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The new book "Kosher Elegance"

Joseph Cohen with chicken preparing for Kapparot ritual in Jerusalem


By Aviva Cohen

[Editor's note: Aviva Cohen in addition to being a fine writer is also the Editor's neighbor, and after her review of the  new cookbook "Kosher Elegance" she majically appeared at our door just around dinner time with  enough chicken for two hungry children--mine, not hers]

Kosher Elegance by Efrat Libfroind is a richly written and beautifully photographed book. I hesitate to call it a cook book as it is frightfully complicated to the everyday home cook with its complicated recipes.

When I was asked to test a recipe and then write a review on the book, I will admit I was very reluctant. I'm a pretty good cook, maybe not very adventurous, but being a mother of six gives me plenty of opportunity to practice...daily. Several times daily, as it stands. I'm known more for my baking, which is usually well received.
So, imagine my concern when I lugged this huge, gorgeous hardcover book home! I went through it page by page, looking for a recipe that would be "a little new or different" but not completely sap me of all my kitchen confidence. The book is written in great detail. Someone with enough time could master these complex dishes, of this I have no doubt. However, speaking on behalf of the "practical cook", there's maybe a little too much fussing for it to be utilized on a regular basis.
I wasn't prepared to even attempt a baked dessert, as they were all far beyond my skill level, so being the practical cook that I am, I decided to find a chicken recipe that I could test on my kids. I found three that really sparked my interest. Potato chip chicken sounded both relatively easy and definitely kid-friendly. Worried that perhaps it was a rather unhealthy choice, I was happy to see that the chicken is coated in crushed potato chips and baked. Score!
Years ago, I learned to avoid any recipe that called for "fingers". Why go to the trouble of cutting the chicken breast into strips, coating each one individually in flour, then egg, then crumbs (or chips) and then fry (or bake)? Then turn around and give one chicken breasts' worth to the kids for dinner? No thanks! What a time killer!
So, instead of cutting the chicken in strips, I coated whole pieces, butterflied and pounded slightly for uniformity and then baked as instructed. The recipe was simple and tasty, well seasoned and very much enjoyed by the kids, the ultimate judges.
Beyond the few selections in the "cook"book that are within the limits of the average home cook, I would recommend this book "KOSHER ELEGANCE" more as a hostess gift to someone with gourmet flair and display it as a coffee table book rather than on my flour dusted bookshelf of cookbooks.
Editor's note: And speaking of chicken and the Cohen family, I was reminded of an article I wrote about when Yossi Cohen (Aviva's husband) performed the "controversial" kapparot chicken ritual in Jerusalem before Yom Kippur a few years ago. (It's one of those "swing the chicken around your head" rituals that is great fun for kids, less fun for the chickens, and might possibly be described as KOSHER ELEGANCE).
If you'd like to know more about this chicken ritual, click on the link below to the article titled "YOSSI COHEN DOESN'T CHICKEN OUT AND PERFORMS CONTROVERSAL "KAPPAROT" CHICKEN RITUAL IN JERUSALEM.":
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.