In her new cookbook, Food, Family and Tradition: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances, Lynn Kirsche Shapiro, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, tells the story of her father and mother, Sandor and Margit Kirsche, who founded Hungarian Kosher Foods, the largest all-kosher supermarket in the Midwest. The book has two parts. Part one is the family memoir with period photographs, biographies, a family tree (of victims and survivors) and original vignettes about Jewish culture, kosher wine, holidays and traditions. Part two is a cookbook of 150 family recipes with preparation methods updated for the contemporary kitchen. Each recipe is placed in the context of the rich, vibrant Jewish life and culture in Eastern Europe prior to the Holocaust.
Along with the following recipe for homemade cooked applesauce – the perfect accompaniment to Chanukah latke —, Kirsche Shapiro offers this poignant story.
“Perhaps the following story explains why my mother has always believed in the healing power of apples. After she had been in Auschwitz for six months, my mother was transferred to Torgau, euphemistically called a ‘work camp’ because it lacked gas chambers. A very dear childhood friend, Hindu, was also in Auschwitz with her own mother (the rebbetzin). In order to stay with my mother, Hindu and her mother had sneaked onto the train that was transferring my mother to Torgau, and were brutally beaten by the Nazis for doing so. While they were in Torgau, Hindu’s mother became quite ill and thought that if only she could eat an apple, it would help her regain her strength. In Torgau, there was a German foreman, not a member of the Nazi party, who simply was kind to the Jewish prisoners. My mother had mended two of his torn shirts, and so he was especially nice to her. Sometimes, he brought her a bit of food. And one time, he even took my mother out to his house, and served her a dinner together with his family, a wife and four daughters. All of his daughters were married, and none of his sons-in-law were members of the Nazi party. On the day when Hindu’s mother was sick, my mother asked this foreman for an apple and he brought it to her. My mother, who was herself starving, gave this apple to Hindu’s mother. Both Hindu and her mother survived and were liberated together with my mother on April 27, 1945. About six months after the war, Hindu saw my mother’s brother, Morton, walking across the street in Munich. She crossed the street and told him that my mother was alive.”
Parve. Makes 4 cups
Applesauce is easy to prepare and wonderful as a side dish, a relish or a dessert, and it tastes entirely different from canned applesauce on supermarket shelves. I like tangy Granny Smith apples, so I have added sugar. My mom uses her favorite Jonathan. Feel free to use other apples, and adjust the sugar to your taste. Add cinnamon or cinnamon sticks to taste, or cook with a few drops of fresh lemon to enhance the flavor. A handful of raisins are also a nice addition.
3 pounds apples, cored and peeled
1/3 cup water, or as needed to cover
the bottom of the pan
1/3 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 cup raisins, optional
2 cinnamon sticks, optional
A few drops of fresh lemon juice, optional
Cut the apples into slices or chunks. In a heavy three-quart pot or Dutch oven, pour the water. Add the apples and the sugar, and the raisins, cinnamon and lemon juice if using. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Decrease heat and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the apples do not burn, for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the apples have reduced to a thick sauce. If it is too watery, uncover and cook, for another five minutes, stirring to make sure the apples do not burn. Remove cinnamon sticks and discard. Let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for up to five days.
Recipes reprinted from Food, Family and Tradition: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances by Lynn Kirsche Shapiro, The Cherry Press/August 2014
For more information on or to purchase Food, Family and Tradition visit hungariankosher.com, jewishsource.com or thecherry press.com.