The Jew And The Carrot

2012's Best Jewish Cookbooks

By Devra Ferst

  • Print
  • Share Share
Nate Lavey

This year my desk has been strewn with cookbooks containing recipes for homemade pastrami, sweet potato and farmer cheese blintzes, German Jewish cakes, Sephardic treasures from the island of Rhodes and delicious dishes to keep one warm during the winter. These cookbooks have called me to the kitchen and many have made appearances both at my dinner table and at the table of the reviewers below. The books have coached us through fermentation experiments, allowed us to travel to Zimbabwe without leaving our kitchens and helped us understand the culinary legacy of Jerusalem’s diverse population.

From our eight favorite books from the year — one for each night of Hanukkah — we present two below. (Check back every day this week for another two books.) They are all great holiday gifts for the passionate cook in your life or a treat for yourself.

A Borderless Kitchen for the Mideast Maven

Jerusalem: A Cookbook
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Ten Speed Press, 320 Pages, $35

Few 2012 cookbook releases were as highly anticipated as this fall’s “Jerusalem,” and for good reason: The authors, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi, make for good press. Tamimi, a Palestinian, grew up in East Jerusalem, while Ottolenghi, a Jew, was raised in the Western portion of the city. They met as young chefs in London, and formed a professional alliance — five restaurants, three books and counting — that shows no signs of slowing down. This begs a question: Were it not for the compelling back-story, could the cookbook’s spine stand as straight? Thankfully, the answer is a resounding yes. Not only is “Jerusalem” exquisitely photographed, but the recipes — colorful, lavish salads, nut-studded stuffed vegetables, one-pot Palestinian holiday dishes — are bolstered by meticulous historical research and highly personal recollections from the two authors about their family-food morays. The authors’ harmonious narrative balances the scales of a city and cuisine more regularly viewed through a singularly Western, Jewish prism. In sharp contrast to most stories about Jerusalem, theirs — recounted in pomegranate seeds, cuts of lamb and saffron threads rather than chronicles of holy wars and conflict — celebrates the food in its element, putting forth a seductive argument for an edible coexistence that will likely outlast any political treaty.

— Adeena Sussman

Plane Ticket to Rhodes for the Globe Trotter

Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish Family Recipes From the Mediterranean Island of Rhodes
by Stella Cohen
Hoberman Collection, 304 pages, $50

Part memoir, part history of the Jews of Rhodes and part cookbook, “Stella’s Sephardic Table” is a beautiful tribute to Stella Cohen’s ancestral home. Although she grew up in Zimbabwe, Cohen always felt a strong connection to the Greek island Rhodes through her mother’s cooking, the stories of her great-grandfather Yaacov Capouva (a respected sage and rabbi of Rhodes) and annual trips to the island.

The coffee table-sized book is a labor of love, with more than 250 recipes, gorgeous color photos, clear instructions, a glossary of ingredients and terms, and even a section featuring Cohen’s paintings. “This book,” Cohen explains in the introduction, “is a collection of my most-loved traditional Sephardic everyday food and festive dishes from Rhodes.”

The recipes in “Stella’s Sephardic Table” tell the story of the Diaspora and the myriad influences on the food of Sephardic Jews, incorporating aspects of Spanish, Ottoman Turkish, Greek and in this case even African cuisines. From Turkish kebabs to African piri-piri sauce and from Greek meatballs to Spanish fried rice pilaf, Cohen paints a picture of her heritage and the beautiful flavors that come from it.

— Katherine Martinelli


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Hanukkah, Best Jewish Cookbooks, Best Cookbooks 2012

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.