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Definitive Kosher cookbook for newbie?

My daughter, raised a Catholic, is seriously considering converting to Conservative Judaism for her young man, should he continue to be "the one.!" He keeps kosher, and his family has the kosher kitchen, etc. Can anyone recommend a really good kosher cookbook that would have great recipes in addition to the background and the traditions involved in keeping kosher, celebrating holidays, etc.? What I am searching for is a tome like the Joy of Cooking that I can give her. Thanks in advance!

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  1. I don't know if there is one book that would fullfill all of that, but Noreen Gilletz has several cookbooks with easy and healthy kosher recipes, I would suggest her. There are many others that focus on the backgrounds and traditions, but the ones I have like that tend to be quite involved recipes, not what you would make every day or focus on the basics of a kosher kitchen.

    1. One that I like is Aromas of Aleppo. It focuses on the cusine of Syrian Jews. It's such a beautiful book that I leave it on the coffee table. The book gives sample menus for holidays and Shabbat, and explains the traditions of kashrut. The book also includes traditions with the holiday menus.

      For everyday cooking I like Quick and Kosher. The book has suggestions for Shabbat and holiday recipes, but know that it relies on some convenience products- like onion soup mix.

      The Kosher by Design series is pretty good as well, except I don't love the Passover book. Overall, the recipes are elegant and simple to prepare. The author also gives sample menus for Shabbat and holidays.

      1. Joan Nathan is an authority on Jewish Cooking. She has several books out there and they offer not only recipes, but history as well. I just got a cookbook out of the library called "Cooking Jewish" by Judy Bart Kancigor and it appears to be a great book. The recipes are basic and are a compilation of her family recipes and friends through the years. It's fun reading, with photos and lots of explanations about the traditions. I'm looking forward to trying some of the recipes for Passover. Just about to make some Passover almond thumbprint cookies from the epicureous website for the first time. Good luck,

        1. Another shoutout for anything by Joan Nathan. Also, if you can find it, look at the "Spice and Spirit" cookbook put out by the Lubavitch women's organization. There's a Passover volume and a year-round volume. Start out with the year-round version. Very good basic kosher cooking with a number of more "exotic" recipes. Many recipes, not surprisingly, are written for large quanitity, perfect for your first-time Seder.

          2 Replies
          1. re: rockycat

            Another vote for "Spice and Spirit." Many recipes and a lot of explanation about Jewish holidays and keeping kosher.
            Here's a link http://www.chabad.org/library/article...

            1. re: serenarobin

              I agree with both "Spice and Spirit." and Joan Nathan.

          2. Claudia Roden's book of Jewish cooking is excellent. It wouldn't fit your Joy of Cooking criteria but I recently discovered Marcy Goldman's book Jewish Holiday Baking and was really impressed by how much space she devoted to describing the significance of each holiday before presenting the recipes associated with it. Should your daughter want to continue to grow her cookbook library, keep in mind that vegetarian cookbooks are also a good source of kosher recipes because they take away the challenge of not being able to mix meat with dairy, which for me is the biggest challenge of cooking for people who keep kosher.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Velda Mae

              I've had some problems in the past with Marcy Goldman's recipes not always working. Not all, just some. Surprisingly, Nick Malgieri usually manages to come up with good Jewish holiday baking recipes but you have to pore through his books to find them. I'd also have a look at some of the Susie Fishbein "Kosher by Design" books. She's the darling of the kosher cookbook world right now and her recipes run from traditional to traditional with a twist to more cutting edge.

              1. re: rockycat

                I like her books. Not all the recipes are my style- anything with fish- but her ideas are great and she gives lots of great tips.

