Helen Nash was born into an old rabbinical family in Cracow, Poland. In New York City, where she has spent most of her life, she studied with world-famous cooks Michael Field, Marcella Hazan, Lydie Marshall, and Millie Chan. An accomplished lecturer and teacher, she has given demonstrations at New York University and the legendary De Gustibus cooking school at Macy’s, as well as at numerous synagogues and Jewish community centers.
We spoke with Helen Nash in November following the publication of Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine: Healthy, Simple & Stylish, her third cookbook.
From our eight favorite books from the year — one for each night of Hanukkah — we present two below. They are all great holiday gifts for the passionate cook in your life or a treat for yourself.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
by Deb Perelman, Knopf, 336 pages, $35
Enormous, crispy oven latkes? Sweet potato blintzes with farmer cheese? Delicate sweet-and-sour brisket with tender root vegetables? Subtly sweet raspberry rugelach? “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook,” by culinary mastermind and cult favorite blogger Deb Perelman, has all these sumptuous recipes, written in the tone of a good friend offering holiday advice.
“The Smitten Kitchen,” is gorgeously laid out, with dozens of photographs that will make you want to head to your oven lickety-split. Perelman has formulas for everything from calzones to grapefruit pound cake. One look at the table of contents will give any home cook a host of new ideas for holiday dinners and laidback brunches, dinner party desserts and cozy night-in spreads. An added perk is that most of the recipes are new, so you won’t find them on Perlman’s website.
While some of the book’s recipes are not kosher, Perelman has included a separate category in the index for Jewish recipes, to make flipping through for Hanukkah dishes easier. It’s an ideal gift for the dedicated home cook looking to expand his or her repertoire. Just watch out: We bet there’ll be a lot more figs, olive oil and sea salt challah and rhubarb hamantaschen in your life after you gift this cookbook.
— Margaret Eby
Whether or not they realize it, today’s Jewish food lovers, particularly the kosher-keeping ones, owe a debt of thanks to Helen Nash. Born in 1935 in Krakow, Poland, to a prominent Orthodox family, Nash, a longtime member of Manhattan’s Upper East Side society (she learned to cook as a newlywed, by taking lessons with culinary legends like Marcella Hazan), was an early champion of the notion that kosher food could be sophisticated and elegant rather than oppressively heavy. With restaurants like Pardes in Brooklyn and Jezebel in Manhattan making headlines today, the idea of artisanal kosher food seems almost obvious. But when Nash published “Kosher Cuisine,” those words were still an oxymoron.
Nash, now 77, recently published her newest book, “Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine: Healthy, Simple & Stylish” — a cookbook that builds on her lifelong good taste while focusing on dishes that are simple and accessible for novice and studied cooks alike. Nash spoke with the Forward’s Leah Koenig about the impact of the Internet on the kosher food world, her secret to making perfectly moist chopped liver (hint: It’s not more oil) and why, at its heart, all kosher cooking is about family.
Food porn alert: Eater gets a first look inside “The Mile End Cookbook.” Even the matzo looks mouthwatering… [Eater]
Tips and ideas for cooking with the flavorful sesame, salt, sumac and herb mixture of za’atar. [Epicurious]
Back-to-school tips from a new blog dealing with kosher, allergen-free living. [Kosher Food Allergies]
At home with kosher culinary queen Helen Nash. [Tablet]
Mackerel Carpaccio with caramelized figs and ceviche with black lentils from a culinary tour of Israel. [Washington Post]