Nothing pleases a passionate cook like a brand new cookbook, pages crisp, not yet splattered. Lucky for us, 2016 yielded dozens of fantastic Jewish cookbooks, so whittling down our list of favorites to just five was no easy task!
Cookbooks this year were specialized–there were books about Jewish desserts, spices, tahini, gluten-free and paleo cooking, and even compilations of recipes from specific regions. Here are five that are real show-stoppers, with full-page photographs and the kind of writing that you’ll pour over like a novel. Here are five that will be right at home on the bookshelf, nestled between Jerusalem and Zahav.
Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels through Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Kurdistan, Naomi Duguid
For the foodie who travels the world through cooking, this book features recipes from talented home cooks across Persia. Award-winning cookbook writer, Naomi Duguid, presents the secrets to baked rice, spice blends, grilled eggplant, nut-filled pastries and more.
Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City, Katie Parla and Kristina Gill
Though not entirely a Jewish cookbook, this book has a captivating section on Jewish (cucina ebraica) and Libyan Jewish food of Rome. Parla and Gill give great attention to the social and culinary fabrics of the Roman Jewish Quarter, which you’ll find just as captivating as the sections on “street food” and “bread and pizza.”
How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking, Mark Bittman
This is the much-anticipated companion to (former New York Times food writer) Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and more. Just like the others, Bittman’s substitution guides and pie-filling rubrics truly make us kvell.
READ: Is Food Writer Mark Bittman Going Kosher?
Breaking Breads, Uri Scheft
Here’s a cookbook for a baker at any stage of the game: both novices and experts alike will find much to learn from this visually striking and expertly written cookbook. Answers to all of your questions — from yeast rising to challah braiding to babka swirling — will be answered. We recently reviewed it, so read more about it here if you need any more convincing.
The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods, Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern
Here’s a book that proves that Ashkenazi cooking can be bright and flavorful, presenting a far cry from the jarred gefilte fish and matzah-based dishes served on Passover. Bright and warmly spiced blueberry soup, DIY lettuce kvass, and home-cured pastrami and classic sour pickles will undoubtedly transform your approach to Eastern European Jewish cooking. Read more about the book in our recent review.