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Top Jewish Cookbooks

My Favorite Books About Jewish Traditions and Recipes

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This is a list of my favorite books about Jewish cooking, recipes and traditions. Many of these books are more than five years old, but they have stood the test of time. I hope they get you started on your discovery of the joys of Jewish food.

1. "Inside the Jewish Bakery" by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg

"Inside the Jewish Bakery" by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg
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"Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking" by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg (Camino Books, 2011) will have you salivating from the moment you get past the cover. This delightful book hurtles me back to my childhood, peering over the counters at the glorious challahs, seeded ryes and bagels of my neighborhood Jewish bakery. The recipes are authentic and pared down to home-cook proportions. Even if you never make one of the recipes in this book, but I think you will, it is a touchstone with the past you'll treasure.

Here are three recipes from "Inside the Jewish Bakery":
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2. "Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking" by Leah Schapira

"Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking" by Leah Schapira
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Don't be put off by "Kosher Cooking" in the title of Leah Schapira's "Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking: Ordinary Ingredients, Extraordinary Meals" (Mesorah Publiscations, Ltd., 2011). You don't have to keep a kosher kitchen to enjoy the author's recipes. You don't even have to be Jewish. Schapira's recipes appeal to all food lovers. The photography is amazing, and the recipes are trendy and easy. "Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking" took first place in the 2012 About.com Readers' Choice Awards in the Favorite Jewish Cookbook category.

Here are three recipes from "Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking":
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3. "In Search of Plenty: A History of Jewish Food" by Oded Schwartz

"In Search of Plenty: A History of Jewish Food" by Oded Schwartz
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"In Search of Plenty: A History of Jewish Food" by Oded Schwartz (Trafalgar Square, 1993) remains one of my favorite resource books. The ingredients, preparation, methods and serving of Jewish food and cooking all provide clues to the history of the Jewish people and to their religious beliefs. Schwartz talks about both Sephardic and Ashkenazic foods. The rest of the good news is a self-published edition is coming out soon.
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4. "Healthy Jewish Cooking" by Steven Raichlen

"Healthy Jewish Cooking" by Steven Raichlen
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"Healthy Jewish Cooking" by Steven Raichlen (Viking Press, 2000) ws written by the barbecuer extraordinaire in response to elevated cholesterol levels. Raichlen lowers the fat and calorie load of kugels, pierogi, latkes and more by using fresh ingredients, baking and grilling. Beautiful photography throughout.
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5. "Edible Brooklyn" edited by Rachel Wharton

"Edible Brooklyn" edited by Rachel Wharton
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"Edible Brooklyn: The Cookbook" edited by Rachel Wharton (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2011), while not strictly a Jewish cookbook, is a cookbook that touches on the diverse ethnic makeup of Brooklyn, N.Y., and its food, of which Jewish dishes figure prominently. It's a delicious romp through the neighborhood.
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6. "Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous" by Joan Nathan

"Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous' by Joan Nathan
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"Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France" by Joan Nathan (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) is more than a cookbook, it's an extraordinary work that must have taken years of research. And it just proves the adage that "the more things are different, the more they are the same."
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7. "Vegan Holiday Kitchen" by Nava Atlas

"Vegan Holiday Kitchen" by Nava Atlas
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"Vegan Holiday Kitchen" by Nava Atlas (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2011) isn't just for the Jewish cook. There are recipes for Christian holidays as well, so if you have a mixed household, you've got it made. But chapter three is dedicated to the Jewish holidays of Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah. Now Jewish vegans can have vegetable soup with vegan matzoh balls, mock chopped chicken liver and more. There's beautiful color photography throughout.
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8. "Jewish Home Cooking" by Arthur Schwartz

"Jewish Home Cooking" by Arthur Schwartz
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"Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited" by Arthur Schwartz (Ten Speed Press, 2008) is my go-to book on all things Jewish cooking. While Schwartz's recipes are authentic, he has updated them to be more appealing and more do-able for the home cook. Part cookbook, part reference book, beautiful food photos and archival images of long-ago Jewish food emporiums abound.
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9. "The Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook" edited by Joan Schwartz Michel

"The Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook" edited by Joan Schwartz Michel
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"The Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook: Traditional Recipes from Contemporary Kosher Kitchens" edited by Joan Schwartz Michel (Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc., 2002) is a compilation of some of the best Hadassah recipes from across the United States and Israel. This is another coffee-table-quality book with exquisite photography and lots of nice background information.
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10. "The Book of Jewish Food" by Claudia Roden

"The Book of Jewish Food" by Claudia Roden
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"The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York" by Claudia Roden (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996) reads like a delicious novel to me. Although there are more than 800 Ashkenazic and Sephardic recipes, it's the author's interweaving of her personal history with the history of the cuisine that is fascinating.
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