2019 was a great year for cookbooks, especially by Jewish and Israeli authors, which means that it shouldn’t be hard to pick out gifts for the foodies in your life. Or rather, maybe it will be extra hard. Read on for some of our cookbook picks for this year…
1. The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koenig
Have an ambitious cook in your family or friend group? This is the book for them. Loaded with 400 recipes spanning every Jewish corner of the globe, they’ll be cooking from this book for a while. Leah Koenig created and curated recipes from famous chefs, restaurateurs and foodies for just about every course and category. There are classics like Chicken Soup, Chocolate Rugelach and Bagels (both Montreal and New York style), as well as Chicken Hamin (overnight stew) with Bucatini, Stuffed Onions, Semolina and Coconut Cake with Rosewater Syrup and so, so much more.
2. Little Book of Jewish Sweets by Leah Koenig
If you can’t quite stomach 400 recipes (or don’t feel like schlepping a tome to your hosts’ house), but still want to experience Leah Koenig’s recipe creation and writing, check out the last book in her three-part “Little Book” series. In this pocket-sized book, like its two predecessors Little Book of Jewish Appetizers and Little Book of Jewish Feasts, you’ll find 25 global-inspired Jewish treats, including Orange-Chocolate Rugelach, Mocha Black-and-White Cookies and Atayef (Fried Sweet Cheese Pancakes).
3. Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen by Adeena Sussman
If by now you haven’t heard about Sababa, well, no offense, but it might be time to get out from under that rock. In her solo cookbook, Adeena Sussman takes readers into her Tel Aviv kitchen located steps away from the Carmel Market, where she creates colorful Israeli favorites, often with her own New York- or California-inspired flair. In the few months since its release, recipes like the Tahini Caramel Tart (aka the Gal Gadot of Tarts), Melted Green Cabbage (yes, cabbage!) and Lachuch (Yemenite Crumpet Pancakes) have already captured a lot of hearts.
4. Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking by Einat Admony and Janna Gur
For this book, Einat Admony, who may be credited with bringing falafel to New York, teams up with celebrated Israeli food writer and cookbook author Janna Gur to take readers on a tour of Israel’s beloved markets. Each chapter focuses on an ingredient or food category, rather than a course—for example, a rice chapter, one on chicken and even one devoted to cauliflower and eggplant, which the authors call “Our Vegetable Heroes.” You’ll find recipes like a gluten-free Cauliflower Tabbouleh with Crunchy Seeds, Aruk (Iraqi Herb and Potato Patties) and Double-Steamed Hand-Rolled Couscous.
5. Mastering Spice: Recipes and Techniques to Transform Your Everyday Cooking: A Cookbook by Lior Lev Sercarz
For a lot of people, spices are intimidating—that’s the launching point for Lior Lev Sercarz, the New York-based spice master behind spice boutique La Boîte, and his reason for writing this book. Lev Sercarz uses tried-and-true favorites to introduce new flavorings and spicing—for example, roasted mixed vegetables become Sumac Roasted Vegetables with Fennel Seeds, braised chicken thighs turn into Herb-Braised Chicken with Dried Apricots and risotto is transformed into Rosemary and Garlic Risotto with Mascarpone and Parmesan.
6. When Pies Fly by Cathy Barrow
A year after her James Beard Award-nominated Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet & Savory Slab Pies, DC local (and JFE® writer) is back with another dough-meets-fillings book. This one covers a lot more categories, though, and not just of the baked variety. You’ll find galettes, hand pies, stromboli and more, both sweet and savory, including Sunday’s Lox and Schmear Tart; Pear, Sweet Potato and Pistachio Strudel; Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Apricot Kolache, to name just a few.
7. Honey & Co. At Home by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer
Stateside, most of us have heard of Yotam Ottolenghi of the London-based empire, but there’s another Israeli duo making its mark on London: Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, the husband-and-wife team behind three restaurants. This is the couple’s second book, and the theme is what they cook at home. Chapters are entitled “For us two,” “For friends,” “For the weekend” and so on, which makes it a bit difficult to navigate when you’re looking for a specific course (thankfully there’s another table of contents that’s organized in a more traditional way), but lovely for lazy weekend flipping. Highlights include Lamb Stew with Medjool Dates (and Sometimes Tahini), Baked Goat’s Cheese Wrapped in Walnut Pastry with Fig Relish, and Sumac and Vanilla Shortbread.
8. Food You Want for the Life You Crave by Nealy Fischer
Have an extra busy foodie with a gluten-free bent in your life? A busy mom of four, blogger Nealy Fischer, also known as “The Flexible Chef,” has released her first cookbook with precisely these types in mind. She calls her recipes “clean, fresh, healthy and energizing,” but emphasizes flexibility and willingness to make adjustments (and experience some flops) when cooking. Despite their long names, recipes like Showstopping Herb-Crusted Salmon, Chicken Lettuce Cups with Green Pesto and Mango Salsa, and Decadent Frozen Almond Brownie Pie generally have manageable ingredient lists and are fairly quick to prepare.