Author Archives: June Hersh

June Hersh

About June Hersh

June Hersh is the author of The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry Book, which you can find online and in major bookstores. She lives in Manhattan and Bedford, NY. You can read more at junehersh.com.

Simple Spatchcocked Chicken and Roasted Root Vegetables

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Grab your dictionary and you’ll find that spatchcock is a method of splitting (butterflying) achicken. It’s a fun word, which you can use to impress your friends or win at Scrabble. If time is crunching, but you want to make a crispy, flavorful roast chicken, butterflying is a great option.

Behind the Counter
Have your butcher, butterfly the chickens. You can do this yourself by removing the backbone and pressing down on the breast till flat.

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Settling a Debate in an NYC Cab

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Earlier this week, June Hersh wrote about her perfect day, her Jewish culinary journey and unraveled the mystery of Jewish food. She will be blogging all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning‘s Author Blog.

As a New Yorker, I brave the cracked pavement, dodge the deliverymen on bicycles and boast of my worn MetroCard. But there is one mode of transportation that, while costly, can be more than a way to get from point A to Point B. I relish my place firmly seated and belted into the back of the iconic yellow New York City cab. I proudly raise my hand, a little sweaty in the sweltering summer heat or snuggly gloved on a cold winter’s day, to hail the cabs that whiz by. I am that rare passenger who notes the driver’s name not because I am sure I will have to report him to the taxi and limousine commission, but because I want to engage him in conversation and knowing his name makes our ride more personal and relatable.

So what do we talk about? Invariably politics arises, as most of the cabbies hail from somewhere else and came to America for a better life. They are at the same time grateful for America welcoming them and vocal about the mishandling of many current issues. The typical cabbie has the radio on the entire day and their stations seem to hover on talk radio where they are inundated with political views and pundits weighing in. I find that whether they moved from West Africa to West Harlem or Jamaica in the Caribbean to Jamaica Queens, they have focused opinions and a clearer understanding of how politics function (or don’t) than they do of which route is faster and cheaper.

While I too am fascinated with current events, I find my conversation always turns to food. The intriguing accents prompt me to ask, “where are you originally from?” I have met drivers from just about every region Rand McNally can map. There is no doubt that there are a disproportionate number of drivers from Pakistan, India, and Middle Eastern countries. From kippahs to turbans, the drivers represent their region with pride. On one short ride from the Upper East Side to midtown Manhattan I had the pleasure of talking to a Jewish cabbie who immediately sensed I was Jewish as well. We talked about children and parents and then I slipped into the conversation that I had just completed writing a cookbook called

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A Picture Perfect Day

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Earlier this week, June Hersh wrote about her Jewish culinary journey and unraveled the mystery of Jewish food. She will be blogging all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning‘s Author Blog.



I am not Martha Stewart, and I don’t have a staff of twenty to help me prepare a dish or stage a photo.  But I didn’t need her perks on a sunny August day when I was preparing to photograph my food for The Kosher Carnivore, my second book.  My first book, 
Recipes Remembered
, featured historic and archival photos of the survivors whose stories I told.  Glossy color shots and well-set vignettes were not appropriate for a book focused on the Holocaust.  But for The Kosher Carnivore, we wanted to show the yummy food in all its glory, and that meant me and my digital camera would need to be replaced by a professional photographer.

I was not stranded on my kitchen island without some assistance.  My two supportive daughters were there to lend a hand.  Jennifer would be my enthusiastic sous chef and cleaner-upper — a skill she inherited from her very meticulous and helpful father.  Allison, would be my set designer, as she has a creative flair and an eye for photography.  But the real hero would be noted food photographer Ben Fink.  He has shot images for celebrity chefs and Food Network icons, and now he was coming to my house to film my food.

The night before I diligently enforced the three words that every chef evokes: mise en place.  In French, that translates to mean “everything in place,” and for cooks it is what stands between disaster and delicious.  Prepping ingredients, stocking my pantry, and setting a timeline were part of my late night homework.  Ziploc bags became filled with chopped onions, diced carrots and julienned leeks.  The fridge was loaded with uncorked wine, lemons waiting to be zested and meat and poultry marinating the night away.

I didn’t need a rooster to wake me as I barely closed my eyes, reviewing my notes and plotting my course.  I had the daunting task of preparing 19 separate dishes to shoot the 11 photos we had hoped to capture. I needed to be part circus juggler, part Julia Child and part Zen master as without calm the day would be a catastrophe.

