Category Archives: Cookbooks

Take It Easy! Gluten-Free Recipes for Passover

Take It Easy! Gluten-Free Recipes for Passover and Year Round by Mindy Rafalowitz  is a cookbook of delicious, simple recipes that I’d recommend to new and experienced cooks alike – regardless of whether they eat gluten or not.

Take It Easy! Gluten-Free Passover by Mindy RafalowitzIt is the most exciting recent addition to my collection of cookbooks.

Given that I have several hundred cookbooks, this actually is very high praise.

This is the English translation of the best-selling Israeli cookbook Mitbashel Poh Mashehu, which is already in its fourth printing.

It’s easy to see why it was so popular.

This book is packed with recipes chosen because they are tasty, healthy, easy to make and relatively inexpensive.

But what I love most about it is the whole underlying philosophy. Mrs. Rafalowitz is here to remind cooks that they don’t need to work themselves to the bone or break the bank to provide delicious, nourishing, even impressive meals to family and guests.

The recipes are made with simple, easy to find natural ingredients.  They’re also peppered with comments and tips on how to make things easier for the cook (hence the title). There are variations to some of the dishes, suggested substitutions, and tips on how to wow your family and guests with simple but effective presentation tricks.

I admit that I’m as easily enticed as anyone by beautiful photographs in cookbooks. This book has none. That makes it cheaper to buy and given the tone of the book, I suspect this was an intentional decision.

That thrifty, easy attitude permeates the book in a very refreshing way. It’s good to be reminded that while delicious food it an important part of Shabbos and Yom Tov, it shouldn’t come at the expense of an akeret habayis being able to spend time with family and enjoy Yom Tov.

It shows, too, in the book’s design. Each recipe is set out clearly, with the steps numbered and widely spaced. There are a minimum number of steps, too, and most recipes cover only one page. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to glance back at the instructions while making something than it is with many other cookbooks.

Those thoughtful details make a big difference when you’re working under pressure.

Gluten-Free Recipes All Year Around

I do want to debunk a misconception caused by the book’s cover: This is not only a Pesach cookbook. It’s a collection of gluten-free, non-gebrokts and no potato starch recipes. So it’s understandable that the publisher chose to market it as a Pesach cookbook.  Included at the beginning of the book is a useful section of Pesach preparations. At the end of the book is an entire chapter entitled “Pesach Basics” that covers homemade mayonnaise, charoses, chrein, sauces and jams.

But all the recipes in between the first and last chapter are perfect for anyone on gluten-free or paleo diets.  Some recipes do use sugar, but elsewhere, there is an emphasis on healthy options. Where a rare recipe uses margarine, the author points that out and recommends making it only for occasional special occasions like Sheva Brachos. In other words, she encourages readers to make healthy choices but isn’t militant or dogmatic about it.

I appreciate an author who respects her readers enough to let them make their own, informed, choices.

I’d recommend this book to young and experienced cooks alike.

Published by Mosaica Press.

We received a review copy of this book.

Buy now from Amazon.

About the Author: Mindy Rafalowitz

Mindy Rafalowitz has been a cooking columnist for the Hebrew Hamodia for twenty years. However, she doesn’t just write about food. She runs food demonstrations and healthy cooking workshops in Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. She also sends out a phenomenal free weekly recipe and cooking tips e-mail newsletter.

To subscribe to Mindy Rafalowitz’s free newsletter or learn more about her workshops, please contact us.

 

Take It Easy by Mindy Rafalowitz

 

 

 

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Beyond Nut Cake: Pesach Desserts by Ronit Peskin

Beyond Nut Cake: Delectable and Different Pesach  Desserts for Chassidishe Minhagim by Ronit Peskin is an e-book determined to put to rest the misconception that the only possible non-gebrokts Pesach dessert is nut cake.

Beyond Nut Cake Pesach Desserts by Ronit Peskin coverArmed with only peel-able fruit and vegetables, nuts that can be shelled at home (including coconut), salt, eggs, wine, and sugar syrup, Ronit Peskin concocted over twenty-five desserts, ranging from flans to ice creams, from banana fritters to crepes, and even a recipe for how to make your own marzipan.

The recipes are all non-dairy, gluten-free, and suitable for people who have all kinds of dietary restrictions.

For those who don’t know Ronit, she’s the force behind Penniless Parenting, a frugal parenting blog taglined: “A Rich Life on a Minimum Wage.”

