|by Jesse Kornbluth of Head Butler
I was to have dinner with two French women. "You choose the restaurant," they said. A no-brainer: I chose Katz's Deli. We ordered pastrami sandwiches at the counter, gobbled samples of warm meat as soon as the cutter offered them, grabbed potato salad, sour pickles, and Dr. Brown's Diet Cream Soda, and took a table. The lights were bright. The table was topped with Formica. The forks wouldn't have been out of place in a grade school cafeteria. We didn't care. We'd been transported. "Like Proust on rye," as Ed Kosner puts it.
|Calories? Who's counting? The same could be said of this book. Just reading it will clog your arteries. But you'll soldier on, reading essays and recipes, drooling over the pictures, searching the Web to locate the closest deli.
The book starts, as it should, with an introduction by Joan Rivers. Who begins, as she should, with jokes. One you know: "What does a Jewish woman make for dinner? Reservations." One was new to me: "You know how they butcher kosher meat, right? The cows aren't slaughtered. They're nagged to death." She's wonderfully blunt: "Jewish food makes Italian food seem like Lean Cuisine." And, at the end, she's serious: "I look at Jewish food and think, 'How can anyone hate the Jews with all of the scrumptious things they produce?'"
"Eating Delancey" is several books in one. The first is literary: short essays by Martha Stewart, Michael Bloomberg, Bette Midler, Itzhak Perlman, Donna Karan, Jerry Seinfeld, Gene Simmons, Sandy Koufax and dozens more. It's also a culinary history of the Lower East Side. And then it's a cookbook, with recipes from Katz's, Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse, Russ & Daughters, Yonah Shimmel, Ratner's — for lovers of classic Jewish cuisine, these names are like the batting order of the 1927 Yankees.
The book is printed on slick paper. A smart decision — I see butter or chicken fat in its future. Because this book is going to see as much use in the kitchen as it will, as food porn, on your night table.
These crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside latkes are one of our favorite recipes from the packed cookbook. The recipe comes directly from New York's famed 2nd Ave Deli and is best enjoyed in the light of a menorah, surrounded by family.
makes 20 latkes
2 large onions (use 1½ grated; don't tamp down)
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups matzo meal
1 cup flour
3/4 cup corn oil
½ cup corn oil for frying
2½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
In a food processor, fine-grate potatoes (don't liquefy; leave some texture), and strain to eliminate excess liquid. Don't overdo it; just let the water drain out.
Fine-grate onion, and mix in a large bowl with potatoes. (If you don't have a food processor, you can grind the potatoes and onions in a met grinder.)
Add eggs, baking powder, 3/4 cup of corn oil (most of it cooks out), flour, salt, and pepper; mix well. Fold in matzo meal, making sure that everything is very well blended.
Heat ½ cup corn oil in a deep skillet. Spoon batter (use a large kitchen spoon) into the pan to create pancakes about 3½ inches in diameter. Fry on low heat for 3 to 4 minutes until underside is a deep golden brown, turn, and fry another minute or two.. Drain on paper towel.
Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream.
Makes 16 small or 8 large rugelach.
2 cups flour
1 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (any good quality nut will work)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Fruit preserves to taste
Combine flour, butter and cream cheese. Mix well; form into 4 balls. Wrap each ball of dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Combine sugar, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts for the filling. On a marble pastry slab (cooled) roll out each ball into a circle 1/4-inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. If making a fruit version, spread jam over the rolled-out circle. Then sprinkle with filling. Cut each round into 16 weeds (or 8 wedges if you prefer a larger rugelach) and roll into crescent shapes.
Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes