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In the Kitchen with Traditional Jewish Cooking


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Cook and food writer, Ruth Joseph, and former food editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Simon Round came together to bring us a compendium of Jewish recipes in the new cookbook, Traditional Jewish Cooking.  This book takes you on a culinary journey, from the warm climates of Africa and the Middle East to the cooler temperatures of Europe and North America.  This book covers all the bases with Ashkenazi and Sephardi classics you will definitely want to add to your repertoire.  Don’t miss the savory vegetable noodle kugel, just in time for Shavuot.

What motivated you to write this book?

I was motivated to write this book as I had have always had a passion for good kosher recipes that work and I had amassed numerous lovely ancient recipes, some written on old envelopes that my late mother and mother-in law passed onto me.

Plus I had devised my own solutions with a goal to make the recipes as light and healthy as possible. And once I had worked these out perfectly I wanted to share them with like-minded Jewish foodie people.

I asked Simon to test the meaty recipes as I no longer cook meat in my home. Some of the recipes were mine from my own home but it wouldn’t have been fair to give recipes that were not tested to check whether they work.

How did you decide which recipes to include in this book?

It was hugely difficult to leave recipes out and I had a trying day with my lovely editor culling 30 recipes which had to be omitted because of space issues.

Most traditional Jewish recipe books are either Ashkenazi or Sephardi, how were you able to become an expert on both cuisines?

I am an expert on Ashkenazi and Sephardi cooking as I am an Ashkenazi Jewish person myself – my family name is Carlebach and I am extremely proud of my Ashkenazi heritage. But I married a Sephardi man whose family originated from Palestine and before that Spain and so I developed a fascination for Sephardi cooking. I went to Morocco and met some wonderful cooks who helped me in my quest and I loved the
lightness of their cookery with oil rather than schmaltz, plus the generous quantities of herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables in their foods.

How and when did you learn to cook?

I learned as a child at my late mother’s side. I was maybe three when she set me down with a little ball of pastry and I tasted and smelt the magic of a dough dusted with sugar and baked until golden. She was a generous cook and adored entertaining when she was well and I learned how to make and how to arrange food to make it look appetzing. I owe her a great deal. Sadly as she became more poorly I became the full-time cook and carer but I learned to make everything for a kosher home and truly although it was tough I was given a huge grounding in cookery, using left-overs for example in knishes and kreplach and I’ll always remember how talented she was in the kitchen.

plava recipe

Plava Recipe

What is your favorite recipe from this book? Please share it with us?

My favourite recipe from the book – goodness how to I chose one child over all the others?

Perhaps it’s the Plava because it was such a huge success – moist, tender and sweet tart with lemon.  When it finally emerged and when we photographed the final version it included my homemade lemon curd and a sprig of lemon tree flower from my husband’s green house.

Sephardi spiced hot fish jewish cooking

Sephardi Spiced Fish

Also, the Sephardi Hot Spiced Fish which I often serve to friends as they adore the flavouring and I can prepare it a day in advance. I learned that recipe in Fez in a tiny warm kitchen with a lovely lady who chopped onions into her hands instead of a chopping board!!! And I’m hugely proud of the recipe.

Which recipe is the most important for historical or traditional reasons?

On consideration for both historical and traditional reasons it has to be Judith’s Black and White Cake.  It was always baked in a special bundt tin that she, my late mother Judith Carlebach carried out of Germany at the age of 12 when escaping from the Holocaust.  She held it in her still childish hands wrapped up with her mother’s second-best candlesticks. And although most of her life she was sick and I nursed her until she died at the age of 46, there were good times when we made that cake, rich with melted chocolate and more chocolate drizzled over the top. I was always in charge of greasing and flouring the intricate furrows of the tin which was a huge pressure but the tin and the cake never let me down. I love that tin and the recipe to make it with its sweet memories and I also remember sitting with my mother and making marzipan fruit to decorate the top.

