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Best Jew-licious Cookbooks of 2013

newjewishtablegrayThe New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes by Todd Gray, Ellen Kassoff Gray ,and David Hagedorn When Todd Met Ellen And Opened a DC Restaurant. When Chef Todd married his wife, Ellen, who is Jewish, their physical, legal, and spiritual union brought about his culinary initiation into the world of Jewish cuisine. In 1999, they opened a farm-to-table eatery, Equinox, in Washington, D.C. Their cookbook combines Eastern-European Jewish with seasonal American. Todd is a five-time James Beard Award nominee, CIA grad, and he puts a professional chef’s spin on the homestyle recipes. Top recipes: Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Latkes: Matzo-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens; Fig and Port Wine Blintzes: and Chocolate Hazelnut Rugelach.

russandaughtersRuss & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built by Mark Russ Federman with a foreword by humorist Calvin Trillin I am not a Litvak… well, perhaps I am a half-Litvak, but still, I never ate whitefish or lox until I was at least twenty. And I still have never eaten herring. And yet, I loved this book. Mark Russ Federman, the grandson of the founder of Russ & Daughters, Joel Russ, recounts his family’s stories from Manhattan’s Lower East Side; the founding of his family’s cut-rate herring and appetizing store; life in a four-generation family business; and glimpses into the Jewish or Russ family style of retail customer service. And for good measure, he throws in a few – very few – recipes. Joel Russ (pronounced Rooos originally but who’s going to argue with a customer; just say Russ) arrived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side from the Austro Hungarian area of Southeastern Poland and started to peddle herring from a barrel. Like many other peddlers, he worked his way up from peddling, pushcart, storefront, and store, to building-ownership. he put the whole family to work. Federman anecdotely recreates the world of sawdust covered stores and the transition to linoleum; the demolition of the elevated trains; the postwar flight of the middle class from the LES to the suburbs; the decline of the area and its current regeneration or gentrification. There are thirteen (13) recipes. They are for Mushroom Barley Soup (uses dried and fresh shrooms); Lox Eggs and Onions; Herring in Parchment (adapted from the former chef at the Swedish consulate); Beet, Apple and Herring Salad (uses Swedish mustard and a sour pickle); Fruit Studel; Egg Cream; Cheese Blintzes (uses cinnamon); Whitefish and Baked Salmon Salad (do you know what kippered salmon means?); Smoked Salmon Tartare (use Gaspe Atlantic or Western Nova); Potato Latkes, Bagel Chips; Bagel Pudding with Prunes and Raisins; and Lox Chowder (uses heavy cream and chicken stock, so kosher readers should substitute).

ottolenghiOttolenghi: The Cookbook. By Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi The authors did so well with their bestselling “Jerusalem” cookbook, that they have repackaged their UK cookbook as Ottolenghi. It contains 140 recipes from London’s Ottolenghi restaurants, which specialize in Mediterranean cuisine. Yotam grew up in a Jewish family in Jerusalem, and Sami’s family is Palestinian. The book opens with the following sentence, “If you don’t like lemon or garlic . . . skip to the last page.” You should also enjoy za’atar and sumac, as in Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’tar, and Lemon. Other recipes include those for The Carrot and Walnut Torte Cake; Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice; Marinated Turkey Breast with Cumin, Coriander, and White Wine; Peaches and Italian Speck Ham with Orange Blossom; Grilled Broccoli with Chile and Garlic and couscous with oven-dried tomatoes, and dried apricots and butternut squash; and Panfried Sea Bass on Pita with Labneh, Tomato, and Preserved Lemon.

artisanjewishdeliThe Artisan Jewish Deli at Home by Nick and Michael Zusman. Nick is one half of the popular Portland oregan deli “Kenny & Zuke’s.” He is the Zuke. It is one of those artisinal, neo-Jewish deli’s like Mile End in Brooklyn and Wise Sons Delicatessen in San Francisco. Michael is a state court judge in Oregon and a freelance restaurant and food journalist. The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home updates classic deli recipes. The range of favorite recipes include: Crispy Potato Latkes with Chunky Ginger Applesauce; Summer Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumber and Cracklings; Wise Sons’ Chocolate Babka French Toast; Pastrami Benedict; Bagel Chips; Home Oven Pastrami; Stuffed Cabbage Rolls; corning beef; smoking pastrami; kippers; lox; pumpernickel bread; challah; babkas; sourdough bread; rugelach; knishes; bagels; Cold Beet and Raspberry Summer Borscht; and Celery Soda.

