Yiddish Cuisine: Authentic and Delicious Jewish Recipes features the favorite everyday and special occasion recipes of delicatessen owner, Florence Kahn. Highlights include Potato and Onion Pierogis, Pumpkin and Hazelnut Strudel, Pastrami Sandwich, Herring in a Fur Coat, Hamantaschen, Blinis, and Poppy Seed Cheesecake.
Florence Kahn opened her delicatessen shop in the Jewish District of Paris on the corner of the Rue Des Écouffes and the Rue Des Rosiers in 1988. Her great-great-grandfather was a rabbi and sold religious objects/clothing on the same street. She focuses on a mixture of traditional and modern Jewish-Ashkenazi dishes.
Disclaimer: I received this book from H.F. Ullmann in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
The chapters are divided based on occasion: Starters, Main Dishes, Special Festivals, Bread, and Sweet Things.
Kahn begins with an introduction to her neighborhood in the Jewish District of Paris and its people. Photos of her shop are included. Otherwise, the book focuses on the 50 recipes.
Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. At the end of the book, charts with measurement conversions are included for easy reference. A few of the recipes have headnotes with background information and tips. I would have liked more history to be included, but it is a nice introduction.
The photography is provided by Delphine Constantini with styling by Sidonie Pain. Every single recipe is accompanied by a beautiful full page photo of the finished dish.
This book is a great pick for those interested in Yiddish and Eastern European cuisine. It may be best for more experienced cooks and bakers since I needed to tweak the ratios on a couple of the dough recipes (could be based on a variety of factors such as humidity). Difficulty ranges from soups and easy meals to the more advanced layered dishes and baked goods. Overall, none of the recipes I tried were overly complex. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American supermarket. A few that may be more difficult to locate include cumin bread, glacé cherries, fromage blanc, bilberries, goose fat, and crème fraîche.
Pirojkis are mini Eastern European turnovers with a savory filling. Kahn’s recipe uses a ground beef mixture, but the possibilities are endless from spinach and goat cheese to sauerkraut, mushrooms, fish, stew leftovers, cheese, and more.
A yeast-based dough is rolled out into a thin sheet and cut into small 2 1/2 inch (6 cm) circles. About a teaspoon of the prepared filling is placed into the center of each circle and the dough is folded over to enclose it in a half-circle shape. After brushing the tops of the Pirojkis with the egg wash to create a golden brown color, I sprinkled a few with sesame seeds since the featured photograph had them.
Evan and Claire especially loved the small size. Since the meat is cooked prior to filling the Pirojkis, they were able to help without me worrying about them handling raw meat.
I also made the Spinach Tart, Borscht, Onion Pletzel, and Mini Chocolate Ki’hele’h.
The Spinach Tart was Chad’s favorite. Sautéed spinach is combined with a creamy mixture of fromage blanc, cheese, and hazelnuts, then baked in a shortcrust pastry. It was quite the satisfying vegetarian meal.
Kahn includes two Borscht recipes in her book: this one with an incredibly flavorful smooth broth and the Ukrainian Kapusta Borscht with cabbage, beets, tomato, turnip, celery, leek, and raisins. Evan particularly enjoyed the smoothness to this version since he doesn’t like a lot of texture. A beet broth and beef/vegetable broth are prepared separately, strained, then combined right before serving. It is served with the pieces of meat used to make the beef broth. I served the soup alongside the Pirojkis.
The Onion Pletzel uses bagel dough as the base to create flattened circles of bread topped with diced onions and poppy seeds. It was a fun baking project with the kids.
The Mini Chocolate Ki’hele’h are little cookie-like cakes filled with mini chocolate chips that are eaten on Shabbat. The actual dough itself doesn’t contain any added sugar. All the sweetness comes from the chocolate.
Adapted from Yiddish Cuisine
1/3 ounce (10 grams) fresh yeast or 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 small egg
2 1/2 tablespoons margarine, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil
4 1/2 ounces (125 grams) ground beef
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds (optional)
To make the dough: If using active dry yeast, sprinkle over a couple tablespoons of lukewarm water, 105-115 degrees F. Stir to combine and allow to sit until frothy, 5-10 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, egg, margarine, salt, and water to bring together a dough. If too dry, slowly add a little more water.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until soft and smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
To make the filling: Drizzle oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Peel and slice the onion and add to the heated skillet. Cook until golden. Stir in the ground beef and cook, breaking up the clumps, until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 355 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or lightly grease.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin sheet. Use a 2 1/2 inch (6 cm) circular pastry cutter to cut out circles. Add about 1 teaspoon of filling to the center of a circle. Fold the edge of the dough over to form a half-moon shape. Press the edges together to seal and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining circles.
Brush the top of each prepared Pirojki with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake in preheated oven until golden, 18-20 minutes. Serve immediately.