Ever since I started this blog I started to collect cookbooks. Since Israel doesn’t have big box bookstores, and the only game in town is Steinmatsky’s with it’s odd and quirky stock , I order online. On trips Stateside I stuff my acquistions into my hand luggage and handbag, risking overweight charges and shoulder blisters.
This time, a kindly American Airlines clerk let me to reconfigure my bags at the airport to avoid the charges. I can’t say the same for the blister. But I don’t regret my overshlepping because among my newest purchases is a rare gem, Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking. Coffee table sized with lovely pictures, Schwartz has collected all of the alte heim recipes that New York Jewish restaurants offered before they switched over to Penne ala Vodka and Sushi.
One particularly delightful surprise–and what is a good cookbook if not a collection of edible surprises– is the original Second Avenue Deli health salad recipe. During the latter part of the last century, New York’s Second Avenue Deli was famed for not only for it’s corned beef and pastrami but also for the ubiquitous stainless steel buckets of sweet and sour slaw called “Health Salad.”
Schwartz surmises that the name refers to the salad’s lack of mayonaisse and abundance of vegetables. It’s lightly dressed albeit with plenty of sugar, which is arguably not the most health promoting of foods though , I don’t advise cutting it down for fear of upsetting the subtle sweet and sour balance . I made the recipe for this Shabbat and it was accurate.
I’m thrilled to have stumbled on this recipe. Until I opened Schwartz’s book, I’d relegated it to my mental attic of gustatory memory along with other long lost tastes like Shmulka Bernstein’s fabled spare ribs and rigo janci from now defunct Louis Lichtman bakery.
I see this recipe as the culinary equivalent of the revival of the dead, just right for the Nine Days and other times too.
Second Avenue Deli’s Health Salad
from Jewish Home Cooking
Yield : 8 cups
1 small head green cabbage (about the same as one bag shredded)
2 medium carrots peeled
1 small green bell pepper
3/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1 T salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
Shred cabbage and carrot and cut the pepper into thin slices
Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss well.