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Monday, August 17, 2015

The New Kosher

It's undeniable that for the last few years, a revolution has been brewing in the kosher food world. From being the most boring, restricted, and least innovative sector in gastronomy, it's becoming a very promising niche thanks to a handful of gutsy, creative, and curious chefs, bloggers, entrepreneurs, foodies and food writers, who are committed into keeping the dietary laws, but who are also willing to push the boundaries of inspiration, innovation, quality and taste.

We're moving beyond margarine (yay!!!!), we're caring about seasonality, we're making kosher more dynamic, and we're refining our flavors and how we enjoy our food. We're also coming back to the flavors of our roots and combining them with global ones.  And this my friends, is exactly The New Kosher, the name Kim Kushner has not only given to her new cookbook, but a whole movement that she's representing. 

The absolutely gorgeous book is personal and welcoming. You open the tile-inspired first page and Kim opens her door for you to come into her home. You are in her in the kitchen, listening along to the same Manhattan noises and seeing her lovely children walking by. You keep reading and you prepare together with her not only delicious food that feeds the body, but meals that nourish the spirit, the family and everyone you love. 

Many people can entertain beautifully, with artfully decorated tables, the finest china, the most exotic flowers and delicious food. However, very few people are capable of making you feel at home, happy, at ease, fulfilled and completely satisfied when they host you. Full disclosure: Kim is a very dear friend of mine, a colleague, an advisor, an inspiration, and one of the only three people who presses "like" in my Instagram feeds, which makes me incapable of a completely impartial review, but which on the other hand, allows me to tell you that what you see in her book is how she is in person, and that her advice is all brilliant and her food always outstanding. If you want to create happy, fabulous worlds for people on your table, she's the authority. "My house," she says, "is not a fine-dining restaurant; it is my home. My guests are not my customers; they are my family and friends. My kitchen is not the center of my business; my kitchen is the center of my heart. When I think about food, many strong memories and traditions from my upbringing filter into everything I make. I express myself through my food. Cooking serves as a connector, a comfort in my life." 

Her recipes are not complicated--so you don't become a slave in the kitchen depleted of all energy by the time dinner comes--but they are sophisticated, fresh, modern, beautiful and each one delivers a punch of flavor and fun. Each dish is designed to please, to be shared, to make mealtimes a joy.

I personally love Kim's use of produce to make vibrant food, full of bright colors, textures, crunch, sweetness, freshness, and obviously, nutritional value. This is a huge part of The New Kosher. Chiles, rose petals, kale, heirloom tomatoes, fennel, pomelos.... Look into your old kosher cookbooks and try to find any of those!
Another feature that most be noted is that the ingredients are given in measures as well as in weight, which is awesome if you use a scale for cooking/baking, which makes the task way easier, faster, more precise and with less cleanup!

I'm looking forward to making all the recipes. So far (and I just got my book yesterday!), we're big fans of her mini meatballs in cinnamon-tomato sauce--which counts with my picky eater's seal of approval, and that judge is way tougher than the Michelin Guide's examiners...Her "bowl of crack" quinoa is probably the most amazing quinoa dish I've  ever had (and trust me, I eat loads of quinoa). Her dark chocolate bark with rose petals, pistachios & walnuts is beautiful, delicious and super easy to prepare. And those three characteristics summarize The New Kosher. 

"Bowl of Crack" Quinoa
by Kim Kushner 
Photography by Kate Sears
Weldon Owen

1 cup (8 oz/250 g) white quinoa, well rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups (5 oz/155 g) shredded kale
1 large bunch fresh dill
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 handful of toasted pine nuts, pistachios, or chopped almonds
1 handful golden raisins

In a saucepan, bring 2 cups (16 fl oz/500ml) water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Uncover and let cool for about 10 minutes, and then transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Stir in the kale.
Use a chef's knife to chop the dill, cilantro, and parsley into teeny-tiny pieces (I use the stems too). Doing this by hand is important because the food processor will make the herbs mushy. Throw the herbs into the bowl. Add the lemon juice, lime juice, oil and vinegar and toss to mix well. Stir in the pine nuts and raisins and season well with salt and pepper. The quinoa will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Serves 4-6