The Jewish Eye
Passover Cookery: In the Kitchen with Joan Kekst
In the Kitchen with Joan Kekst
By Joan Kekst
Five Star Publications, (2001)
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - July 13, 2003
Passover can be a difficult time for Jewish cooks. Not only must you adhere to a wealth of special dietary laws during this period, but you also want to provide a varied and creative menu not just for the Seders but for the daily family meals during Pesach. An excellent cookbook that I've discovered is Passover Cookery by Joan Kekst.
This cookbook not only offers menu suggestions and a wealth of recipes, but most of the recipes are enhanced by the inclusion of a nutritional analysis of the recipe. An important aspect of Passover is that Jews are forbidden to eat anything containing chometz. Kekst has taken care to provide a clear overview of what constitutes chometz. She also explains that there are items, such as rice, that although not strictly forbidden, are often avoided due to family or ethnic traditions.
The recipes in this collection are organized thematically, and recipes that are parve or milchig (dairy) are identified as such. A few of the fleishig (meat) dishes are identified as such, but overall, any recipe that is not marked is fleishig. This cookbook is also enhanced by the inclusion of photos, many in color, of many completed dishes. These photos not only help to illustrate the high culinary standards of these recipes, but they will also serve as inspiration as you develop your own Pesach menus.
Passover Cookery includes a "countdown to Passover" guide that will be particularly helpful to anyone 'doing' Passover for the first time. This guide starts six weeks before Passover and takes you through the required cleaning, removing all and organizational steps that are essential in preparing for Passover and the Passover cooking experience! Besides this guide, Kekst has provided a concise overview of what the holiday commemorates, how it is celebrated, and the special dietary laws that only come into play during Passover. Also included is an overview of the Seder Table, along with a variety of seder menus including one that will allow you to create a Low Cholesterol Seder.
Included in this cookbook are a variety of Charoset recipes, as well as tips on creating the other required ceremonial foods such as Moror and Betzah. Most of the recipes in this cookbook are 'easy'; however there are a few that are more complicated. Cooking with matzo cake meal and other flour substitutes can cause novice cooks a few minor difficulties. However, Kekst offers valuable advice that should walk even the most novice cook through any difficulties that they might encounter.
The recipes in Passover Cookery come from a variety of sources and include both traditional and contemporary dishes. In addition, Kekst has included a wealth of vegetarian and low-fat / low-cholesterol recipes that will be a boon to anyone looking for such speciality recipes. Best of all, you'll find that many of these recipes will become staples in your year-round cooking repertoire. This cookbook is an excellent informational and kosher recipe source book for Passover. With proper planning and a little creativity, Passover can be an exciting culinary undertaking for everyone involved - even the primary cook! Passover Cookery will help you prepare for, and create, a dazzling variety of dinners for the entire holiday season.
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