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

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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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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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: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,574,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In an effort to rediscover my culinary heritage, I was looking for a cookbook for Ashkenazi/Eastern European Jewish recipes and this one fit the bill perfectly. I borrowed it from the library and decided to buy it, I liked it so much. The recipes sound fabulous and he writes with great humour. Chicken soup made from his recipe is currently simmering in the kitchen and the aroma filling my house brings me back to my childhood. Highly recommended!
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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I own a lot of cookbooks. Therefore I am pretty picky about what I keep in my collection. This one is a winner. Not only does this have all the classic Jewish recipes you could want, it also comes with the author's fantastic sense of humor. You will be happy you ordered this book. Great for the holidays, family events, and when you just want to nosh.
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