Two creative Jewish cookbooks worth checking out

A look at the cookbooks from Jewish food experts Jake Cohen and Paula Shoyer - which you should absolutely check out.

JEW-ISH author, Jake Cohen
Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)

Jake Cohen, called a “new star” in the food world, is now editorial and test kitchen director of a social media publication.

In the introduction to Jew-Ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch, Cohen talks about his being Jewish while growing up, meeting his husband and deciding to write this cookbook by reinventing his Ashkenazi background and being inspired by his husband’s Persian-Iraq background.

This is not a kosher cookbook per se. Five recipes are definitely not adaptable but others are. If you keep kosher, why would this cookbook interest you? Mainly because the 89 recipes are innovative creations as he reconciles traditional recipes with modern times. Some of his reinventions are: sabbich bagel sandwich, potato-leek burekas, salted honey chopped liver, challah panzanella, saffron chicken noodle soup, French onion brisket, matza tiramisu, and salt and pepper sufganiyot.

Comments on recipes and numbered instructions are a definite plus for this cookbook, as well as the 120 color photographs.

Imagine the components of an everything bagel wrapped into a flaky galette latkes dyed vibrant yellow with saffron for a Persian spin on the potato pancake, hybrid desserts like Macaroon Brownies, and Pumpkin Spice Babka. It also features elevated, yet approachable classics along with innovative creations, such as:

  • Jake’s Perfect Challah
  • Roasted Tomato Brisket
  • Short Rib Cholent
  • Iraqi Beet Kubbeh Soup
  • Cacio e Pepe Rugelach
  • Sabbich Bagel Sandwiches
  • Matzo Tiramisu.

For anyone looking for lots of Persian dishes plus some new, creative Jewish foods, this would be a good choice. ■

Jew-Ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern MenschJake CohenHoughton Mifflin Harcourt$30 hard cover, 272 pages

 Paula Shoyer (credit: STERLING PUBLISHING) Paula Shoyer (credit: STERLING PUBLISHING)

Paula Shoyer: The new book of a talented cookbook author

Paula Shoyer is a very talented, creative Chevy Chase, Maryland-based cookbook author (The New Passover Menu, The Holiday Kosher Baker, The Kosher Baker and The Healthy Jewish Kitchen).

On a trip to Israel a few years ago, I had the pleasure of accompanying her through Jerusalem’s produce market, Mahaneh Yehudah.

She has a French pastry degree from the Ritz Escoffier pastry program in Paris and teaches French and Jewish baking classes in the Washington area.

The Instant Pot allows for short cooking time in a modern appliance, similar to the pressure cooker, and is “the official Instant Pot cookbook.”

“Instant Pot Cooking is the New Fast Food for Kosher People,” she writes in her introduction. “Jewish food and the IP are a natural fit….With the IP, recipes that used to take hours are now ready in a fraction of the time.”

Six reasons why “everyone Would Love to Have an Instant Pot”: it’s fast, easier cleanup, less cooking effort, more nutritious, kitchen stays cooler and smells stay inside, use less energy and less water.

Since the food only touches the inner pot and the lid, can you use this appliance for both dairy and meat? By the time you buy a second inner pot and lid, the cost is the same as buying an entirely separate IP. Paula recommends having two. The inner pot and lid may be submerged in water to be toiveled.

There are a total of 100 recipes accompanied by 63 color photographs.

  • Is your interest Jewish? Matza brei brulee, gefilte loaf, stuffed cabbage and kasha varnishkes are there.
  • Israeli? Try the familiar Moroccan carrot salad, hummus, orange shakshuka, Persian lamb and herb stew.
  • International ideas for experimenting include Thai red curry fish, French onion soup puree with shredded short ribs, Swedish meatballs, and Peruvian spiced chicken.

Every recipe has introductory remarks, my favorite characteristic. Although instructions are not numbered (another favorite), ingredients are boldly listed.

This is a book of expertly developed recipes, high in flavor and with great textures for the kosher cook today. ■

The Instant Pot Kosher CookbookPaula ShoyerSterling Publishing$22.95 paperback, 224 pages

Sybil Kaplan is a Jerusalem-based journalist, lecturer, book reviewer, food writer and author (Witness to History: Ten Years as a Woman Journalist in Israel) and nine cookbooks (including What’s Cooking at Hadassah College?).