Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Cookbook Review: The Modern Menu by Kim Kushner

The Modern Menu Kosher cookbook
 was launched on April 1st, 2013. Photo credit from

Kim Kushner
There are many great kosher cookbooks available on and one of my new favorites happens to be by Montreal-born, Kim Kushner, entitled The Modern Menu. Coined as "Simple. Beautiful. Kosher." The Modern Menu, launched April 1st, 2013, is a refreshing cookbook consisting of 12 creative and fairly easy to make menus.

A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, Kim Kushner has been giving cooking classes for over 10 years; she is a pr
ivate chef for New York's most 'discerning' eaters and is a recipe contributor for major New York publications. In her new cookbook, Kim demonstrates how her lifelong love of food, her cooking techniques along with her family's Jewish Modern Orthodox traditions result in delicious modern cuisine, that also happens to be kosher.

Some of the recipes which can be found in this coobook are:
 Jon's Roast ChickenSweet & Sour Broccoli Salad and Gingered Butternut Squash and Sweet Potatoes. Photos by Andrew Zuckerman.

Her menu themes revolve around concepts like: vibrant, crisp, piquant, warm, nourishing... each concept includes an appetizer,  main course, 2 to 3 side dishes. For example, the vibrant section includes:

Kohlrabi and Cabbage Salad with Maple Lemon Dressing
Eggplant with Spicy Harissa Dipping Sauce
Baby Lamb Chops with Pesto Croute
Couscous with Dried Fruit and Almonds

The Cinnamon-Hazelnut Pavlova with Raspberries is one of the minimalist yet spectacular desserts featured. Photo by Andrew Zuckerman

As for sweets you'll find:

Lychee-Melon Fruit Salad with Pistachios and Honey
Cinnamon-Hazelnut Pavlova with Raspberries
Medjool Dates Stuffed with Walnuts (a traditional sweet I grew up at home with)
Broken Dark Chocolate Cake
and close to a dozen more...

On September 23rd, over 70 people gathered at the YM-YWHA for Kim's first Montreal cooking demo. That evening, she cooked-up 5 Minute Chummus (a staple in her home), Mediterranean Green Salad with feta and figs (as she calls "delish!") and Marinated Vegetable Salad all from The Modern Menu. 

For those who couldn't make the event, Kim shared some key cooking tips including: 
  • Make dressings in advance and store in the refrigerator
  • For those allergic to sesame in the chummus recipe, she recommends using roasted garlic in place of tahini
  • Use Zaatar to make homemade pita chips
Although she loves Manhattan and looks forward to cooking all over NYC i.e. Brooklyn, Long Island and Detroit, what she misses most from Montreal food, is La Marguerite challah and of course, Montreal bagels!" 

One of the salads made at the cooking demo. Mediterranean Green Salad with feta and figs 

The Modern Menu by  native Montrealer, Kim Kushner
Photo by Andrew Zuckerman

All in all, most of the recipes I tried from this cookbook turned out successful, from the Salmon en Croute, bourekas, Jon's Roast Chicken, Balsamic-Marinated Chicken with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes, Grilled Eggplant, Sun-Dried Tomato and Bocconcini Salad. This cookbook not only reflects aspects of traditional Jewish Moroccan, Mediterranean and Italian cuisine as many of her recipes benefit from sun-dried tomatoes, sauteed onions, jams and herbs.

I think Kim is adorable and anyone who reads her cookbook can see how her love of cooking is reflected throughout her book. It's always nice to see a native Montrealer cooking on the Today Show!

For more information go to:
Modern Menu Hardcover / Price: $39.95 USD | Paperback / Price: $21.95 USD or $23.50 CAD at Coles in Montreal

Easy-to-Make Lavender Havdalah Sachets

Sewing little sachets and filling them with dry lavender is easier than you think.

Easy-to-make bessamim by simply placing lavender in pre-made organza sachets.

Havdalah (Hebrew: הַבְדָּלָה, meaning 'separation') is a Jewish religious ceremony that marks the symbolic end of Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and ushers in the new week. The ritual involves lighting a special havdalah candle with several wicks, blessing a cup of wine and smelling sweet spices or herbs. Shabbat ends on Saturday night after the appearance of three stars in the sky. (Wikipedia)

Back from our visit at La Maison Lavande, we had lots of lavender to dispose of. Placing dry lavender inside Havdalah sachets is one of my favorite uses of this flower. These can be easy to make by placing them in Dollarama organza sachets. You can purchase these in sets of 3 or 10 depending on the size. 

If you want to get a little more sophisticated, sewing pieces of cloth and tying them with ribbon can be another hobby. For easy instructions check-out this video via Martha Stewart episode on sachet making.

Shavouah tov everyone! And have an amazing week!