Leah Koenig

Leah Koenig is a food writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Saveur and other publications. Leah's first cookbook is The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook. Her next cookbook, The Modern Jewish Cookbook, is coming in 2015.
20 Great Side Dishes for Rosh Hashanah
Add some color to your holiday table.
Sep 15, 2023
Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons
One of my favorite strategies for moving outside the box of the standard Shabbat dinner menu is to look to the global canon beyond the Eastern European standards I grew up with. The Jewish cuisines of Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East — all warm-weather climates — are particularly ripe with summer cooking inspiration. This chicken dish, for example, is often served on Shabbat by Moroccan Jews, but it was delightfully unfamiliar to me when I first started making it.
Jul 30, 2023
Global Fry: 5 Hanukkah Treats from Around the World
In America, Hanukkah food typically refers to two things: latkes, Eastern European fried potato pancakes, and sufganiyot, jelly-filled doughnuts that are favored in Israel and increasingly popular here. While very different in composition, what ties these two foods together is that they are fried in oil — a technique that directly connects to the “miracle of the oil” in the Hanukkah story.
Jul 25, 2023
A Food Lover’s Guide to Purim
Purim is the Jewish calendar’s biggest party festival. The holiday celebrates the biblical story of the heroic Queen Esther, a Jewish woman who rose to become the Queen of Persia and saved her people from destruction at the hands of her husband’s ill-intentioned advisor, Haman. People celebrate Purim by gathering in synagogues to read Esther’s story aloud. They then head off to parties to celebrate the ancient victory by wearing costumes, getting tipsy, and, of course, eating.
Feb 24, 2023
5 More Ways to Rock Thanksgivukkah
Perhaps you have heard the news: this year, for the first time since 1888, Thanksgiving falls on the first day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The convergence of these two holidays — which has been dubbed Thanksgivukkah — is huge for food lovers. Potato latkes meeting turkey and sweet potato casserole — it is almost too much goodness to take. This once-in-a-lifetime occurrence is not scheduled to happen again for 70,000 years (seriously) so let’s rock it.
Sep 19, 2022
Sukkot Recipe: Kabocha Squash Soup with Pomegranate and Pepitas
On Sukkot, which begins tomorrow night, Jewish families around the world will head outside to eat under the stars. As the Jewish calendar’s harvest festival holiday, there is a tradition of building temporary outdoor huts called sukkahs, which serve as al fresco dining rooms during the weeklong holiday. As wonderful as it is to have an excuse to dine in the great outdoors, autumn can be an iffy time of year — sometimes gloriously crisp, other times uncomfortably chilly.
May 17, 2022
10 Simple & Flavorful Passover Side Dishes
Passover is almost here — do you know what you’re cooking yet? Most likely, you’ve got the main building blocks set: classics like matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, brisket and roasted chicken. But when it comes to sides, there’s lots of room to mix and match with seasonal vegetables and Passover-friendly starches like potatoes and quinoa. Here are ten delicious, vibrant side dishes to adorn your Passover table.
Mar 17, 2021
Recipe: Herb and Scallion Latkes
Apple sauce and sour cream still required.
Mar 30, 2020
Chef Einat Admony’s Sukkot Celebration
Chef Einat Admony knows a thing or two about “leaning in.” As creator of the popular New York eateries, Taim Falafel and Balaboosta, she has helped bring inspired Middle Eastern fare to New York City. The Israeli-native (her mother is originally from Iran; her father from Yemen), has a brand new cookbook out too. Also called Balaboosta, it shares many of her best dishes pulled from the restaurants and her Mediterranean roots. (See our peek inside it here.
Feb 3, 2020
Recipe: Chicken Soup with Shallot-Shiitake Matzo Balls
Around the World in 30 Soups: This month we’re collaborating with chefs, cookbook authors, and our own Kitchn crew to share a globetrotting adventure in soups from countries and cuisines around the world. Today’s stop: Israel. Yes, matzo technically rose out of Egypt (playful pun intended) when the Jews had to flee last-minute and their bread didn’t have time to rise.
Feb 3, 2020
Recipe: Smoky Beet Hummus
A delightful take on the classic veggie platter dip.
Jan 29, 2020
Recipe: Peach and Raspberry Tart
Summer baking sounds like a contradiction. Who wants to turn on the oven when the temperature tops 90 degrees in the shade? On the other hand, the anticipation of fruit pies, cobblers, and tarts at the end of a meal make it worth heating up the kitchen. I found that making a quick tart with puff pastry is the perfect compromise on a hot summer day, and it ends Shabbat dinner on a delightfully sweet note.
