A cookbook approaches Passover with imagination

by | Apr 22, 2016 | Book Reviews

Elizabeth Kurtz
To benefit Emunah of America
Feldheim Format
35 pages, $34.99

Four-pound recipe books, however gorgeously illustrated, are not usually my favorite. However, this one caught your reviewer’s eye, first, because the proceeds were going to support Emunah (for those not familiar, Emunah of America is an ORT-like organization of about 100,000 Orthodox women principally concerned with education in Israel) and second, because it is not strictly a Passover cookbook.

For example: If you are interested in baking challah, there are seven distinct challah recipes including Onion- Poppyseed Challah and Pumpkin Challah. Author Elizabeth Kurtz treats the reader to 20 poultry recipes, with such interesting variations as chicken with sweet and sour sauce coated with crunchy pretzels, fried onions, and cornflake crumbs.

Celebrate, has 120 recipes separately indexed and suitable for Passover either “as is” or with minor guidance for the cook to make the Passover-required ingredient changes. After all, even if Seder menus are traditionally conceived, what are we going to eat for the rest of the week?

Millennials not enthusiastic about gefilte fish? Xers off chopped liver? Seder menus getting a little tired, or just tiresome? How does Fresh Tuna, Jicama and Rosemary Salad sound? Are Salmon Ceviche, Sun-dried Tomato Dip, or New Eggplant Babbaganoush more appealing?

Celebrate suggests Roasted Tomato Soup with Crispy Kale; Albondiga Soup; or Strawberry Mango Soup with Fruit Salsa.

Celebrate suggests Cornish Hens with Smothered Onions and Balsamic Glaze; Pan Seared Duck Breast with Fig- Shallot Marmalade; or Pesto Flounder Pinwheels.

Celebrate suggests Coca-Cola Braised Short Ribs; Moroccan Lamb Stew; Paprika Roasted Cauliflower; or Red and White Quinoa with Grapes and Pomegranate Seeds.

The book, full of mouth-watering photos of food, more importantly includes a pantry section suggesting Passover basics such as toasting nuts, various sauces (honey-mustard, peanut dipping sauce, caramel sauce) and tips for Passover essentials. Author Kurtz, creator of the highly acclaimed website gourmetkoshercooking.com, also includes some great ideas for making meals ahead, freezing, and re-warming.

Not really a cookbook for the kitchen ingénue, the more experienced cook will appreciate the updated recipes. As a child, Passover became a drag after a few days. How many hardboiled egg and potato dishes could one eat? Celebrate awakens our senses to some new smells, textures and tastes.

Have a happy and kosher Pesach!

—Hal Sacks is a retired Jewish communal worker who has reviewed books for Jewish News for more than 30 years.