Fall and winter are full of wonderful Jewish holidays and celebrations: Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Simchat Torah and Chanukah. But after Chanukah, there is the “Quiet Period,” with only Tu b’Shevat and Purim.
As a seasoned celebrator of these holidays, I divide the year into seasons, or two Jewish holidays: the high holidays and Passover. Recently I have learned that many Jewish people feel this way. Now we are in the “Quiet Period,” in between seasons.
It is an unusual Quiet Period because temperatures in the Washington, DC, area have ranged from freezing to the 70s. During the Quiet Period I like to stock up on cookbooks, mysteries, biographies and other types of books I love to read and explore.
Fortunately, I have some great new Jewish cookbooks to share, with great recipes for anytime, regardless of the weather or time of year.
Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes: From Your Favorite Kosher Cafes, Takeouts & Restaurants by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek (Mesorah Publications) is a sequel to Secret Restaurant Recipes. Schapira and Dwek are also the authors of the bestselling Made Easy cookbook series.
Schapira and Dwek met over six years ago when Dwek interviewed Schapira for an article on the kind of mixer she used to make her challah. Schapira then hired Dwek to edit her book, Fresh and Easy Kosher Cooking. A friendship quickly formed, and they became writing partners. The cookbook duo has a secret to their recipe success: chatting about food all day—by the time they get to the kitchen, they know just how the dish should be made.
According to Schapira, “Each of us has different tastes in foods, so it quickly became clear who would test which recipe. A good partnership is knowing the strengths of the other and respecting it.”
Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes focuses on favorite neighborhood takeout spots, pizza joints and other casual dining establishments. Cooking from the book, you feel as though Schapira and Dwek are right there in the kitchen with you, sharing their personal tips and the favorite recipes and techniques of the chefs behind the world’s top kosher eateries, from Bangkok to Brooklyn, Miami to Melbourne, such as Gong Bao Chicken from Dini’s in Beijing, China, Lamb Pie from Lechem Basar in Israel and Chicken Pad Thai from The Kosher Place in Bangkok, Thailand.
The recipes, all using accessible ingredients, have been adapted for home use and carefully tested, and are delicious and beautifully traditional. Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes contains all the features that everyone loved about the first volume like the “Home Cook” tips, and takes it up a notch with a great selection of quick-and-easy meals and a focus on food trends, including an entire chapter on sandwiches.
Schapira’s pet peeve is people who don’t share their recipes, so for her, the highlights of creating this book were getting these secret recipes from chefs, cooking with them and learning their secret tips and techniques.
Celebrate: Food, Family, Shabbos by Elizabeth Kurtz (distributed by Feldheim) was written to benefit Emunah of America’s children’s homes in Israel.
“A home-cooked meal says I love you and I want you to be healthy. A home-cooked meal is also something to be cherished and remembered forever,” says Chef Elizabeth Kurtz, creator of Gourmet Kosher Cooking, the premier website for kosher recipes, wine and more.
“Sometimes a small good deed leads to something more, something unexpected and something truly extraordinary. This is how my relationship with Emunah began, on a flight to Florida in 2013 where I was seated next to Fran Hirmes [national president of Emunah of America]. As I was busy typing on my computer, reviewing recipes for my website, Fran saw what I was doing and told me her daughter Kimberly knows my website and loves it. That was the beginning.”
Kurtz’s recipes are easy enough for everyday and special enough for Shabbat or any holiday. Additionally, Celebrate includes Passover conversions for over 120 recipes and make-ahead tips, prep-ahead instructions and freezing options.
For years I have wanted Linda Capeloto Sendowski, my friend and cooking guide, to write a book so I could have her recipes. Sephardic Baking from Nona and More Favorites has finally come out, the first book in a series.
Capeloto Sendowski, an American Sephardic Jew, is the daughter of US-born parents. Her grandparents were from the Greek island of Rhodes and Turkey’s turquoise coast. Her Ashkenazi husband’s family came to the US from Poland and Czechoslovakia after surviving the Holocaust.
Capeloto Sendowski’s home is a happy union of many cultures and a place in which all Jewish traditions are accepted. She shares that she started her blog and website to achieve three goals: “First, to widen awareness of what can be created in kosher cooking. Recipes can be revised from all over the world to fit into the requirements of kosher cooking. Second, I am on a mission to create and codify oral recipes from the Sephardic community and archive them for history since so much of history and tradition is wrapped up this cuisine. Third, I find the Internet makes it possible to demystify how to cook. Visual aids make all the difference in being able to show how to prepare a dish step by step. The ultimate reason to write a blog is to cook and share, and I hope to encourage others.”