Jan 21, 2020
Chocolate Marble Loaf Cake Is the Perfect Make-Ahead Dessert
It tastes even better on day two.
Dec 19, 2019
This Custardy Noodle Kugel Is Swirled with Poppy Seeds and Jam
Try this Hungarian twist on classic kugel this year.
Dec 19, 2019
You Can Make This Mrs. Maisel Hanukkah Menu, Whether You Got the Rabbi or Not
We included the brisket, of course.
Dec 19, 2019
Wow Your Hanukkah Guests with Balsamic and Brown Sugar Brisket
It tastes best with latkes, of course.
Dec 15, 2019
Festive Appetizers for Ringing in the Jewish New Year
These are the apps to make this Rosh Hashanah!
Sep 30, 2019
4 Tips for Baking Perfect Hamantaschen from Ovenly’s Erin Patinkin
Whether you grew up eating them or not, homemade hamantaschen are a special treat. The triangle-shaped cookies, which are traditionally served during the Jewish holiday of Purim, come stuffed with jam, ground poppy seeds, and many other delicious spreads. And when made well, with a supple dough and warm, sweet filling, they can be ethereal. The problem is, making hamantaschen at home can be tricky.
May 2, 2019
An Apple & Honey Cheese Board for Rosh Hashanah
Every fall, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) rolls around right as the apple harvest comes into full swing. The timing could not be more fortuitous, since apples dipped in honey are the holiday’s best known food symbol — an edible representation of one’s wishes for a sweet and round year ahead.
May 1, 2019
5 Ways I Create a Passover Seder Everyone Can Eat
Passover has a lot of inherent food restrictions. The no bread thing is a given. But oats, barley, spelt, and rye are also off limits, as is anything made from wheat flour (which is basically everything). For many Jews, particularly those of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) descent who tend to be more stringent, corn, rice, legumes, soybeans, lentils and all sorts of other unexpected staples are also off the table. Phew.
May 1, 2019
After the Seders: 4 Ways to Enjoy a Whole Week of Passover Meals
Every year people tend to get obsessive over their seder menu planning. And for good reason — Passover rivals Thanksgiving in culinary importance. But with so much attention paid to two seder meals, it is easy to forget that Passover and it’s many food restrictions, last an entire week. That means no sandwiches, no quick pasta dinners, and certainly no takeout pizza. I used to let the prohibitions get me down, but I have learned it is much more effective to stay positive.
May 1, 2019
Recipe: Pine Nut and Scallion Couscous
Save the heavy kugels for another Shabbat and make this Middle Eastern-inspired couscous dish instead! Summer isn’t complicated. A summery Shabbat dinner shouldn’t be either. For this easy side dish, I always grab a bunch of crisp, peppery scallions at the farmers market, then soften them in olive oil alongside buttery pine nuts until everything is golden. Then I toss them together with couscous that has been simmered in vegetable broth and a handful of golden raisins.
May 1, 2019
Recipe: Vegetarian Chopped Liver with Shallots
Beans and walnuts join forces for your holiday spread!
May 1, 2019
Recipe: Borscht Crostini
Whether served hot or cold, brimming with meat or completely vegetarian, the beet soup known as borscht has become a staple of the Ashkenazi Jewish repertoire. Perhaps that is because, amidst a sea of brown, heavy dishes — potato kugel, challah, cholent, latkes, and so on — borscht’s ruby color and tangy-sweet flavor offers a bright counterpoint. I love to make borscht, but I do not fancy the cold version that is popular during the warm summer months.
May 1, 2019
An Easy, Modern Menu for Hanukkah
Make latkes. Pop bottles.
May 1, 2019
Recipe: Gougères with Fig Jam
Fried jelly doughnuts, called sufganiyot, are a common Hanukkah treat in Israel, and are increasingly popular in the United States. But while homemade doughnuts filled with strawberry or raspberry jam are delicious as a once-in-a-while treat, they make the house smell like fried food and leave a pesky amount of cooking oil behind to dispose of. These gougères, which come sandwiched with fig preserves, offer a savory, sophisticated twist on sufganiyot.
May 1, 2019
Recipe: Fennel-Apple Bellinis
Bubbly Champagne makes the perfect, effervescent pairing for potato latkes and other fried foods served on Hanukkah. Here, apple cider enhanced with homemade fennel seed syrup and offset with a splash of lemon juice puts a cozy, winter-friendly spin on a classic Champagne bellini. The fennel syrup is simple to prepare and keeps well in the fridge, making it the perfect prep-ahead base for holiday cocktails.
