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Wednesday, 25 July 2012 17:44

Passover Cookery

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Passover Cookeryby Joan Kekst

Five Star Publications

ISBN 978-1877749445

www.fivestarpublications.com

softcover, 168 pages, $24.95

 passover-cookery

Joan Kekst has many years of experience teaching and lecturing on Kosher and Jewish holiday meals. She has a B.A. from Notre Dame College in Home Economics Education and a M.A. in Judaic Culture from Cleveland College of Jewish Studies. She has also has also attended the New York Cooking School and LaVarenne Paris. She works as a Cleveland food columnist and has free-lanced for national Jewish publications. With a sound academic grounding and over twenty years of experience, Joan is especially qualified to deliver a book intended to equip the reader -- whether neophyte or maven to prepare a memorable Passover for the family.

Passover Cookery contains recipes for first courses, soups, kugels, vegetables and salads, main courses and desserts. Detailed and easy to follow guides for setting the Seder table begin the book. The ritual course of the meal and the food cues for each stage are explained. The book is well laid out with easy to read text which is garnished throughout with color photographs and rich graphics. Much appreciated is that each recipe is on one page. I propped the book in the kitchen book holder and did not have to stop and turn back and forth between pages and risk leaving a sample of the ingredients on the pages.

The author includes tips on how to make the holiday specific to your family and shares traditions from her own. While Ms. Kekst gives an overview of the dietary laws and Biblical injunctions that pertain to making a meal that is "Kosher for Passover", the scope of her book extends beyond what at first blush appears to be a rather narrow focus. My family and others can enjoy any of the recipes throughout the year. In fact, several are destined to become " Old Favorites." Moreover, the audience is not limited to homes that keep kosher or even Jewish homes. Gentile readers will find much to reward them in this book as well.

The only thing missing from Ms. Kekst's plate is a more thorough discussion of wine. While the author mentions the place of wine in Passover, there is no discussion of food and wine pairings. The thought of a kosher wine usually conjures up the image of an overly sweet wine with little to recommend it. That may be historically accurate but great strides have been made in recent years. There is no reason why the grape varieties, science and skills of great wine makers found in the general viticultural world cannot be addressed to crafting fine kosher wines. Kosher wines are made in many parts of the world and here in California, we are lucky to have several wineries producing a wide variety of fine kosher wines. There is Gan Eden (www.ganeden.com), Baron Herzog, Hagafen (www.hagafen.com) and Weinstock, for example. So, I encourage the reader to explore kosher wines for Passover as well as those other times wine and food can be enjoyed together.

The central motif of Passover is the Seder. Rich with ritual and teaching aids, e.g. the Seder plate, the meal serves as an annual tutorial for Jews to think about our escape from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land and the meaning of freedom for all of the peoples of the earth. Far more than a collection of delicious recipes Passover Cookery is a heuristic for the Passover season leading the reader not only through cooking the meals but also making the home Kosher for Passover. Our modern lives are very busy ones and this season and its demands can loom as an overwhelming task. Joan Kerst provides highly effective methods for enlisting the help of family members and articulates a model example of Critical Path Management with her "Six Week Countdown to Passover". These two items alone are worth more than the price of the book and will lead many from the slavery of holiday preparation to promised land of holiday enjoyment.

 

--Reviewer Robert Guildner Ph.D. is the President of Wolff Solutions, an Information Technology consulting firm in Sacramento, California. He may be contacted at 916.448.1598 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..