Sharon Lurie is the author of Cooking with the Kosher Butcher's Wife (Random House Struik) and it was in this, her first book, that she set out to dispel the old myth that kosher meat is tough, dry and boring. In her latest book ‘Celebrating with the Kosher Butcher's Wife', Sharon takes you on her trip down memory lane, where she proves traditional recipes don't have to be tired and old fashioned, but rather, very trendy and absolutely delicious.
Her passion for food lies solely in the fact that ‘time out' is time spent in the kitchen! If you thought being the ‘butcher's wife' meant an endless supply of the best cuts of meat - you're wrong. It's the same old story of the shoemaker going without shoes. The first lesson she learnt, marrying into a fourth generation family of butchers, was that the popular kosher cuts such as Scotch fillet and Crown roast would never make it onto their table! These were ‘for the customer' and it was not negotiable. So if it wasn't one of the popular cuts it would either turn up on their plates or it would be turned into ‘polony'.
With easy access to a ‘limited' supply of meat, she started experimenting, creating and improvising with every cut on the forequarter. Just because kosher meat could only be eaten from the forequarter, in South Africa and most countries, it didn't mean kosher meat had to be tough, dry and boring!!
With the ever-increasing kosher products and non-dairy alternatives continually being added to the kashrut list, there just weren't any more excuses! "If it was French cuisine we fancied or tantalizing Thai we wanted to try, we could!" she said.
"Lamb Shanks didn't have to be burnt offerings on the seder plate and beef shin didn't have to be a piece of meat bobbing around in a soup pot, it too needed to be uplifted to it's full Italian potential as Osso Buco! Just because it was kosher didn't mean we couldn't be creative. Kosher meat didn't have to get the "raw end" of the deal. We had the finest meat on the market, the highest grades and the best quality available and yet meat was being used as the excuse for not keeping kosher!" she added. This bland image had to be shechted!!!!.
SHARON WAS ON A MISSION!!!
In between having her three sons and daughter, she would work in the family business and loved suggesting to customers that they try the different cuts of meat available on the forequarter. After many years of experimenting, creating and cooking, she knew that each and every cut on the forequarter was special and had its own unique flavour and texture but how was she going to convince everybody else that there was life after Scotch Fillet.?
"The only way I could encourage customers to try a "new" cut was by offering a foolproof recipe that I had created and prepared many times for that particular cut of meat. I had a file full of recipes for every cut on the forequarter that I couldn't wait to share." she said
The "big black file" grew and so did the interest, not only from customers, but from the local press who requested recipes for the Chagim.
"You've got to write a book" seemed to be the most popular complimentary phrase from those who's meat dish had won the hearts of family and friends that Shabbos. Unfortunately, in South Africa there were no Jewish book publishers, so a kosher cookery book aimed at a lot less than 5% of the population seemed a far cry from reality. Well, that was until she was physically pushed by her sister in law, who was visiting from America, into Random House Struik's offices with her "big black file" where "Cooking with the Kosher Butcher's Wife" was born.
This book was written in a humorous, fun style with stories and anecdotes, keeping eager meat lovers entertained as they tried out her recipes. This book includes beautiful photographs by award winning photographer, Michael Smith, with pictures of the different cuts of meat available on the forequarter together with full color photographs of the different tried and tested recipes. This book contains all the tips and secrets for marinating and tenderizing meat, recipes for marinades, soups, deli delights, beef, lamb, veal, poultry, side dishes, salads and unforgettable desserts. All the recipes in both books are Fleischik (meat) and Pareve.
After the success of her award winning first book, it was time to "Celebrate" with her second book "Celebrating with the Kosher Butcher's Wife".
For Sharon, each Chag possesses its own vibrancy and joy, which is what she wanted to portray in "Celebrating" through the use of bright and colorful photographs. " Each festival brings its own unique customs and traditions with regards to food and this certainly doesn't mean ‘old fashioned' foods" she added. "Who would have thought we'd be eating Thai fishballs on Pesach or chopped liver in choux pastry puffs?"
"Twists on traditional foods have enabled us to follow food trends, while keeping within tradition." Giving a contemporary feel to traditional dishes, making them super tasty, super trendy and super stylish enabled her to lose the tired and old fashioned feel that surrounds the word ‘tradition'.
Now that you've heard her great story come try some of Sharon Lurie's recipes as she does us great honor by sharing them with Culinary Kosher in her recipe box.