Eating Delancey: A Celebration of Jewish Food — Off the Shelf
“It wasn’t easy – but it was sweet.” That’s how Aaron Rezny and Jordan Schaps described the making of their new cookbook, Eating Delancey: A Celebration of Jewish Food. As you might expect from a good Jewish cookbook, the recipes run the gamut. You’ll find everything from kreplach and chopped liver and pastrami-on-rye sandwiches with Russian dressing (the recipe from Katz’s Deli is below for you to try at home) or mustard to pickles and blintzes and gefilte fish. The late Joan Rivers wrote the introduction to the book and quipped, “Jewish food makes Italian food seem like Lean Cuisine.” As the time of year approaches when you want your meals to stick to your bones, Eating Delancey will be a welcome addition to your bookshelf.
Eating Delancey is half culinary tour of historic Delancey Street, complete with recipes from some of the most-notable eating establishments in New York’s epicenter of Jewish cuisine, and half essay collection that lands close to every reader’s heart. Even if you don’t have roots steeped in Jewish culture, the unmistakable themes of hard work, pride, family and food resonate in each story and dish. These essays are what make the book such an exceptional find. Friends and family of Rezny and Schaps all jumped to help contribute recipes and stories. “They were amazingly enthusiastic and wanted to contribute, and wrote immediately,” said the authors. “The memories of the food, the making of the food, the family experience – the words, the emotions and the memory of the recipes flowed. We were thrilled by the outpouring. It inspired us to make this book .”
The recipes all feel personal, too. But make no mistake, that doesn’t undercut the rich flavors you’ve come to love in Jewish cuisine. Even the recipes you might think twice about trying stood out to the authors as delightful surprises. The P’tcha (jellied calf’s foot), for example, took Rezny by surprise: “I never ate it or looked at in until this book. Who would ever think jellied calf’s feet would taste so good.” If you’re going to take the authors’ words for it, you have to try Sammy’s Chopped Liver (Schaps’ recommendation) and Grandma Dora’s Kugel (Rezny’s pick). But if you’re looking for a bite of something that perfectly captures what it means to eat Jewish food on the Lower East Side of Manhattan? You’ll just have to reach for a pastrami on rye. You can order your own copy of Eating Delancey here.
Slap a handful of sauerkraut on a hot pan. Don’t be afraid to go all out — no one ever died from an excess of kraut. Lay the Swiss over the sauerkraut and slowly melt it to gooey glory.
While the Swiss is melting, hand-carve some pieces of our juicy pastrami into thin slices. Inhale deeply. Try to stay conscious despite the delight wave of smoky aromas. Drape those slices over a fresh piece of rye bread — treat yourself to a little extra if you’re in a meaty mood.
Pour the sauerkraut and cheese over the freshly cut pastrami slices. Resist the urge to consume immediately. Smear some Russian dressing over that other slice of rye. No skimping.
Slap the dressing-coated slice over the kraut and cheese, slice that puppy in half, dish out the napkins. Take a moment to appreciate your hand-crafted creation — but only one moment. Who would have the self-control to wait any longer to sink their teeth into this delicious work of art?
Reprinted with permission from Aaron Rezny, photographer of Eating Delancey: A Celebration of Jewish Food.