Cook | A culinary tribute to lost generation of European Jews

Lynn Kirsche Shapiro’s “Food, Family and Tradition” reveals the many ways food serves as a way to remember, recall and re-create the lost generation of Hungarian and Czech Jews.

The cookbook, published by the Cherry Press, is part memoir about the way of life for Shapiro’s family and others in pre–World War II Eastern Europe. It is also part recipe book. Shapiro presents 150 recipes updated for modern tastes and kitchens, while respecting the culinary traditions of the past. The book also includes color photos and family stories associated with the recipes.

Egg ’n Onion (Eier mit Tzvibel) is a simple appetizer. Shapiro’s family adapts it in the New World by mixing in chopped avocado. Serve with crackers or challah slices or on top of lettuce.

Hungarian Goulash (Gulyas) is a soupy stew traditionally made with meat, potatoes, onions and paprika. Shapiro adds mushrooms and carrots. I like more spice and use sharp (which is hotter) rather than sweet Hungarian paprika and add more to taste. Hungarian paprika is available in many supermarkets and specialty stores. If the paprika is not marked “sharp” or “hot,” it is probably the more common sweet variety. Serve in bowls with bread.

The Walnut Crescents (Kippilach) recipe is one that is bittersweet for Shapiro. The author’s grandmother used her last flour to bake them as a treat for the family on what turned out to be their deportation to Auschwitz.

These recipes were adapted from “Food, Family and Tradition” and used with permission.


Egg ’n Onion

Serves about 4 

3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled

1⁄4 cup finely chopped onion

salt, to taste

freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

Coarsely grate or hand chop eggs. Mix with onion, salt, pepper and oil. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.


Hungarian Goulash

Serves 6

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 lbs. boneless beef stew meat, cut into 1 1⁄2-inch chunks

1 1⁄2 cups chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika

1⁄8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 1⁄2 Tbs. flour

water as needed

4 russet potatoes, cut in large chunks

1⁄2 tsp. salt or to taste

8 oz. sliced white mushrooms

1 carrot, thinly sliced

Fill bottom of 8-quart pot with oil. Add beef, onions, garlic, paprika and pepper. Sauté on low, stirring frequently, until meat is browned. Cover and cook on low, stirring often until liquid from beef and onions has mostly evaporated, about 1 hour. If needed, uncover pot and cook until 1⁄2 inch of liquid remains.

Add flour and stir. Cook to brown, stirring about 10 minutes. Add enough water to cover meat, stirring until smooth. Add potatoes, salt, mushrooms and carrots. Bring to boil. Cover, decrease heat to low. Simmer until potatoes are cooked and meat is tender, about 45–60 minutes.


Walnut Crescents

Makes about 6 dozen

3 cups flour

2 cups finely ground walnuts

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1⁄2 cup plain seltzer water

confectioners’ sugar, as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour, walnuts, sugar and baking powder in large bowl; mix. Add butter using a pastry cutter or fork, cutting it into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add seltzer and gently stir to form a dough.

Take 1 Tbs. of dough and roll into a log about 2 inches long, tapering ends and shaping into crescent. Place 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake until lightly brown on bottom, 25–30 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Before serving, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. 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].