New books offer healthy options for Kosher cooking

Do you want to invigorate or learn more about kosher cooking? Two new books on kosher food offer contrasting styles, yet both provide lots of information.

Lise Stern’s “How to Keep Kosher” (William Morrow) explains the who, what, where, when, why and how of kashrut. Stern explores the full spectrum of Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist views on keeping kosher.

This comprehensive volume can be used as a handbook or guide for those who are considering a commitment to a kosher lifestyle or for those who want to understand what keeping a kosher home entails. Stern also clarifies what are kosher foods, how to kasher a kitchen, customs and teachings in relation to the Jewish holidays, hechshers and keeping kosher for Passover.

She includes some of her favorite recipes for Shabbat and other holidays — they are very simple, basic recipes directed for a beginning cook.

Norene Gilletz’s “Healthy Helpings” (Woodland) is a collection of 800 kosher recipes. The theme is “healthy” food — defined by Gilletz as dishes that are high in nutrients and low in fat.

There are plenty of puns and corny jokes sprinkled throughout the volume, such as “heart-y helpings,” “egg-citing hard-boiled eggs” and “pasta-bilities.” Under the heading “Slim Chick-Information,” tips are offered such as “Discard the skin and you’ll be thin!”

Red Lentil Soup | Serves 8

2 qts. vegetable broth
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
3 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and cut into thin slices
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
1 8-oz. package seitan, drained if in liquid and diced (optional)

Put the broth, tomatoes and wine, if using, in a large pot or pressure cooker and heat over high heat. Add the carrots and red lentils. Continue to heat while you add the seitan. If using a pressure cooker, cover, secure the lid, and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain pressure and cook 8 minutes. Quick-release the pressure.If cooking with a standard stovetop pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are done, 30 to 40 minutes. Lentils are done when they are soft all the way through, without any give at the center. (From “How to Keep Kosher”)

No-Fry Potato Latkes | Makes 2 dozen

4 tsp. canola or olive oil, divided
4-5 medium Idaho potatoes (2 lbs.)
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic, if desired
1 Tbs. fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried dill)
1 egg and 2 egg whites (or 2 eggs), lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions in your oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spray each baking sheet lightly with non-stick spray, then brush each baking sheet with 1 tsp. of oil. (This provides a crispy exterior to the latke.)

Peel potatoes or scrub them well if you don’t want to peel them. Grate potatoes. (The processor does this quickly.) Transfer them to another bowl. Use the processor to finely mince onion, garlic and dill. Add potatoes, egg, egg whites and remaining oil to the processor. Mix using quick on/off turns. Add remaining ingredients and mix briefly. If overprocessed, potatoes will be too fine.

Drop mixture by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon to form latkes. Bake uncovered at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, or until bottoms are browned and crispy. Turn latkes over. Transfer pan from the upper rack to the lower rack and vice versa. Bake about 8 to 10 minutes longer, or until brown. Best served immediately. (From “Healthy Helpings”)

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a Bay Area cooking teacher and food professional. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].