balaboostaBALABOOSTA. Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love by Einat Admony. Einat Admony is a mother, wife, chef, and runs over three very busy New York City restaurants (more than three, since there is also a food truck). She is a balaboosta (“super-perfect housewife”). She is Israeli-born of Yemenite and Persian/Iranian Jewish heritage, and her 140 sophisticated Mediterranean recipes reflect her background and kitchen experiences. She learned to cook from her mother, and her first job was at Keren, Haim Cohen’s famed restaurant in Israel. (she includes his sardine recipe). One of her favorite cookbooks is The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur. Throughout BALABOOSTA, she shares personal stories on how to prepare the item and how to eat it. For example, who eats turnips for breakfast? Einat shares a story on how her mother served them split in half and sprinkled with brown sugar, and she ate them with a spoon as you would a grapefruit. Recipes include those for Harissa-spiced Moroccan Fish; Chicken with pomegranate and walnuts (a variant on the Persian Fesenjan) but you can use molasses, juice, and honey; Red velvet (Beet) Gnocchi; Schnitzel; Root Vegetable Chips; Butternut Squash And Saffron Soup; Lamb chops with Persian Lime Sauce; Turkey Meatballs with Okra (but use 3 TEAspoons of kosher salt, rather than the book’s 3 TABLEspoons); Moroccan Carrots with tomato paste, cumin, vinegar and garlic; and Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon. (Some cooks have told me that you should read the book for its stories, but some of the recipes are not tested well. The amounts and yields are incorrect, and you will not have the same results. If you purchase it, it is probably best to go to her website and ask her for any needed post-publication corrections)

schmaltzThe Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat by Michael Ruhlman, with photographs by Donna Turner Ruhlman Michael Ruhlman proves that you don’t need to live on a coast to succeed as a food journalist and author. The respected culinary expert and Iron Chef judge explores schmaltz (or rendered chicken fat), once a staple ingredient in traditional Jewish cooking> In his ode of chicken fat, he re-visits recipes for the three K’s: kugel, kishke, and kreplach; and tells us how fat makes them better. Potatoes cooked with schmaltz take on a crispness and satisfying flavor that vegetable oil can’t produce (remember how oreo cookies took decades to change from animal fat to vegetable oil). Ruhlman, the author of Ratio and The Elements of Cooking explains that meat and starches (potatoes, noodles) have a depth and complexity that set them apart from the same dishes prepared with olive oil or butter. Recipes include those for chopped liver with schmaltz, chicken soup with matzo balls, kreplach, knishes, cholent, vichyssoise with gribenes and chives, chicken confit, Parisienne gnocchi with spinach, onion, a poached egg and schmaltz, chicken with dumplings, pate, and egg and gribenes spread. Also available for i-Pads.

joyofkosherJoy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes by Jamie Geller. Known as the “Queen of Kosher” and the “Jewish Rachael Ray,” Jaime Geller is the founder and chief creative officer of the Kosher Media Network and JoyofKosher.com. She is also host of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller cooking special on PBS and a show on JLTV. She and her husband and their five children recently moved to Israel. The book includes more than 100 recipes, plus each one has a creative twist, so it is as if you have 200 recipes. But wait, you make them with an outstretched hard of five fingers, so you can multiply the recipes by five and have more than 1,000. The include, Crystal Clear Chicken Soup with Julienned Vegetables and Angel Hair; Garlic Honey Brisket (Dress It Down: Honey Brisket Pita Pockets); Miso-Glazed Salmon (Dress It Up: Avocado-Stuffed Miso-Glazed Salmon); and Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese (Dress It Down: Mac ‘n’ Cheese Muffin Cups). Challah? Recipes for Sun-Dried Tomato, Garlic, and Herb Braided Challah; Blueberry Apple Challah Rolls; Sea-Salted Soft Challah Pretzel Rolls; and Gooey Pecan Challah Sticky Buns.

primegrillThe Prime Grill Cookbook
by David Kolotkin and Joey Allaham.
Opened 13 years ago, The Prime Grill in Manhattan is one of a few high-end kosher restaurants. Recipes include (but NO recipe for their famous duck spring rolls): Truffled Deviled Eggs, “Crab” Cakes with Horseradish Aioli, Delmonico Steak with Peppercorn Sauce, BBQ Briased Short Ribs, Helene Kolotkin’s Holiday Brisket with Carrot and Onion Gravy, steak with fennel puree, Mediterranean Tuna Tartar, Seafood Ceviche, dairy-free creamed spinach, Apricot-Glazed Beignets, Southern Pecan and Chocolate Chip Pie, Prime Grill Rosemary Potato Chips, and a host of dairy-free desserts as well as a foundation of stocks, sauces, and dressings.

