Book Review: The Healthy Jewish Kitchen and Potato And Scallion Latkes With Pickled Applesauce

Next Tuesday night marks the beginning of Chanukah, the 8-day festival of lights, which is celebrated by Jews around the world. While it’s usually just the kids who get gifts, here’s a special gift for someone who likes to cook: The Healthy Jewish Kitchen: Fresh Contemporary Recipes for Every Occasion by Paula Shoyer (Sterling Epicure).

It’s filled with a fabulous variety of dishes that do indeed live up to the title. All too often, when it comes to kosher cookbooks, the recipes sound great but a closer look frequently reveals an abundance of ultra-processed ingredients. As kosher laws require that meat preparations be separated from dairy ingredients (and vice versa), I’ve found that many kosher cookbooks contain ingredients like frozen dairy-free puff pastry or whipped topping or other processed options that I tend to avoid.

This cookbook lives up to its title with the recipes containing whole grains, lots of vegetables and fresh herbs along with reduced sugar and salt options. The compilation also provides a fresh take on old Jewish kitchen favourites but there are also plenty of delicious sounding selections that will take you on a tour of global cuisines.

The 80-recipe collection include appetizers like stuffed cabbage but these are stuffed with turkey and brown rice and raisins. In the same section, there’s Cambodian Spring Rolls with Lime Chili and Peanut Dipping Sauce and Israeli Herb and Almond Salad. Instead of the standard coleslaw, there’s Mango Coleslaw along with an Asian Sweet Potato Salad. The main courses include Indian Barbecued Chicken, Korean Bibimbap with Tofu and Feijoada, a Brazilian cholent- like dish made with various meats like beef and veal and collard greens and farofa, a grain combo. The Chocolate Babka is made with spelt flour as well as whole wheat flour while there is Fruit Cobbler with Chickpea and Almond topping or an Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse.

The recipes are labelled as to whether they contain meat or dairy or if they are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. There’s also a section on how to stock a healthy pantry along with an assortment of complete menus. The food photography, alone, will definitely send the recipient of your gift into the kitchen. You might offer to be a guinea pig when the recipes are being tested out! Or why not buy one for yourself?

It seems that Shoyer is of the same thinking as me when it comes to latkes. While many people celebrate this holiday where one day’s oil lasted for 8 days by eating all manner of fried food, especially latkes and donuts, my sense is that we should eat in the tradition of what was done centuries ago. I usually post my baked latkes (which my family actually prefers!).

Here’s Shoyer’s version from the book.

Photography by Bill Milne; Copyright owned by Sterling Publishing 

Potato And Scallion Latkes With Pickled Applesauce

Parve, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Passover • Serves 6

Shoyer: These latkes are baked in the oven and easily won over my kids. You do need to watch them so they do not burn; they were done at different times in different ovens. The Pickled Applesauce is basically a tangy-spicy applesauce, which we also eat with schnitzel.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes • COOK TIME: 20 to 24 minutes • ADVANCE PREP: Latkes may be made 2 days in advance and reheated in the oven or frozen; applesauce may be made 4 days in advance •

EQUIPMENT: Cutting board, knife, vegetable brush, measuring cups and spoons, citrus juicer, vegetable peeler, 2 jelly roll pans, food processor, medium bowl, box grater, wooden spoon, oven mitts, slotted spatula, small saucepan with lid, immersion blender

LATKES

2 tbsp sunflower or safflower oil, or more if needed
½ medium onion, quartered
3 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into thin slices or chopped into small pieces
3 medium potatoes (about 1½ pounds), scrubbed clean and unpeeled
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp potato starch
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

PICKLED APPLESAUCE
1 tsp sunflower or safflower oil
1/3 cup red onions, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 apples, peeled and cut into ½-inch (12-mm) cubes
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
¼ tsp salt
Pinch black pepper

• To make the latkes, preheat the oven to 450°F. When the oven is hot, pour 2 tablespoons of oil onto 2 jelly roll pans and turn them in every direction so that the oil coats the pans. Heat the pans in the oven for 5 minutes.

• Place the onions and scallions in the bowl of a food processor and chop them into small pieces. Place them in a medium bowl. Shred the potatoes by hand on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor with the shredding blade, and place in the bowl. Add the lemon juice, eggs, baking powder, potato starch, salt, and pepper and mix well.

• Very carefully (I mean really carefully; move very slowly) remove one of the pans and use your hands or a spoon to scoop up and drop clumps of the potato mixture, a little less than ¼ cup, onto the pan. I use my hands. Press the mixture down to flatten it a little.

• Place the pan in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes and immediately remove the second oiled pan. Repeat the same process with the remaining potato mixture and bake the second pan of latkes for 10 to 12 minutes. Bake them until the edges are well browned, and then with a slotted spatula turn them over and cook the latkes for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned. May be made 2 days in advance and reheated in the oven.

• Meanwhile, to make the applesauce, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them for 3 minutes, until they soften. Add the vinegar and brown sugar and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the apples, coriander, ginger, cinnamon stick, salt, and pepper, and cook, covered, on low heat for 15 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes and then purée it, using an immersion blender or a food processor. May be made 4 days in advance and served warm or cold.

Nutrition information per serving latkes:
• Calories: 161
• Protein: grams
• Fat: 6 grams
• Saturated fat: 1 gram
• Carbohydrate: 23 grams
• Dietary fibre: 3 grams
• Sodium: 226 milligrams

Nutrition information per serving applesauce:
• Calories: 26
• Protein: grams
• Fat: less than 1 gram
• Saturated fat: 0 grams
• Carbohydrate: 6 grams
• Dietary fibre: less than 1 gram
• Sodium: 98 milligrams

Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Book Review, Holidays

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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