If you’re lucky enough to have been asked for a Chanukah wishlist read on:
Portico: Leah Koenig
In the last year, Italian Jewish cookbooks have been like buses. This gorgeous collection of Jewish Italian recipes is the third to land on my desk, but I’m equally smitten. Leah Koenig’s colourful collection of recipes is a delight. And just as keen to visit Italy’s capital city.
The New York-based food writer with several books under her belt says it was a trip to Rome that got her started in her career writing about Jewish food.
Her passion for the project shines with delicious recipes, colourful stories and a smattering of history. A delight.
I Could Nosh: Jake Cohen
The second book from another New Yorker — has a slightly Carry-On feel. If you don’t understand the filmic reference, the book is probably aimed at you — Gen Z person.
In the vein of Benny Hill (another ref for the English 50+ reader) the section on his stock base for chicken soup is headed ‘The Brothel’ and matza balls, termed ‘Jake’s Fluffy Balls’. The closing pages show a tanned Cohen clad only in his boxers (and socks) leaning on a propped up challah. You get the idea.
Having said that, Cohen is a trained chef, so it’s not all phnarr phnarr and silly puns. There are some cheffy twists (I’m talking latke tartines and blueberry lavender blintzes) plus schmears to die for (think hot honey or preserved lemon and harissa). Fun flavours and a great gift for the social media generations in your family.
My Tel Aviv Table: Limor Chen
The first book from restaurateur Chen who co-founded London’s Delamina East and Delamina in Marylebone. But don’t expect over-complicated dishes that will take hours out of your life — these recipes are super practical. Think Ottolenghi-style punchy flavours without the endless list of ingredients nor lengthy steps. Yes, there’s the occasional harder to find Middle Eastern ingredient, but for the most part you’ll find her flavours in your local supermarket.
I’ve already fed my family from this book (a delicious chicken dish packed with sweet/sour olives and raisins) and there’s plenty more inspiration. There are also lots of gorgeous, sun-filled shots of the White City and stories of her childhood, from which many of her recipes have been inspired.
Amsalem, A collection of recipes for hope: Ilana Epstein
This online-only collection of Israeli-inspired recipes was collated as a downloadable pdf to raise money for Israel. Epstein (who blogs about Jewish food at wineandchallah) and photographer Blake Ezra (also a keen foodie) decided to compile the book when war broke out.
The recipes will transport you straight to the shuk. The droolworthy recipes range from honey tahina to pomegranate lamb and Ejeh (a Middle Eastern frittata) to Syrian Ka’ak bisuits. Each has a gorgeous image taken by Ezra in a colourful pdf designed by Emily Theodore. Send it to your Gen Z so they can cook straight from their phone.
All profits will be donated to Israeli food charity Leket.
Georgia’s Cakes: Georgia Green
A bible for the star baker in your life — or someone who wants to become one. Cake queen, Green, has a huge social media following for her gorgeous bakes. She left a successful cake making business in London to make Aliyah and then set up an equally popular cake decorating school in Tel Aviv. She has shared her top tips and tricks as well as several recipes which will help the reader create their own showstoppers.
Give it to a loved one and hopefully — by next Chanukah — you’ll have enjoyed the best birthday cake in town.