“Meals shared with family and friends are memorable, especially when imbued with love and care.”
This is the opening quote on the inside cover of Renée Muller’s kosher cookbook- OUR TABLE. As I personally sign off Facebook every weekend wishing everyone a peaceful and healthy weekend with “family and friends”; this quote truly resonated with me. OUR TABLE – A tavola in Italian- refers to the place where people stop whatever they’re doing and come together to eat and nourish not only their stomachs but their humanity.
Renée Muller was raised in Switzerland and “learned to cook in the Northern Italian tradition of freshness , simplicity and flavor.” Arriving in the US in 2002, a chance entry into a recipe contest brought Renée a “WIN” and a job as a columnist with Ami Magazine. She also became an “in demand” food stylist, professional foodie, and last, but certainly not least- a wife and mother.
OUR TABLE has such beautiful photos that it could be a “coffee table” book; but that could mean that it would never find its way into your kitchen- which would be a shame. Renée has compiled a cookbook based on her family recipes, her own recipes and recipes shared with her by friends. The recipes are divided into categories ie. Appetizers, Soups & Salads, Fish and Dairy, Meat etc. What is extra special about many of these recipes is that Renée has made videos to accompany them. You, the reader, can actually feel as if you are in the kitchen with Renée as you watch her hands deftly assemble the ingredients. Add to all this, there is a complete substitution guide for Passover.
Here is a partial list of some of the recipes included:
Sweet Chili Salmon Cubes
Mushroom Barley Soup Done Right
Crunchy Asian Salad
Silan, Lemon and Mustard Salmon
Tangy and Succulent London Broil
Fall off the Bone Tender Flanken
Pulled French Roast Sliders
Oven-Baked Honey Mustard Chicken
Homemade Egg Kichel
Light as Air Marble Cake
Buttery Chocolate Scones
Wahe-Swiss Fruit Tart
I decided to try Fall off the Bone Tender Flanken and Light as Air Marble Cake. The instructions for both are clear and easy to follow. They both require basic ingredients. Cooking the Flanken in a 300° F. oven for 4 ½ hours works beautifully. The meat cooked “low and slow” and the result was meltingly soft and full of flavor. Light as Air Marble Cake could be called Marble Chiffon Cake. The cake rose to the top of the pan and made a beautiful presentation. It is not a dense cake like most dairy Marble Cakes. It is pareve and Light as Air.
I look forward to trying many more recipes from this beautiful kosher cookbook. You should definitely put it on your list for yourself and buy it for your friends as gifts. Even if they don’t cook, they can leave it on their coffee table. For more information about Renée Muller, go to www.reneemuller.com.
Fall Off The Bone Tender Flanken
The treadmill is a great place to pick up new recipes. Who knew?
This exquisite yet simple recipe was given to me by R.S. Rubin, a renowned cook in Lakewood. It was worth going to the gym that particular Sunday just to talk about cooking (what else?) and end up with a gem like this one.
This recipe is used year round, but is especially good for Pesach.
3 onions, peeled, sliced into rounds
4 (¾-1 pound) bone-in flanken strips
1 cup orange juice
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon potato starch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup red wine
2 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
Preheat oven to 300°F (no, this is not a typo; cooking at a low temperature is important). Arrange onions in one layer in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Top with flanken. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine orange juice, sugar, dissolved potato starch, salt, wine, oil, and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Simmer until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes.
Pour sauce over meat. Cover pan with two layers of heavy duty foil. Make sure it is sealed very well. Bake for 4½ hours.
M || FF || 4 servings
This meat can be prepared in advance and rewarmed. This works for me. When the meat is cool, the fat congeals and can be removed easily.
light as air marble cake
Two of my very close friends and I exchange funny anecdotes, daily struggles, and simple questions by group text. Also many recipes. This one is easy yet so impressive; whenever one of us bakes it we post a picture, with comments: “Look how high it came out this time,” we write, or “I cannot get over how delicious this cake is,” etc. My friend Debbie first introduced the recipe to us; she credited Karen Edelstein. It probably originated in someone’s Bubbie’s kitchen circa 1950’s. It tastes that way. I’ve baked it almost every Friday since. The kids request it often. Nobody is bored of a classic.
Best part: I always have these ingredients handy … no need to plan ahead.
I smile when I read Debbie’s original introduction, clearly stating that this cake must be handled with the utmost care and respect. “Don’t rush.” “Beat the eggs long enough.” “Use only dry utensils”… and so on. She’s right; those precautions ensure you achieve the perfectly high cake you see pictured.
7 eggs, separated
2¼ cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup orange juice
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
Preheat oven to 350°F. In the dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on high speed, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1 cup sugar, ¼ cup at a time, beating after each addition. Beat until stiff peaks form. Incorporate vanilla. Set aside.
In a second bowl, on medium speed, combine egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, oil, and orange juice. Reduce speed; slowly add flour and baking powder. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
Using a metal spoon, gently fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites, without deflating the batter, until no trace of white remains. Pour two-thirds of the batter into an ungreased, dry tube pan.
Return bowl with remaining batter to the mixer; add remaining ¼ cup sugar and cocoa powder. Mix until combined. Pour over the yolk batter; use a fork to marbleize the batters (see Note). Don’t overdo it or a light chocolate cake will result.
Bake for 1 hour-1 hour and 10 min, or until a toothpick comes out with some moist crumbs attached. Remove cake from oven and immediately turn upside down (see Tip). Let cool.
P || FF || 1 10-inch cake; 8-10 servings
To marbleize cake: At 5 to 6 different spots in the cake, dip a fork in and out of the batter in a swift motion, lifting some batter from the bottom. Use the fork to swirl it around a bit, mixing a bit more. This will give the cake a pretty marbleized effect.
Once cooled (after 3-4 hours), run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the cake and turn pan over. Cake should release from the sides of the pan. To transfer to a platter, run knife between the cake and the tube and the removable pan bottom.
Read this review from Norene Gilletz for more recipes and pictures: