From Hanukkah to Passover, much of Jewish tradition involves celebrating culture, history, and family through enjoying food together.
“Family meals are my trademark. I’ve been cooking and hosting large family gatherings for 50 years,” Gloria Kobrin of kosherbygloria.com told SPY. Jewish holidays often involve large family meals, from the seder at Passover to the large meal of breakfast and brunch dishes to celebrate breaking the fast after Yom Kippur.
“Jewish Holidays are typically centered around a dining table, each with traditional dishes that have important significance to celebrating and remembering the stories and rich history of our people,” Micah Siva, a Jewish Registered Dietitian and Chef, specializing in writing plant-forward Jewish recipes for his blog, Nosh With Micah, told SPY.
In Siva’s family, holiday meals were sacred, and each was crafted carefully according to traditions, using recipes passed down from one generation to the other. “It was a time that everyone was welcome around our table to enjoy, feast, and congregate as a family,” said Siva.
When we think of Jewish Holidays, we often think of Hanukkah, with its latkes and jelly doughnuts, or Passover with matzo ball soup and matzo crackers. However, there are so many other Jewish holidays that also revolve around food. “Sukkot, a celebration of the harvest features recipes full of autumnal vegetables and stuffed vegetables. Shavuot (typically in May), is celebrated with eating dairy-rich foods like blintzes, and Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year is celebrated with apples, honey, pomegranates, and a round challah that signifies the circle of life,” said Siva, who shared that growing up, holiday meals would bring together family separated by states, countries and continents.
“There is nothing more powerful than family and friends sitting together around a table and eating,” said Kobrin. “Generations of my friends and their children have grown up eating at my table with my family.” Like many Jewish families, Kobrin’s traditional recipes come from generations past. “All Jewish and American holidays are celebrated at my table with my family and often friends. I wouldn’t give it up for the world,” said Kobrin.
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We’ve been cooking and eating traditional Jewish family recipes for years, and have a pretty hefty arsenal of dishes we’re proud of. However, we still love a good babka recipe!
If trying to explore your family roots or just expand your Jewish recipe collection before the next holiday dinner, these are some fantastic Jewish and Kosher cookbook options to stock up on.
1. Jew-Ish: A Cookbook by Jake Cohen
This book is a must-read. Cohen has an engaging style of writing that pulls the reader in, but the recipes speak for themselves, as they are a gorgeous mix of his Ashkenazi heritage and his husband’s Persian-Iraqi traditions. The mix of the flavors results in a modern spin on classic dishes, resulting in recipes like Sabich Bagel Sandwiches and Cacio e Pepe Rugelach.
Jew-Ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch
$30.00 45% Off
2. Sababa by Adeena Sussman
MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK
This book was named The Best New Cookbook of Fall 2019 by The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Epicurious, Eater, and Forbes, and it’s easy to see why. The recipes are easy to follow, delicious, and creative. What’s more, beautiful art accompanies the recipes, making this a delightful read that’s sure to give you some inspiration next time you need to cook dinner.
3. My Spiced Kitchen: A Middle Eastern Cookbook by Yaniv Cohen
BEST FOR SPICE FANS
Like things spicy? You’ll love this book, as all recipes focus on classic Middle Eastern spices. From turmeric and cumin to sumac, za’atar, clove, cardamom, caraway, and so much more, this book is full on flavor and the dishes will show it.
4. The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook by Beth Lee
FOR CARB LOVERS
This book is packed with favorite childhood recipes, like hamantaschen, kugel, rye bread, bagels and Black and White cookies. All the treats we remember enjoying with our grandparents and hope to enjoy with our own grandkids one day are here and are even marked with adherence to dietary laws such as “pareve” or limitations such as “gluten-free.”
