Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Rage To Nosh

A Rage To Nosh

In honor of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I thought it might be fun to share some of the Jewish flavored cookbooks I have in my collection.
First up we have Jewish Cookery "in accordance with Jewish Dietary Laws" by Leah W. Leonard. I'm pretty sure this book, when first published in 1949, came with a dust jacket. Unfortunately, my 1957 edition does not. I should probably be thankful that I have a copy at all. Jewish Cookery is one of those cookbooks that is passed down from generation to generation. Not only does it include recipes for traditional Jewish dishes, it also gives instructions for maintaining a Kosher kitchen, suggestions for Sabbath and holiday meals, including complete guidelines for Passover. It also covers a basic nutritional and technical introduction to cooking, and so much more. It's an unassuming looking book containing 465 pages of recipes. From the Preface:

...The Jewish people, like all other people, have food customs traditionally associated with their daily lives, their holidays and festivals, celebrations in the home and out of it. In addition to these regulations are prescribed in a code of dietary laws, from the slaughter of animals used for food and regulations of other foods, to the kinds of dishes prepared for special holidays and festivals as well as the Sabbath. These food traditions have accumulated through the long, historic experience of the Jewish people. Some food customs and traditions cluster about historic events that have become the basis for annual observance. All of this has contributed to the national continuity of an ancient people...
While Jewish homes have always been symbols of hospitality, and the Jewish cook famous for skill, it was not until 1826 that a Jewish cookbook was published in London. It was entitled The Jewish Manual edited "by a Lady." In this collection of recipes gathered from many sources there are remarkably few "traditional" Jewish dishes.
The earliest American Jewish Cookbook was the work of Mrs. Esther Levy, published in 1871...

The Hebrew Calendar

As you can imagine, the assortment of recipes in Jewish Cookery is vast. I've chosen this recipe for Homemade Mead simply because September is also National Honey Month. In my travels, I also just discovered that August 3rd is Mead Day. That info is courtesy of Time Magazine. I've added it to my list for August. Perhaps next year we will "investigate":)
Homemade Mead
(Old-Fashioned Recipe)
2 ounces dry hops
2 gallons strained honey
8 gallons water
1-1/2 ounces white ginger (optional)
2 lemons, sliced very thin

Tie the hops in a cheesecloth. Combine water and honey in a large vessel, add ginger, hops, and lemon. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and let cook gently 30 minutes. Skim as necessary through the cooking process. Let mead cool in the vessel before straining through a double layer of fine cheesecloth into a wooden cask. Do not fill cask more than 2/3 full to permit fermentation without overflow.

Let stand at room temperature uncorked until fermentation stops, approximately 3 weeks. Bottle if desired and store in a cool dark place until wanted. To produce a dark amber mead, add 1 cup of sugar which has been heated over moderate heat until dark brown. This may be added to some of the mead after fermentation stops if 2 varieties of this delicious beverage are desired. Yields approximately 8 gallons. For smaller quantity, reduce ingredients accordingly.

Here's a recipe for Eretz Israel Honey Cake. You will notice the recipe calls for 1 wineglass of raspberry syrup. According to this Heirloom Weights & Measures Conversion Chart, a wineglass of raspberry syrup would be equal to 1/4 cup.

Eretz Israel Honey Cake

A Rage to Nosh pictured at the top of this page, was written by Ruth and Bob Grossman. The Grossmans authored numerous cookbooks in their day, many of them with a Jewish flavor. The list includes The Chinese-Kosher Cookbook, Italian Kosher Cookbook, and the French-Kosher Cookbook.
With a copyright date of 1966, A Rage to Nosh is touted as "a blend of sophisticated taste with rib-tickling humor." I don't know about the sophisticated taste, but I do agree there is some humor between these pages. From the Preface:

...The art of noshing has been finely perfected through the ages by a long list of famous noshers. The first nosh of all time was the forbidden apple with which the serpent of the Garden of Eden tempted Eve. This must have been the first in a long series of low calorie snacks; for in all the world of art depicting the first couple, whoever heard of a fat Adam and Eve?
Probably the most famous of all noshers was the portly King Henry VIII of England. His sumptuous dinners were the envy of all citizens. They would last for hours and were as beautiful to behold as they were to devour. And between each course were served noshes of every size and description from the far corners of the globe. Henry, who had a particular passion for drumsticks (they say his mother made delicious chicken soup) had the nasty habit of throwing the bones over his shoulder with great gust and excellent aim...
However, no one deserves more credit for encouraging hundreds of generations of noshers than the ubiquitous Jewish mother who is famous for her tons of stuffed cabbage, schools of gefullte fish and mountains of chopped liver. Lest she violate the Dietary Laws, she has seldom wandered from these traditional viands of the Kosher table prepared from century honed recipes...

With recipes like Picasso Party Mix, and Mrs. Hill's Herring Salad, most of the recipes in this slender book are not quite out of the ordinary.

Picasso Chex Party Mix
Mrs. Hill's Herring Salad

However, I did find this recipe for Rum Toast a bit "telling."

Rum Toast

For dessert we have Kissel from The Gourmet Guide to Jewish Cooking published in 1973 and authored by Phyllis Oberman & Bessie Carr. Kissel was a new dessert to me. I hadn't heard of it before so I did a couple of quick "look-ups" to get a better understanding. In its simplest form, Kisel is a puréed fruit dessert thickened with either cornstarch or potato flour. It is quite popular in Russia. It seems to be amazingly adaptable utilizing most fruits and berries of the season and I love the notion that it can be served either warm or cold. I will definitely be looking out for more recipes:) enjoy, Louise