Back in December when I was reading Jewish News (not much of a surprise there, I know!), an image in the advertisement for the Gift Shop at Decorum caught my attention. It was of a small book, Little Book of Jewish Appetizers. I had one within a few days.
The book really is little…measuring 7.5 x 5.5 inches. The expression, “good things come in small packages” aptly applies here.
Cookbook author Leah Koenig has produced an unusual collection of 25 mostly easy-to-prepare starters that she says are “perfect for noshing.”
Divided into two chapters: Fresh, toasted, pickled and Cooked, fried, baked— the book is beautifully organized with introductions to each recipe that include nuggets of material. For example, there’s a piece on pickles at the turn-of-the- 20th-century in New York’s Lower East Side, and just before the recipe for Moroccan Orange and Black Olive Salad, a few sentences on Moroccan cuisine and Moroccan Jewish homes. The introductions are fun, interesting and concise. In fact, all of the text strikes an easy-going conversational tone.
Between the two chapters is a four-page spread called the Jewish Cheese Plate. This section includes background information on various cheeses, simple directions for enhancing some, how to present others, and then, for the person who absolutely has no time to cook, a list of what to simply put on a cheese plate, where the only work might be a little cutting.
At the back of the book, in a section called Pairing Ideas, Koenig makes suggestions for grouping the recipes for various occasions…cocktail or Hanukkah parties, for example, or those “surprise visitor” snacks.
Finally, just before the Index, an Ingredient Glossary and Sources section provides addresses, websites, and other recommendations for where to obtain good quality ingredients.
And, then, there are the beautiful photographs to demonstrate just how those appetizers are supposed to appear. All of this in 136 small pages.
The Little Book of Jewish Appetizers is the first in a collection of Jewish themed cookbooks by Koenig. I’m looking forward to the next and am grateful Decorum not only stocks the first in the series, but advertised it as well.
Terri Denison is editor of Jewish News. She can be reached at email@example.com.
– Terri Denison