5. The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koenig
BEST GLOBALLY INSPIRED
Jewish cooking often involves a whole lot of tradition, and it evolves as cultures and ingredients change. Jews of the Middle East may eat different flavors and ingredients than those of America, for example, but this book works as a kind of fusion. It includes 400 Jewish recipes from all over the world, with contributions from famous chefs including Yotam Ottolenghi, Michael Solomonov and Alex Raij.
6. The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan
BEST ISRAELI COOKBOOK
Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, but there are so many cultures that can be found in Israel, all of which strongly influence the flavors of the food. Famous Jewish chef and cookbook author Joan Nathan shows this through recipes that include what you may find on a modern Israeli menu, from hummus to schnitzel to Turkish eggplant salad and a Persian rice dish. The Israeli foods in this book often have Libyan, Moroccan, Italian, or German roots, and these kosher recipes are all globally inspired.
7. Jewish Home Cooking by Arthur Schwartz
BEST ASHKENAZI RECIPES
Jewish cooking often falls into Ashkenazi or Sephardic roots, and both have many culinary differences. This book is very familiar to those of us who grew up in Ashkenazi households, and includes recipes for many traditional Ashkenazi foods, from rugelach and brisket to matzoh brei and challah, and so much more.
8. Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen by Miri Rotkovitz
Another book that shows an author’s own family history and traditions through the foods, this book includes traditional recipe favorites like babka, brisket, and matzo ball soup, but also more modern global spins like za’atar pita chips and forbidden rice bowls. It’s perfect for expanding your own family’s holiday (or any Friday night!) dinner menus.
Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen: A Kosher Cookbook of Beloved Recipes and Modern Twists
9. Modern Jewish Baker By Shannon Sarna
Shannon Sarna has a loyal social media following for her gorgeous baked goods and she shares the recipes in this book, which includes all our favorite Jewish pastries and bread, but also tips on make-ahead strategies, ideas for how to use leftovers, and so much more.
10. The Artisanal Kitchen by Uri Scheft
FOR HOLIDAY DESSERT
This cookbook, from master baker Uri Scheft, is a beautiful mix of classic and contemporary Jewish cuisine with a focus on some of our favorite holiday baked goods. Jelly doughnuts, anyone?
11. Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish by Cathy Barrow
BEST FOR BRUNCH
There are few foods more Jewish than the bagel, and it’s easier to make than you may think. This book teaches everything from mixing the dough to shaping the bagels, and then offers all sorts of wild flavor spins, from blueberry to hatch chile. But it’s not just about bagels, there are also perfectly sweet and savory spreads, from lox to chicken salad.
12. Millennial Kosher By Chanie Apfelbaum
Chanie Apfelbaum is well-known for her kosher food blog Busy In Brooklyn. Well, she puts the same energy and flavor into this book of modern takes on classic Jewish and Kosher fare. The book includes 150 recipes, with both dairy-free and vegetarian options also available, and there’s a full section offering a guide to how to cook and prepare kosher meat, for anyone who may be a bit newer to the tradition.
13. Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home by Faye Levy
This book is unique in that it offers a healthier approach to traditional fare, with a focus on nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The matzo balls are made with whole wheat, the blintzes with buckwheat and somehow, even though everything is modified to be healthier and fit modern health concerns, it still feels like a classic and rich recipe book.
Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home: 200 Recipes for Eating Well on Holidays and Every Day
14. Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Joan Nathan
BEST FOR HOLIDAYS
This gorgeous book offers Jewish holiday recipes from around the globe. Recipes are Moroccan, Russian, German and so much more, reflecting the rich tapestry of Jewish culture. It’ll add variety and spice to any holiday get-together.
15. Joy of Kosher By Jamie Geller
Some occasions are more formal, others are more casual, but the brilliance of Jamie Gellar is that she found a way to create a book that speaks to both ends of the spectrum at the same time. This Jewish cookbook includes 200 ideas for fast weeknight recipes, but each recipe also comes with tips on how to dress the recipe up for entertaining or make them even more casual and fast on a busy night.
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