Kosher cookbook freshens up traditional favorites

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

Leah Schapira’s new cookbook, “Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking,” features kosher versions of contemporary American favorites. Schapira is a food journalist and co-founder of the popular website and recipe forum Her specialty is creating recipes that reflect current culinary trends and translating them into kosher, easy-to-make, easy-to-source dishes for holiday, Friday night or weeknight dinners.

Recipe inspirations include Mexican, Asian, Italian and Middle Eastern, as well as traditional Eastern European Jewish influences. Almost all ingredients are available in regular supermarkets.

The recipes are written clearly and illustrated with lots of color photos. Recipes often include alternatives in preparation or ingredients and are, for the most part, fuss free. When a dish requires more technique (such as making and baking pizza), Schapira gives very detailed instructions and includes photos. I especially like her “traditional” chapter, with fresh takes on symbolic foods for Shabbat and holiday dinners.

The recipes below are from “Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking: Ordinary Ingredients, Extra-ordinary Meals”(

freshandeasy). I have adapted them slightly for space and to reflect my experience.

I served the shredded beef as a main course with potatoes, which reduced the serving size to four. Schapira’s honey mustard chicken is accompanied by a photo of the dish cooked with the peppers, but the recipe itself leaves the type and amount of vegetables up to the user. I liked the idea of the peppers and included them in my version.


Shredded Beef

(Adapted from “Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking”)

Serves 8

2 lbs. boneless chuck steak or roast

1⁄4 cup brown sugar

1 onion, sliced

2 Tbs. onion soup mix

5 cloves garlic, peeled

3⁄4 cup ketchup

1⁄2 cup light beer

8 buns or club rolls

toppings (such as sliced red onion, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, etc.)

Place meat into the slow cooker. Top with brown sugar, onion slices, soup mix and garlic. Pour ketchup and beer over meat. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5 hours. Remove the meat. Strain the liquid from the slow cooker; discard solids. Reserve liquid. Use two forks to shred the meat, discarding any large pieces of fat. Place shredded meat back into cooker and pour half the strained liquid over it. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 20-30 minutes. Serve in buns or rolls with desired toppings.


Honey-Mustard Chicken

(Adapted from “Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking”)

Serves 3-4

11⁄2 lbs. boneless, skinlesschicken breasts

1⁄8 tsp. salt

1⁄8 tsp. black pepper

3-4 Tbs. oil

2 large onions, diced

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1⁄2-inch strips (optional)

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1⁄2-inch strips (optional)

3 Tbs. honey

3 Tbs. soy sauce

3 Tbs. mustard

Cut chicken into 2-inch strips of even thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add vegetables if using. Add honey, soy sauce and mustard. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until sauce reduces. (If chicken is cooked through before the sauce is reduced as much as you would like, remove the chicken from the pan, keep warm, and add back in after the sauce has thickened.) Serve over orzo or rice.


Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at Contact her at [email protected].

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].