Book Festival cookbook for busy cooks

October 31, 2014

Book Reviews

Kosher Cuisine: For a New Generation
Cantor Mitch, The Singing Chef
Red Portal Press, 2014
168pp., $16.95, ISBN 978-1-938063-53-4

On Thursday, Nov. 6, at noon, Cantor Mitch Kowitz will be present in partnership with Beth Sholom Village and Jewish Family Service as part of the Lee and Bernard Jaffe* Family Jewish Book Festival at the Simon Family JCC. Cantor Mitch progressed from vegetable cutter to prep chef to sous chef over a decade while performing off-Broadway and attending cantorial school.

Your reviewer was immediately faced with a conundrum. Certain to question this cookbook (kosher cuisine and singing?), a collection of recipes using a lot of prepared foods, how would he exercise his reviewerly independence without being negative about a featured Book Festival speaker? A second look at the subtitle, For a New Generation, and at the targeted market for Kosher Cuisine, adults, primarily ages 20–40, and a discussion with my grandson’s wife, Hava, who teaches preschool, has two very active very young children and maintains a kosher kitchen, resolved my concern. Recently, Hava thanked me for the kosher cookbooks I had given her in the past, but commented that many of the recipes were very time-consuming—time she rarely has. Unexpectedly, I experienced a “eureka moment!” Cantor Mitch’s collection was made to order for her!

Are you ready for this? Swedish meatballs using a 12-ounce jar of grape jelly and a 12-ounce bottle of chili sauce? Nine chicken recipes using kosher skinless chicken breasts, almost all table ready in 10 to 12 minutes? Five quiche dishes using prepared pie dough? And the eagerly anticipated brisket recipe using packaged dried onion soup—possibly first introduced in the Women’s Home Companion in 1955 and still a great standard. The Women’s’ Home Companion sadly folded in April, 2014, after 131 years—but four generations of Sacks still use the packaged onion soup.

Mitch brings kosher cooking to the current generation of working parents and adds song and music pairings for each dish. Come to think of it, I daresay many older cooks who have done it “from scratch” for two or three generations will welcome some of these simple and delicious-sounding recipes.

—Hal Sacks is a retired Jewish communal worker who has reviewed books for Jewish News for more than 30 years.

Letter to the Editor