Cindy Sil­vert is the author of The Hun­gry Love Cook­book: 30 Steamy Sto­ries, 120 Mouth­wa­ter­ing Recipes. She is guest blog­ging here all week as part of the Vis­it­ing Scribe series on The ProsenPeo­ple.

I am of the opin­ion that kosher food gets a bum rap. I won’t deny that hav­ing a kosher kitchen can be a chal­lenge, espe­cial­ly if you have a small kitchen or mem­bers of your house­hold who think you’re a killjoy. Kosher food is hard­ly inex­pen­sive, and unless you live in Israel or France (and care about these things) the mod­est vari­ety of cheeses could make one weep — dit­to for meat, if you’re a meat eater and don’t hap­pen to live in Argenti­na. Trav­el­ing to places where bacon is a nation­al trea­sure can lim­it one’s din­ing options and make the natives sus­pi­cious, and even at home there are way less restau­rants, cater­ers, and food­ie shows for the kosher palette.

The Good Book lim­its not just what one can and can­not eat, but also when, where and how one eats. But does lim­it­ed nec­es­sar­i­ly mean bad? In par­ent­ing, we know kids need bound­aries to become healthy, respon­si­ble cit­i­zens — so how about us? Might the lim­i­ta­tions required by the laws of kashrut not be, in fact, our friends? 

Con­sid­er kashrut as the pro­to­type for super-trendy mind­ful eat­ing. Stop­ping to say a few words of appre­ci­a­tion in recit­ing a bless­ing before you stuff anoth­er choco­late fudge brown­ie in your mouth can have a pow­er­ful effect on you. Kosher obser­vance is a self-imposed, grown up ver­sion of Hun­gry chil­dren else­where would give any­thing to eat that.” It makes you stop and pon­der how this stuff got on your plate and just how lucky you are to be eat­ing in the first place. Even I have come to the real­iza­tion, on more than one occa­sion, that a piece of fruit is a bet­ter for me than a paw-full of Oreo cook­ies — yes, even the thin ones. It’s a reminder that the whole gas­tro­nom­i­cal world ain’t your, well, oyster.

Besides, by restrict­ing you from eat­ing any­thing, any­time, a kosher diet can have a slim­ming effect on one’s waist­line — Jew­ish hol­i­days aside. The self-dis­ci­pline demand­ed by kashrut instills a sense of humil­i­ty that pre­dates veg­an­ism and every oth­er pop­u­lar diet by a cou­ple mil­len­nia. (The Paleo diet, the one excep­tion, is of a slight­ly dif­fer­ent mind­set: see food, pounce on it, rip it to shreds, gob­ble it up). Self-help gurus sug­gest that grat­i­tude can cure just about any­thing, so why not start with dinner? 

Below is a recipe for Shi­itake Cro­quettes from the very first saga of love and eats from The Hun­gry Love Cook­book. This recipe is proof that kosher can be both trendy and deli­cious. More­over, as a pareve dish con­tain­ing nei­ther meat nor dairy, it can be served with any meal. The only prob­lem with these cro­quettes is that they’re extreme­ly pop­u­lar and addic­tive. Peo­ple are going to pop them into their mouths like there’s no tomor­row, which means you will have to sautée four rain­forests worth of mush­rooms to sat­is­fy your greedy guests.

Seri­ous­ly, how­ev­er many mush­rooms you think you need, dou­ble or triple that amount. These are great by them­selves or dipped in a sweet-and-spicy sauce. 

Recipe: Shi­itake Croquettes

1 medi­um onion
1 TBS veg­etable oil
Salt and pep­per
1 gar­lic clove
1 lb Shi­itake mush­rooms
¼ cup sher­ry
½ cup bread­crumbs or panko
½ tsp gar­lic pow­der
3 TBS chia seeds

1. Chop and sautée onions and S&P in oil on medi­um heat for 10 min­utes.
2. Mince the gar­lic clove and add to the onion.
3. Sautée onion and gar­lic anoth­er 2 min­utes and remove from heat.
4. Chop and sauté mush­rooms and S&P in oil on medi­um heat for 10 min­utes.
5. Add the sher­ry and sim­mer until the liq­uid is absorbed by the mush­rooms.
6. Puree the onion, gar­lic, and mush­rooms in a food proces­sor until smooth.
7. Add half the bread­crumbs or panko and gar­lic pow­der to the mush­room mix­ture and form wal­nut-size balls.
8. Com­bine the remain­ing bread­crumbs, chia seeds. Sea­son to taste with salt and pep­per.
9. Roll the mush­room balls in the bread­crumb mix­ture.
10. Spray light­ly with oil.
11. Bake at 350° for 20 min or until light­ly brown and crispy on the outside

Hot & Sweet Dip­ping Sauce

Mix the fol­low­ing ingredients:

½ cup light may­on­naise
2 TBS BBQ sauce
1 lime juiced
1 dash Tabas­co sauce
1 TBS hon­ey
Salt and pepper

Cindy Sil­vert is a food colum­nist, humor writer, and self-taught cook. She is cur­rent­ly tour­ing for the 20162017 sea­son on her book The Hun­gry Love Cook­book through the JBC Net­work.

Relat­ed Content:

Cindy Sil­vert is a food colum­nist, humor writer, and self-taught cook. She hosts a week­ly food and hos­pi­tal­i­ty seg­ment on Joe Mas­sagli­a’s Table for Two broad­cast on 1400 WOND of south­ern New Jer­seyand authored The Final Word” col­umn in Ed Hitzel’s Restau­rant Magazine.