Millennials comprise the largest generation in American history – and, not surprisingly, they have their own way of doing things and thinking. At 80 million strong, it’s also not surprising that they are influencing every aspect of American life, from the media we watch to the way we handle money, live, move and eat. So, it was just a matter of time before millennial thinking arrived in the Kosher world, leading to “Millennial Kosher: Recipes Reinvented for the Modern Palate” (Artscroll/Shaar Press, $34.99).
Written by Chanie Apfelbaum, the creator of the wildly popular cultural food blog Busy in Brooklyn (www.busyinbrooklyn.com), this handsome volume has glossy full-page photographs and 150 recipes that speak to millennials’ insistence on fresh, seasonal ingredients, a minimum of sugar and processed foods, international flavors and plenty of visual appeal (after all, this is the generation that takes photos of its meals and posts them on social media).
Apfelbaum grew up in a Kosher home in Brooklyn, New York, and writes in the cookbook that she likes to joke that “all traditional Jewish food is brown. Gefilte fish, golden chicken soup with matzah balls, roast chicken, potato kugel and brisket – all beige and monochrome!” This will not do for Apferbaum, whose entry into the culinary world was through food styling. She notes, “People eat with their eyes first.”
In addition to appearance, Apfelbaum focuses on lightening up Kosher cooking, which tends to make liberal use of sugar and heavy carbs. “There’s a reason we all want to take a nap after our Shabbos cholent!” she writes.
This cookbook will also introduce many older cooks to spices and seasonings that millennials have grown to love in their globalized and diverse world and through the internet. But as knowledgeable as this generation is about international flavors, they, famously, know very little about cooking because they spend so much time in the virtual world – and because of their overscheduled childhoods and indulgent baby boomer parents.
To address this, Apfelbaum starts her cookbook with sections on tools and equipment, ingredients and tips. This will also prove useful for older cooks, who might not be familiar with gochujang (Korean fermented red chili paste, it is both sweet and spicy) and freekeh grains, or even avocado oil and mirin (rice cooking wine).
And, trust me, cooks of all ages will want this remarkable cookbook because the recipes are creative, delicious and, often, quite easy.
Still, as a baby boomer myself, I had to laugh to find in the first section, labeled “Staples,” recipes for Preserved Lemons, Fire-Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Onions. Really? These are staples? Well, honestly, once you taste them, they very well might become new staples in your kitchen. But if you’re feeling less adventurous, you’ll also find Tahini Two Ways and One-Bowl Honey Challah.
The next section, Breakfast & Brunch, also combines tradition with some of millennials’ favorite things, resulting in recipes such as Ramen Shakshuka and Green, Eggs & Latke.
From there, it’s on to appetizers, salad and spreads, soups, fish, poultry, meat, meatless meals, dairy, sides, cakes, pies and tarts, sweets and treats, and savory snacks. In short, there are recipes for everything from soup to nuts – literally, as millennials are fond of saying.
Honey Roasted Za’atar Chicken with Dried Fruit
Yield 4-5 servings
When I finally decided to take the cookbook plunge, my biggest challenge was figuring out which “best of the blog” recipes to feature – there are just so many! I’m proud to say that this recipe hooked hundreds of people onto the Middle Eastern spice blend, za’atar. I use it on pita chips, roasted chickpeas, hummus, shakshuka, and garlic confit.
10 ounces dried apricots (scant 2 cups)
10 ounces pitted dried prunes (scant 2 cups)
3 tablespoons za’atar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken legs, skin-on
1⁄2 cup dry red wine
Kosher salt, to taste
1⁄3 cup honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread apricots and prunes into a 9×13-inch pan.
In a bowl, combine za’atar and olive oil to create a paste. Rub the za’atar paste over chicken; place chicken on dried fruit. Pour wine around the chicken; sprinkle with salt.
Cover tightly with foil; bake for 1 hour.
Uncover the pan. Drizzle the chicken with honey. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 30-45 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with the pan juices.
Yield: 3 servings
Ah, shakshuka, you are my all-time favorite breakfast. I love changing you up with different ingredients, and serving you for brunch, placing the pan right in the middle of the table, family style. I’ve created so many variations of shakshuka on my blog over the years — from garbanzo bean shakshuka to spaghetti squash shakshuka, eggplant shakshuka, and even Mexican quinoa shakshuka. This ramen-based recipe is a super-simplified version, so you can make it with very few ingredients on hand.
2 cups marinara sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 1/2 cups water
2 (3-ounce) packages ramen noodles, flavoring packets discarded
2 scallions, sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
In a skillet, bring marinara sauce, sriracha and water to a simmer. Add ramen noodles; cook until noodles start to soften, about 2 minutes. Flip noodles; continue to cook until the block of ramen loosens, another 2 minutes. (Don’t worry if they are not cooked through; they will continue to cook along with the eggs.)
With a spoon, make a well in the sauce. Crack an egg into a small bowl; gently slide it into the well. Repeat, one by one, making wells and sliding in remaining eggs. Cover the skillet; cook until egg whites are set, 4-5 minutes. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
Recipes and photos are reprinted with permission from “Millennial Kosher” by Chanie Apfelbaum
CYNTHIA BENJAMIN is an editor, writer and chef. She is a member of Congregation B’nai Israel, in Woonsocket.