Inside “The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home” Cookbook

Stories and recipes from America’s new deli thinkers.

By Benjamin Tepler July 24, 2013

From food blogger Nick Zukin (the co-founder and the “Zuke” in Kenny & Zukes) and Portland food writer Michael Zusman, comes The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home (Andrews McMeel Publishing; $27.99; 272 pages), set to publish in September. The cookbook fixates on Jewish classics and deli standbys found in family recipes, seasonally reimagined staples, and new wave deli creations. Sprinkled throughout the book in a “little of this, little of that” fashion are interviews with Jewish food luminaries, a guide to the next generation of modern delis, and a smattering of food history and science (Why do some matzah balls sink while others float? How did pastrami become the sovereign of deli meats?) Here are five reasons to plotz (Yiddish: to explode with excitement) over their new deli tome.

1. The building blocks for Jewish cuisine: This book covers how to render your own schmaltz (chicken fat), traditional matzah ball soup (with balls that don’t sink or float, they claim, appeasing both camps in the generations-old debate), and “left coast” gefilte fish, reinvented with fresh Northwest salmon and halibut, instead of the traditional bath tub carp.

2. Chronicles from the next generation deli: An extensive guide to a new wave of inspired deli players stretches from New York City’s Mile End to Seattle’s Stopsky’s Delicatessen. These are the great-grandchildren of whitefish-spreading immigrants, bringing local and handcrafted sensibility to classic deli cuisine. Schmaltzed corn on the cob with chile, lime and dill? Not in the Old Country.

3. Recipes from America’s new deli stars: Knockout formulas from contemporary delicatessens are scattered throughout. Highlights include Chinese Broccoli with salami (American Jews have a special connection with Chinese food), Chocolate Babka French Toast, and Pastrami Benedict made with latkes instead of bread.

4. Brisket for all seasons: Why? Because brisket shouldn’t just be a holiday staple. From a summer version with tomatoes, herbs and lager, to a hearty winter “Reisling Sauberbraten” variety, Zukin and Zusman have you covered year-round.

5. Bagels Bagels Bagels: You’ll find the original recipe from Zusman (Kenny & Zukes’ founding bagel maker), plus a journey through Portland’s surprisingly bagel-rich history, dating back to the old Jewish district in the 1950’s. 

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