I continue to collect cookbooks despite the seduction of those powerful search engines that can bring up 75 recipes for chocolate chip cookies in two secs. My kosher cookbook collection is impressive. I also have my share of vegetarian, Italian and Israeli volumes mixed in.
Hocherman encourages “cultural borrowing” of flavors and ideas in recipes like “My miso-glazed black cod”. The big news is that kosher miso and sake are now available. She offers her recipe for “ Creme Brulee” with options for using coconut milk (parave!) as a substitute for heavy cream. Kosher cooks suddenly have a huge and varied array of ingredients at our finger tips that were not available even five years ago.
In most of her recipes, she offers lots of options for converting the recipe from dairy to meat or parave, and sometimes from all year to Pesach (Passover). This beautifully photographed volume begins with an indispensable chapter called “the pantry”.
She describes the characteristics of specific ingredients like almond and hazelnut milks, her preferred brand and what they are best used for. She also lists less familiar ingredients like konnyaku ( a Japanese fish flavored, vegan product made from yam flour) that she uses to make dumpling fillings. “The pantry” opens up exciting possibilities for even the most capable home cooks.
I found all of the recipes to be clearly written and straightforward, thanks to the style of her co-author Arthur Boehm, who has written many cookbooks and lends a distinctive and friendly voice.
In addition to anecdotal introductions to the recipes and a clear coding system (meat, Dairy, Parave), this volume pulls “convert it” instructions out of the recipe itself and uses a helpful side bar to lend clarity. Each recipe also includes “Geila’s Tips”.
Here is a fascinating and useful one, “Check the bottom of the eggplants you buy. If the pip there is round, the plant is female; if long, it is male. Male eggplants have fewer seeds.” WHO KNEW?!
I met Hocherman and Boehm at Macy’s in NYC this week, where Hocherman presented two recipes to a full crowd in the demo kitchen.
I loved the easy to make and richly flavored Pignoli Cookies. Here’s how to make these parave Italian bites.
- 8 oz. almond paste
- ¼ c. confectioners’ sugar
- ½ c. sugar
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. pine nuts
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the almond paste and sugars and process until the mixture reaches the consistency of sand. Transfer to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a medium bowl. Add the egg white, vanilla, and almond extracts. Beat on medium speed or by hand for 4 minutes.
- Place the pine nuts in a small bowl. Next to it place a bowl of water for wetting your hands. Wet your hands and form 11/2-2 inch balls with the paste mixture, making 5 at a time. Drop them in to the bowl of nuts and press down gently so the nuts adhere to the bottom of the balls.
- Transfer to a cookie sheet nut side up. Repeat, filling each prepared cookie sheet with about 15 balls.
- Bake until puffed and beginning to color, 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the parchment paper on a countertop. When completely cool, peel the cookies off the paper and serve.