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Mediterranean Osso Buco with Zesty Gremolata

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This dish, which has its roots in Milan, is braised in wine and aromatics and served over saffron-scented rice. Osso Buco actually translates to mean “hole bone,” alluding to the rich melt in your mouth marrow contained in the center. Be sure to provide small forks or little knives to coax out the soft delicacy. This recipe calls for a dash of balsamic vinegar and the option of adding olives and anchovies to give the dish a little extra intrigue. The gremolata topping is optional, but lends a vibrant note when spooned over the veal.

Behind the Counter
Have your butcher cut the shanks into 2 1/2 – to – 3-inch pieces (about 10 ounces each). Ask your butcher to tie kitchen twine around the outside of the meat, as if cinching the shank with a belt at the waist, so that it does not fall off the bone when cooking.

Alternate cuts
There is no exact substitute that will produce the same dish, but you can use the sesame ingredients and method to prepare veal spare ribs (-$) or lamb shanks (-$).

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Unraveling the Mystery of Jewish Food

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On Monday, June Hersh gave a recipe for Moroccan lamb shanks. She is the author of The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry Book, available this week. She will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning‘s Author Blog.

As a food writer you need to be prepared to answer just about any question tossed at you during a Q&A. I like to feel I know my subject matter inside and out, and I admit to late night Googling (that sounds x-rated) to research something I am not 100% certain of. While I should be dreaming of food, I am instead trying to unravel its mysteries. My

obsession with information is justified as I have been asked if a free-range chicken is happier than its caged neighbor, or whether America’s fascination with hummus is a fad or here to stay. Understanding food is my job, and the better my understanding the more clearly I can communicate the power of food through the recipes I write. No query has kept me awake more nights then a question I was asked during a radio interview: what is Jewish food? Truth is, it’s a great question with no easy answer.

In my first book,
Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival
, I told the stories of Holocaust survivors and recreated their cherished recipes. No one would question that the kugel I tasted, the matzo ball soup I slurped and the brisket I devoured were Jewish foods. They have been eaten in every Jewish home, prepared in a myriad of ways and while ingredients and techniques vary, they definitely fall into the Jewish food arena.

My second book,
The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry Book
, was designed to be a departure from the typical Jewish cookbook, focusing on techniques and recipes that crossed borders and time-zones and appealed to both Jewish and non-Jewish cooks alike. Using a meaty cut of osso buco or a testosterone driven capon, I prepared what I consider to be eclectic but unexpected kosher food. Yet once the word kosher is involved in a book title, the perception is you are presenting Jewish food.

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Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate Sauce

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Lamb shanks are rich, meaty, and succulent as the layer of fat that envelopes each shank bastes them while they cook. This Moroccan version features aromatic spices, which blend to give the shanks a punchy taste, while never overpowering their natural flavor. The addition of pomegranate juice brings a subtle sweet tart flavor to the sauce.

Behind the Counter: The singular taste of lamb shanks really has no equal. Alternate cuts short ribs (+$) or osso buco (+$) or even turkey drumsticks cut osso buco style (-$).

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My Culinary Journey

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June Hersh is the author of The Kosher Carnivore: The Ultimate Meat and Poultry Book, available this week. She will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning‘s Author Blog.



If you had told me on my 55th birthday that in the coming year I would have a cookbook published and a second one in the works I would have told you to promptly return your crystal ball to Amazon and ask for a full refund. Prior to that year I had many roles, foremost mother and wife, and secondarily as a teacher at the Solomon Schechter Day School, founder of Fancy Schmancy, a children’s clothing company, and resource coordinator for my family’s lighting business. But cookbook author was not on my resume.

After we sold our business, my sister stated what would become our mantra– we did well, now let’s do good. I took those as marching orders and proceeded to discover my newest incarnation, cookbook author. It seemed like a natural choice. I have always been a student of everything food, an adventurous eater and fearless cook. I find that there are not many endeavors that give you the instant gratification cooking does. Maybe it’s the Jewish mother in me, but the act of nurturing and nourishing is in my DNA. So many of my favorite memories are set around the kitchen table as a child, watching my mother lovingly prepare even the simplest dish. She could turn grilled cheese and tomato soup into a five star experience. So it seemed so natural that this would be the niche that I found to bring a new richness to my days.

My first project was 
Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival
, a book focused on the stories and recipes of Holocaust survivors. I would personally interview each and every survivor or their family member and write their remarkable story and recreate their cherished recipes. The good would be that I would donate all the proceeds to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, an institution that stands as a living memorial to the Holocaust. The experience was life-changing and resulted in a beautiful book that has raised both funds and awareness.

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