Adventures in Jewish Cooking

Book Review by Norene Gilletz

If you are you tired of the same old brisket and kugel, you will be inspired by Jeffrey Nathan’s innovative, passionate approach to kosher cooking in Adventures in Jewish Cooking. This is Nathan’s first cookbook, with over 150 contemporary, creative recipes, clearly labeled as dairy, meat or pareve, plus substitutions to adjust recipes for a meat or dairy meal.

Inspired by Jewish cuisines from around the globe plus a diverse palette of other ethnic flavours, Jeff Nathan captures the spirit of Jewish cooking while exploring a whole world of sophisticated flavours. His recipes observe the laws of Kashruth, while setting a new standard for kosher cuisine with his inventive dishes and outstanding presentations.

You’ll find lots of valuable cooking tips from this extremely creative chef, who is also the host of the top-rated PBS show, New Jewish Cuisine. (Unfortunately the show is not available in Canada.)

He is the executive chef and co-owner of Abigael’s in New York City, which serves new Jewish cuisine – elegant and delicious renditions of ethnic food from all over the world. Jeff Nathan wants his customers to think of Abigael’s not as a Kosher restaurant, but as a great restaurant that just happens to be kosher.

Adventures in Jewish Cooking includes an innovative offering of year-round menus for the major Jewish holidays, including two creative menus that are perfect for your Passover Seders. There are mouthwatering colour photographs that almost leap off the page, including Gefilte Fish Terrine with Carrot and Beet Salads, Sephardic Chicken Soup with Sofrito and Saffron Matzo Balls, and Passover Banana Cake with Strawberry-Marsala Compote. The book includes many recipes for Abigael’s most famous dishes, presented exactly as they are served at the restaurant.. No doubt about it, you’ll just have to add this book to your cookbook collection!


On the Passover plate, haroset may represent the mortar and bricks the Hebrews used to build the Egyptian pyramids, but that doesn’t mean it should look like mud, according to Jeffrey Nathan. His haroset has a bright golden color (thank you, mangoes) and an intriguing exotic flavor that everyone at the table will enjoy – even those picky eaters who have been spreading the same haroset on their matzo for the last few decades.

1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup pecan halves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. peeled, shredded, minced fresh ginger (use the large holes on a box grater)
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2/3 cup seedless red grapes, quartered
1/2 cup pitted dates, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup sweet white wine
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. Roughly chop walnuts, pecans and cinnamon in a food processor along with sugar and ginger. Transfer chopped nut mixture to a medium bowl.

2. Stir in mangoes, grapes and dates. Gently stir in wine and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to blend flavors, about 2 hours. (Can be made up to 1 day ahead.)

Makes 3 1/2 cups

* * * * *


The orange and ginger essence gives this under-utilized vegetable a flavor that is incredible. You can also serve it with roast chicken.

2/3 cup orange marmalade
2 tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp. dry white wine
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Two 1 1/2-pound acorn squashes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, flesh pierced well with a fork
3 tbsp. unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted (see Note)

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

2. Bring marmalade, ginger, wine, lemon juice and nutmeg to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Brush the cut side of the squash with a light coating of the glaze, reserving remaining glaze. Place the squash, glazed side down, on the baking sheet. Bake until the squash is tender when pierced with a meat fork, 40 to 45 minutes.

3. Cut each squash in half lengthwise to make two wedges. Return the squash to baking sheet, cut sides up. Brush generously with remaining glaze. Bake to set the glaze, about 5 minutes.

4. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Serve hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: To toast coconut, spread on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven, stirring often, until toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. They tend to brown quickly, so keep an eye on them.

Adventures in Jewish Cooking
by Jeffrey Nathan

Clarkson Potter
Cdn. $48.50

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