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (March 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609807811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609807811
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Davis, author of Foie Gras and Cook Something, draws on his Ashkenazi (European Jewish) heritage and family recipes to produce The Mensch Chef. The recipes include familiar Jewish fare like his hearty Chicken Soup and Matzo Balls, Basic Brisket and Gefilte Fish. Several traditional recipes are given tasty new twists, from the slight citric bite of the sweet Apple-Orange Lokshen Kugel to the Baked Fish in Sweet-and-Sour Sauce. Some dishes, like the robust Hummus and the healthy Carrot and Raisin Salad, are more modern Israeli than Old Country, but are growing popular at Jewish tables. The kosher status of each recipe meat, dairy, pareve, or pesadich is indicated, and where appropriate Davis provides alternative versions of recipes that take dietary laws into account. The Pareve Rugelach, for instance, are made with Sweet Chicken Schmaltz and peanut oil instead of dairy products so that they can be eaten after a meat meal. Kosher regulations, ingredients, and tools are all covered in the introduction. Davis's borscht-belt wit spices up the recipes, as do historical tidbits and quick, troubleshooting bits of advice on everything from "How do I grate an onion?" to "Instead of pancakes I made a mess!" This well-written, appealing cookbook will tempt nostalgic Jews and culinary tourists alike.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

At first glance, The Mensch Chef seems rather flippant in tone chapter titles, for example, include "You Call That a Piece of Cake?" but it's actually a serious cookbook, written with an irrepressible sense of humor. Davis, food writer and author of several other cookbooks, wrote it in part for Jews who usually don't cook "Jewish food" until the holidays come around and want to serve the dishes they grew up with, as well as for those who crave childhood favorites but never learned how to make them. There are recipes for Gefilte Fish and Brisket and Babka in short, all the traditional dishes along with entertaining and informative commentary about each one. It's an "Ashkenazi ABC," as Davis describes it. There is also a glossary, called "Yiddish for Cooks," and a source list for "Groceries" and "Cravings," along with an annotated reading list. Strongly recommended.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
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The book came autographed (a plus!)
AK-Jake
I've tried multiple kugel recipes (sweet and savory) and loved them all.
Shellie
This is a wonderful cookbook and easy too!
Bikinigirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bikinigirl on October 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful cookbook and easy too! I've made the brisket, chicken soup and some other recipes. Brings back memories of my time with my Bubbi!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shellie on March 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cook and bake a lot, read cookbooks for pleasure, browse online recipes for fun... so I think a great deal about cooking, recipes, and what makes a cookbook great. This one is great: so much fun to read, educational and inspirational, makes you want to get into the kitchen! Davis's writing style is funny, filled with cute anecdotes about Jewish culture and his own family traditions. The introductions to the recipes, the little "advice" sidebars, and the glossary make the cookbook great bedtime reading. But it's also great as a cookbook--the recipes are easy to follow and produce delicious results. I've tried multiple kugel recipes (sweet and savory) and loved them all. His hamentaschen dough produced the best hamentaschen I've ever made! (The dough was a bit hard to work with--very soft and somewhat sticky--but I was gentle and patient with it, and the results were just perfect.) I've made a few great cakes from this book as well. It's also a good reference for Jewish cooking staples such as matzo ball soup, latkes, brisket, etc. All around, a fun and useful addition to the collection.

A side note for anyone looking for a kosher cookbook: this is by no means what you are looking for. Davis mentions substitutions that would make a recipe pareve instead of dairy, for instance, but he is quite glib about proclaiming that the taste of the recipe often suffers. An experienced kosher cook could certainly use their experience and common sense to make these recipes kosher, of course, but it is by no means an introductory kosher cookbook.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
I cannot be more enthusiastic about this book. If you want all the yiddish basics, thoughtfully brought together in one book... this is it! For me it is a dream come true... it is the research I would have loved to do, had I the time (well, he saved me the trouble!)
In a time when all the classics are being jazzed up for a contemporary palette... to have these classics simple and unadulterated (possibilities of family variations aside) on record (right down to the shmaltz!) is a gift for all of us!
You won't be dissapointed! mmmmmmmmmm!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Psychiatrist in training on November 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
"The Mensch Chef" is one of my favorite house-warming gifts. It has the best recipes for classic Jewish food: chicken soup, chopped liver, roast chicken, and brisket. My (actually the book's) brisket is hands down the best brisket I have ever tasted. The chicken soup is as good as my grandmother's --which our family considered liquid gold. Everyone I have given this book now treasures it. The roast turkey recipe is delicious --and I've used it for several Thanksgivings. It is so sad to me that this book is now so hard to find. It deserves to be a classic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Betty Siegel on January 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had purchased a copy for myself. My husband was Jewish and we often had dishes his mother would prepare. I often would cook many of the dishes and send left overs home with my Adult children. They would often ask me for the receipes. Since I mostly cook by "taste", it was hard to give accurate measurements. That is when I purchased my personal copy of the Mensch Chef. When I searched online and found I could get copies for all and such a good price, I ordered one of each of my children. The receipes are excellent and are sprinkled with humor. Also, like the reference guide for finding some of the ingredients, since I live in a small town.
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