Creating kosher-style cuisine with ‘Deep Flavors’
By Deb Silverthorn
Ken Horwitz had all the right ingredients for a fabulous life: beautiful family, strong career and community connections. Nothing was missing, but he’s enhanced life’s flavor with his own, newly published cookbook, “Deep Flavors: A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style.”
“I cook how I cook because I love to eat,” said the Dallas tax attorney. “There’s lots (of dishes) I love to eat that aren’t thought of as kosher do-able and, while you have to make some compromises, compromise doesn’t have to be a negative, and you can cook good kosher dishes you wouldn’t expect (to be) possible.”
“Deep Flavors” is a 330-plus-page tome of recipes and photos, with recommendations, stories and advice that makes the scary seem simple, the perplexing possible.
Among Horwitz’s favorites is Ken’s Blue Ribbon Mushroom-Spinach Lasagna (page 229), for which he won a Blue Ribbon at the 2010 State Fair of Texas.
A native of Atlanta, Horwitz is the son of Lillian Anne and Sidney, of blessed memory, and brother of Jerry and Patsy.
Dating back to his childhood, many of Horwitz’s flavorful memories come from the homemade farmer cheese, blintzes and kreplach from his grandmother and the raisin pie of the family housekeeper. In his home, cooking meant love, and that hands-on giving touch is something he wants those who follow his recipes to give to their own loved ones.
Horwitz is a graduate of Georgia Tech University, Emory University Law School and then George Washington University, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law in taxation. He has spent more than two decades with Glast, Phillips & Murphy and is a member of the Texas Society of CPAs.
He has been married to Bobbie for 52 years. The couple are parents of Lisa (Andrew Costello) and Seth (Lily) and the grandparents of William Costello and Evan and Sophie Horwitz. The Horwitzes have been members of Congregation Shearith Israel for more than 30 years, and their children are alumni of Solomon Schechter Academy (now Ann & Nate Levine Academy). Horwitz served on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas for many years.
“Deep Flavors” is a family affair and the Horwitzes have long made cooking in the kitchen a team effort and passed that on to their children.
Horwitz recalls that when their children were teens, he and Bobbie were cooking blintzes and two young visitors popped into the kitchen to ask what they were making. He couldn’t believe there were teens who didn’t know that blintzes existed outside of a box in the freezer, and he took it on as a personal crusade to preserve the culture surrounding Jewish food. His mission was successful; daughter Lisa shared in the publication of the book, including her recipes for matzo balls (page 154) and for chicken and dumplings, with a tweak from her parents (page 195).
“I just started dictating recipes; some I had written out, some were in my head,” said Horwitz. The book idea came to Horwitz during a cruise more than a decade ago, when the Horwitzes spent many meals talking food with their tablemates, one of them even recommending the title “Deep Flavors,” based on his passion. “I cook and I tweak, and when it tastes right, you have a recipe!” the author said.
“What’s in the book is how we cook at home,” said Horwitz. “Some of it is more complicated but there’s plenty that’s easy and it’s all delicious.”
For more information, or to order “Deep Flavors,” available in hard copy and Kindle, visit deepflavorscookbook.com.
2 Recipes from ‘Deep Flavors’
I used to make corn muffins, cooking the cornbread in a muffin tin and producing separate cornbread muffins. However, I no longer do so. A much better result is obtained by placing the cornbread mixture into a cast-iron skillet preheated in the oven, which is the traditional Southern method. I would not try this with any other type of skillet. Because of the heat involved, you absolutely cannot (and do not need to) use a modern nonstick skillet.
1 cup unbleached flour
2 teaspoons white cane sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cornmeal (preferably yellow)
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons, split use
1 to 2 jalapeños (optional)
1 cup fresh corn kernels plus the “milk” from the cobs (optional)
Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
First place the 10-inch cast-iron skillet into the 425-degree oven while you are making the cornbread mixture. Then whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cornmeal. Northerners will use more sugar, but it really detracts from the taste of the cornbread.
In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, milk and ¼ cup of melted butter. Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until just smooth. The mixture should be a somewhat liquid batter like a thick béchamel. If desired, an addition of 1 to 2 finely diced (brunoise) jalapeños (with or without seeds, depending on the heat level desired) is a wonderful variant, as is a cup of corn cut from a fresh ear of summer corn, with the “milk” scraped with the back of your knife from the cob and pulsed in your blender.
Using a hot pad or insulated gloves, carefully take the heated skillet out of the oven, and place it on the stove top. Immediately add 2 tablespoons of butter, which will melt quickly. Swirl the butter around the pan, making sure to use a hot pad or heatproof glove, and then pour in the cornbread batter. Place back into the 425-degree oven.
The cornbread should be cooked in 20 minutes. Cook until just brown on top. Check at 15 minutes. The cornbread should flip easily onto a cutting board. Serve hot with butter.
Fresh Apple Cake
I have had many apple cakes over my lifetime. This one is absolutely the best, moistest, most apple-flavored and most redolent of cinnamon anywhere. It is also perhaps one of the tastiest and most appreciated coffee cakes of any type that I have ever eaten. Bobbie got this recipe from a friend many years ago. This rendition may be the only remaining version.
4 large (11 ounces or more each) cooking apples (Honeycrisp variety preferably, or other good cooking apples)
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
7 teaspoons cinnamon, split use
²⁄₃ cup butter
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar, plus sugar for topping
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel, core and chop apples into ¼-inch cubes. Chop the nuts — mix them with about 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, stir them with the apples and set aside. By adding the cinnamon, you will not see as much browning on the apples.
Cream the butter, salt and sugar with the KitchenAid beater attachment, and continue until the butter changes color — 1 to 2 minutes. Do not overbeat, because the goal is only to whip air into the butter mixture. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until fluffy, scraping the bowl to ensure even mixing.
In a separate bowl, whisk the baking powder, baking soda and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon into the flour. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 or 4 additions, mixing well. The batter will be thick. Remove from mixer. Pour into a very large mixing bowl (to cut down on strays). Then add the apples and nuts, and mix using a large spatula until well mixed. The batter will be a very thick mixture, but you want the batter well distributed among the apples and nuts.
Pour into a 13x9x2-inch Pyrex pan that you have lined with aluminum foil and well-oiled or buttered ahead.
The topping is a most important part.
Make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar totaling about ½ cup. Make the topping mixture look really dark brown. The ½ cup will contain 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. Sprinkle it liberally and evenly over the top of the raw apple cake.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes. (Depending on your oven, it may need to be cooked longer if it turns out too moist; trial-and-error testing may be required.) The mixture will still be moist when done, so the toothpick test does not work. Let cool on top of stove, and serve either warm or cold. I like it frozen. It will not matter; even somewhat undercooked, it will be yummy. It will get eaten any way it is served. Enjoy!