By Renee Chernin
Cooking For The King is based on the principle that there is nothing mundane in a world created by G-d. Renee Chernin is a homemaker and a chef, sharing her advice on the sanctity, hospitality and elegance of entertaining, while finding G-d in the kitchen. She models the essence of this book in her life, her lifestyle, and her kitchen!
Through the pages of Cooking For the King, Chernin's recipes are both complemented and completed by her Torah thoughts. In this, the first of a series, the focus is on Tishrei- recipes and tips to welcome the New Year.
For example--a glimpse into the section on side dishes:
The side dishes are often referred to as the complements. To "complement" means to provide a component that is lacking or need in the whole. The colors, seasonings, textures and style of ingredients work together to complement and complete a well-rounded meal. This concept is crucial when building relationships. Every Jew is lacking something that another has. Therefore every Jew is connected to on another – a necessary complement to complete the whole of the Jewish People.
And the recipes. . . WOW! We have had the opportunity and pleasure of eating in Renee's home when she lived in Atlanta. She and her husband "King" David now reside in the Old City, Jerusalem. An invitation to the Chernin home has always been regarded as a coveted one. And now Renee is sharing her wonderful recipes with the world so that each reader can become the "Queen" of the kitchen. Check out Renee's website TheKosherChannel.com.
To win a copy of Cooking for the King, enter our Featured Cookbook Giveaway.
Renee's conversation with KosherEye:
What compelled you to write a cookbook--what was your inspiration?
I began this project exactly 10 years ago as our 2 daughters prepared to leave seminary and asked for cookbook of our tried and true recipes to take with them. I saw this as a great opportunity! I could stay connected with my girls through a collection of our favorite foods that they could prepare and share as they entered the world as maturing young women. One of the basic and most powerful ideas I'd learned along the way is that there is always something deeper just waiting to touch us in every action and interaction in our lives. So the cookbook became the vehicle to encourage them to continue looking for meaning, even in something so basic as preparing meals. That book grew to over 400 pages! Which leads to your next question.
What makes your book unique?
For the Cooking for the King Rosh Hashanah 112 page edition, I chose recipes from the original book that lean toward the sweet side, because on Rosh Hashanah we "hint" to Hashem our desire for a sweet new year. Each recipe contains at least one of the simanim (traditional foods that also "hint" for a productive and positive year) as an ingredient. With these recipes one can spread these requests throughout their Rosh Hashanah meals. The book is also seasoned with Jewish thought about the holiday. And, I've included health benefits of the simanim plus storage and preparation tips for each recipe.
What are some of your favorites in the book?
The Caramelized Onion Chicken, Salmon Quiche with Creamy Dill Sauce and the Roasted Leek Pasta are some of the recipes that we really enjoy and are in my regular Shabbat rotation. I hope readers will enjoy the recipes in Cooking for the King all year round.
Do you have a piece of culinary wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?
I tell women "You are the queen in the kitchen." Use your intuition, use what you have on hand, and use what you like. I believe that the pleasure in cooking comes from having kitchen confidence. Some of my best recipe successes have come from fixing my "failures."
What are your 5 must have pantry ingredients and your favorite kitchen tools?
Ingredients: garlic, excellent olive oil, fresh lemons, kosher salt and sugar-you can make just about any vegetable or meat taste great with these ingredients.
Tools: My bright orange "happy face" mixing spoon, a 100 year old cast iron pan (that melted our bbq-grill when we kashered it!), my big chef's knife, a sturdy Pampered Chef spatula and set of stainless steel mixing bowls.
Anything else that you would like to share . . .
Cooking is about connecting: body to soul, one to another and our homes to our Creator. In cooking for our family, community and guests we partner with Hashem. G-d provides our food basics, then we take the raw material and actualize its potential to bring pleasure to others. What an opportunity!