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Cookbook Review: Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking

Must Read: Jewish Home Cooking

Although Passover lasts for only a few more days, its occurrence is always a reminder (for Jews and non-observers alike) of how much Jewish culture has shaped contemporary culture and cuisine. What's the origin of dill pickles, and how did cream cheese come to be paired with salmon? Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking ($24) tackles such questions, all while offering more than 100 traditional Yiddish recipes. Learn more about it after the jump.

Pros:

  • Recipes are easy (scallion cream cheese, pickled beets) and advanced (gefilte fish).
  • Legendary institutions like Junior's, which made New York cheesecake famous, offer up their original recipes.
  • Various essays, such as "Why Jews like Chinese food" or "The Candy Story and the Egg Cream," capture the essence of Jewish culture and its impact on American cuisine.

Cons:

  • Step-by-step instructions aren't numbered or bulleted and often require turning the page mid-recipe.
  • A number of recipes aren't for the fainthearted, including p'tcha (jellied calf's feet with garlic) and kishka (stuffed derma).

Recipes: The book is organized in a traditional format, but includes one chapter exclusively for Passover meals. Dishes include:

  • Lox, eggs, and onions
  • Challah French toast
  • Chocolate babka
  • Junior's cheesecake

Imagery: Roughly a third of the recipes are accompanied by pictures, either of the recipe itself or of ingredients included in the dish. The book also contains snapshots of New York restaurants, such as the famed Russ & Daughters.

Overall rating: Jewish Home Cooking isn't a straight cooking book; it takes Yiddish cuisine beyond just recipes for the High Holy Days. This is a work that excels as much as an essay on Jewish food culture as it does at providing authentic recipes.

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