She’s undaunted at the prospect of making almost anything at home, and this shows in this short e-book, where she starts off with the basics.  How to make sugar syrup is pretty self-explanatory.  But had I ever even considered making my own potato starch? Not. Somehow, she makes it seem likely that I actually might try one day.

Instructions for nut milks and nut butters follow, before we get to the desserts.  I don’t believe a meal – any meal – qualifies for the term unless it includes dessert, so of course this was one book that spoke to my heart… or at least my stomach.

I’ve never tried flan with coconut cream, nor lemon curd with oranges instead, so our Pesach desserts are going to have some delectable new twists this year!

Ronit Peskin also leads foraging hikes, on which she teaches which plants in the greater Yerushalayim area can be used for food, which have first aid and medicinal properties, and which ones are poisonous. (A fascinating and  educational family Chol Hamoed outing, by the way!)   For more, check out foragingisrael.com.

Self-published.

We received a review copy.

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Vegan Passover Cookbook by Rena Reich

This new vegan passover cookbook is here to answer a basic question: “What are we going to eat on Pesach?”

Who hasvegan passover cookbookn’t heard that question before? Imagine being vegan at Pesach. An Ashkenazi vegan, not a Sephardi vegan. Now what do you eat?

In the Vegan Start Passover Cookbook, Rena Reich answers the question for vegan families with such simplicity and grace that she makes it look easy. Her cookbook provides a Seder menu and enough recipes to see you through Pesach without using any dairy, eggs, fish, meat or kitniyot.

In addition to soups and vegetable salads that are suitable all year around, there are the vegan versions of standard Jewish fare: How do you make a potato kugel without eggs? Rena shows us how. Matzo brei, mock chopped liver and matzo ball recipes ensure vegans can still enjoy a traditional Yom Tov meal.

The main courses include “meatballs” made with mushrooms and walnuts, mushroom burgers and mushroom steaks, ratatouille and gnocchi.

No festive meal is complete without desert. With a collection that includes mouthwatering turtle bars, chocolate truffles, cookies, apple cake, and chocolate torte, there is plenty here for the most discriminating sweet tooth.

The recipes I was most happy to see in this book, however, were for the “extras,” like egg-free mayonnaise, almond butter, almond milk and almond crackers with rosemary.

Some of the recipes include matza meal, as in the kishke and matza meal pancakes.

The Vegan Start Passover Cookbook is laid out clearly, with beautiful photographs and clear, step-by-step recipes. None of the recipes are particularly complicated (although gnocchi, by definition, are a patchke!) and the dishes are simply spiced. If you like your matbucha hot, feel free to add more spices to your heart’s content.

This book proves that even with the restrictions against chametz, kitniyot and animal products such as meat, dairy or eggs, it is still possible to create healthy, appetizing food for Yom Tov.

Rena Reich blogs at Veganstart.com, where she has a treasure trove of recipes for “food not quite like your mama used to make.”

We received a review copy of this e-book.

Self-published.

Purchase now from Amazon.com

vegan passover cookbook

 

 

Gluten Free Around the World by Aviva Kanoff

As the title suggests, Gluten Free Around the World, by Aviva Kanoff, is a culinary circumnavigation of the globe.

Going gluten-free is challenging enough. Going gluten-free, kosher and interesting, too, can seem like an insurmountable challenge.

gluten free cookbook by aviva kanoff But Aviva Kanoff has it covered in this wonderful new book, crammed with recipes for tantalizing, creative foods she has tasted during her travels to such far flung places as Ecuador and India, Cambodia and Morocco and more.

Aviva is a former student of the French Culinary Institute and is an accomplished photographer and world traveler.  Combine those talents and the result is a culinary adventure that gluten-free adherents might have despaired of ever being able to enjoy.

Recipes range from the enduring (Blueberry Scones) to the contemporary (Candied Fig and Goat Cheese Salad), from riffs on classics (Fish Tacos) to ethnic specialties (Beef Pho).

The spectacular photos of the places Aviva has visited add even more of a reason to explore this book and start cooking up a gluten-free feast.

Published by Brio.

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Aviva Kanoff is also the author of The No-Potato Passover: A Journey of Food, Travel and Color, which won the Gourmand Award for the Best Jewish Cuisine in 2012.

