Chef Todd Gray grew up Episcopalian but married a Jewish woman. In their new cookbook, Gray and his wife, Ellen Kassoff Gray, weave tales of family and tradition with contemporary recipes.
Was there a moment when you knew you needed to cook Jewish cuisine? What was it? When I had my first taste (and look) at gefilte fish in a jar a la Ellen. Also when I saw her father, Ed, cook latkes for the first time.
Why do you cook this food? I married a Jewish woman (and therefore [into] a Jewish family). It was inevitable!
Which is your favorite Jewish culinary tradition? Hanukkah — nothing like a latke with sour cream and apple sauce. Simple and delicious. Latkes are on my menu far beyond December.
Who is this cookbook for? In the end, it’s for Ellen... and anyone who wants to explore the seasons with a Jewish twist.
Mango, Pineapple, and Pomegranate Salad (Parve)
Todd: This is just a clean, light and refreshing dessert. It's lovely at brunch (which is when we offer it at the Muse Café in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington). It's also a great dessert after a big meal.
Ellen: And it's obviously perfect for Passover. Pomegranates add the Middle Eastern touch that I adore and the tart, ruby-like seeds look so festive.
1 small golden pineapple
2 medium mangos
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup passion fruit juice
6 mint leaves, finely chopped
Prep the pineapple and mangos. Use a strong sharp knife to cut away the peel from the pineapple: Take the top off first, and then stand the fruit upright and slice down the sides remove any eyes. Slice it horizontally into rounds about ? inch thick. Use a paring knife or a small round cutter to remove the core from each round. Cut the slices into ?-inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Peel and pit the mangos and cut the flesh into dice; add to the bowl with the pineapple and stir together.
Mix the salad. Cut the pomegranate in half and take out enough seeds to equal ? cup (discard the membrane that divides the interior of the fruit). Whisk together the sugar and juice in a small bowl. Pour the sugar mixture over the pineapple mixture; stir to mix well.
Stir in the pomegranate seeds and mint. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to meld the flavors.