May 1, 2019
5 Menu Swaps to Make Your Shabbat Dinner Suited for Summer
Most of the best — and best-known — dishes in the Eastern European Jewish cannon are heavy, rib-sticking things. They are delicious, to be sure, but not exactly foods you want to eat on a sweltering Friday night. This summer, break out of the traditional Shabbat dinner mold by swapping the classics with fresher, lighter fare that keeps the spirit of the holiday without weighing you down. Here are a few suggestions pulled from my new book, Modern Jewish Cooking.
Jul 31, 2015
The Art of Shopping and Preparing for Shabbat Dinner
Because Shabbat comes every week, it often feels like as soon as the dishes from this week’s dinner are over, I am starting to plan the next one. Over the years, I have come up with a few strategies to keep the planning and prep simple and organized, so I can enjoy it almost as much as the dinner itself. Before crafting a menu, I check in with guests about their dietary needs. We keep a kosher home, so we are already set for both kosher and non kosher guests.
Jul 30, 2015
A Guide for the First-Time Shabbat Guest
Making guests feel comfortable is my primary goal at any dinner party I host. On Shabbat, that can be a little tricky. On top of the typical considerations — things like food allergies and guest compatibility — there is just a lot of stuff that happens during Shabbat dinner that can be confusing to people who have not experienced it before. Of course, every Shabbat dinner is a little different. Some folks are very traditional and follow all the rules; others, not so much.
Jul 28, 2015
Recipe: Garlic-Marinated Zucchini
This is the dish my guests were most enamored of during our summertime Shabbat dinner (it is always the simplest things, right?). It’s inspired by the Jewish Roman recipe, concia, which is hundreds of years old. The Jews of Rome knew their way around summer vegetables — including zucchini, which they sliced, fried in olive oil, then marinated with chopped fresh herbs, garlic, and vinegar. The zucchini browns and turns silky, almost creamy, in its olive oil bath.
Jul 28, 2015
How I Clean My Kitchen for Passover (and Spring!)
Cleaning the kitchen for Passover is a surprisingly serious business. Observant Jews go to great lengths to rid their kitchens of all chametz (any products made from wheat, oats, barley, spelt, or rye) and make physical and spiritual separations between their year-round kitchens and their Passover kitchens. The first year I attempted the task, I started out strong with heaps of enthusiasm and a fresh pair of yellow rubber gloves to boot.
Mar 30, 2015
Recipe: Syrian Herb and Meat Latkes (Ijeh B’Lahmeh)
In my recent interview with cookbook author and magazine editor, Janna Gur, she described a recipe so delicious that I just had to share it. The recipe is for Syrian herb and meat latkes, called ijeh b’lahmeh. They’re shaped into patties, bound with eggs, and fried in oil just like Hanukkah latkes. But instead of the grated potato most of us are used to, these latkes are made with ground beef and a delightful mess of chopped mint, parsley, cilantro, and scallions.
Dec 10, 2014
7 Questions for Janna Gur, Author of Jewish Soul Food
With Hanukkah around the corner and Christmas coming soon, holiday cookbook season is in full swing. Among the piles of recently published, glossy tomes, the book I’m most excited about is Jewish Soul Food: From Minsk to Marrakesh by Janna Gur. Gur is the longtime editor of Al Hashulchan, a popular food publication in Israel.
Dec 9, 2014
Apple Cider & Honey Mead Are the Perfect Drinks for Rosh Hashanah. Here Are 4 Picks for Your Holiday
Many families celebrate Rosh Hashanah at home by eating apples dipped in honey. The apples’ round shape symbolizes the passing of time — Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year after all. And the honey represents people’s hopes for sweet times ahead. This year, double up on the apple and honey tradition by toasting the New Year with hard apple ciders and mead (honey wine). Here are four good picks from two people who really know their cider and mead.
Sep 17, 2014
Rye Matzoh and Beyond: 9 Varieties of Matzoh to Suit Every Taste
Matzoh, the flat, unleavened bread eaten during the holiday of Passover, is one of the most distinctive Jewish foods. Made from nothing more than flour (typically wheat, but also barley, spelt, rye, or oat) and water, it represents the simple bread the Israelites took with them when they left slavery in Ancient Egypt. When most people think of matzoh, they envision flat, square crackers dotted with fork prick-like perforations. They also tend to think, “boring.
Apr 8, 2014