No potato passover by aviva kanoff

 

 

The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel by Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel With Their Mystical and Medicinal Properties by Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Seigelbaum is the perfect book to launch this blog on Tu BiShvat.

Seven Fruits of the Land of IsraelChana Bracha Seigelbaum is the founder of Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, a place of Torah learning for women. In this unique work, which is part sefer, part cookbook, she posits that the seven fruits for which Eretz Yisrael is known have tremendous spiritual power that can be tapped to enable us to do more mitzvos, heal our bodies and express our creativity.

First, lets start on the outside. This is a physically beautiful book. The cover is gorgeous – yes, I’d buy it just for all that glorious color! Fortunately, I didn’t have to buy it, as it was a birthday gift, lucky me. The inside of the book is replete with full-color photographs and more of the same artwork as on the cover. Just turning the glossy pages of this book is a soothing, calming experience.

Inside, the book requires serious study. This isn’t light reading – for each of the seven fruits, the author delves into what we can learn from Torah pessukim about that fruit. She provides nutritional information, covers how that fruit is used in traditional and natural medicine, what Chazal and other sources have to say about it as well as mitzvos and brachos related to the fruit. Should you want to delve further in a particular direction, all sources are carefully listed in end notes at the close of each chapter. Each chapter of learning is followed by healthful recipes that highlight that particular fruit.

Experiencing this book is a wonderful way to focus on the spiritual aspects of Eretz Yisrael and the wondrous produce with which Hashem has blessed the Land. I say “experiencing” because reading is obviously not enough in this case. The work takes reading, study and, of course, cooking and eating the recipes, too, to fully appreciate it.

No wonder The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel won two Gourmand Magazine Awards for 2015: Best Fruit Book and Best Jewish Cuisine.

A beautiful sefer. A beautiful cookbook. A beautiful work. Many thanks to my dear friend – you know who you are! – who gave it to me for my birthday.  This is a great gift, but here’s a hint if you’re buying it for someone else: Get two. Once you buy one as a gift, you won’t want to part with your only copy.

Published by Menorah Books.

Haskamos from the Biala Rebbe, Rav Kohn, Rav of Bat Ayin, and Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum.

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Rebbitzen Chana Bracha Siegelbaum shiurim can be heard on KosherTube.com.  She is also the author of:

Ruth Gleaning the Fallen Sparks
(Self Published)
Women at the Crossroads
(Menorah Books)
The Nameles Chicken from Judea
(Self published)

 

The Well-Spiced Life by Barbara Bensoussan

The Well-Spiced Life is a food memoir – part recipes, part essays.  Barbara Bensoussan is a contributing editor at Mishpacha Magazine.  She also writes for Jewish Action and has been published in Hamodia, Chabad.org and other media outlets.

The Well-Spiced Life by Barbara BensoussanSo you’ve probably seen her articles somewhere along the line.  She’s one of my favorite feature writers out there – smart, articulate and always interesting.

I collect cookbooks, so this one is definitely on my list to add to my bookshelf!

You can hear her talking about her life and her new book in this interview on Chazak Radio.

The Well-Spiced Life

From the back cover:

As a young woman, acclaimed author Barbara Bensoussan always thought she’d marry a nice Jewish boy from New York, just like her mother. But her life took a distinctly different turn when she entered the Orthodox world and her nice Jewish boy turned out to hail from Casablanca! Suddenly she found herself the Sephardic version of the bride-who-knew-nothing!

Now she had a husband who thought the chicken soup she adored was little more than flavored water, and who’d grown up eating the head of a lamb—teeth showing—on Rosh Hashanah. As the years passed and her family grew, she did her best to absorb the culture and cuisine of the Sephardic world— some of which, she laments, is still clinging to her waistline.

The literary result of Barbara’s foray into the Sephardic world is The Well-Spiced Life, an authentic food memoir that combines the best of pleasure reading with excellent recipes. Packed with delightful anecdotes, culinary tips culled from years spent cooking for a “mixed” (Ashkenazic/Sephardic) family, loads of exotic recipes, and an abundance of comic relief (a necessary ingredient in every culinary undertaking!), it’s a book that belongs on the shelf of every respectable balabusta, Sephardic and Ashkenazic alike.

As they say in Casablanca: bon appetit!

Published by Israel Bookshop Publications (2014)

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Barbara Bensoussan is the author of the teen novel A New Song.