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Vilna_Vegetarian_Cover
By Fania LewandoSchocken Press in New York (a division of Random House)
Translated from the Yiddish and annotated by Eve Jochnowitz.

How we treasure our vintage cookbooks – a reflection of culinary history and food traditions. The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook is such a treasure, and now holds a special place in our cookbook library. From Joan Nathan "Fania Lewando was a trailblazer, she had style, everything you read gives you a sense of the life that was, and the life that was lost, and the life we should all live."

The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook was written in 1938, in Yiddish by Fania Lewando, the proprietor of a popular vegetarian restaurant in Vilna, Lithuania. Born in Poland in 1887, Fania and her husband, Lazar, settled in Vilna. She spent much time holding cooking classes to educate Jewish women about cooking nutritiously and with fresh flavors.

The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook or as it was known in Yiddish "Vegetarisher Dietetisher Kokhbukh" (Vegetarian-Dietetic Cookbook) was a trailblazer. Written 75 years ago, and sold throughout Europe, it has now been translated into English by Yiddish scholar, Jewish culinary historian and food lecturer Eve Jochnowitz.

From the Jewish Forward - watch an interview with Eve Jochnowitz in Yiddish and English:

Video_talk_with_Eva_Jochnwitz_play

At its publication in 1938, the cookbook was unlike any that had come before. Its 400 vegetarian recipes ranged from traditional Jewish dishes (kugel, blintzes, fruit compote, borscht) to vegetarian versions of Jewish holiday staples (cholent, kishke, schnitzel). It introduced vegetables and fruits that had not been familiar to the Jewish homemaker (Chickpea Cutlets, Jerusalem Artichoke Soup; Leek Frittata; Apple Charlotte with Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs). Lewando was a cooking pioneer; her book did not include any meat recipes. Not even one. When we read her chapter on cutlets, all we could think is that these are now called veggie burgers. The photos in the book are also unique. Accompanying many of the recipes are beautiful full-color drawings of vegetables and fruits that had originally appeared on bilingual (Yiddish and English) seed packets.

Fania_Lewando_400wLewando and her husband died during World War II, and it was assumed that most copies of her cookbook had vanished along with European Jewry. However, a beautiful story has emerged about the rediscovery of the manuscript. A couple attending an antiquarian book fair in England in 1995 found a copy and donated it to YIVO, the New York-based center for the study of Yiddish-speaking Jewry. And then, YIVO supporters Barbara Mazur and Wendy Waxman were taking a class at the Institute. After an instructor showed them the book, the two launched a campaign to have it republished. Jewish Cooking historian and cookbook Joan Nathan assisted the pair in making this happen. YIVO commissioned a translation of the book, making Lewando's "charming, delicious, and practical recipes available to an audience beyond the wildest dreams of the visionary woman who created them".

The cookbook is instructive, creative and touching. Reading and cooking these innovative recipes written for "a time gone by" stirs emotion. To picture the visitors who signed the restaurant guestbook, is also stirring, – Many of the diners were celebrities of the time, including photographer, Alter Kacyzne, Yiddish poet, Itzik Manger, and artist Marc Chagall. Lewando's intelligence, foresight, knowledge and confidence come across in this translation. She was a forward thinking vegetarian cook, a healthy food and nutrition advocate and a fresh flavor chef way ahead of her time. Her recipes and insights have transcended the years. As we said, think veggie burger!

Excerpted from THE VILNA VEGETARIAN by Fania Lewando. Copyright © 2015 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Schocken, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Fania Lewando's Vegetarian Cauliflower Cutlets
(1938 version of a Veggie Burger)

Cauliflower Cutlets
Excerpted from The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook by Fania Lewando. Copyright © 2015 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Schocken, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Cook a cut-up large head of cauliflower in salted water, and push through a food mill or puree in a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, 4 tablespoons bread crumbs and 3 eggs. Mix well and shape into cutlets. Mix 2 eggs with bread crumbs, dip the cutlets, and fry in butter until brown. Serve with stewed carrots

Chickpea Cutlets
Fania Lewando's Vegetarian Chickpea Cutlets
(1938 version of a Veggie Burger)

Excerpted from The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook by Fania Lewando. Copyright © 2015 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Schocken, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

After soaking them overnight, cook 3 cups dried chickpeas until soft. Push them through a food mill or puree in a food processor. Add 3 raw eggs, some salt, 4 tablespoons bread crumbs and 3 tablespoons melted butter. Shape into cutlets, dip in bread crumbs and fry in butter until brown. You may also serve some boiled, thinly sliced potatoes along with these.

Spinach Pâté
A vegetarian dip or shmear
Excerpted from The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook by Fania Lewando. Copyright © 2015 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Schocken, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Wash and cook 1 pound spinach. Place in a colander, and squeeze out the water. Then add 3 onions fried in [olive] oil, 4 hard-boiled eggs, 2 apples, 4 tablespoons bread crumbs, some salt, and 5 tomatoes. Purée everything in a food mill or food processor. Stir in 2 raw eggs and ½ cup olive oil. Grease a pan with oil, put in the batter, cover tightly, and bake in a hot oven ½ hour. Then spread it onto a flat plate to cool. Serve spread on rolls or buns with butter.

Lewando_leeks_E

 Leek Appetizer
Excerpted from The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook by Fania Lewando. Copyright © 2015 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Schocken, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

This recipe calls for butter, but we suggest substituting olive oil for a parve version.
Cut 3 large leeks and 2 Spanish onions into small pieces, and sauté in butter (2 tablespoons). Add 3 diced hard-boiled eggs, 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons bread crumbs, 3 diced scallion, and (chopped fresh) dill. Add 2 raw eggs and some salt (1/2 teaspoon) and mix well. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pot, and add the leek mixture. Cover well, and bake 1/2 hour. Serve sprinkled with dill.

From the translator (For best results, sauté the leeks and onions slowly over a low flame. It will take about 20 minutes. None of the recipes in this collection specifies an oven temperature, for the simple reason that temperature in the wood or coal ovens of that era could not be easily adjusted. A moderate oven of about 350 degrees works for most of the recipes unless otherwise specified

 

To the Housewife: A Few Words and Practical Advice
Fania Lewando launched her cookbook with an introduction whose title translates as: "To the Housewife: A Few Words and Practical Advice."
One must strictly observe the following directions:

1.   "The produce must be of the best quality. There is only a small difference in price between the best and worst produce, but in cooking there is a great difference, in taste as well as nutrition."

2.   "One must use clean utensils." Lewando cautioned that enamel utensils should have no scratches, "because this is harmful to health."

3.   "Use only centrifuge butter (clarified butter) for frying, baking and other cooking." Lewando preferred it over handmade. "It is not true that hand-churned butter is richer. The machine is more efficient than the hands."

4.   "Throw nothing out; everything can be made into food." Save vegetable cooking water for soups, she advises in one example.

5.   "Prepare everything precisely as instructed in the recipes, and do not rely on others. All these foods can be easily made, because I have tested each recipe several times."

Lewando's promise to readers: "I have the fullest satisfaction in the knowledge that my cookbook is practical and that it will be very useful to every housewife in her daily life."

Cookbook Giveaway - Two readers will be randomly chosen to win
The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook 

Giveaway limited to continental U.S. only. If not living in continental U.S, you can still enter and, if selected, "gift" your prize to a continental U.S. friend or relative. The winner will be notified by email. Once notified, the winner must respond within 48 hours or the prize will be awarded to the runner-up.

This giveaway ends at 11:59PM, Month Day, Year.   Enter to win below:

If you just can't wait to see if you are the winner, you can order online here: ENTER AMAZON LINK

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