When holiday time rolls around, thinking of good gifts for foodies can be a challenge. You can send food of course, but serious foodies love something that anyone can give, and it will last a lifetime.
Cookbooks, memoirs with recipes — in other words, food porn.
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Whatever you call it, for a food fiend, a cookbook is always a welcome gift.
This year, when Jewish-ish cooking is en vogue and Israeli food is hotter than a Scotch bonnet pepper, the choices can be a bit vexing.
Let me help.
Five cookbooks published in 2015 warrant serious excitement. They are great reads and feature recipes that are interesting, innovative, and they work. Any of them would make a wonderful gift to give, and even better to receive.
‘Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking’ by chef Michael Solomonov and restaurateur Steven Cook
Cookbooks by James Beard-award-winning chefs are often stuffy, with recipes that are difficult to make at home. This is not that book. Chef Solomonov’s story is genuine and sincere, filled with the pathos of the loss of a brother in the Israeli Armed Forces, his American upbringing and his journey to find the new world of cooking in Israel. I have made over a dozen of his recipes — but his incredible hummus recipe is worth the price of the book.
‘The Feast Goes On’ by the Monday Morning Cooking Club
When a group of Australian women decided to get together on Mondays and cook each other’s treasured recipes, magic happened. Each was from a different Jewish ethnic group, each with a world of stories. With honesty and solid testing, their first book, “Monday Morning Cooking Club,” was a trove of wonderful recipes and stories. The second one is just as good, if not better. This book is a sleeper and will be splattered with cooking stains in no time.
‘Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen’ by Leah Koenig
Leah Koenig is a top-flight Jewish food writer and editor, and this book showcases her thoughtful variations on Jewish classics. Her take on Jewish American millennial food is second to none. This book is perfect for a recent grad, the newly married or a couple who’ve just moved in together.
‘The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table’ by Jeff and Jodie Morgan
This smart cookbook is full of recipes just waiting to be prepared for a dinner party or a fun weekend dinner. Great for the sophisticated home cook.
‘The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen’: A Fresh Take on Tradition by Amelia Saltsman
Inspired by the Jewish calendar, the author of “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook” brings her locavore, produce-heavy, California-inspired approach to the home kitchen with recipes that focus on her eclectic and fascinatingly global background. A great book for the modern cook looking for something new and altogether genuine for any season.
Main photo: Korean-Style Flanken With Asian Slaw and Red Potato Salad can be found in the new cookbook, “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table,” by Jeff and Jodie Morgan. Credit: Copyright 2015 Ed Anderson