            2. I swear by Hip Kosher by Ronnie Fein. Fein has written several cookbooks with recipes that are both easy to follow and delicious to taste. What I love most about Hip Kosher is the complete introduction to kosher foods and what kosher means. It's like a kosher 101. Several of my family members are kosher but we are not. It's been great for us to have this book and cook new recipes when we visit with them. I give it as a gift to everyone I know who is either kosher or conscious of humane issues in cooking.
              When I've made the recipes at home, they always get rave reviews. The recipes aren't complicated and use fresh, honest ingredients.
              I use many of the recipes for dinners (and desserts!) for my family on a regular basis. My husband can eat a hundred pounds of the couscous with turkey and dried apricots, I love the branzini with tomato relish and the kids scream for the grand finale cookies.

              I can't say enough about this book.
              Good luck!

              1 Reply
              1. re: LP53

                Another vote here for Ronnie Fein's hip kosher. I don't keep kosher but am Jewish and my mom keeps kosher, and I loved her Idiots Guide to Cooking. The best thing about her is that it's all "normal" food that you would find anywhere and her recipes are really straightforward and easy to follow. I gave it to my cousin who is married to a rabbi and they now give it as a gift to new congregants for their weddings.

              2. I love the Joan Nathan Jewish Cooking in America. I grew up kosher, but it was a great starting point for traditional recipes. I think some of the Kosher by Design cookbooks are better than others. That said, I use the Gourmet cookbook & the cookbook from America's Test Kitchen most frequently since kosher cookbooks are very often heavily focused on a) traditional cuisine (not a bad thing but not exactly for everday eating) and b) tend to not incorporate modern flavors. I grew up in a pretty integrated household - we ate out, tried different cuisines, were open to new tastes and flavors. I find that the specifically kosher cookbooks tend to come from a more observant community with less exposure to modern American cooking, and thus are less likely to produce foods that will taste familiar to someone who didn't grow up in an observant household. Of course, to each his own... but I am usually just as happy to sub margarine or soy milk or coffee rich or chicken broth into a standard recipe. The harder thing is learning what actually makes foods kosher, and how to adapt non-kosher recipes to a kosher kitchen. But for starters try the Jewish Cooking in America and one or more of the Kosher by Design cookbooks.

                1. oh, and for the starting kosher cook the kosher forum here is great for info on how to prepare stuff!

                  1. The Rochester Hadassah Cookbook was published in the 70s & 80s by the women in Rochester, NY. Hadassah is a service organization dedicated to raising money for Hadassah Hospital & Research Center in Israel. It is a GREAT source cookbook, as it combines information about holiday traditions & customs with foods. It is not a professional cookbook, but one written by everyday women who had to feed their families. I received one 25 years ago when I was first married and it is the bible I use today (I am not from Rochester, this is a very well known book).

                    The recipes are very traditional with ordinary ingredients (no arugula here). Highly recommend it. The link to books on eBay is below:


                    1. A great cookbook is Faye Levy's 1,000 Jewish Recipes. I know the name sounds kind of generic, but the cookbook has all sorts of different recipes, with suggestions for the holidays, everything. It's really clear and extremely useful -- more than any of the other kosher cookbooks I own.

                      Another great book in general on keeping kosher is Lise Stern's "How to Keep Kosher," which is really a fantastic exposition of the laws from a Conservative Jewish perspective. It's really clear and helpful, and also has a bunch of recipes.

                      Good luck!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Tarz

                        There are so many fascinating volumes - but the best author by far is the celebrated Claudia Roden, who wrote The Book of Jewish Food,"
                        replete with fascinating old photos and recipes primarily from North African, Middle Eastern and Indian Jewish communities. Not to be missed is the exquisitely illustrated "Aromas of Aleppo", by Poopa Dwec, Add to that the books by Gil Marks, and your daughter will have a great time in the kitchen discovering food she may never have know wqas Jewish. --Enjoy, Miss Artiste

                      2. Oh I love -- and so does everyone else I know -- "the Kosher Jewish Cook," by Judy Zeidler. Every single recipe in that book is delicious and the instructions are so easy to follow. Judy's delight in cooking and in feeding family and friends is evident on every page.