Old Jewish recipes contain memories to savor on the tongue

In preparation for moving, I spent the last few days thinning out my cookbook collection, which numbered about 600. The hardest to part with were my Jewish cookbooks, several of which I’ve had since I’ve been married. As I packed them for the move to my new home, none escaped a last quick review, which brought back treasured memories of recipes I have used through the years. I also came across a folder containing neatly-folded papers, yellowing at the edges, which revealed recipes written in my mother’s fine, graceful European script. I sadly thought how my kids would have only Microsoft Word and PDF files of my food legacy — how high-tech and impersonal.

My first Jewish cookbook, “From Manna to Mousse,” was published in the 1960s as a fund-raiser for Temple Bethel in New London, Conn.. (This book is no longer in print; try eBay or used bookstores.) The dessert chapter represents some of the best home bakers I know.

Then came Helen Nash, with a more forward look to kosher cuisine, and Joan Nathan, who gave us history lessons along with terrific recipes. Claudia Roden, Joyce Goldstein and Edda Machlin taught us cuisines from other cultures. Today, Judy Ziedler cooks kosher in 30 minutes, and even The New York Times has gotten into the act with cookbooks containing kosher recipes from famous chefs.

Sour Cream Twists “From Manna to Mousse” | Makes about 4 dozen


1 tsp. instant dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Rolling Mixture
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, whisk yeast and water together and let stand a few minutes. Add in most of flour, sugar, butter, sour cream, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Work to make a soft dough, adding in more flour if required. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, roll out dough to a 15-by-18-inch rectangle, using sugar to roll on. Keep replenishing work surface with sugar. Roll dough like a letter, into three (as if you are about to mail it in an envelope). Then roll again, into a rectangle of 1⁄2-inch thickness, using more sugar as required. Dust with cinnamon.

Cut into 1-by-4-inch strips and twist each one. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake (twists will rise a bit as oven is preheating) until nicely browned, about 18-25 minutes.

Pineapple Chiffon Cake “From Manna to Mousse” | Serves 12

2 cups flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
1 package instant lemon pudding
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 eggs, separated
1 cup crushed pineapple, with juice
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 9-inch tube pan.

Sift together sugar, baking powder, lemon pudding and salt. Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add oil, egg yolks, pineapple and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Set aside.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Pour yolk mixture over whites and fold in. Pour batter into tube pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until tester comes out clean when inserted in center of cake. Invert cake and let cool. Remove from pan.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].