I often receive letters, phone calls and emails from people around the world who cook and bake from my books. It’s especially wonderful when they proudly share that they feel confident enough in the kitchen to change or modify a recipe, adding their own special touches to make it their own.
Recently, I received an email from a former cooking student, Denise Zunenshine of Montreal, telling me that my cooking classes (which she had attended many years ago) had inspired her to embark on her own personal culinary journey to learn everything she could about the art of preparing and presenting fabulous food. Many of her favorite memories were associated with time spent at the table with family and friends, enjoying home-cooked food prepared with love. Encouraged by her husband and three children, Denise decided to follow her passion and, as a result, became a skilled, creative cook.
Together with her cousin, Cheryl Levy, and friend, Tina Abbey, who also share a love of cooking and entertaining, they decided to honor the legacy of their parents’ and grandparents’ recipes, adding their own creative, innovative touch. The result of their passion, dedication and hard work, along with the help of their dedicated committee of volunteers, is Cooking with Love, a fabulous fundraising cookbook with 150 triple-tested recipes, each one accompanied by a full-page color photograph. Proceeds from this labor of love will benefit the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal. The three co-editors explain that what makes Cooking with Love so special is that it honors those who came before them, “who made them the cooks they are today by sharing their love of preparing, presenting and enjoying great food.”
When I spoke with Denise Zunenshine recently, she told me she prefers a home-cooked meal to eating out in restaurants. When she invites friends over for dinner, she likes to keep the menu simple so as not to intimidate her guests. Denise sets the table family-style, using bowls and platters, and everyone helps themselves. Gathering round the table and sharing food with friends and family brings her pleasure.
Denise explains her philosophy about food: “When you eat a good meal, you feel satisfied. Eating is one of the biggest pleasures in life and food that’s beautiful to look at and delicious to eat makes me feel happy. The kitchen is my playground and I always feel relaxed when I’m cooking. It’s really quite surprising, because my mother hates to cook. Even though I give my mom recipes and cookbooks all the time, she always makes the same old thing. I’ve learned a lot from Cheryl Levy and Tina Abbey, my co-editors, who also love to cook. We feel that a homemade meal served with love is part of the glue that keeps family close and friends connected.”
Denise Zunenshine was thrilled to share a few of her favorite recipes and create this colorful Chanukah menu. These delicious dishes will hopefully inspire you to prepare healthy, fabulous fare with flair for the family and friends who will be gathering around your Chanukah table. I hope you enjoy this delightful, heart-healthy menu. It is truly a celebration of the “Feastival of Light!”