As a child, I loved to thumb through my grandmother’s well-loved collection of community fundraiser cookbooks. They were delightfully rustic, typed up on a typewriter and with few (or any) graphics to speak of, but full of treasured family recipes and stories. As an adult, I love collecting fundraiser cookbooks (especially vintage ones) from temples and communities across the US and Canada.
Twenty-three years ago, the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, New Jersey self-published a cookbook, The Kosher Palette, as a fundraiser, with the entire school community involved in submitting and testing recipes. According to co-editor Sandra Blank, the process of recipe collection and testing was both extremely thorough and created a tremendous amount of community engagement along with excitement around the book.
“We sent out a request for recipe submissions to the entire Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School community. The recipes were divided by grouping of recipes, each grouping was tested, tasted and rated at a different community member’s home. For example, one night was soups, another dessert, etc. After the final recipes were selected, they were all retested twice to include any changes or edits and make sure they were clear and accurate. The beauty of the process was that we started with everyone’s favorite recipes and moved forward from there. As part of the retesting process, we would test recipes in our homes with company, and one of our guests enjoyed the soup so much he was in the kitchen eating the last little bit out of the pot!!”
The Kosher Palette was notable in several ways: there were full-page color photos, clearly organized sections, and artistic tips in the sidebars showcased flower arrangements, table settings, and suggested wine and beverage recommendations to help home cooks nourish and entertain family and guests. The over 300 recipes feature personal anecdotes and stories from the more than 200 kosher cooks who contributed to The Kosher Palette, and the book quickly became a favorite in thousands of homes. With its polished production value, The Kosher Palette revolutionized kosher cookbooks, including launching Susie Fishbein’s career as the author of nine cookbooks in the “Kosher by Design” series, which have sold half a million copies, and paving the way for a thriving modern kosher cookbook market.
The original spiral-bound version of The Kosher Palette sold 80,000 copies and raised $1.5 million for the school. The first edition eventually went out of print, with used copies fetching steep prices. Twenty-two years after the initial release, ArtScroll has released The Kosher Palette Revised Anniversary Edition, which features nutritional advice, healthier alternatives, and details on ingredient swaps. The beautifully designed hardcover remains faithful to the familiar layout and design of the original, and will make a treasured gift or sturdy replacement for your own dog-eared copy.
Sandra adds, “This book is a classic – because at its essence are favorite, tested recipes that are timeless. This book was groundbreaking and transformational and a pioneer that altered the face of kosher cooking. Another aspect we considered is that today some people eat differently than they did 20 years ago, so we made some universal changes such as vegetable oil and margarine, wherever appropriate, to canola oil or a neutral oil. In addition, we worked with an alumna, Danielle Stark, a registered dietitian nutritionist, to create a two-page spread offering healthier swaps and alternatives.”
The beautiful combination of elegant cuisine like stuffed breast of veal, pine nut crusted chicken with garlic and white wine, braised lamb shanks with rosemary and garlic, and chili-crusted tuna steak sits comfortably alongside traditional favorites like golden chicken soup with light and fluffy matzoh balls, sweet and sour brisket, ultimate homemade gefilte fish, kasha varnishkes, and heavenly bread machine challah, which has become my family’s new favorite recipe.
The Kosher Palette was also groundbreaking in creating recipes that have been staples in many kosher kitchens. Recipes like Chocolate Chip Sticks, London Broil With Rosemary, and Strawberry Mesclun Salad, have been made hundreds of times, and are favorites still to this day.
I’ve made a number of recipes from The Kosher Palette Revised Anniversary Edition for my family, including soups, poultry, meats, and breads. The golden chicken soup with light and fluffy matzoh balls is rich with veggies, including parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onion, and the matzoh balls are perfection (I used schmaltz in mine), and the bread machine challah is my family’s new favorite recipe (I’ve been making several loaves a week to keep up with the demand!). I use fresh yeast (21 grams, equal to 2 and 1/4 tsp) and add two extra egg yolks for a total of five, and this beautifully golden, rich dough braids like a dream and stays fresh for almost a week (if it lasts that long!). There is plenty of dough to make a six-strand challah, and your bread machine does all the hard work.
We also tried the lemon chicken with capers: thinly-pounded cutlets are dredged, seared, and topped with a reduction of pan drippings, white wine, lemon juice and capers. And the sweet and sour brisket features a delicious mix of cranberries, beer, brown sugar, ketchup, garlic, and onions that will have everyone coming back for seconds (or thirds!).
So come (re)discover why thousands of cooks have fallen in love with The Kosher Palette and have gifted copies to their children as they set up their own homes. As Sandra puts it, “The important thing to know about this book is it offers timeless recipes and tips whose flavors are as relevant today as they were 20+ years ago and is an essential to every home. Use it as a guide- have fun and enjoy your culinary journey!!”
To tide you over until your copy arrives from Amazon or ArtScroll, here is the Golden Chicken Soup with Light and Fluffy Matzoh Balls and Heavenly Bread Machine Challah courtesy of ArtScroll:
Golden Chicken Soup with Light and Fluffy Matzoh Balls
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Golden Chicken Soup:
2 and 1/2 quarts water
1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken
1 large onion, peeled
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into disks
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
Light and Fluffy Matzoh Balls Batter:
2 cups matzoh meal
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1. Combine matzoh meal, eggs, oil, water, and salt in a medium bowl and mix with a fork until well blended. Cover and refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes. Yield: 2 and 1/2 cups (enough for 12 to 14 matzoh balls)
2. Bring water to boil in a large soup pot. Remove liver and giblets from chicken; save for other uses or discard. (If the whole chicken will not fit in the pot, cut into smaller pieces).
3. Add chicken, onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 hours.
4. Remove onion and discard. Transfer chicken to a platter; cool slightly. Remove meat from bones; set aside.
5. Bring soup to a rolling boil. Wet hands slightly with water and form heaping tablespoons of the matzoh mixture into balls. Drop into boiling soup. Cover tightly and reduce heat to a low boil. Boil for 30 to 40 minutes. Or alternatively, drop matzoh balls into a pot of salted boiling water or chicken stock. When they fluff, remove them and place into soup. (This keeps the matzoh balls from “drinking” up all the soup.)
6. Return chicken to soup. Cook over medium-high heat until thoroughly heated.
7. Serve hot and include chicken, carrots, parsnips, and sweet potato in each serving.
Heavenly Bread Machine Challah
Yield: 1 challah
2 and 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon bread flour
1/4 cup plus 2 heaping tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 and 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large egg yolks
1 cup water
2 and 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
Nonstick cooking spray
1. Place flour, sugar, salt, oil, yolks, water, and yeast into the bread machine according to manufacturer’s directions (Usually dry ingredients on the bottom.) (Place yeast in separate yeast holder, if equipped.) Process ingredients in dough cycle. Remove immediately.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces and roll each portion into a thick rope. Place the three pieces side by side on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and pinch the top ends together. Braid dough and pinch ends together. Cover challah with a towel; let stand for 30 minutes.
4. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy and sesame seeds.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown and challah sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on wire rack.