Photo Credit: Jewish Press

If you have ever seen the musical Oliver in any of its various presentations, you are no doubt familiar with the song Food, Glorious, Food, an anthem to eating that strikes a chord with many of us just as it did with the orphan boys who brought those fabulous words to life. Given that Purim is only a month away and not far behind, there can be no better time to talk about two new books, both available on Amazon, that will inspire you to cook up a storm and dazzle your friends and family.

Picture this: a shot of beautiful babka buns, surrounded enticingly by scattered crumbs just begging to be eaten, perched appealingly atop the words Jamie Geller’s No Mistaking Baking. If those gorgeous baby yeast cakes and the name of the reigning queen of kosher known for recipes that are as approachable as they are delicious aren’t enough to draw you in, the subtitle 85+ foolproof, failproof, perfect every time recipes should be more than enough to seal the deal. Let’s face it – this is a book you really need because life is too short to eat Duncan Hines products when home baked yummies are well within your reach.

Advertisement

Clocking in at 223 pages filled with heaping cupfuls of Geller’s trademark warmth and ebullience, No Mistaking Baking is loaded with pictures of scrumptious treats as well as adorable shots of junior members of the Geller family baking their little hearts out and, of course, the aforementioned dozens of recipes. A paperback baking bible, devoting plenty of real estate to understanding how the process works, it explains essential ingredients like pastry flour and baking powder and provides a thoughtful list of necessary baking equipment to save you the expense and annoyance of filling your cabinets with unnecessary clutter. There are conversion tables, baking tips and answers to common questions on nut milks, substituting pareve ingredients for dairy, using different sweeteners and a quick guide to both yeast and eggs.

And then, of course, there are the recipes, divided into neat little sections. The babka chapter offers instructions for traditional loaves, personal sized buns and flavors ranging from the traditional sweet stuff to the slightly more exotic chocolate pumpkin. Given today’s trend of rethinking just about everything in the world of food, there are also recipes for savory babkas, including a mixed olive version and another loaded up with pulled beef. Challahs range from the standard sweet egg to gluten free loaves to a no knead recipe that requires advance planning, but minimal effort. Cheesecake blooms even brighter under Geller’s watch, with a no bake halva version, a pretzel crusted pumpkin entry and a low-fat edition for regret-free indulgences.

Cookies, bundt cakes, cupcakes, muffins, layer cakes and pies abound and, just in time for Purim, Geller offers tips to eliminate the frustration factor when it comes to making hamantaschen. Be sure to check out the fried treats, including sufganiyot, funnel cakes and Nutella banana egg rolls, as well as the puff pastry collection featuring edible dessert cups made in muffin tins and, hang on to your hats, baklava churros with pecans, pistachios and citrus zest. Wrapping up the fun in this awesome book are dairy and pareve rugelach, with yeast and oozing fillings such as spinach and cheese, sun dried tomatoes and olives, French onion, lemon coconut and, of course, chocolate.

Pull out the mixer and get ready to have fun; No Mistaking Baking combines simplicity and creativity with amazing results, giving even the most fearful baker the ability to churn out true masterpieces.

* * * * *

With just one look at Kim Kushner’s latest book, I Heart Kosher, Beautiful Recipes From My Kitchen, it is easy to see that this book is very appropriately titled. The mosaic of stunning photographs of Kushner’s dishes is gorgeous enough to display on your wall and Kushner’s love of food jumps out loud and clear on each of the 208 pages of this, her third cookbook.

A graduate of Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education who has developed recipes for Food and Wine and Chile Pepper magazines and has been featured in multiple media outlets, Kushner is known for recipes that extend far beyond the limits of typical kosher fare. There are no potato kugels here and definitely nothing that even remotely resembles gefilte fish – instead Kushner goes for a modern approach to food, taking advantage of seasonal items whenever possible and infusing them with a global feel. While her recipes definitely look gourmet, they were developed by a mother of four who knows all too well that real life doesn’t allow for spending hours in the kitchen slicing and stirring. Effortlessness is the key here, with Kushner favoring easy recipes that can be memorized, where flavors retain their unique personalities, creativity and tastiness go hand in hand, and though only some of the recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs of the finished product, each one come to life through the vivid descriptions that are included on every page.

