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The Gefilte Variations: 200 Inspired Re-creations of Classics from the Jewish Kitchen, with Menus, Stories, and Traditions for the Holidays and Year-Round Hardcover – March 22, 2000
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Jewish food--the cuisine of the Diaspora--has remained largely unchanged, even as other venerable cooking traditions have been renewed. But this savory fare was meant to be potchkeyed, or played with, writes Jayne Cohen, author of The Gefilte Variations. To prove her point, she offers 200 kosher recipes that reinterpret the classics of American, European, North African, and Asian Jewish cooking. Resisting the obvious pitfall of devising hybrid "cheffy" concoctions, Cohen has found a way to be satisfyingly innovative, lightening kasha, for example, with caramelized onion marmalade and melting eggplant cubes, or boosting matzo-ball flavor with smoky roasted fennel. Cooks, kosher and not, who have long sought a fresher take on Jewish fare, as well as those who relish hearty but sophisticated dishes, should welcome the book. Cohen first presents year-round favorites, organized by categories like breakfasts and brunches, dairy dishes, and sweet kugels and desserts. Among these, readers will want to try Aromatic Marinated Brisket with Chestnuts, Potato-Onion Kreplach Potsticker-Style, Sorrel-Flavored Mushroom Barley Soup, and Rich Noodle Pudding Baked with Fresh Plums and Nectarines. The book's second section offers a contemporary look at Jewish holiday cooking and introduces international dishes, such as Cheese Latkes with Persimmon Sauce, that would make a delicious Hanukkah-table addition. A pantry and procedures section, a collection of menus, and a glossary of useful terms, both culinary and cultural (finally--a right-on definition of ongepotchken, that onomatopoeic Yiddish word for "fussed with to tackiness"), round off this useful and imaginative book. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Few can explain the essence of Jewish food as charmingly and lyrically as freelance writer Cohen does in this outstanding debut. In this collection of innovative yet tradition-based recipes--what she calls "the autobiography of one palate"--Cohen often takes a simple, familiar dish (matzoh brie, for instance), dissects all its possibilities (in this case she explains how to make it crispy or fluffy), then offers experimental versions (Savory Artichoke Matzoh Brie and Overnight Caramelized Apple Matzoh Briesame). Cohen incorporates both international Jewish tradition (Chopped Chicken Liver from the Rue des Rosiers, Veronese Rolled Turkey Loaf, Bombay Pineapple-Coconut Milk Kugel) and her own fertile imagination (Pastrami-Style Salmon, Chicken Soup with Asparagus and Shiitakes, served with Roasted Fennel Matzoh Balls) to offer new takes on the classics. She also invigorates some forgotten customs: her grandmother's habit of sprinkling fresh latkes with sugar lives again in Crispy Shallot Latkes with Sugar Dusting. Cohen also happens to write beautifully; her stories about relatives and her portraits of Jewish communities around the world and their individual customs could stand alone in a book of essays. This well-rounded cookbook will appeal to the observant and the nonobservant--even to those who are not Jewish at all. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
These are the signs of a cook book that is used to COOK, not decorate! Until you have gone the distance and made real Gefilte Fish poached in Fennel-Wine Broth with fresh Ginger-Beet Horseradish, until you have eaten the same...well...you're truly missing something!
Everyone has childhood favorites, and for my partner's it was Matzoh Brie. Wanting to please him, I used to make it as a giant glop of egg and soggy matzoh's and tried not to gag. THEN....Jayne Cohen taught me, via Gifilte Variations a gourmet version, and life changed. Her Overnight Carmelized Apple Matzoh Brie could be the food of angels, it really could.
I plotzed with delight as I enjoyed her Tangy Russian Cabbage Soup with Pot-Roast-Beer Kreplach (yes, you read that right).
Perhaps the best recommendation I can give this book is to tell you that when I left Berkeley for Boulder, people cried, because they didn't know where they would go for holidays, or what they would eat. I almost did, cry that is, when I discovered that my copy of Gefelte Variations had remained in storage. So I bought another one. Really, that's how indispensable it is.
After all: Love is sweet but it's nice to have bread with it! Or maybe Double-Ginger-Carmelized Pear Noodle Kugel!