Enjoy a sampling of recipes from the book and then go buy your copy to get the rest.

Savory Vegetable and Noodle Kugel

Sephardic Fish

The Plava

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About Tamar Genger MA, RD


Tamar lives in New York and is the mother of three amazing children, a Registered Dietitian, professor of Nutrition, and as you can probably guess, a foodie! Tamar loves to travel with her family and visits kosher restaurants wherever she goes. Although she loves the sights, she spends more time talking about the restaurants and food she ate! As a mom and a nutritionist, Tamar tries to balance her passion for healthy cooking with her insatiable desire for chocolate!




37 Responses to In the Kitchen with Traditional Jewish Cooking

  1. I would love to make borekas from scratch, both cheese and potato or meat.

  2. avatar says: Taylor

    What a wonderful book! I have never made plava before but it looks and sounds excellent!

  3. avatar says: Taylor

    All the recipes look wonderful but I have never made plava before. I would love to try it!

  4. These recipes look delicious! I would love to learn how to make a very moist and flavorful brisket and the most perfect matzah balls. I also really want to learn how to make Stuffed Cabbage!

  5. avatar says: naomi

    can’t wait to try out the plava!

  6. How do I enter to win a copy of the book?

  7. the brisket i am sure is great

  8. With becoming more observant and the desire for changing to a 100% Kosher home; this definitely is the way to go with not only so many delicious recipes but a way to help me get there.

  9. I want to learn how to make matzah ball soup from scratch, also.

  10. avatar says: Faleen

    I can see that the book has some fairly diverse recipes for soup. That is one dish that i never really enjoyed while growing up, but as an adult i can totally appreciate many of them. The white bean and barley sounds nice a terrific combination to try.

  11. avatar says: Heather

    I love cooking and collect cookbooks but I don’t have a kosher cookbook yet. I can’t wait to have this!

  12. avatar says: dena

    I would love to learn how to make gefilte fish from scratch that doesn’t taste like a rubber ball.

  13. I need to learn it all! I am starting from scratch without a Jewish mother or grandmother to teach me. I love my Quick & Kosher recipes, but I would love to take my time on some complex traditional dishes.

  14. I love that the book mixes Sepharadi and Ashkenazi foods. The two cultures have been apart for too long. It is time to bring them into one fold.

  15. I want to learn how to make a killer basic kugel, one that can be adapted for sweet or savory.

  16. Luvvvvvvvvvvvvvv cooking and would love to own this book

  17. I love love love cooking and would love to own this book

  18. avatar says: mink

    GOOD kleplach

  19. avatar says: Laura

    The Nut-crusted Salmon sounds delicious!

  20. I’m in love with Jewish cuisine but the most crazy about Sephardic cuisine and getting to know more about Algerian recipes!

  21. avatar says: Melody

    Having successfully perfected making knishes, I want to turn my thoughts to borekas….

  22. soo deighted at the response from your wonderful readers.
    I adore hearing how they fancy trying the recipes.
    please enjoy they were all made with love
    have a wonderful Yomtov and try a recipe you will be pleased
    warmest wishes Ruth Joseph xx

  23. soo delighted to see such a wonderful response to the book
    I really worked over each recipe to make sure they all worked and would be a joy to serve and they are all made with love.
    a happy Yom Tov to everyone
    warmest wishes Ruth Joseph xxxxx

  24. avatar says: Betty

    After reading the history of the pan I would like to make Judith’s black and white cake

  25. avatar says: blima

    I would like to know how to make kosher bacon

  26. avatar says: leslie

    The vegetable noodle kugel sounds fabulous to me!

  27. these recipes look delicious!

  28. I would love to learn how to make knishes and kreplach like my grandmother made.

  29. After reading the touching story about Judith I would like to bake her Black and White cake in her honor and tell her story to my children.

  30. I would love to learn how to make knishes. I especially enjoyed potato knishes when I was growing up on Long Island, NY>

  31. This cookbook sounds fabulous! Great interview!

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