First up in I Heart Kosher is a guide to kitchen and fridge and freezer must-haves, shown pictorially so that you don’t find yourself standing in Home Goods wondering what a julienne peeler looks like. Accompanying those drawings are lists of essential pantry items and spices, as well as a great tip from Kushner on using a raw potato to neutralize bad smells in your fridge. (Does it work? Since I just cleaned my refrigerator last week, I really can’t tell you, but Kushner swears that it really does.) A Ready to Go section gets you armed with tantalizing basics that can appear as building blocks in other recipes, including caramelized onions, homemade barbeque sauce, two versions of pesto and two “sips,” a term created by Kushner to refer to an item that can be used either as a sauce or a dip.

Other chapters include enticing appetizers and nibbles, brunch, stovetop main dishes, one-pan meals, hot slow and simmered, salads and sides and a great dessert section. Dazzle your guests with a farmer’s market board, filled with fresh produce, a freshly sliced baguette and an assortment of condiments, or win accolades from your family by starting off a lazy Sunday morning with French toast made out of babka instead of bread. Four ingredient Arctic char becomes a healthy, fuss-free dinner that will have everyone asking for doubles and for those cold winter nights, Kushner has slow cooked stovetop chicken paired with assorted potatoes, fennel, yellow beets, onions and a full bottle of dry white wine.

Desserts tend towards the lighter side and include watermelon slices drizzled with honey and topped with fresh basil and mint leaves, and tahini and miso accented chocolate chunk cookies that have a flair all their own. And because there are always those moments when you want something truly decadent to end your meal, Kushner’s one bowl Nutella brownies are so good that no one will ever guess that all of that ooey, gooey, goodness took just a few minutes to throw together.

Filled with showstoppers whose good looks and incredible taste belie their simplicity, I Heart Kosher is an expression of Kushner’s heart and one that will have readers saying We Heart Kim.

* * * * *

Edible Cookie Dough
Servings: 6 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 5 minutes

Remember when you were a kid and tasted/gobbled raw cookie dough? Want to give your kids (and yourself) the healthier version? We have an eggless dough that will bring back memories and create some new ones. We toasted the flour for better flavor and to avoid eating raw flour! It is the ONLY cooking step and we think it improves on what is childhood memory perfection.

 

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 cup solid coconut oil, softened at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons almond milk or coconut milk
Big pinch of kosher or sea salt

Add-ins: (any combo of these to equal 2 cups) chocolate chips, sprinkles, chopped cookies, broken pretzels, potato chips, or gummies

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place flour on baking sheet and toast at 350°F for about 5 minutes until lightly browned (this is the only cooking step!).

Transfer flour to a mixing bowl with sugars, oil, vanilla, milk, and salt. Mix together until creamy. Add combination of add-ins and serve as-is or in ice cream cones.

Store any leftover cookie dough, covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

* * * * *

Roasted Salmon Topped With Squash And Zucchini Crunchies
Makes 6–8 servings

 

A side of salmon can always feed a big crowd, and this recipe – a staple of mine – works well for guests of all ages and palates. Beautiful salmon topped with crunchy spiralized squash and zucchini ribbons: the colors are gorgeous and the taste is delicious. You just can’t go wrong. I like my crunchies really crunchy, and in order to crisp them up without burning them, once they’ve gotten 75 percent as crispy as I want them to be, I turn the oven off and leave them in there overnight.

 

Ingredients:

For The Crunchies:
2 cups (230 g) spiralized butternut squash
2 cups (230 g) spiralized zucchini
3 tablespoons melted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

For The Salmon:
1- to 3-lb (450 g–1.4 kg) side of salmon, skin removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Sea salt

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

To prepare the crunchies, in a large bowl, toss together the squash, zucchini, oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Transfer the squash and zucchini to the prepared baking sheets. Make sure you don’t overcrowd the baking sheets. If you need one more sheet, please use it. Bake until crisp, 30-40 minutes, tossing the veggies halfway through baking to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and set aside. If the squash and zucchini aren’t as crispy as you’d like them, reduce the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C) and let them bake longer. Check on them every 10 minutes.

To prepare the salmon, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the fish on the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Rub the paprika into the salmon flesh. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, about 10–15 minutes per pound.

Transfer the fish to a serving dish. Before serving, scatter the crunchies over the salmon.

Sprinkle a little sea salt over the top. The dish may be served hot or at room temperature.

 

Make-Ahead Tip: The crunchies can be made up to 4 days in advance and stored, uncovered, in a glass Pyrex dish or on baking sheets in a dry place. The salmon can be seasoned and stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours before cooking. After cooking, roasted salmon topped with crunchies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, but will be best on the day it is cooked. 

How To Reheat: Roasted salmon topped with squash and zucchini crunchies can be reheated, uncovered, in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10 minutes. Or, serve at room temperature.

Advertisement