Gifting Cookbooks and Menu Suggestions
It’s holiday time, and not just any old Jewish holiday: It’s the fun one—eight days of celebrating a time when Jews were victorious over would-be oppressors by frying potatoes and bready desserts and anything else we consider delish. It has also become our annual gift-giving time, so this roundup of the latest kosher and Jewish-inspired cookbooks provides us with holiday recipes as well as doubling as great gifts (complete recipes and instructions can be found here).
Of particular interest to anyone suffering from gluten sensitivity—or anyone cooking for someone with that issue—is Aviva Kanoff’s Gluten Free Around the World (Brio). Kanoff is an inveterate world traveler who pairs her desire to omit wheat from her diet with exotic flavors (Coq au Vin with Saffron Quinoa, Tuscan Tuna Steaks and Chicken Tikka Masala are good examples). For Hanukka, try her recipe for Churros, the Latin American stick donut dusted with copious amounts of cinnamon sugar. Kanoff’s version calls for gluten-free all-purpose flour. And her Bocaditos de Papa (Potato-Cheese Fritters) are a yummy dairy alternative to latkes.
The Modern Kosher Kitchen (Fair Winds Press) by Ronnie Fein offers easy-to-replicate dishes for the home cook with just enough dash to excite those bored with standard chicken marsala and looking for recipes along the lines of Roasted Garlic with Baharat, Garlic, and Mint and Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo and Onion. For your holiday party, consider another alternative to latkes: Fein’s Roasted Potato Skins are amazing party pleasers, giving you the crunch of a nicely fried latke but with a rosemary and dairy kick. But if fry you must, Fein’s Vidalia Onion Fritters with Sambal-Yogurt Dip pairs the sizzle of latkes with sweet onion and Asian tastes.
As one of the leading food writers in Israel, Janna Gur has been sharing the culinary delights of living in the Jewish state—a smorgasbord of Jews from Eastern Europe, Arab lands, the Levant, Asia, you name it—with those around the globe hungry for Jewish food that doesn’t taste like “their” Jewish food. In her new Jewish Soul Food: From Minsk to Marrakesh (Schocken), Gur sets out to preserve “the culinary masterpieces of Jewish grandmothers” through updated recipes for Chicken Tagine with Artichoke Hearts from Morocco and Sambousek chickpea-filled pastry pockets from Iraq. In honor of Hanukka, fry up her Ijeh B’Lahmeh (Herb and Meat Latkes) from Syria, which is closer to a dense pancake than a frittata. She provides a vegetarian substitution if your meal is dairy or vegetarian. For a sweet finish, Gur shares Bimuelos, Sefardic honeyed Hanukka puffs that are simple to prepare.
Where Gur trains her eye on the foodways of multiple Jewish immigrant communities, author Ruth Barnes focuses on the group she knows best—the Moroccan community, her own. In Sharing Morocco: Exotic Flavors from My Kitchen to Yours (Greenleaf), Barnes demystifies the world of tagines for the home cook so that you too can master her family’s Friday night staple, Marrakech Fish Tagine with Olives and Chickpeas. And she doesn’t shy away from frequent use of the spices that contribute to Moroccan food’s heady aroma and bite; her dishes often feature cumin, sweet or mild hot paprika, turmeric, harissa, cilantro, cinnamon and garlic. For a meat-and-mashed potato take on the latke, fry up Barnes’s Stuffed Potatoes with Meat.
No matter what you prepare for your Hanukka celebrations, eat well and be happy.