BOOK REVIEW BY NORENE GILLETZ  

Crowning Elegance: A Kosher Culinary Experience
Book Review by Norene Gilletz

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ELEGANCE FOR ANY SPECIAL OCCASION

Concern about what to serve family and friends on special occasions is a major topic of conversation for many people I know. If you are faced with the challenge of preparing a special meal, here are some terrific offerings from, Crowning Elegance: A Kosher Culinary Experience (now out of print), a fundraising project of Arie Crown Hebrew Day School in Skokie, Ill.

Crowning Elegance:
A Kosher Culinary Experience

ed. Valerie Kanter
Arie Crown Hebrew Day School

Out of Print

This hard-cover book with wipe-clean pages is a unique compilation of extraordinary dishes, with nearly 300 recipes, many with wine recommendations. It also features 180 fabulous colour photographs (including step-by-step directions on how to braid a six-strand challah). There is also a helpful index of recipes with 15 minutes or less prep time.

If youre looking for a recipe for chicken soup, matzah balls or kugel, you wont find it in Crowning Elegance. Recipes include crowd-pleasers such as Chicken and Pastrami in Pastry, Fragrant Persian Rice and Poached Pears Stuffed with Chocolate Sauce. There are interesting variations of old favourites, like Spicy Gefilte Fish in Tomato Sauce, Seven-Grain Challah and Lazy Texas Brisket.

We didnt want to include recipes that everyone who keeps kosher already has, said editor Valerie Kanter, a Brooklyn native and mother of five whose Syrian background inspired her passion for cooking and entertaining. Were getting a positive response from all directions, including Israel, Japan and Canada! My 12-year old son and his classmates are all cooking from the book!

The recipes below are excellent for any celebration. If you are making a turkey, dont forget to save the carcass and use it for this amazing chowder. It was a big hit when it was served at the photo shoot. The photographer loved it!

TURKEY CHOWDER

Be prepared to offer second helpings of this soup. You may find yourself making turkey just so you can have the leftovers for this crowd pleasing recipe.

Stock:
1 roasted turkey carcass, meat removed
1 large onion, quartered
2 ribs celery
1 tsp. fresh rubbed sage
1 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup non-dairy creamer

Soup:
2 tbsp. sweet unsalted margarine
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
10 oz. frozen, canned or fresh corn kernels
3 to 4 cups diced, cooked turkey
salt and black pepper to taste
chives or scallions, chopped for garnish

Stock: Break carcass into pieces to fit in an 8-quart stock pot. Place over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, sage, allspice, poultry seasoning, chicken broth and non-dairy creamer. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours. Strain stock into a large pot.

Soup: In an 8-quart stock pot over medium heat, melt margarine. Add onion and sweet potatoes. Cook, stirring until onions are transparent, about 10 minutes. Raise heat to high, add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until sweet potatoes mash easily, about 20 minutes. Mash potatoes coarsely with a fork. Add corn and turkey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook through until turkey is heated. Garnish individual servings with chives or scallions.

Serves 10.

CLASSIC ROAST TURKEY

A basic delicious turkey. Carving the turkey in advance and reheating in gravy ensures the turkey will be moist.

1 (12 to 17-lb.) whole fresh turkey
1 large red delicious apple, washed, dried and cored
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
2 to 3 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 large Spanish onions, sliced into rings
1/3 cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 350F. Place apple in cavity of turkey. Rub oil all over turkey. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika and rosemary.

Lay onion slices on bottom of a large roasting pan. Place turkey, breast side up on top of onions. Pour orange juice around turkey. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for about 3 to 5 hours or until meat thermometer placed in thickest part of breast, not touching bone, reads 180F. Remove foil and baste turkey with pan juices. Cook uncovered for an additional 20 minutes to brown. Let cool before carving.

Preheat oven to 350F. After turkey is carved, return to roasting pan and spoon gravy and onions on top of turkey. Reseal with aluminum foil. Reheat for approximately 25 minutes before serving.

Serves 12.

SCRUMPTIOUS SAGE STUFFING

Using fresh sage and fresh breadcrumbs gives this cornbread stuffing an edge that sets it apart from a standard stuffing. It can be prepared a day in advance and kept covered in refrigerator. When ready to cook bring to room temperature before baking.

Cornbread:
non-stick cooking spray
1/2 cup flour
3/8 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup non-dairy creamer or soy milk, mixed with 1/2 tbsp. vinegar
1 egg
1/8 cup margarine, melted and cooled
1/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage, optional

Stuffing:
8 cups course fresh breadcrumbs, a mixture from several types of bread
approximately 4 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup margarine
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 medium ribs celery, finely chopped
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup chicken or turkey broth
1/2 cup high-fat content original soy milk
non-stick cooking spray

Corn Bread: Preheat oven to 425F. Prepare a greased (9x5x3-inch) loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, combine non-dairy creamer with vinegar, egg, melted margarine and sage. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Spread into prepared loaf pan. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack then coarsely crumble.

Stuffing: Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a well greased (9x13x2-inch) baking dish.
Spread breadcrumbs onto 2 (15x10-inch) jelly-roll pans. Place in oven for about 15 minutes. Let cool. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in parsley, sage, salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt margarine. Add onions and saut for about 5 minutes. Add celery and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to breadcrumb mixture. Add eggs, broth and soy milk. Toss well.

Pour contents of large bowl into prepared baking dish. Bake covered in oven, which is still at 325F, for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes until well browned.

Serves 10.

SHERRY GLAZED GRAPE TART WITH PECAN CRUST

This picture perfect tart is made with a pecan crust. The dough is simply pushed into a fluted tart pan, ideal for those who prefer not to roll out dough.

Crust:
1/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted at 350 for 5 minutes, cooled
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup margarine cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:
1/2 cup sherry
1 cup grape jelly
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 to 3 pounds small red seedless grapes, washed, dried and stems discarded

Crust: Grease a (10-inch) round, fluted tart pan, with a removable bottom.

In the bowl of a food processor, process together the pecans and brown sugar. Pulse until finely ground but not a paste. Add flour, margarine, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Pulse until combined with large clumps.

Turn mixture out onto a clean work surface. Knead for 2 minutes to form a dough. Press dough into tart pan, on bottom and up the sides. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Locate oven rack to lower third of oven. Bake crust until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. When cooled carefully remove sides of pan.

Filling: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sherry and jelly. Stir occasionally. Reduce to 1 cup, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Reserve 2 tablespoons of glaze for drizzling over completed tart.

In a large bowl combine sherry mixture, minus 2 tbsp., with grapes until grapes are well coated. Pour coated grapes into prepared shell.

Before serving drizzle tart with reserved glaze. Serves 8.


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