The Modern Table: Kosher Recipes for Everyday Gatherings

This Passover, which is celebrated from April 15th and April 23rd , Kim Kushner shows us how to create memorable meals with her latest cookbook The Modern Table: Kosher Recipes for Everyday Gatherings.

         A culinary educator as well as mother of four and author of three other bestselling cookbooks on kosher food, Kushner is one of the leaders in redefining kosher cuisine. The term kosher means fit and is used to describe any foods that comply with a strict set of dietary rules called kashrut. Not all Jewish people follow a kosher diet but for those that do, Kushner works at making the cuisine vibrant and tasty. She does this by emphasizing seasonal and fresh Mediterranean-style dishes.

Modern Table: Kosher Recipes for Everyday Gatherings

Kosher

         As she noted in a previous cookbook, “if the title didn’t say kosher, nothing in this book would make you think it was kosher. This isn’t a kosher cookbook that happens to be great–think of it as a really awesome cookbook that just happens to be kosher.”

         Kushner’s cooking background is complicated which contributes to the many ingredients and flavors found in the recipes she’s created. She was raised in Montreal and taught to cook by her mother who was from Morocco. She spent summers with family in Israel which added another level to her culinary influences. Overall, her cultural identity and heritage is Ashkenazi-Canadian.

Kim Kushner Cuisine

         A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, Kushner worked at developing recipes for both Food & Wine and Chile Pepper magazines and has appeared on the Today Show and been featured in numerous newspapers and on TV. 17 years ago, she launched Kim Kushner Cuisine and now teaches cooking around the globe.

Modern Table: Kosher Recipes for Everyday Gatherings

Passover Meals

         “When it comes to Passover cooking, I stick to bright and seasonal ingredients and keep it simple and modern,” she says about her approach to kosher holiday cooking. “Fresh, colorful salads, simply grilled fish and slow cooked meats using garlic, lemons and fresh herbs can take you a long way. “

         Whether we celebrate Purim or Passover or not, incorporating some of Kushner’s recipes into our own cooking repertoire is a way of expanding another cuisine into our daily lives and an entrée into the flavors and traditions of a different cuisine and culture.

         Kushner makes it easy to do just that. Each of the instructions for her dishes offers an introduction as well as tips in the cooking process making these easily accessible recipes even more so for home chefs.

Modern Table: Kosher Recipes for Everyday Gatherings

Recipes

Berry Frosé

Serves 4–6 people

  • 2 cups assorted berries
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle rosé wine
  • 2 cups ice
  • Fresh mint or basil leaves, for garnish

Place the berries, rosé, and ice into a blender. Blend on high speed, until ice is slushy and ingredients are well incorporated. Transfer to chilled glasses and garnish with mint or basil.

Tips

Get Organized Chilling the glasses in the refrigerator or freezer for 30 minutes before serving keeps the frosé slushy and cool.

Optional Frosé can be served in chilled shot glasses as a fun party treat.

Substitutions Frosé can be made with white wine or Moscato.

Sliced Citrus with Pistachio Dust

What in God’s name is pistachio dust? Exactly as it sounds. Pistachios are chopped ultrafine until they transform into a bright green magical dust that adds incredible flavor to ordinary foods such as oranges and grapefruit. Sometimes the simplest desserts are the most loved.

Serves 6

1/4 cup shelled and unsalted roasted pistachios, finely ground

6–8 assorted citrus fruits (oranges, clementines, tangerines, grapefruit, or pomelos)

Using a sharp knife, slice off the top and bottom of the citrus fruit, just far enough to expose the flesh. Place the fruit, cut-side down, so that it is sturdy on your cutting board. Cut away the peel and as much of the white pith as possible by following the citrus’s shape. Turn the fruit on its side and slice into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Repeat with the remaining citrus.

Arrange the citrus on a large platter, slighting overlapped. Sprinkle 1–2 tablespoons of pistachio dust over the citrus slices. Serve immediately.

