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Book News

Cookbook gives novices a handle on Jewish festival tradition


The World of Jewish Entertaining
by Gil Marks

Simon & Schuster, $30

Review by Margaret M. Howell

May 17, 1999
Web posted at: 2:34 p.m. EDT (1834 GMT)

(CNN) -- Ironically, I was preparing my family's Easter dinner when I decided to try this cookbook. The only Jewish cooking I had experienced was the traditional seder of gefilte fish and matzo ball soup. I wasn't sure what to expect, but this book is full of international cuisine that follows both the middle eastern influence of the Ashkenazic tradition, as well as the Spanish influence of the Sephardic tradition.

The first chapters deal with party planning. There are step by step plans to follow for any combination of large, small, formal and informal events. No detail is left out -- from menu planning and deciding how much food you and drink you need to decorating and hiring help.

There are specialized menus for every holiday or occasion. Each menu is accompanied by a brief explanation of why this event is celebrated and why certain foods are eaten. The recipes, more often than not, list ingredients to cook for large parties (80-100 people) as well as smaller groups (4-8 people).

The recipes are clear, concise and easy to follow. The only drawback is that there are no pictures. I served "Sesame Broccoli" at my dinner. It was very easy to make and my family loved it. This is one of the few cookbooks I own that is full of bookmarks for other recipes I want to try, such as - Cherry Glazed Chicken, Spinach Lasagna Rolls, and Crockery Chicken Cous Cous. This is a book I will enjoy using for years.

Sesame Broccoli (8 servings)

  • 3 pounds (about 2 large bunches) broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 medium onions or 4 scallions, chopped
  • 3 T. sesame seeds, toasted
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 3 T. rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste

1. Blanch the broccoli in lightly salted boiling water or steam for 3-4 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until browned but not burned. Remove and discard the garlic.

3. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, 5-10 minutes. Add broccoli, sesame seeds, soy sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper and sauté until the broccoli is tender-crisp and heated through, 2-3 minutes.

Margaret M. Howell is a promotions producer at CNN. She loves writing and cooking.

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