Guests invited to Dinah Bucholz’s Shabbat table should be wary of accepting the offer. After all, they might be surprised at what appears on the table — bangers and mash, steak and kidney pie or Yorkshire pudding.
That’s because Bucholz spent the past three years working on and testing recipes for her new book, “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cake to Knickerbocker Glory — More than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards” (Adams Media). She made everything from homemade fudge, a Christmas gift for Harry; to treacle pudding, made for Harry by Mrs. Weasley; to pumpkin pasties, sold on the Hogwarts Express.
Bucholz, a native of Monsey who now lives in Philadelphia, first started reading the popular book series about a young wizard and his friends almost 10 years ago, when she picked it up off the couch where her sister-in-law was reading it. “I was drawn in by the first sentence,” said Bucholz, who has since read every book in the series “several times each.”
After she read the fifth book for the third time, the idea “just popped in to my head.” And after a legal and copyright battle, the book was born, and Bucholz set to work testing out recipes on her husband and four children, perfecting things like meat and potato pie, served at the “Slug Club” gathering aboard the Hogwarts Express; buttered peas, served at Harry’s first Hogwarts feast; and kippers, made by the house-elves in the Hogwarts kitchen.
The book includes recipes for all the foods J.K. Rowling describes in her seven books (except for those Rowling created herself, like the famous “butterbeer”).
But what was Bucholz, who keeps a kosher kitchen, supposed to do about breaded pork chops, served at the Hogwarts Yule Ball, or English Farmhouse Scrambled Eggs and Bacon, served to the wizards on the first day of classes?
“This was my biggest hurdle,” said Bucholz, “and I had to think very hard about how to get around it.” Ultimately, she hired a local chef, Chris Koch, to test recipes for the forbidden fare, but she still fields questions from friends and community members about the cookbook’s kosher status.
Bucholz (and her kids) loved trying out the sweet recipes best, like nutty chocolate-covered toffee, double chocolate ice cream cones and “to my surprise the eggnog,” though she had to remove the alcohol in the recipe for the book, since it’s targeted towards children. And her three older kids have all become eager fans of the series, reading the books multiple times — her youngest, at age 5, still has time to catch up.
Bucholz’s cookbook has already sold out on Amazon three times since it went on sale, so clearly fans of the series are eager to have a taste of Hogwarts life. But Bucholz has already put the book behind her, and is working on her newest project: “The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook.”