Jake Cohen’s new cookbook “Jew-ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes From a Modern Mensch,” is not just about food, it’s about family, culture and taps into what makes us who we are.
During a recent conversation with Jessica, Jake said that he wanted to explore what being Jewish meant to him and to encourage people to find passion in every aspect of their identity.
He said that when he met his husband, who is Persian-Iraqi, he learned of different traditional Jewish dishes that they then got to explore together.
Many of the recipes in Jake’s book are tied to family members on both his side and his husband’s side, and he said he learned a lot about his background and what his family went through to get these recipes to America.
“I find it incredibly incredibly important to preserve these recipes, and these stories,” Jake said.
He revealed his favorite dish from the book and showed us how to make potato leek bourekas, which Jessica called “a carb lover’s dream.”
This segment aired on California Cooking with Jessica Holmes Episode 96.
Potato Leek Bourekas, excerpted from “Jew-ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes From a Modern” Mensch
Yield: Makes 12 bourekas
Prep time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound of russet potatoes (2 small), peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved, rinsed well, and thinly sliced
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 8 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 2 sheets of store-bought puff pastry (from one 16- to 17.3- ounce package), thawed
- 1 large egg, beaten
- White sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
- Flaky sea salt, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and leeks and cook, stirring continuously, until the leeks soften and the potatoes begin to caramelize, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the milk and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the feta. Using a potato masher, coarsely mash the potato mixture, then let cool slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- On a lightly floured cutting board, unfold 1 sheet of the thawed puff pastry (about a 9- inch square), with the seams where it was folded aligned vertically. Cut down both of the seams to make 3 strips, then cut the strips in half crosswise to form 6 equal rectangles. With your hands, take each piece and stretch it carefully into a 4- inch square.
- Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the potato filling in the middle of each square of pastry. Brush a little beaten egg on the edges of the pastry, then fold the pastry over the filling to form triangles, stretching it as needed to enclose the filling and pinching the edges of the pastry to seal. Transfer to one of the prepared sheet pans, spacing the bourekas 2 inches apart. Re-peat with the remaining sheet of puff pastry and filling to form 12 bourekas total. (You’ll have a little extra filling, which can and should be saved to mix with your eggs in the morning or eaten plain with a spoon as the bourekas bake.)
- Crimp the sealed edges of each boureka with a fork and brush each liberally with the remaining beaten egg. Sprinkle the top of each boureka with a pinch of sesame seeds and flaky sea salt, if desired.
- Place both pans in the oven and bake, rotating the pans halfway through, for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool slightly, then serve warm or at room temperature, as they’re best enjoyed the same day they’re baked.