Dispatches from the Melting Pot: 5 New Jewish-American Recipes

May, 19 2014

Recipes by Rachel Harkham

As we found out while coming up with the Top 10 Jewish Foods for May’s Jewish-American Heritage Month, embracing our heritage sometimes means embracing the fact that many of our time-honored traditions have been transformed to fit the tastes of mainstream American culture. Some of the resulting dishes are marriages of transcendence (lox and bagels), while some are abominable (blueberry bagels and pizza-flavored hummus, anyone?). Such is the nature of the melting pot: tastes meld, traditions fuse, and new creations are ever being born. No one knows what the next hit dish will be, but Rachel Harkham, the author of Get Cooking! A Jewish American Family Cookbook, has been busy spawning a few geshmackers herself. Here on the blog, she shares her recipes for five modern fusion dishes in honor of JAHM. Enjoy!

Fraiche New SaladFraiche New Salad

This salad takes the flavors of a bagel and lox brunch sandwich and transforms them into a lighter, more contemporary salad.

For the pickled red onions:

  • 1 small red onion (1/2 cup), thinly sliced
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the crème fraiche dressing:

  • 3-4 tablespoons crème fraiche or Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon prepared white horseradish
  • Pinch of sugar, optional
  • 1 pound small new potatoes
  • 2-3 slices pumpernickel or rye bread (optional)
  • 12 ounces torn romaine or mixed greens
  • 6 ounces sliced lox or smoked salmon, cut into bite-sized squares
  • 2-3 tablespoons capers, drained


1. To make the pickled red onions: Pour red wine vinegar in a small bowl, mix in sugar until it dissolves, and add the sliced onion, ensuring it is mostly submerged in vinegar. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.

2. Boil or steam potatoes until just tender; drain. Let cool for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a small bowl mix together crème fraiche (or yogurt), fresh dill and horseradish.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

4. To make the croutons, pre-heat oven to 375°F. Cut slices of bread into bite-sized squares and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

5. On a large platter, evenly spread out lettuce. Space out the boiled potatoes strategically on the lettuce.  Drape squares of smoked salmon over potatoes.  Distribute the pickled red onions in equal amounts over the platter. Sprinkle drained capers over salad. Drizzle salad with horseradish-dill crème fraiche dressing, ensuring that every section gets an adequate amount. Scatter the cooled croutons evenly over salad platter.

Suggested add ins: avocado, beets, hard boiled eggs, radishes. (Purchased bagel chips are a fine substitution for the croutons.)


photo (55) (1)Lite ‘n Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Latkes

These oven-baked latkes are made with a small amount of oil in reference to the Hanukkah tradition. Using New World ingredients like sweet potatoes gives this beloved holiday dish another layer of meaning.


  • Cooking spray or olive oil (to grease pans)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
  • 2 potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and shredded
  • 1 finely chopped medium onion
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup matzoh meal or flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Grease two baking sheets thoroughly. Combine shredded potatoes and chopped onion in a large bowl, and stir in beaten eggs.

2. Stir in matzah meal or flour, salt, chili powder, pepper and baking powder.

3. Scoop latke mixture onto prepared baking pans with a ¼ cup scoop, and flatten the mounds. Brush with olive oil. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until deep golden-brown around the edges. (Makes 15-18 latkes.)

photo (408)Salami & Eggs Fried Rice

This recipe fuses a beloved Jewish deli dish with an iconic Chinese-American one: fried rice. Small chunks of garlicky salami replace the pork; the sauce is a concoction of soy sauce and spicy brown mustard.


  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 4 oz. salami (1 cup) sliced into 1/4 inch pieces and then quartered
  • 2 eggs
  • 5-6 cups prepared rice (white or brown)
  • 7 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • sliced scallions, for garnish


1. Over medium-high heat,  heat canola oil in a frying pan or wok until it starts to get steamy.  Add salami bits and stir occasionally, making sure not to burn the meat (approx 3-4 minutes). Remove cooked salami and set aside in a separate dish.

2. Whisk together the two eggs.  Pour into the sizzling pan. Manipulate the pan to ensure the eggs cover the entire surface in a thin layer. Fry until it sets (about 2 minutes).  Remove from heat, cut into strips and add to the set-aside salami.

3. Empty prepared rice in the hot frying pan turn the flame down to medium-low. Break up any clumps with a spatula and cook for 3-4 minutes.

4. Make sauce: Combine mustard, honey, sesame oil, minced garlic and soy sauce in a small bowl. Pour over fried rice and mix in well.  Add the fried salami and eggs and toss it all together with a spatula, folding all the components together.  Cook over medium-high heat for approximately 10 minutes, tamping down the rice and leaving it undisturbed if you like it crunchy.

puddingChocolate Cherry Bread Pudding

This dazzling dessert makes use of challah, part of the ritual Friday night meal. Leftover challah is repurposed into a sweet and sinfully yummy Southern-style chocolate bread pudding.


  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (one large lemon)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • Butter, or cooking spray for casserole dish
  • 8 cups dry challah cubes* (5-6 1-inch slices)
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (not skim)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (low-fat is fine)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or ½ vanilla bean scrapings


1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat mix together lemon juice, water, and sugar. Stir in dried cherries and allow to bubble and boil until cherries are plump and soft and liquid is reduced by half (about 4-5 minutes). Let cool slightly.

2. Place bread cubes in a well-buttered casserole dish (13″x 9″).  Spread the chocolate chips and sweet- sour cherries over the bread cubes. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs, and then combine the milks, sugar, and vanilla extract.  Pour egg mixture over the bread cubes.  Push down on the bread cubes with the back of a spoon making sure the bread is submerged and absorbs the eggy mixture.

4. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Bake uncovered at 350°F for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

* To dry challah cubes: Spread the challah out in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 300°F for 10-15 minutes stirring two or three times.

Six Layer Dip

The  Six Layer Dip is a take on the Mexican-American seven-layer dip. It is made by alternating layers of hummus—a cornerstone of Jewish-Israeli cuisine—with other savory flavors.  Just the thing to serve on the great American Holiday of Superbowl Sunday.


  • 2 x 17 oz. (family size) hummus (or 3 cups)
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil OR 1/2 cup prepared sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives OR 1/2 cup black olive tapenade
  • 1 cup peppadew peppers or roasted  peppers OR 1/2 cup of roasted pepper spread
  • Hot sauce (optional)

1. In a small Pyrex casserole dish (or something  that holds approximately 5 cups of dip) spread 1 cup of the hummus evenly over bottom of plate

2. Chop sundried tomatoes* coarsely or pulse for 20-30 seconds in the carafe of the food processor. A thick and chunky paste should result. Spread the sundried tomatoes evenly over the hummus layer. Spread another cup of hummus on top of sundried tomatoes.

3. As you did with the sundried tomatoes in the food processor (or manually with a knife), do with the kalamata* olives. Spread olives over hummus.

4. Repeat process with the peppers. If you are including hot sauce, sprinkle a few dashes over the surface of the dip. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

*If you are going with the ready-made spread options, omit the food processing steps and proceed directly to the spreading.

Visit www.reciperachel.com for more Jewish American dishes.

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