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Cookbook/supplies rec for absolute beginner- kosher and somewhat picky!

Hi all,
I'm trying to think of a good present for my dear childhood friend's bridal shower. She mentioned that she would like to learn how to cook now that she is getting married. She has boiled pasta, but beyond that has absolutely zero cooking experience.
They do not keep kosher when they eat out, but as far as I know they will be keeping kosher in their new home together. I only have a limited understanding of what that means. In addition to the kosher restriction, they are a bit picky. I managed to extricate the following information from her. They both eat pasta, chicken, and beef. He does not eat fish, though she does. She adores cheese. They enjoy eating Mexican food and Thai food. She loves brisket. He loves cookies. :)
Does anyone have any recommendations for beginner cookbooks that would be kosher-friendly, or ideas about any other gifts for a complete novice in this case?
Years ago my mom bought me Great Food Fast from Everyday Food, which I think is a pretty good basic cookbook, but I'm not sure how many of the recipes would be considered kosher... time to research!

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  1. If there are cooking classes in her area, I would recommend that you give her a certificate for "Knife skills". It will serve her well for decades to come and is something fun she can do, before the wedding or take her spouse later and have a date night. If she learns something that saves her 2 minutes, you are literally giving her the gift of time forever.

    1 Reply
    1. re: vstock

      This is a great idea and I think she would enjoy it! Thanks!

    2. have you check out the kosher forum on chowhound? They probably have some great suggestions.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rasputina

        Maybe I will ask to have this thread moved there, thanks!

        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

          Post on the Kosher forum - lots of people who can help there!

      2. How to cook Everything by mark Bittman

        1 Reply
        1. I think the most important part of learning to cook it too learn basic techniques that could be applied to any type of cooking. Ruhlman's Twenty has basic technique and recipes - he is a good teacher. She will use the book for years to come.

          1. For cookbooks, I would recommend one or more from Susie Fishbein's Kosher by Design series. The recipes are not too complicated, fairly practical, and reasonably appealing.

            You might think that you could just buy any reliable cookbook and assume that your friend could just ignore the non-kosher recipes or substitute a kosher ingredient for a non-kosher one. You would think that. I've noticed, though, that oddly enough, many kosher cooks just don't go that route. They'll stick to cookbooks prominently labeled kosher even though much higher quality books are available.

            Avoid books by Jaime Geller (Joy of Kosher). The recipes are mostly lame and the books are exercises in advertising and product placement.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rockycat

              I was definitely going to recommend Kosher by Design! I think that's a great idea. The foods are diverse and inherently kosher, not just "jewish" food.

              1. re: rockycat

                I second the non-recommend for Jamie Geller. Her books have recipes for things like "turkey sandwiches" and other non-recipes.

                If she is a beginner and not likely to be making big, gourmet meals and dinner parties, I would stick with a basic cookbook by someone like Mark Bittman. Yes, there will be a few seafood recipes she will have to skip, but overall the recipes will be clear and well-tested and help her build skills and confidence. Kosher by Design is good too, but more focused on the fancy dinner party type dishes (except the Short on Time version, which is more practical everyday food.) Other great basic cookbooks are Pioneer Woman and Barefoot Contessa.

              2. Keeping a kosher home maybe a little difficult for the newlywed, imho
                I kept kosher when I first got married- and set up a kosher kitchen-There are many laws to follow- If you are interested in learning more I would suggest you go to www.chabad.org

                The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

                these by Joan Nathan
                The Jewish Holiday Kitchen
                The New American Cook
                Jewish Cooking in America

                The Bittman book is good for basics

                7 Replies
                1. re: jpr54_1

                  I think you will get more responses on cookbook suggestions on HomeCooking

                  Since keeping kosher involves separating meat and dairy-there is also another category pareve(neither meat/dairy) and making sure food is kosher
                  I had 2 of everything-pots,pans,toweling, silverware, draining boards-

                  actually I had 3-Passover items which are only used for Passover

                  1. re: jpr54_1

                    Hands down book of Jewish food by claudia roden. It has a lot of the basics and is my fav cookbook. A lot of Sephardic cooking in that book but also Ashkenazi

                    1. re: Siegal

                      Love this book too but for the beginner? Not so sure...

                      1. re: herby

                        no it is not for a beginner but is very helpful for the kosher cook

                        1. re: herby

                          I feel like there are so many recipes (and the basic version of that recipe) that you can choose the easier recipes if you wanted and still have plenty to choose from. But then again I have been cooking since I was little so maybe what I consider begginer is different than others

                          1. re: Siegal

                            Yeah, I am having trouble too (aside from the kosher aspect) since I've been baking and cooking for a long time so I think I take seemingly obvious things for granted. I am excited she wants to learn but definitely don't want to overwhelm her. Thanks for all he suggestions!

                            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                              Yea.... I remember slow cooking a rack of lamb chops as a newlywed...
                              So obvious now...lol

                    2. I am strictly kosher and a cookbook collector so I've got lots to say on this topic! :)
                      There are some decent kosher cookbooks (Susie Fishbein's are great) but there is a bigger, better selection of non-kosher ones. I own more than 100 cookbooks and only about a dozen are specifically kosher.
                      Vegetarian cookbooks are inherently kosher, but of course they won't have brisket recipes. You can get her any cookbook you like, as long as it doesn't emphasize pork or seafood recipes. I second the motion on "How to Cook Everything." Also, "Joy of Cooking" is a wonderful choice. That was my very first cookbook (a gift from my mom) and most of the recipes are kosher-friendly.
                      There are also lots of kosher food blogs out there. Just do a google search (or ask me for some recommendations - I have lots). Of course that's not a gift idea, just a recommendation you might want to pass on to her.
                      Feel free to reach out with any questions! Good luck finding just the right thing.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Rlocker

                        what are some of titles of a few of the decent kosher cookbooks?

                      2. Molly Stevens
                        All About Roasting
                        All About Braising