Plenty of ways to dress up holidays without the fuss

Jewish American women have a long tradition of publishing their own cookbooks. The National Council of Jewish Women, founded in 1893, used the proceeds from these books to help support the rights of women, schools for poor Jewish children, free baths and cooking classes in the settlement houses. Like the “Settlement Cookbook,” many of the fund-raising cookbooks were not strictly kosher including “Aunt Babette’s Cookbook” of Chicago from 1889, which included a chapter on oysters.

Susie Fishbein, an Orthodox Jewish homemaker from Livingston, N.J., has recently published her second cookbook, entitled “Kosher by Design.” (303 pages, Mesorah Publications, $32.99.) Although Fishbein’s recipes do not benefit from having been written or tested by a culinary professional, they do offer the ease and convenience of simplicity with the use of processed foods like canned creamed corn and garlic powder. “This book is not going to impress a chef,” says Fishbein, “but there isn’t the fuss.”

Plenty of Jewish holiday information is provided, along with tips on table decorations, floral arrangements and kosher wine lists. This turkey dish, reprinted from “Kosher by Design,” makes a traditional presentation for Purim. A Hagafen pinot noir is suggested to accompany the turkey.

Roast Turkey with Caramelized Onion-Balsamic Gravy | Serves 12

Roast Turkey:
4 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. paprika
1 Tbs. garlic powder
3 Tbs. apricot barbecue sauce or duck sauce
1 10-14 lb. turkey, fresh or defrosted
8-10 oz. apricot nectar or pineapple juice

6 cups chicken stock
turkey neck and giblets (optional)
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
6 Tbs. margarine
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried sage
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Roasted Turkey: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make a paste out of the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and apricot barbecue sauce.

Rub the spice mixture all over the turkey. Place turkey, breast side down, in a large roasting pan. You can sprinkle on more of the pepper, paprika and garlic powder, if desired.

Let turkey come to room temperature for 20 minutes. Bake 2 hours, covered.

Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and uncover. Turn turkey, breast side up, being careful not to prick skin. Bake 1 hour.

Flip turkey over again and baste with apricot nectar or pineapple juice every 15 minutes for half an hour to 1 hour. Turkey is done when juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Place turkey on serving platter; reserve liquid in pan for gravy.

Gravy: Combine the chicken stock, turkey giblets if desired, quartered onion and bay leaf in a pot. Simmer about 1 hour or until reduced to 3 cups of liquid, skimming the surface if necessary.

In a large skillet, melt margarine over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions, rosemary and sage and sauté about 15 minutes or until onions are golden. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken stock mixture, discarding bay leaf and quartered onion. Boil 3 minutes or until the gravy thickens, stirring often.

After transferring the turkey to the platter, pour the juices from the pan into a measuring cup. Skim off the fat. Add the juices to the gravy. Add vinegar to the roasting pan. Scrape up the browned bits.

Pour the vinegar with the browned bits into small saucepan. Boil about 3-4 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Add to the gravy.

Rewarm the gravy and thin with more chicken stock if necessary. Pour over sliced turkey or serve on the side.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin‘s e-mail address was printed incorrectly in recent issues. It is [email protected]. J. regrets the error.