Another kosher cookbook taking on a giant in American cooking: Creole food.
Chef Paul Prudhomme described Creole as New Orleans city food, and in the Kosher Creole Cookbook Mildred L. Covert and Sylvia P. Gerson see it also as a part of the larger cultural and ethnic melting pot of Louisiana circa 1982.
When I think of Creole food I think pork and seafood, and the pairing of dairy and meat in most recipes. So once you strip the main elements away can the spicing alone keep it going? Mildred and Sylvia think so.
The successful koshering of any recipe is based on how good any given substitution is, and how much needs to be totally re-imagined. This can be tough when not only do the main ingredients need to be swapped out, but when the cooking method needs to be altered as well, that’s a big ask. And Kosher Creole Cookbook has its moments.
Their recipe Oysters Mock-A-Feller with gefilte fish and 80-proof absinthe haunts me. And I only read about it. Other recipes work beautifully, and incorporate ingredients that are ritualistic in major Jewish holidays, like in this Pas-Over Yam Casserole which utilizes honey and apples, while also presenting as traditionally Creole. Between the fun name and great taste the recipe is a winner. The second recipe is easy, fun and another great name: Pharaoh’s Pears. Much in life can be solved with a jolly title. The dessert really would be wonderful at Passover.
Pas-Over Yam Casserole
- 6 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 lbs)
- 2 cups applesauce
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons melted chicken fat or parve margarine
Cook, peel and slice sweet potatoes. Mix applesauce and cinnamon. Ina greased 2-quart baking dish, arrange alternate layers of sewn potato slices and applesauce, drizzling honey and fat over each layer. Bake uncovered in a 350-degree over for 45 minutes, basting occasionally.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 8 whole medium pears, peeled
- 1 cup Passover red wine
- Passover sponge cake (recipe below is not from the Kosher Creole Cookbook)
Mix sugar, water, cinnamon and lemon juice in pan. Poach pears in the syrup until tender (around 25 minutes). Add wine and cook 10 – 15 minutes longer until pears become wine colored. Remove fruit to serving bowl and cook liquid till reduced by 1/3. Place pears on slices of Passover sponge cake and dribble warm syrup on top.
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ¾ cup matzo cake meal
- ¼ cup potato starch (or almond flour is nice)
- 8 egg whites
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh orange juice
Passover Sponge Cake
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Cut parchment paper to line the bottom of a 10 inch tube pan. Do not grease the pan.
- In a medium bowl, whip egg yolks until light. Gradually add 1 cup sugar and orange zest; continue whipping until thick and pale, about 7 minutes. Sift together the matzo cake meal and potato starch or almond flour; set aside. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks. Fold the dry ingredients into the yolk mixture alternately with the juice. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake springs back to the touch. Invert onto a wire rack to cool. Run a knife around the sides of the cake before removing from the pan.