Nashville native Ruth Silvian became a Jewish cook through marriage. In 1940, touring the country as a dancer in musical revues, she met a nice young man who happened to be the son of a rabbi.
Some culinary realignment was in order. After a self-directed tutorial on the Jewish kitchenstudying cookbooks and collecting recipes from neighbors ― Silvian struck upon her own blend of Southern style and kosher traditions.
One of her specialties is twice-baked beef brisket topped with slow-cooked onions. When she visits her daughter, Mary Beth Taggart, in Novato, California, the entire family requests this mildly sweet-and-sour dish, along with the accompaniments she typically gives it: boiled red potatoes, candied carrots, and asparagus.
If they're celebrating Hanukkah, they start with latkes, and Taggart adds a light salad of greens with fruit and an apple pie for dessert.
Silvian advocates braising the brisket at least one day before serving it, then chilling the meat and sauce separately. When the cold meat is sliced, then reunited with its onion sauce for reheating, it soaks up the pan juices and becomes amazingly moist and succulent.
Double baking also gets a lot of the prep work for a large dinner party out of the way ahead of time.