Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Favorite Jewish Cookbooks

Recently I was asked which Jewish Cookbook I’d recommend. The task was easier said than done - because over the years I’ve noticed a plethora of Jewish Cookbooks on bookstore shelves. Usually it’s around Rosh Hashanah or Passover, the two holidays with lots of feasting, that I spend time looking for new ideas for the holiday meals. I don’t really know why I do that since I have some wonderful books on my own shelves. Of course I really DO know why – I’m addicted to cookbooks, particularly ones with gorgeous photos or wonderful stories.

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite Jewish cookbooks (and you don’t really need to BE Jewish to enjoy them).

Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Kitchen- my old stand by - lots of stains attesting to its usage! I think I'm even going to write about the gnocchi di spinaci (I'm doing the South Beach Diet and these work even for Phase One). They're awesome.

Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America- also excellent. You HAVE to try her "lick you fingers kugel" (keep scrolling down the post - it's worth the trip) with pecans and brown sugar - it's ...well, frankly there are no words!! In fact, this is my favorite Jewish cookbook filled with wonderful stories in addition to all the recipes. Stories about Jewish immigrants and the variety they bring to common Jewish dishes. My heritage is Eastern European so it's wonderful to see dishes from Yemen, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Morocco, India......... the list goes on forever.

Gloria Kaufer Greene's The New Jewish Holiday Cookbookis another favorite - check out the Poires Bourguigonne and the Moroccan Style Haroset also in the Passover section. I love her little stories and that there are several options for many of the recipes from different parts of the world.

Claudia Roden, is another Jewish food Maven (expert). Her book The Book of Jewish Food - An Odyssey From Samarkand to New York, is my favorite read, although I must admit I haven't tried too many of her recipes. I love learning about how different, yet similar our heritage is. In fact, this week I'm going to try her Mufarka - spiced spinach with scrambled eggs (India) and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup (Israel) – both very South Beach Diet friendly.

Jayne Cohen's The Gefilte Variationscontains some very modern variations on old traditions. I particularly love her Snapper Fillets in Pistachio Matzoh Crust - wonderful!

Faye Levy's 1000 Jewish Recipesis also quite good....I love the Curried Chicken Soup with Spinach, Mushrooms and Rice. It's a very different chicken soup than the one I grew up eating - clear broth with vegetables, matzoh balls and dill - not that that's bad. My family would kill me if I started a holiday meal without it. Just saying - this is another great option.

Second Helpings Pleasewritten by Noreen Gilletz and others that started out as a fundraiser for B'Nai B'rith Women is last but definitely not least. In fact I wrote about it in a post on cookbooks and their stain factor. My mother gave it to me a million years ago when I first left home. It's supposed to be spiral bound, but the plastic spiral is long gone. Almost every page is stained and although I've had many an offer over the years to replace it, this is the only one I want. It's the best book of all for new cooks, particularly cooks looking for traditional Ashkenazi (European Jews) recipes.

It certainly was fun for me to flip through all these books. Too bad so many of my favorite recipes are out of bounds for South Beach DietPhase One, I guess I’ll have to make my own variations, but not today.

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1 comment:

Kalyn Denny said...

Hi Ruth,
I'm sorry to report that the Splenda/Brown Sugar blend does contain real brown sugar, so better wait for phase two for those cookies. (I do like it, but I've wondered why you can just use regular brown sugar mixed with splenda, maybe 2/3 splenda and 1/3 brown sugar.)