Loving My Jewish Cookbooks

I’m devoted to my Jewish cookbooks.


My sister gave me this cookbook. She’s very special to me and so is this book.

Take my Joy of Cooking, my Barefoot Contessa, my Moosewood, all my Martha’s and Jamie’s and Nigella’s and even my Julia’s.  But please don’t ever take away my Jewish cookbooks.

 My life has changed throughout the years. I went from being single to married to a family of four. We moved from East to West. My style evolved from traditional to contemporary, modern and minimal. I used to eat whatever I wanted without giving it much thought. Now I’m all about local and slow and organic. And through it all, my Jewish cookbooks have stayed with me.

 Some sit on the shelf unused. Others have pages so worn and torn from recipes I’ve made hundreds of times. Some were gifts I cherish.

 Even though the recipes that fill these books are not my grandmother’s, I imagine they are somebody’s grandmother’s. And in my fantasy, she’s just like my bubbe—kind and warm—and her home smells just like my grandma’s did—of chicken soup, roasted sweet potatoes, stuffed cabbage, homemade challah and mandel bread. I felt adored there in my bubbe’s home and full from so much.

Many of our traditions get passed down through food.  And isn’t cooking for our family and friends one of the ways in which we show our love?  Then what lies between the pages of my Jewish cookbooks is powerful. Such history! Such love! Right there in each one of my Jewish cookbooks! There is also comfort in knowing, I’ll never truly leave behind what came before me.

 Here’s another thing…when I’m in a small town or traveling and see a used bookstore, I always have to go inside. I know exactly what I’m looking for—those abandoned Jewish cookbooks—the ones that are ignored and forgotten. Sometimes they end up in the $1.00 bin. Out of print, outdated, bindings torn. They call out to me. They need a home. And that home is mine.

 Do you feel the same? Do you have certain Jewish cookbooks that you use all the time and others you just keep because they are special? Were any of them gifts?

Here are just a few of my favorites. I’d love to hear about some of your favorites.


I found this one in a used bookshop. It’s very funny.


Capanota Meshugenuh Papparazzi.


Sweet and Pungent Beef Chunks Oy Gah Valt


Shouldn’t I own at least one Hadassah cookbook?


My kids love this kugel. It’s the only thing I’ve made from The Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook.


Just so you know, I own trendy Jewish cookbooks too.


And a few of Joan Nathan’s…


I didn’t make hamantashens this year. But I own so many books with hamantashen recipes, I feel less guilty about it.


This was a gift from my sister’s husband’s mom. She was a great cook.


I think schmaltz is making a comeback.


Love these three women.


The recipes in Cucina Ebraica are different from the Eastern European foods I grew up eating.


I used to make this.


I always wanted to make this.


I found The Reasoning and Seasoning of Jewish Cooking in a used book shop and couldn’t resist buying it. For the title alone, it was worth it.


I won’t be making onion souffle anytime soon but who knows?


Great picture of the fish next to the gefitle fish.


It says it’s a classic. I had to buy it.


A lot of the foods I grew up eating are in Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking.


I will never make homemade stuffed derma even though I loved it as a kid. My children don’t know what it is.


This is out-of-print. It was published in 1964 for El Al Airlines. I really like the look of the cover.


I didn’t know that sheep’s head used to be a symbolic Rosh Hashasha dish for Jews in Yemen and Afghanistan. You can learn a lot from reading a cookbook.


If you can believe it, I paid retail for this.


These are the kinds of things Mandy must have eaten when he was growing up.


Everyone should own a copy of Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food.


This Hadassah cookbook was sad and lonely when I found it in the bookshop but it’s not anymore.


tuna lasagne!


Did Jewish mothers really used to make salmon stuffed artichokes?



And avocado soup?


I’ve received lots of sisterhood cookbooks from many of the women in my family and also from good friends. I cherish them all.

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9 Comments on Loving My Jewish Cookbooks

  1. Lillie
    March 17, 2014 at 5:41 pm (9 years ago)

    “I’ll never truly leave behind what came before me.” What a brilliant phrase sentence.

  2. Judy Bloom
    March 17, 2014 at 7:46 pm (9 years ago)

    I don’t go looking in used bookstores for them but I also love my Jewish cookbooks and use them frequently even though I often go to the internet to look up other kinds of recipes, I always go to my Jewish cookbooks for holidays and Shabbat. Some of my favorites are on your list but two others are: The Jewish Festival Cookbook by Fannie Engle and Gertrude Blair and Modern Jewish Cooking by Bonne Rae London. Enjoy!

    • Julie Levine
      March 18, 2014 at 4:21 pm (9 years ago)

      Thank you for the suggestions. I’m going to order the two books you mentioned today!

  3. Rhoda
    March 18, 2014 at 3:44 pm (9 years ago)

    Julie, you are amazing. Love your choices, many of which I do NOT have, but will look into purchasing. I particularly enjoy some
    of the temple cookbooks as well. Oh yes, I will make the pineapple ricotta kugel for Saturday Shabbat lunch this week. Review to
    follow. XXOO

    • Julie Levine
      March 18, 2014 at 4:19 pm (9 years ago)

      Thanks Rhoda. It was a fun post to write and it’s nice to hear that others also feel connected to their Jewish cookbooks.

  4. Janie
    March 22, 2014 at 6:46 am (9 years ago)

    This was a fabulously creative piece. Reminded me of Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes. Laughed out loud. Thank you!!!

    • Julie Levine
      March 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm (9 years ago)

      Thank you Janie! XO

  5. Sarah
    March 27, 2014 at 7:28 pm (9 years ago)

    I love my own collection, but you’ve inspired me to add a few more with this funny & heartfelt post! I can definitely relate to what you wrote about appreciating recipes from someone’s bubbe, if not one’s own. Nothing connects my past & present better than Best of Bazaar:100 Years of Jewish Cooking, from Temple Beth Israel-Shaare Zedek Sisterhood in Lima, OH.

    • Julie Levine
      March 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm (9 years ago)

      Thanks for reading and sharing Sarah. Glad you enjoyed the post.


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