To those of us who date back some twenty years when the Jewish
Women's Outlook was in its heyday, Sara Finkel needs no introduction.
It was her scrumptious and/or elegant and exotic dishes that made
our mouths water and sent us scurrying into the kitchen to attempt
to imitate her culinary successes.
Since then, Mrs. Finkel has produced a very popular cookbook of her
own, "Classic Kosher Cooking -- the Ultimate Cookbook,"
published by Targum Press. She has the credentials, as one who has
been cooking, entertaining and preparing various dishes for many
years, and gleaning interesting recipes from a very broad intercontinental
circle of friends. Thus you will find recipes like Beef Wellington,
Italian blintzes, Scandanavian vegetable bake: the basic alongside
the exotic, the classic leading to the gourmet-specials. And she will
lead the novice from the initial steps to the grand finale with clear
instructions anyone can follow.
When I went to visit Mrs. Finkel in her home to pick up my promised
copy of her cookbook for review, I was in a serious dilemma. Which
to take? The forerunner in English, or the translated edition in Hebrew.
The Hebrew, naturally, won out. By the time she was ready for this
cookbook, which followed the very popular English edition, Mrs. Finkel
had accumulated and tried/tested many dozens of new recipes! And since
her fame now preceded her, the publishers wanted this cookbook to
compete with general cookbooks on the market -- and, if you've
ever visited Jewish Book Week stalls, you'll admit that Israelis are
very big on brashy cookbooks. I think these books are the second best
sellers (don't know after what).
The Hebrew version, Mehamitbach Hayehudi Haklassi, is another
story! It has doubled in actual dimensions, not to say in content,
has glossy pages and gorgeous, mouthwatering photographs, and adorable
cartoon illustrations on every page. The chapter on fish has four
little boys fishing out of a bowl. And graphics do say a lot, especially
for a cookbook. You've sometimes got to be tempted to dare try something
new. But this book is easy enough even for hesitant beginners.
Naturally, there is a chapter on microwave cooking, table decoration,
freezing, menu suggestions, a brief resume on the culinary aspects
of the yomim tovim, with tips for variations accompanying most
I opted for the Hebrew, seeing how easy and pleasant it was to follow
the instructions, besides which I imagine the married children will
want to beg or borrow it. But we leave the choice up to you. Either
way, the book is a treasurehouse of cooking information, to be referred
to time and again, with and without repeats. And it makes for an excellent
gift for a daughter/in-law, young bride or even, or shall we say,
especially, for an experienced cook!
We turn to the chapter on blintzes, prefaced with a be-kerchiefed
young cook looking for her glasses. Only the audience knows that they
have been neatly esconced into a blintz. WATCH OUT!
Blintzes, Mrs. Finkel informs us in her introduction to this chapter,
are an international food, whether they are fried as Chinese egg rolls
(filled with grated cabbage, celery, sprouts and liberally doused
with soy sauce), or served flaming as crepes suzettes with
grated orange peel, liquer and brandy. Russians make blini
from a yeast dough and fill theirs with lox! On to Hungarian pancakes
and Mexican enchilladas. But discover these for yourself.
Using 2 eggs such as in this recipe will result in thin and firm but
flexible pancakes. Refrigerate the batter for two hours before use
to avoid toughness, and mix lightly before frying.
1 1/4 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients well with food processor, blender or mixer for
one minute to get a smooth batter. Scrape residue from side with rubber
scraper. Mix for another 10 seconds. Cool for 2 hours. Mix slightly
before frying. Batter should have the consistency of sour cream.
Oil and warm your frying pan (18 cm. diameter). Pour in 2-3 tablespoons
and tilt pan to distribute and pour off remainder back into batter.
Fry on medium-high flame until pancake is dry. Flip unto a plate and
pat off excess oil with paper towel. And now for our dairy Chanuka
FILLING for 14 blintzes:
750 gram cottage cheese (3 containers)
100 gram smooth white cheese
2 beaten eggs
pinch salt and pepper
1 tablespoon melted margarine
3 tablespoons chopped scallion
1/2 cup shredded hard yellow cheese
250 gram tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons sugar
pinch pepper, salt to taste
Mix all the FILLING ingredients except for yellow cheese.
Mix separately all the SAUCE ingredients.
Place 1-2 spoonfuls of filling on each pancake, roll and place in
oiled baking dish 32 x 22 cm.
Pour sauce over middle of each pancake and sprinkle yellow cheese
on top. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes.