From Brooklyn to Jerusalem to the Greek isles, a new batch of Jewish cookbooks takes you on a whirlwind tour of Jewish gastronomy.
The Mile End Cookbook
by Noah and Rae Bernamoff
Hipster deli: Maybe the two words seem incongruous. But the Bernamoffs of Brooklyn’s Montreal-inspired Mile End Deli bring them together. Noah’s scruffy beard, Rae’s cat-eye glasses and the couple’s do-it-yourself approach to traditional Jewish foods establish their hipster cred; their smoked meat sandwiches, pickled beets and whitefish salad take care of the deli part. Their Mile End Cookbook brings retro back. With essays contributed from leaders of the nouveau deli movement, the book takes a philosophical approach: “Without tradition you’ll never be able to innovate, and without innovation you’ll never really be able to revive your traditions.”
Jewish Cookery Book
by Esther Levy
Everything old is new again: The first kosher cookbook published in America (in 1871) has been reprinted by the American Antiquarian Society, with an introduction by current first lady of Jewish food, Joan Nathan. Levy’s book includes recipes for dishes such as “Nice Butter Soup,” “Good Sauce for Cold Roast Beef” and “Matzas Charlotte”—matzoh layered with custard, raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar and other flavorings. The volume is peppered with medical and household advice on such topics as “bleeding at the lungs” (“Drink freely of strong salt and water every two or three minutes”) and “how to give a gloss to shirt bosoms.”
Stella’s Sephardic Table
by Stella Cohen
Sephardic cooking encompasses many rich histories.In her cookbook, Cohen highlights one such culinary tradition, that of the Jews of Rhodes, a Greek island in the Mediterranean. Known in Ladino as La Chica Yerushalayim—The Little Jerusalem—Rhodes was home to a thriving Jewish community from as early as the second century BCE up until World War II, when the majority of Jews were taken to concentration camps. Fortunately, Cohen’s family left Rhodes in the 1930s for Rhodesia, where the author was born. Recipes in the book cover the African-influenced cuisine of Jewish Rhodes, like spicy piri-piri baby chicken, and Sephardic dishes such as saffron rice pilaf, herb and bulgur salad and a rice flour and milk pudding.
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Ottolenghi, born to Jewish parents in West Jerusalem, and his business partner Tamimi, an Israeli Arab from East Jerusalem, collaborated on this gloriously photographed tribute to their hometown. An introductory section highlights some of the holy city’s history, from King David to its current political struggles. The book itself is a political statement, a deliberate intermingling of recipes of Arab origin—such as fattoush salad and mejadra, a dish of lentils, onions and spices—and dishes of Jewish lineage: an egg-and-fava-bean concoction from Iranian Jews and roasted potatoes with caramel and prunes based on the classic tzimmes, for example.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
by Deb Perelman
Perelman stumbled into online fame with Smitten Kitchen, the blog she started in 2006 to chronicle her cooking adventures; in the years since, the site has become wildly popular among the chattering food classes. From her minuscule Manhattan kitchen, Perelman has been churning out recipes both elaborate and straightforward. In her first cookbook, she
offers fresh twists on some Jewish standbys, from breakfast latkes to sweet potato blintzes to fig, olive oil and sea salt challah. Not everything about the book is Jewish: The broiled clams with chorizo are more than a little treif, but the rugelach and brisket nicely balance them out.