Kosher 101 – How to Create a Kosher Recipe – by Sarah Lasry

What? I can't enter my grandma's famous Italian sausage lasagna dish or my mother's delicious clam chowder recipe?

Oy Vey - you need to come up with a kosher recipe and ASAP. If you've never cooked kosher before you are probably feeling limited, somewhat intimidated and to tell the truth, a little overwhelmed. As my Jewish grandmother would say "you're feeling a little faklempt!" Right?

Don't get all kvetchy and give up yet! You'll soon see, kosher cooking is really very simple and easy to achieve. A little creativity and good ingredients will create the perfect recipe for an unbelievable kosher gourmet meal that friends and family will want you to make over and over again.

What is kosher? A few basic rules to follow:

RULE NUMBER 1:
Absolutely no mixing meat products and dairy products together in the same dish or at the same meal.

RULE NUMBER 2:
Absolutely no shellfish of any kind. Only fish that contains both fins & scales are considered kosher (tuna, salmon, sea bass, trout, red snapper, tilapia, and carp are a few examples).

RULE NUMBER 3:
Absolutely no pork. Only animals that chew their cud and have split hooves are considered kosher as well as most species of birds which are domesticated (beef, bison, lamb, veal, chicken, duck, Cornish hens, pheasant and turkey are a few examples of kosher meat). BUT Beef- Hind-quarter cuts of beef (sirloin, rump, filet minion to name a few) are NOT available kosher and should not be used in recipes.

RULE NUMBER 4:
All eggs from kosher birds, unprocessed grains and cereals, most raw spices from plants and leaves, all fruits and vegetables are considered kosher and pareve (neutral) and can be used together with milk or meat dishes.

You see, it's not so bad. There are a wide variety of ingredients available for the kosher cook. It’s really about your own creativity and inventiveness that will make your kosher recipe really stand out. Like any good recipe, it should be fairly uncomplicated, full of good ingredients that are complementary to each other and to one's palate and should have your own unique twist that makes it undeniably scrumptious. But, most of all, once it comes out of that oven it should look, smell, and sound so delicious that people can’t wait to dive in and taste it.

Now that you have the basic rules to what you can use in creating your kosher recipe, things should be looking a lot simpler. But if you are still feeling slightly hesitant and overwhelmed by all the rules, here are a few basic answers to the most frequently asked questions about kosher cooking.

Basic Kosher Q & A

Q. My meat recipe calls for a cream sauce, what can I use to substitute for the heavy cream, butter and milk it calls for?
A. Luckily there are many things you can use to substitute for dairy products on the supermarkets shelves these days. Not the case a few years back. Items such as non-dairy creamer, soy milk, margarine and tofu cheeses can be used as substitutes for their dairy counterparts. If you can’t find them in your local market, try making roux with flour and water to help thicken that non-dairy cream sauce you are making.

Q.Can I mix fish and dairy together?
A. Yes. You can prepare fish and dairy together. However, there are those who have a tradition not to mix the two ingredients together.

Q.What does pareve mean?
A. The general meaning of pareve refers to foods that are neither from milk nor meat. They can be considered neutral and be used in both dairy and meat dishes.

Q.Are sheep's milk and goat cheese kosher?
A. Yes. Milk and milk-derived products of kosher animals are always kosher. All milk from cows is kosher.

Q. Can I mix meat and fish?
A. Please do not enter any recipe that uses beef or chicken broth with a fish. However, you may use our new vegetable broth in combination with fish.

Q.Can I make ethnic food Kosher?
A. Absolutely. Kosher just has to do with ingredients, not what style you cook.

Feel free to tweak any recipe from any region or country to fit your kosher needs. Innovative recipes are all about your cooking vision and originality.

OK! Feeling more confident about kosher cooking? You should be. Kosher cooking is really no different than any other style of cooking. So roll up your sleeves, tie up your apron strings and dive into the world of kosher cooking; it’s sure to be simply delicious.

And as all great Jewish cooks say, Bitayavon! (Good Appetite!)