Last week, I got a last-minute invite into the home of a total stranger. It was neither shabbos nor a High Holiday but, as they say in Hebrew, סתם (just) a regular Tuesday. He was an associate of a close colleague of mine, and happened to be hosting a dinner for a fresh sampling of his mother’s quality kosher recipes.
As it turned out, I was not the only guest who arrived alone that evening. Both the woman seated beside and the one across from me were suddenly single. The rest of the dining room table was lined with a random medley of taste-testers plus a magnificent spread of classic Jewish delicacies, only these were better. What no one realized was that I had not come for the food, I needed the company with which I was welcomed from the minute I entered the room.
Perhaps that’s why the dishes I am about to describe seemed so transcendent. The Cabbage soup, of which I am typically not a fan, was peppery with crunchy chards of the main vegetable, as it should be. The braised beef short ribs in an orange Hoisin sauce were so tender I could swear they came from another beast. A twist on the traditional was the light and buttery apple and potato torte, which I still cannot believe was not saturated in butter.
The recipes I discovered are all part of a new Kosher Cookbook application being launched for iPhone users just in time for Rosh Hashanah. The collection comes courtesy of Chef Gloria Kobrin, who has devoted 38 years in the kitchen to mastering the art of modern Jewish cuisine. The Kosher Cookbook application also offers more than 50 customized meal plans for Shabbat, Jewish holidays and all special occasions in between.
The welcoming of guests, “hachnasat orchim,” with which I was greeted, is not merely a matter of etiquette – it is a mitzvah in the Jewish religion. We learn this lesson in Parshat Va’yera when Abraham welcomed three mysterious men into his tent. Not realizing these men were angels, he took the strangers into his home and offered them bread, water to wash their feet and shade to rest. Such hospitality is significant at this time of year, particularly for Jewish singles who may feel alone during the High Holidays.
In the beginning, before we had our gadgets and gizmos, food was the bonding agent that warmed spirits and connected hearts. Now, thanks to technology our rich liturgy of Jewish recipes that have been passed down by our foremother’s, is available anytime, anywhere. I hope you download, enjoy and be sure to share them this holiday season!
To download the Kosher Cookshelf application, search for Kosher Cookbook on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iTunes and download this application for $4.99.