Originally published in Yiddish, The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook was discovered in a rare books collection at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. YIVO volunteers Wendy Waxman and Barbara Mazur were so inspired by the book that they worked with YIVO to have it translated and republished.
The cookbook is the work of Fania Lewando, a restaurateur from Vilna, Lithuania who’s vegetarian riffs on Jewish food attracted the creative class of Vilna to her restaurant. Lewando was an early advocate for health and the 400 vegetarian recipes in the book feel decades ahead of her time.
This week on Good Food Waxman tells us that this recipe for Passover Cheesecake will definitely be on her table this year. We’ve included the recipe from the book below as well as a shopping list to help you prep.
Press ½ cups farmer cheese through a sieve. Add 3 eggs, 1/3 cup of sugar, ½ cup melted butter, 1 tablespoon sour cream, and a little cinnamon, and stir until creamy. Beat 3 egg whites into a meringue, and gently fold in 3 yolks, some salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Add to cheese mixture. Meanwhile, soak 4 matzos in water for 5 minutes. Grease a cake pan with butter, and sprinkle with matzoh meal. Line with half of the matzos. Pour in the cheese batter, add ½ cup melted butter, and top with remaining matzos.
Excerpted from THE VILNA VEGETARIAN by Fania Lewando. Copyright © 2014 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Schocken, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
1/2 cup farmer cheese
6 eggs (3 whole, 3 divided into whites and yolks)
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs sugar (divided)
1 cup melted butter (divided in two 1/2 cups), plus more for greasing the pan
1 Tbs sour cream
Cinnamon, to taste
salt, to taste
*translated from Yiddish and adapted by Eve Jochnowitz