Fall and winter bring the start of the Jewish holiday season and, with it, a plethora of wonderful new Jewish cookbooks. This year’s include The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular Wholesome, Family-Friendly Recipes; Something Sweet: Desserts, Baked Goods, and Treats for Every Occasion; The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes: 120 Holiday and Everyday Dishes Made Easy. These books make wonderful Chanukah or wedding gifts, or just treats for yourself.
Since I love to add new recipes and traditions to my holiday celebrations, I am always on the lookout for new recipes to include along with some of the old; however, I prefer dishes that also incorporate symbolism into my culinary traditions and are healthful and, of course, delicious.
For Chanukah, I look for recipes using oil that are not necessarily fried, like appetizers, great salads or sides with good olive oils, or recipes using cheese and dairy to remember and honor the biblical Judith who learned that the Assyrian general Holofernes was coming with his army to annihilate the Jews of her community. She met him, invited him to dinner and plied him with wine and salty cheese until he fell asleep in a drunken stupor. Then she took his sword, cut off his head, displayed it on a pole, scaring away his army and thus saving the Jews. In the past, cheese pancakes symbolized this triumphant act of courage since potatoes did not appear on the scene until a thousand years later. Judah Maccabee never even had a potato latke!
So here are some new cookbooks to check out this Chanukah, including recipes for you to select and try to start your own new traditions.
The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular Wholesome, Family-Friendly Recipes by Daniella Silver with Norene Gilletz (ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications): The award-winning Gilletz, a Toronto-based leading author of kosher cookbooks and the owner of Gourmania Inc., joined forces with Silver, a new face in the kosher cookbook scene, to pass on her legacy and wisdom to a new generation, and what started with a phone call turned into a remarkable collaboration and friendship between these two talented women.
The result is The Silver Platter, an intergenerational cookbook that combines the best of both worlds, with Silver’s modern recipes and presentation and Gilletz’s fifty years of cooking experience, with her tips and advice on every page. Gilletz brought incredible wisdom and culinary expertise to the proverbial table, and Silver matched it with her fresh outlook and youthful creativity.
The Silver Platter features over 160 wholesome, family-friendly recipes you will make again and again as well as ways to turn fresh, healthful, easy-to-find ingredients into spectacular dishes. There are many gluten-free options and nutritional information for every recipe, and each dish has an indication for freezer-friendly or make-ahead cooking. Recipes are accompanied by mouthwatering full-color photos and tips, techniques and advice.
Something Sweet: Desserts, Baked Goods, and Treats for Every Occasion by Miriam Pascal (Mesorah Publications): Author Miriam Pascal is a woman after my own heart. Her motto, like mine, is “There’s always room for something sweet!” Who doesn’t love something sweet, especially around the holidays? Four years ago Pascal started her food blog, OvertimeCook.com, as a creative hobby. The blog has become one of the world’s leading destinations for kosher recipes, with hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, and her dessert column in a leading kosher magazine has helped Pascal earn a reputation as “the queen of kosher desserts.”
Pascal’s passion for food and recipes catapulted her to success as she rapidly garnered a large and avid following of eager home cooks who appreciate her blend of approachable creativity. This inspired her debut cookbook, Something Sweet, in which she shares her delectable desserts. The book is filled with user-friendly features, such as detailed “plan ahead” and freezer instructions, helpful variations and substitutions and a comprehensive holiday guide. She also thoughtfully incorporated reader requests, such as health- and allergy-conscious recipes and recipes using easy-to-find ingredients or that are quick and easy to put together.
The Covenant Kitchen Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table by Jeff and Jodie Morgan (Schocken Books): Brought to us by the veteran authors of seven previous cookbooks and owners of the acclaimed Covenant Winery in California, this the ultimate kosher cookbook for food and wine lovers, with more than 100 mouthwatering recipes and beautiful full-color illustrations.
Jeff Morgan says, “For us, kosher wine is for everyday, dinner and maybe lunch too, and our wine is definitely kosher for Passover, but why wait for Passover, have some with your dinner tonight.” The original recipes are easy to prepare, and take kosher dining to a new, contemporary level of sophistication, as the Morgans share their favorite recipes and suggested wine pairings (a first for a kosher cookbook).
The Covenant Kitchen is filled with the flavors of Italy, Provence, North Africa, Asia, California and Israel, as well as informative sidebars on selecting the right wine for any occasion, requirements for kosher food preparation and sample menus for Jewish holidays, along with the fascinating story of wine in ancient Israel and throughout Jewish history.
I was fascinated by all the information provided about selecting wines. I learned that sweet foods can make dry wines taste bitter, which is why savory dishes that include sweet ingredients such as fruit, are challenging to pair with dry wines and are best served with fruity wines.
“These are not our bubbes’ recipes; these are recipes we developed over the last 30 years living in places like southern France and the California country. As a result our cooking has been shaped by our more contemporary experience—one that is based mainly on Mediterranean ingredients. Needless to say everything in the book tastes better with a glass of good wine. Most of the recipes, especially the savory ones, use healthful ingredients such as olive oil, as opposed to saturated fat (like butter); this is our home tradition. Jeff eats olive oil with bread for breakfast. Sugar is not found in many of our recipes, except for desserts,” shares Jodie Morgan.
Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes: 120 Recipes and Everyday Dishes Made Easy by Laura Frankel (Agate Publishing): This is the first paperback edition of a very successful cookbook on sophisticated, simple and satisfying kosher slow-cooker recipes by Frankel, a leading voice in the kosher dining community and the former executive chef and head of food services at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago. She has cooked for such dignitaries as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Steven Spielberg and many more.
Her book contains flavorful kosher recipes for all occasions, designed to be prepared in the slow cooker, a great tool for Shabbat, holidays and busy weeknights. For ease of use, each recipe clearly indicates seasonal ingredients and if it’s meat, dairy or pareve. Frankel’s newest book, Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, will be released in the spring of 2016.
Top photo: Couscous with Chicken and Lamb Sausage from The Covenant Kitchen Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table by Jeff and Jodie Morgan.