JACK’S WIFE FREDA by Maya & Dean Jankelowitz

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Cooking from New York’s West Village

Recipes by Julia Jaksic 

I haven’t been to this restaurant but I’ve heard about it – this is Jewish comfort food.  I’m too far away to go but with this cookbook, the possibilities are real.

Jack and Freda come from different backgrounds – Ashkenazi and Sephardic, and they throw in South African and Israeli flavors as well. This cookbook is nothing if not interesting. They include their personal stories here too, and their families, and it is all interesting.

The cookbook begins after the introductory story to the family. And as with many cookbooks today, it begins with the pantry and some basics like Homemade Mayonnaise, Hot Sauce, Peri Peri Spice, Tzatziki and more. The chapters are as follows:

Breakfast
Day Drinks
Lunch
Drinks
Dinner
Dessert

There is an excellent index, as well. The pictures, both of the restaurant, the kitchen and of course the food, are spectacular. It doesn’t hurt that this is an oversized cookbook printed on nice, heavy paper, too.

“Breakfast” couldn’t be more beautiful or delicious than “Eggs Benny,” taking the classic Eggs Benedict to a whole new level by planting it on a potato latke and topping it with beet hollandaise – it is gorgeous. The instructions on how to poach an egg (like many of the instructions throughout the book) are charming, hand drawn pictures. I’ve never considered pairing ruby red grapefruit with my yogurt but now I will, and “Julia’s Granola” makes a fine topping. I was intrigued by the recipe for “Duck Bacon” but honestly not sure I’ll ever try it.

“Day Drinks” include things like “Nana Tea,” “Cantaloupe Juice,” and “Mint Lemonade.” “Lunch” can be light – “Pea and Ricotta Toast,” the ubiquitous “Avocado Toast” or a “Greek Salad” or a bit heavier with “Matzo Ball Soup” a traditional recipe that swaps out the usual chicken fat for duck fat, or “Chicken Kebab” with Couscous, or the “Prego Roll,” a skirt steak sandwich. Then we move on to the bar.

“Drinks” include “Jack’s Wife Freda Pimm’s Cup” with added ginger, a “Melon Mimosa” made the aforementioned Cantaloupe Juice (I’m allergic, dammit!) and a nice “Jose’s Hot Toddy.” If you’ve ever wanted to try a real Bloody Mary from scratch, now’s your chance, this is a terrific recipe that includes horseradish, Dijon, Worcestershire, and more flavor than you’ll ever get out of a mix.

Dinner starts with some small plates, like “Zucchini Chips” and a gorgeous “Spiced Beet Dip.” Add a beet to anything and you get pow-in-the-face color. There are vegetarian recipes like “Roasted Cauliflower” and “Veggie Curry with Apple-Raisin Chutney,” and not so vegetarian like “Chicken Livers on Toast,”  “Sweetbreads with Peri Peri Sauce” and “Freda’s Fishballs” which is not your grandmother’s gefilte fish – for one thing these are coated in Panko and deep fried.

We can’t talk about dessert without “Malva Pudding”, which the restaurant is known for and I never heard of. It’s a South African dessert that is “a dense cake soaked in a delicous caramel sauce.” The recipe is intriguing, as is the “Flourless Chipotle Chocolate Cake” made from a pound of semisweet chocolate tempered with chipotle powder. But the one I’m definitely going to be making is “Halva Cookies.” If you haven’t had halva, it’s a delicious candy made from sesame seed paste. These cookies are loaded with black and white sesame seeds and a bit of halva in the center. Yum!

8/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

JACK’S WIFE FREDA by Maya & Dean Jankelowitz. Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 25, 2016). ISBN: 978-0547614847. 528p.

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