Published in time for Passover, Maine native Kenden Alfond’s third cookbook, “Beyond Chopped Liver: 59 Jewish Recipes Get a Vegan Health Makeover” ($27.99) is illustrated with beautiful full-color images and delivers plant-based recipes for all the major Passover staples, including matzo ball soup, jackfruit brisket, twice baked sweet potato tzimmes, spinach-leek mashed potato matzah mina pie and fudgy flourless chocolate cake.

Cover courtesy of Turner

The recipes go beyond eastern European culinary influences, though. Every recipe is labeled as to whether it has ancestral roots in the ancient diaspora communities (Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, Beta Israel/Ethiopian and Indian Jewish) or is part of modern Jewish food culture in the U.S. or Israel.

You can see the range in recipes like falafel, hummus, harissa spread, Yael’s stovetop pita (named for Alfond’s daughter), butter bean coconut curry and Yemenite soup along with mock whitefish salad, mushroom-barley-molasses cholent and crispy baked tofu schnitzel. The recipes avoid refined oils while packing in lots of beans, grains and vegetables.

With each recipe, Alfond discusses how the dish is traditionally made and how her version differs. The cookbook grew from Alfond’s website and food newsletter, Jewish Food Hero.

Alfond wasn’t available for an interview; however a report on says she “became a vegetarian at 12 growing up in Maine. At 16, she went vegan.” Alfond now lives in Paris and works as a psychotherapist. She is the granddaughter of the late philanthropist Harold Alfond and the sister of former state Senator Justin Alfond.

Though she’s lived all over the world, Alfond’s Maine roots show through when she uses a maple syrup wash to replace the traditional egg wash in her recipe for vegan challah bread.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at [email protected]
Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

Fudgy Flourless Chocolate Cake

Printed with permission from “Beyond Chopped Liver: 59 Jewish Recipes Get a Vegan Health Makeover,” by Kenden Alfond. March 27 is the first night of Passover this year; this cake, which has no flour or leaveners, would suit the Seder meal.

Origin: Ashkenazi

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 60 minutes

Serves: 8

6 oz. (170g) dark 70% chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

6 tablespoons water

½ cup (125g) unsweetened applesauce

1 very ripe banana, mashed

¾ cup (150g) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons (60g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

3 tablespoons ground almonds

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C) and grease a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray or a dab of coconut oil and line with parchment paper.

Place the chopped chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, and remove from the heat the second it is melted.

Meanwhile, put the ground flaxseed in a large mixing bowl and add the water. Whisk to combine and set aside for a few minutes until the flax mixture thickens.

Add the applesauce, mashed banana, brown sugar and vanilla extract to the flax mixture and whisk to combine.

Add the melted chocolate to the mixture of wet ingredients and whisk to combine.

Add in the cocoa powder, almond flour, espresso powder and salt. Using a spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet. The mixture will be thick and slightly glossy.

Pour the chocolate cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top is set and the edges start to pull away from the pan.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Garnish with fresh raspberries.

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