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ISO Hannukah gift: Best Jewish Cookbook?

  • d

I want to give a Jewish cookbook to someone who doesn't really cook but wants to learn...I hear "Jewish cooking in america" by joan nathan and "the book of jewish food" by claudia roden are supposed to be tops -- which one is better? what is the best cookbook for me to get? thanks so much for the advice!!

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  1. Kosher Palette, and it's not even close, imo.

    1. b
      Bride of the Juggler

      "The Complete American Jewish Cookbook" has all the basics and more. I've never gone looking for a Jewish recipe that it didn't have - kreplach, cholent, the world's best hamentaschen, veal paprikash, mandlen, taiglach, etc. It's out of print but worth hunting down a copy - there are usually a bunch on Amazon. If I had to have only one of all my cookbooks, this is the one I'd keep. Thank you.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Niki Rothman
          Bride of the Juggler

          The authors are Anne London and Bertha Kahn Bishov but sometimes it is listed by the editor, Robert I. Gordon. Thank you.

      1. Those are both interesting books and great resources. But, if I had to choose any one, I'd definitely go with one of Faye Levy's books. Her recipes always work perfectly and produce amazing results.

        1 Reply
        1. re: David

          I have one of hers- 1000 Jewish Recipes- and there's one recipe in particular that I have to recommend- Friday night chicken- it's basically chicken pieces roasted on top of thick slices of onion. The chicken is rubbed with a mixture of cumin, turmeric, and paprika. Yum!

        2. It may be interesting to get two books, one with an Ashkenazi focus and the other Sephardic.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jonathan Saw

            Claudia Roden's book is wonderful for several reasons. She is from Egypt and has lots of Sephardic recipes. Her book is divided into the 2 sections (Ashk and Seph). There is lots of history and great sepia photos. She is a reliable source for recipes as she's written several earlier books. She also had a really interesting cooking show (maybe originating in GB?) where she went to the homes of cooks and prepared recipes on their sometimes tiny stoves.

            I've used the book many times and it has lots of great recipes as well as the other bonuses listed above.

            I haven't seen Joan Nathan's book and so cannot comment.

          2. Nathan's "Jewish Cooking in America" might be perfect for someone who doesn't cook a lot because it's such a pleasure to browse, and the histories that go with the recipes are nicely done. It's a lovely gift book. But the recipes are primarily (not solely) Ashkenazi.

            I don't think the Roden book is great for someone who "doesn't really cook."

            1. Might be too cheap for a present (about $Can 20 and it is sprial binded) but the recipes are excellent and very simple. Approximately 5 lines each, and it works!
              ''Second Helpings, Please'' published by B'Nai B'Rith Women of Canada

              1 Reply
              1. re: lamaranthe

                Second this for Ashkenaz recipes. It's certainly not gourmet (some recipes call for ginger ale, onion soup mix, and lots of ketchup) but it's been passed down for generations in Canada. I got mine from my sil who got hers from her mother.

              2. I'm not Jewish and don't keep kosher but I did have some Jewish and Kosher keeping boyfriends in the past. My all time favorite Jewish cookbook is "the Gourmet Jewish Cook" by Judy Zeidler. I don't think I've never had a bad recipe from there.

                I also like Faye Levy's books particularly her International Jewish cooking one. There is a killer recipe for Hamentschan [sp] that is so very easy and so very very tasty---even people who swear they HATE Hamentschan will gobble them up.

                Link: http://www.alibris.com/search/search....

                1. Don't overlook works by Joyce Goldstein, owner & chef of San Francisco's Square One restaurant for many years. Two of my favorites are: CUCINA EBRAICA, flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen, chronicles her years in Italy. Her second book, SEPHARDIC FLAVORS, Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean, expands the horizon to include Turkey, Greece, Portugal etc. These are valuable books for any kitchen, containing food history and lovely photography as well as working recipes.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sherri

                    I love Sephardic Flavors. While it's a beautiful book, the organization of Cucina Ebraica puts me off and I don't cook from it that often.

                  2. My favorite Jewish cookbook is "Spice and Spirit: The Complete Kosher Jewish Cookbook." It is a compilation of recipes from a Lubavich women's group. It's the only Jewish cookbook I took with me when I moved. I think the recipes in here feel more traditional Jewish (cholent, knishes, etc.) than my other cookbooks which seemed more like the Americanized/gourmet-ized version of Jewish recipes that I would expect to see in the newspaper around holiday time. All of the recipes in Spice and Spirit are simple, and use every day ingredients. Everything I've made from this cookbook has been a delicious comfort food.

                    Also, about 1/3 of the book talks about Kashrut and the holidays, which your friend might find interesting.

                    You'll probably have to buy it on Amazon or in a Jewish gift shop in a religious neighborhood. I've never seen this book any bookstore.

                    Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0826...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hoosk

                      Try the Gatherings by the Netivoth Hatorah Day School PTA in Toronto. It is inexpensive and beautifully illustrated. I am also very partial to Cooking Jewish In America by Joan Nathan- great stories as well as recipes.

                    2. I own BOTH books.....for a new cook however, I would definitely suggest Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America

                      1. Great discussion. Lots of helpful suggestions.

                        What if the person is a significant cook/baker/creator? Which book might be best if you only had one in the house/kitchen?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Seconds Please

                          For me, Joan Nathan's is more like the Jewish Joy of Cooking, the others' add specialties, and are also wonderful to have if additional recipes are needed.

                          1. re: Seconds Please

                            As an aside, I remember flipping through the New York Times Passover cookbook- I recall it having some awesome recipes.