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High Country: Meet the rising culinary star and proud pothead who’s reinventing Jewish food

Just in time for Hanukkah, Jake Cohen talks getting lit and shares a recipe from his hit cookbook 'Jew-ish’

Katie Shapiro
High Country

'Modern mensch' Jake Cohen poses with a signature homemade challah loaf.
Courtesy Jake Cohen

Since his first cookbook debuted and hit bestseller lists in March, culinary content creator Jake Cohen has also been amplifying his other main passion: cannabis.

In between roles as a recipe tester for Saveur Magazine, food editor of Tasting Table and food critic for Time Out New York, Cohen turned into a social media sensation when he started sharing what he was up to in his own kitchen with his Persian-Iraqi husband, Alex Shapiro. The couple was inspired by OneTable, a national nonprofit that encourages millennial Jews to practice the Shabbat dinner tradition they are both now board members).

“[Alex] had never heard of babka or gefilte fish,” Cohen told Jewish Journal earlier this year. “All of a sudden, I realized Jewish food cannot be defined by one section of a Jewish community … It completely shook up everything I knew about food in a secular sense. It made me reevaluate what that meant as a Jew struggling with identity. We began to explore that through Shabbat.”



Mesmerizing challah-braiding videos and tantalizing photos of new twists on traditional Jewish food (in preparation for the dinner parties they started hosting every Friday night) helped score Cohen a book deal from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which published “JEW-ISH: A COOKBOOK: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch.”

Since then, Cohen, 27 and a Culinary Institute of America alumni, left his latest post as feedfeed’s editorial and test kitchen director to build “Wake and Jake” full-time, while opening up about his own cannabis use along the way (his signature L’Chaim tie-dye tee is merch from the hilarious Instagram meme account Tokin’ Jew).




Click here to read the full story in Forbes.

Schmaltzy Chex Mix

I’m not a huge snacker. I can restrain myself against a bag of potato chips or a bowl of popcorn, but put some Chex mix near me and I lose all control. There is just something about its combo of textures that gives me life. So, I figured I might as well throw some chicken fat on it and call it a day. I toss this snack mix with rendered schmaltz, fresh thyme, dried spices, garlic, and lemon zest before baking it low and slow until it’s crisp and addictively salty/greasy.

While this munchie is perfectly good for anytime noshing, it’s one of my favorite things to make the day before I host Shabbat, so I can put out a giant bowl of it when my guests arrive (it’s also always better the day after you make it). It buys me a bit more time to put the finishing touches on dinner, while I enjoy my own private snack bowl.

My only disclaimer is about the pretzels. To this day, I pick out all the pretzels from store-bought Chex mix. Why? Because they are inferior to all three kinds of Chex and the mighty bagel chips used in the mix. However, I’ve found that gluten-free pretzels are absolutely incredible in this recipe. I don’t know why, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one!

— Jake Cohen

•Yield: serves 8 to 10

•Prep time: 15 minutes

•Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

•½ cup schmaltz, melted

•2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

•1½ teaspoons kosher salt

•1 teaspoon onion powder

•1 teaspoon dried oregano

•1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

•1 garlic clove, finely grated

•3 cups corn Chex

•2 cups rice Chex

•2 cups wheat Chex

•2 cups bagel chips

•1 cup small pretzels

Instructions:

•Preheat the oven to 275°F.

•In a small bowl, stir together the melted schmaltz, thyme, salt, onion powder, oregano, lemon zest, and garlic.

•In a large bowl, toss the corn Chex, rice Chex, wheat Chex, bagel chips, and pretzels to combine, then drizzle with the schmaltz mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a half sheet pan and spread into an even layer.

•Bake, tossing halfway through, for about 45 minutes, until fragrant and crisp. Transfer to a bowl and serve warm or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Excerpted from “Jew-Ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch” © 2021 by Jake Cohen. Photography © 2021 by Matt Taylor-Gross. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.