noshonthisNosh on This: Gluten-Free Baking from a Jewish-American Kitchen by Lisa Stander-Horel and Tim Horel, with a Foreword by Arthur Schwartz The the authors of the Gluten Free Canteen blogger, these food bloggers (FLoggers) present a gluten-free Jewish baking book. 100 gluten-free recipes including Mom’s Marble Chiffon Cake, Black & White Cookies, Corn Bread Challah Stuffing, O’Figginz Bars, hamantaschen, mandelbrot, honey cake, chocolate babka, kugel, latkes, macaroons, and Big Fat Baked Sufganiyah Jelly Donuts.

holidaykosherbakerThe Holiday Kosher Baker: Traditional & Contemporary Holiday Desserts by Paula Shoyer Washington, DC-area Attorney Paula Shoyer was disappointed with kosher desserts that tasted like cardboard, so she wrote her own cookbook, The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-Free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy (Brandeis University Press). She graduated from the Ritz Escoffier pastry program in Paris, France, and teaches baking classes. She is the editor of the popular cookbooks Kosher by Design Entertains and Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen (both Mesorah publications). In this book, there are six color-coded sections, one for each of the main holidays: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim, Passover and Shavuot. Recipes for classic traditional desserts abound, including: sponge cakes, babkas, challahs, and rugelach, Ombré Layer Cake, Raspberry and Rose Macaron Cake, upside-down apple cake, Green Tea Hamantaschen, Caramelized Mocha and Vanilla Bean Napoleons, babka bite muffins, Cranberry and Orange Spelt Scones, and a Salted Caramel Banana Tart Tatin.

eatingthebibleEating the Bible: Over 50 Delicious Recipes to Feed Your Body and Nourish Your Soul by Rena Rossner. You are probably familiar with Rena Rossner from her cooking columns in The Jerusalem Post and the Jerusalem Report. Her Jerusalem Post cooking column, “The Weekly Portion,” combined recipes with biblical verses. Rossner relates that it all started en years ago, when she was served a bowl of lentil soup. The portion of the Bible that had been discussed that week was the parshat (Toldot) in which Esau sells his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of red lentil soup. Rossner was struck by the ability to bring the Bible alive in such a tactile way and decided on the spot to see whether she could incorporate the Bible into a meal each week. The result, Eating the Bible, is an cookbook with easy-to-prepare recipes that will prompt conversations on the bible about Eden Salad and Mannah Bread. What if the parshat was about mortar? You can serve peanut butter. And what about “Abraham and Isaac, and may they multiply abundantly like fish, in the midst of the land.” (Bereshit 48:16), What would you serve? sardines, of course.

newpersianThe New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia This contemporary take on the alluring cuisine of Iran from cookbook author Louisa Shafia features 75 recipes for both traditional Persian dishes and modern reinterpretations. Chef Louisa Shafia explores her Persian heritage by reimagining classic Persian recipes from a fresh, vegetable-focused perspective. She uses rose petals, dried limes, tamarind, and sumac, while offering surprising preparations for familiar foods such as beets, carrots, mint, and yogurt for the busy, health-conscious cook. Recipes include Turmeric Chicken with Sumac and Lime; Pomegranate Soup; Persian “Matzoh Balls” with Chickpeas and Chicken (Gondi), Pomegranate Walnut Stew (Fesenjan), Rice with Rose Petals and Barberries (Zereshk Polo), Nutty Chocolate Bark with Cardamom and Coffee (Sholeh Zard), and Cardamom Pizzelles. Louisa adds that growing up, she did not eat pork, since her father is Muslim and her mother is Jewish. She yearned for fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Her mother focused on French and European cooking as well as fried matzoh, latkes, borscht, dill pickles, and bagels with lox. Her father loved flatbread, tart yogurt, fluffy saffron rice, charred and juicy kebabs, fragrant and complex Persian stews like eggplant and tomato bademjan, and mouth-puckering torshi pickles. They had a cook/nanny (Mrs. D(ugan)) who had run a canteen for laborers in Philadelphia, from who she learned to cook also.

bataliThe Batali Brothers Cookbook
by Leo Batali and Benno Batali.
For the past decade, the Batali family spends a month in Northern Michigan at a blue roofed, pink and orange walled summer house on Grand Traverse Bay in the Leelanau Peninsula (by the way, “Leelanau” pretends to be a native American word that means ‘delight of life’ but it was made up by a man who gave many towns faux-Indian Ojibwa sounding pace names). The Batalis cook a lot. For chef Mario’s 50th birthday, his sons prepared a cookbook of favorite family foods, and Susi Cahn, their mother, took pictures. But when your family is friends with publishers, that homemade gift becomes a public book. There are about 17 recipes in part one of the book by the kids, and then 16 recipes by Mario that his kids enjoy. Recipes include: Cinnamon Swirl French Toast; Brown Sugar Pancakes; Sloppy Sloppy Joes; and Franny’s Sunshine Cake (Birthday Cake). The Batali brothers scramble their eggs in virgin olive oil. Their whole roasted chicken uses 1.5 cups of pickle juice and 8 cloves of garlic. Their Triple P Salad is Potatoes, Peas and Pesto.

sovietcookMastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya Von Bremzen. Anya Von Bremzen is a James Beard Award-winning writer who was born in the USSR and came to the US with her family. In school, she black-marketeered Juicy Fruit gum, and longed to taste The West. Anya and her mother dreamed of food; it was an obsession. A maternal grandchild of the Frumkin’s, she knew of scarcity, and even when she emigrated and landed in Philly in the 1970s, as a child, she craved the flavors of Soviet candy and meats, and worse, Soviet mayonnaise. In this book, she eats and cooks her way through every decade of the Soviet experience — turning her mother’s kitchen into a “time machine and an incubator of memories.”

isadoesitIsa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz Recipes, tips, and strategies for easy, delicious vegan meals every day of the week, from America’s bestselling vegan cookbook author. Isa’s blog gets 5 million visits a year, and she has more than 20,000 Twitter followers.
Isa grew up in Brooklyn eating powdered potatoes and hamburger helper. Then she went vegan and her mother bought her a small stack of cookbooks. She dropped out of the coveted High School for Music and Art (Fame, I Want To Live Forever), focused on cooking, and now we have this, her latest cookbook. How does Isa Chandra Moskowitz make flavorful and satisfying vegan meals from scratch every day, often in 30 minutes or less? It’s easy! In ISA DOES IT, the beloved cookbook author shares 150 new recipes to make weeknight cooking a snap. Recipes like Sweet Potato Red Curry with Rice and Purple Kale, Bistro BeeT Burgers, and Summer Seitan Saute with Cilantro and Lime illustrate how simple and satisfying meat-free food can be. Here are two items I want to mention. Her coconut chana saag uses coconut instead of a tomato base (although it does use tomato juice and a can of whole ones). She also skips the spinach and uses kale instead. Her warm potato salad uses grilled seitan and asparagus.

berlinkitchenMy Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes) by Luisa Weiss. Deb Perlman (The Smitten Kitchen) says “Luisa has a way of telling a story that’s nothing short of entrancing.” Luisa Weiss was working in New York when she decided – before her marriage – to cook her way through her massive recipe collection. The Wednesday Chef, the cooking blog she launched to document her adventures, charmed readers around the world. But Luisa never stopped longing to return to her childhood home in Berlin. Luisa was born in Berlin, in a former Jewish neighborhood of West Berlin, after her Italian (with a Sicilian uncle) mother and Jewish American father met in a German class in Europe. They subsequently divorced (oh those were heady academic time when the grad students had their phones bugged) and young Luisa spent her time shuttling between the Boston area and Berlin. This is her food memoir with recipes, My Berlin Kitchen deliciously chronicles how she finally took the plunge and went across the ocean in search of happiness—only to find love waiting where she least expected it.

mondaymorningMonday Morning Cooking Club Cookbook bu the Sydney Australia Monday Morning Cooking Club and Merelyn Frank Chalmers, Natanya Eskin
Lauren Fink, Lisa Goldberg, Paula Horwitz, and Jaqui Israel.
In 2006 a group of Sydney Jewish women came together to share recipes and talk about food. They cooked, ate, drank endless cups of tea and—often heatedly—discussed the merits of different recipes. After just a few weekly meetings, the Monday Morning Cooking Club was born and a legacy of food and recipes spanning many cultures and generations began to take shape. Five years and hundreds of dishes later, six members of the sisterhood have handpicked their favorite recipes for publication in their first book of the same name. More than 100 culturally diverse recipes from more than 60 cooks have been tried, tested, and refined for inclusion in the Monday Morning Cooking Club book. Each recipe begins with a short story of the cook and their history of the dish. These stories, interweaved with amazing recipes, narrate the rich and personal history of far-flung communities and families who find a deep connection through food and the memory of generations that have gone before.

ivanraminIvan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo’s Most Unlikely Noodle Joint by Ivan Orkin and Chris Ying, with a foreword by David Chang. The all guide to ramen from Ivan Orkin, the iconoclastic Syosset, Long Island-New York-born owner of one of Tokyo’s top ramen shops. While scores of people line up outside American ramen powerhouses like Momofuku Noodle Bar, chefs and food writers in the know revere Ivan Orkin’s traditional Japanese take on ramen. Ivan Ramen chronicles Ivan Orkin’s journey from dyed-in-the-wool Jewish New Yorker to the chef and owner of one of Japan’s most-loved ramen restaurants, Ivan Ramen. Orkin cooked at Mesa Grill and Lutèce before he moved to Japan and opened two wildly successful ramen shops in Tokyo in 2007 and 2010. The original ten-seat Ivan Ramen opened in 2007 in Setagaya, Tokyo, with a second, in Kyodo, in 2010. Being perceived as a Western interloper to a thriving market of some 80,000 shops dominated by tonkotsu masters and venerated traditions was a given, but Orkin’s attention to detail won him praise. Sapporo Ichiban began production of an instant line, with Orkin’s face on the microwave-safe bowl. Orkin imparts a bit of his Jewish upbringing to his menu by rendering his own schmaltz “ramen in Japan is really like a slice of pizza in NY,” meant to be slurped on the fly. His preoccupation with any given bowl of soup, he says, is nailing what he calls the “slurping ratio” of fat and al dente noodles.

Dining at the White House: From the President’s Table to Yours by John Moeller Okay. It is not a Jewish cookbook, but it tells the tale of the White House Kitchen, and the recipes for what was served to dignitaries from the State of Israel: roiled salmon with black peppercorn and ginger potato and celeriac puree; mesclun salad with leeks and beets, and black raspberry sorbet.

tanisOne Good Dish by David Tanis. David Tanis was a longtime chef at the acclaimed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif. He credits Jewish cooking with inspiring him. He grew up in Dayton, Ohio, where he would eat on Friday nights at the home of his Aunt Edith and Uncle Marvin. There he learned to eat chremsel and matzoh balls and matzoh brie and herring. For many years he has worked half a year in Calfiornia, and half in Paris, where he has run a small private dining club that he and his partner Randal Breski dubbed Aux Chiens Lunatique, At the Crazy Dogs’ Place, after their dogs, Arturo and Ajax. In this, his first non-menu cookbook, the New York Times food columnist offers 100 utterly delicious recipes that epitomize comfort food, Tanis-style. Individually or in combination, they make perfect little meals that are elemental and accessible, yet totally surprising—and there’s something to learn on every page. Among the chapter titles there’s “Bread Makes a Meal,” which includes such alluring recipes as a ham and Gruyère bread pudding, spaghetti and bread crumbs, breaded eggplant cutlets, and David’s version of egg-in-a-hole. A chapter called “My Kind of Snack” includes quail eggs with flavored salt; speckled sushi rice with toasted nori; polenta pizza with crumbled sage; raw beet tartare; and mackerel rillettes. The recipes in “Vegetables to Envy” range from a South Indian dish of cabbage with black mustard seeds to French grandmother–style vegetables. “Strike While the Iron Is Hot” is all about searing and quick cooking in a cast-iron skillet. Another chapter highlights dishes you can eat from a bowl with a spoon. And so it goes.

Roberta’s Cookbook by Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy, Chris Parachini, and Katherine Wheelock. Not a Jewish cookbook, except that they rented the bunker from an Orthodox Jewish family when they first started. I knew nothing about the restaurant or its stellar status; I walked by it in error and saw people heading into a non-descript, horrid looking cement warehouse. I poked my head in, and saw the restaurant packed with people on a Saturday afternoon. The wait for a shared table is usually always over an hour. The Brooklyn destination the New York Times called “one of the most extraordinary restaurants in the country” began as a pizza place and quickly redefined the urban food landscape. The recipes are for its pizzas and unique dishes.

2 Comments

  1. A.F. Kaplan

    12/26/2013 at 12:27 am

    Thank you, Jewlicious, for including on your list a vegan cookbook. As a recent vegan convert, I really appreciate it.

    Mazel Tov!

  2. James

    1/10/2014 at 11:01 pm

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