Divine Kosher Cuisine

A Book Review by Norene Gilletz


I have a huge collection of nearly 2,000 cookbooks on my bookshelves and scattered throughout every room of my house. My collection continues to grow because of the many books that cross my desk for review. For the past several months, I had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Divine Kosher Cuisine by Barbara Wasser and Rise Routenberg as I wanted to review the book for my Passover column. I was totally blown away when I finally received the proofs. What a labor of love!

Divine Kosher Cuisine sells for $32.95 U.S. plus shipping. For information on ordering, call 518-344-1190 or visit their website at www.divinekosher.com.

Companion software will be available for $9.95 so you can scale recipes up or down, create menus, shopping lists and even add your own notes.

Divine Kosher Cuisine is a fundraising project of Congregation Agudat Achim in Niskayuna, NY. It took co-authors, Barbara Wasser and Rise Routenberg, and their committee of 150 volunteers nearly two years to test, perfect and compile this collection of over 350 recipes. Barbara and Rise operated the shul’s catering division, As You Like It Catering, the premier Kosher caterer in the region. They have even prepared dinners for the New York State Legislature and the Governors Mansion.

The hard-covered book is beautifully designed, with a special layflat binding for easy use. There are over 200 color photographs that leap right off the pages…and onto your plate (don’t you wish)! The fabulous photos, which were taken by congregant Harvey Mendelson and styled by Rise and Barbara, are extremely professional. Divine Kosher addresses all aspects of cooking Kosher, confronts a variety of culinary and dietary challenges and provides solutions with a flair and confidence that will be appreciated by both novice and gourmet cooks. The authors have paid meticulous attention to every detail to create an outstanding visual and culinary work of art. In fact, the tapestry that hangs in the shul’s lobby graces the cover as well as every page of the book to provide a visual feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Divine Kosher Cuisine brings Kosher cooking to the 21st century, with recipes ranging from traditional to trendy, plus many creative new spins on old favorites for everyday, holidays or entertaining. Since both Barbara and Rise have children who are vegetarians, they’ve included a complete chapter of vegetarian recipes and also offer many non-dairy substitutions throughout the book. There are many recipes from around the world as well as a signature dessert section, with elegant endings for special occasions. You’ll find helpful hints, wine suggestions, table settings, menu planning, a chapter on catering…in short, something for everyone! There are two full menu choices for each Jewish holiday, with alternatives. Every recipe has a pareve, dairy, meat and/or Passover designation. There are 130 recipes suitable for Passover, and 70 of them are for non-gbrochts dishes which are identified by the key Non-G. (Some traditions prohibit foods that mix baked matzoh (or matzoh by-products) with water, known as gbrocht foods.)

The best of the best include Greek Charoset, Signature Whitefish, Apple Brie Soup, Potato Cheese Lasagna, Grilled Chicken Breast with Tomato Salsa, Layered Sweet Potatoes and Apples and Signature Almond Horns. Here are some favorite Passover dishes recommended by Rise and Barbara for your enjoyment. Chag Pesach Sameach!

BAKED EGGPLANT STACK (Non-Gbrochts, Pareve)

Versatile in every way, this dish may be served with any entree, and used for Passover. Prepare in advance and freeze, baked or unbaked.

2 1/2 pounds eggplant, zebra stripe and cut into 1/2-inch slices
Olive oil for brushing

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease cookie sheets.

2. Salt eggplant lightly and place in colander. Press plate over eggplant slices and weight down with cans. Drain 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Place eggplant slices on sheet, brush with oil and roast until tender but firm.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups drained canned tomatoes, chopped

1. Heat oil in medium saucepan and sauté garlic until soft.

2. Add tomatoes and simmer 20 minutes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups drained canned tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup drained pitted black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in medium saucepan and sauté garlic and onions until soft. Add tomatoes and olives; reduce heat and simmer uncovered, 15 minutes.

2. Add 4 teaspoons parsley, thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper.


1. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet.

2. Spoon 2 tablespoons sauce in 6 puddles on sheet. Divide and layer eggplant onto sauce. Cover with topping and remaining sauce. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley before serving.

Yield: 6 servings.



This “spring style” Italian dish combines the classic primavera veggies with apricots and cranberries mixed with quinoa (keenwa), a creamy white grain. This South American product has a light texture and delicate flavor.

2 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup quinoa
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring broth, bay leaf and salt to boil in soup pot.

2. Add quinoa and return to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until quinoa absorbs liquid. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf and cool.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet and sauté vegetables until lightly browned. Add to quinoa.

4. Drizzle remaining oil and lemon juice over mixture. Stir in dried fruit, herbs, salt and pepper.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.


2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9 x 13-inch pan.

2. Prepare Fruited Quinoa Primavera.

3. Cut 1/2-inch off bottoms of squash. Brush inside with oil.

4. Stuff each half generously with quinoa mixture and place in pan. Cover and bake 45 minutes or until squash is tender.

Yield: 4 servings.



A frequent visitor over the years to her local family who belong to Congregation Agudat Achim, Dr. Ruth Westheimer calls this nut torte her Passover favorite.

Potato starch for dusting pan
12 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups finely ground walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms. Line each pan with parchment paper, grease again and dust with potato starch.

2. Beat yolks on high speed with electric mixer until thick. Add sugar and lemon juice and beat until light yellow. Mix in nuts.

3. Beat whites in separate bowl at high speed with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold gently into yolk mixture.

4. Divide batter into pans and bake until golden brown or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Loosen edges with knife immediately after removing pans from oven.

5. Cool completely. Remove from pans and peel off parchment.

16 ounces heavy cream
4 teaspoons sugar

Whip cream at high speed with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

8 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Combine all ingredients and whip at high speed with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.


1. Place 1 cake layer on plate and top with scant half of Frosting #1.

2. Top with 2nd layer and spread with Frosting #2. Top with 3rd layer.

3. Frost top and sides with remainder of Frosting #1. Decorate with chocolate curls and chill until serving.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Divine Kosher Cuisine
by Barbara Wasser & Rise Routenberg


To Order Tel. 518-344-1190 or visit www.divinekosher.com

Click here for Purim recipes from Divine Kosher Cuisine

Click here for Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe