Daniella Silver, author of the Silver Platter cookbook series, has recently come out with Variations: Simple and Delicious Dishes. Two Ways (Artscroll Shaar Press).
In The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular, Silver offered recipes with basic ingredients, inviting readers to experiment. In The Silver Platter, Simple Elegance, she focused on recipes with a little more creative flair in presentation and attention to detail. In Variations, she shares with readers versatile recipes that can be served at least two different ways.
In the new cookbook, the basic recipe is on the left-hand page, with a note whether it is dairy, meat or pareve or any combination; if it is gluten-free, if it freezes well and the number of servings. The amounts are regular and metric. On the right-hand page is the variation. Both pages have colour photographs. In the book as a whole, there are 251 recipes and 273 photographs.
Variations’ 10 sections are appetizers (like Deli Egg Rolls and Dill Pickle Football Wings), soups (including Vegetarian Vegetable Quinoa Soup and Dinner Steak Soup), salads (such as Panko-Topped Kale Salad and Pretty Brussels Sprouts Salad), fish (French Fried Onion Salmon and No-Mayo Avocado Tuna Salad, for example), chicken (Old-Fashioned BBQ Chicken and Potato Latke Schnitzel, among others), meat (like Brisket Ends and Overnight Shabbos Corned Beef), dairy (Crustless Baby Red Potato Quiche, Baked Broccoli Tots, etc.), grain sides (such as Crispy Garlic Couscous and Fresh Orzo Salad), vegetable sides (like “Everything Bagel” Asparagus and Maple-Glazed Japanese Sweet Potatoes) and desserts (among which are Low-Fat Ginger Biscotti and Olive Oil Salted Raspberry Brownies).
There are a lot of creative ideas for experienced cooks and great new ideas for all cooks to explore. On her website (daniellasilvercooks.com), Silver says, “I wrote Variations because I felt it’s time to change things up. I want readers to get creative with the foods they prepare by understanding that a recipe can be versatile in preparation or presentation.”
As a food writer and cookbook author, I caught a couple of small but obvious technicalities. When Silver suggests a choice of two ingredients – honey or silan, soy sauce or tamari, for example – she does not mention both possibilities in her instructions for the variation.
When she suggests using a prepared pan, she is inconsistent in indicating in her instructions what preparing the pan means – vegetable spray, flour, etc. She is also inconsistent in telling the reader to preheat the oven as an initial step. Lastly, in the prime recipe, she uses numbers in the instructions; in the variations, she does not. Numbering all of the recipes would have made it easier for cooks, and I have done so below. Here are two recipes with their variations.
RUSTIC SHEET PAN CHICKEN
meat, gluten-free, freezes well, yields 4-6 servings
1 3 lb chicken, cut into eighths
4 peeled, trimmed carrots, cut in half crosswise then lengthwise
1 19 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, apricots, prunes)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp extra light olive oil
3 tbsp pure maple syrup or honey
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Trim and discard excess fat from chicken. Arrange chicken, skin side up, in a single layer on prepared pan.
- Scatter carrots, chickpeas and dried fruit around chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Drizzle with oil or maple syrup; toss to coat.
- Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
Variation: Rustic Couscous
for a meatless main, omit the chicken
- Cook 1 1/2 cups couscous according to package directions.
- Toss carrots, chickpeas and dried fruit on prepared baking sheet with spices, oil and maple syrup or honey.
- Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for 40 minutes or until golden.
- Place couscous onto a large serving platter, top with roasted veggies and dried fruit.
ROSE PETAL APPLE TART
pareve, gluten-free option, yields 10 servings
1 1/2 cups flour (or gluten-free flour)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
5-6 thinly sliced apples
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a 9- or 10-inch flan pan or pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, oil and vinegar. Mix to make a soft dough.
- Press dough evenly against bottom and sides of prepared pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine sliced apples with brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice; gently mix well.
- Starting at the outer edge of pan, place apple slices slightly on an angle to form a circle, making sure to overlap the apples. Repeat with additional rows, working your way toward centre.
- Place additional apples in any gaps (apples should be tightly packed). Pour on any remaining liquid in apple bowl.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes.
Variation: Apple Crisps
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Peel, core and cut apples into large chunks.
- Place in large bowl; mix with brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.
- Place in individual ramekins. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.
Serve either the principle or variation dish hot or at room temperature.
Sybil Kaplan is a journalist, lecturer, book reviewer and food writer in Jerusalem. She created and leads the weekly English-language Shuk Walks in Machane Yehuda, she has compiled and edited nine kosher cookbooks, and is the author of Witness to History: Ten Years as a Woman Journalist in Israel.