When Amy Rosen started to describe the food enjoyed in the kitchens of North American Jewish families in her latest book Kosher Style as “tast[ing] like gold and ooz[ing] warmth” she had my interest — what could be better than what promised to be a cookbook full of the ultimate comfort food? And, I really appreciate how she offers these beautiful recipes to anyone who loves food and cooking whether they’re Jewish or not. For those non-Jewish home cooks, like myself, she gives much information on what it means to “eat Kosher” or “Kosher style,” a glossary of Jewish Terms (I was surprised how many I already knew), and the uncomplicated way she stocks her pantry.
This book cooks up like a cookbook — it has all of the great recipes accompanied by delicious-looking, well-styled pictures — but it also reads a bit like a travelogue and a bit like a memoir (and don’t get me started on those delightful Alanna Cavanagh illustrations). With each new chapter Rosen presents a short story relating to the food within that chapter — like her recipes, her storytelling invites the reader to enjoy. Her recipes are organized into five chapters — Brunch & Schmears, Soups & Such, Noshes & Sides, Eat! Eat!, and A Little Something Sweet. Rosen’s recipes suit a range of home cooking abilities — none of the recipes are difficult although some may take more time to make than others (hey, Bialys! I’m looking at you!). That being said, many of the recipes I tried could be made for dinner any day during your busiest week. In the middle of trying out recipes for this review my daughter had started kindergarten and within the first week had gotten her first school cold! But you know what? Kosher Style had me covered — with a batch of Matzo Ball Soup my daughter felt better! Although I made my soup vegetarian it still felt like a hug in a bowl (maybe even more medicinal than the chicken noodle soup I used to have when I got sick as a kid). With all the recipes I tried, each recipe felt like best kind of comfort food.
When my daughter chose Kichel: Rainbow Nothings (what she named the “Party Cookies” when she saw the picture) to make, I inwardly cringed a little bit because they a) took over a dozen eggs (in a combination of yolks and whole eggs) to make and b) I would need to watch my stand mixer beat the dough on low for about 20 minutes. Neither of which particularly appealed to me but, as I often find when I feel this way about a recipe, when I make the recipe it’ll turn out wonderfully and be one that I’ll keep making. Once the dough was rolled out and pressed into the sugar and sprinkles, I could see the look of glee and anticipation on my little one’s face. The resulting cookies are much more that the name implies — if you saw Katie bite into her first Kichel her face said everything. This light and crisp cookie covered with sugar and sprinkles was every bit the party that they looked, and I think it’s become the most requested cookie in my house.
It was the picture of Rosen’s Bialys: Soft Onion Buns that stopped me in my tracks as I flipped through her book — golden and plump with a tiny dollop of baked onion and poppy seed. Those buns sitting on the cooling wrack looked so inviting that I decided to bake my own! As with the Kichel, making the Bialys is made easier using a stand mixer. Once you’ve let the machine do all the kneading then you cover the beautifully smooth dough to rise (the first of many rises the dough will go through). As with her other recipes, the Bialys didn’t disappoint — big and pillowy, they were only made better with a giant swipe of butter. As a side conversation, part of her recipe head notes mentions The Bialy Eaters, a book by Mimi Sheraton, in which she explores the history behind these iconic buns. Happy for any book to lead me on the path to learning about other great books what I found is that both Sheraton and Rosen show the lasting nature of the humble, delicious food and the importance of tradition.
I found that Kosher Style has many great meal ideas — one of my favourites because it’s fresh and so quick to make is the Orange & Carrot Salad. It’s exactly what Rosen says in the recipe head notes, “It’s a reminder that a few simple ingredients can come together to make a greater whole” and, so, with the long and loopy carrots ribbons, juicy orange segments, red onion, mint, red pepper flakes and an easy dressing this salad tasted so extra and looked exquisite on the plate. The whole here is greater than the sum of its ingredients. While it makes a colourful side addition at any meal, I made it a big meal for one (don’t judge) on an afternoon when I was just making lunch for myself. I probably should have waited and served it along with the Roasted Garlic & Three-Cheese Skillet Pizza I made my family, but I decided to treat myself. Speaking of that pizza, it’s an incredible combination of Parm, mozzarella, and goat cheese made even better by smearing jammy roasted garlic all over the crust to start and drizzling honey to finish. I really appreciate that Rosen advocates the use of store-bought dough here and the resulting pizza will end any relationship to a pizzeria you might have — she shows how you can achieve pizza magic using a hot oven and a cast iron skillet.
Like the food she describes, after trying her recipes I feel like Rosen herself is totally golden and oozes warmth. Through her recipes she invites home cooks everywhere to enjoy traditional Jewish food. Kosher Style is book full of delicious recipes that I’ll continue to make and share with my family! If you’re curious to see what I’ve been making, then visit my dedicated Facebook post or custom Instagram hashtag #eatworthykosherstyle.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Appetite by Random House for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.