Tips

Make It Ahead The citrus fruit can be sliced in advance, covered, and stored for up to 3 hours in the refrigerator. Sprinkle the pistachio dust just before serving.

Storage Pistachio dust can be stored in a small glass jar in your pantry or freezer for up to 3 months.

Garlic-Confit Chicken with Lemon and Thyme

“Confit” comes from the French word confire, meaning “to preserve.” Slow-cooking garlic in oil creates a rich yet mellow flavor. For this recipe, you’ll need to first prepare the garlic confit with lemon and thyme, and then add the chicken to cook in the confit.

Garlic confit can be used as a condiment, so I always keep a jar of it in my refrigerator. Once you have the garlic confit on hand, you can have a delicious meal on the table in a fraction of the time.

Ready in 1 hour and 50 minutes

Serves 4–6

  • 20 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 lemon, very thinly sliced and pips removed
  • 5–6 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (3-lb) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin on and bone in, trimmed of excess skin and fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon honey

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Combine garlic, lemon, and thyme into a baking dish that is large enough to hold the chicken. Pour in olive oil and bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes, until garlic has softened. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Increase the oven temperature to 375ºF.

Generously season chicken with salt and pepper. Using your hands, rub vinegar and honey over the chicken.

Using a wooden spoon, move the garlic mixture to the sides of the baking dish to create a space in the center. Add the chicken to the center of the dish and spoon the garlic mixture on top of the chicken.

Cover with an ovenproof lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover the dish and bake for another 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Discard thyme and serve.

Tips

Get Organized To save time, use store-bought peeled garlic.

Substitutions You can experiment with different herbs.

Omissions Garlic confit can be prepared with or without the lemon and thyme.

Make It Ahead Garlic confit with lemon and thyme can be prepared, cooled, and stored in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Before use, bring the confit to room temperature to liquify the oil.

Make It Ahead Garlic-Confit Chicken with Lemon and Thyme can be assembled, marinated, and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Reheat Garlic-Confit Chicken with Lemon and Thyme can be reheated, uncovered, in a 350ºF oven for about 10 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes with Onion Crème

Some of the best mashed potatoes are loaded with butter and heavy cream, but you can make an equally delicious dairy-free version that won’t compromise flavor. The star of this show is the caramelized onion. Laced in mashed potatoes, the puréed “onion crème” imparts an intense creaminess and a pronounced depth of flavor.

Ready in 40 minutes

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra to taste
  • 2–3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the light olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and reduce heat to medium. Sauté for 10–15 minutes, until softened and caramelized. Set aside to cool.

Transfer onions to a food processor or blender and purée for 1–2 minutes, until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Place potatoes and salt in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 15–20 minutes, until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain.

Return potatoes to the saucepan and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. This is called “pan-drying.” Stir in the onion crème, then mash the potatoes and onions together. Season generously with salt and pepper and mix.

Drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over the mashed potatoes and serve immediately.

Tips

Get Organized “Pan-drying” is a cooking technique where boiled potatoes are cooked in a dry pot for a few minutes to remove moisture and “dry out” the potatoes.

Make It Ahead Onions can be sautéed and puréed in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Make It Ahead Potatoes are best mashed just after cooking and can be mashed 2 hours in advance of serving.

Reheat mashed potatoes in a saucepan over medium heat for 5–10 minutes. You may need to drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil for added creaminess.

Chewy and Nutty Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ready in 20–25 minutes

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine nuts, sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt and mix well. Stir in the chocolate.

Using a small ice-cream scooper, scoop small mounds of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets, evenly spacing them two inches apart. Bake for 15–20 minutes until lightly golden. Set aside to cool completely. The cookies will harden as they cool.

The above were excerpted from The Modern Table: Kosher Recipes for Everyday Gatherings by Kim Kushner. Photography by Kate Sears. Copyright © 2022 by Kim Kushner. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.