I want to learn how to cook good authenic Jewish food. Any help appreciated!
There are quite a few Jewish food sites out there. www.myjewishlearing.com has a lot of traditional Jewish recipes. Another one of my favorites is www.joyofkosher.com which is a mixture of creative recipes and more traditional ones. Either of those would be a good place to start but let me know if you want more suggestions. My blogroll has a bunch of other ones if you want to check them out.
There are three books that will prvide you with a colege-level education in Jewish food: First, Claudia Roden's gorgeous "The Book of Jewish Food" (http://www.amazon.com/Book-Jewish-Food-Odyssey-Samarkand/dp/0394532589) which is a transformational history and recipe book, and reads like a particularly absorbing novel. Second, Gil Marks' "Encyclopedia of Jewish Food" (http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Jewish-Food-Gil-Marks/dp/0470391308/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309767601&sr=8-1) which lists, ingredient by ingredient, every single aspect of Jewish food. It is daunting but amazing, and its impossible not to learn from every page. Finally, Joan Nathan's "Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France" (http://www.amazon.com/Quiches-Kugels-Couscous-Search-Cooking/dp/0307267598) which is both beautifully written and a remarkable gatsro-anthropological study (plus recipes!) of the Jewish origins of French cuisine. Its a surprisingly moving book, and again, you can't help but learn enormously from it.
Good luck with this project!
Here's some fun blogs I subscribe to : http://www.thatjewcancook.com/?cat=76 and
another that provides holiday background and strict guidelines try www.myjewishlearning.com
I love using Deb Perlman's Smitten Kitchen site for great recipes:
You can type in "Jewish Recipes" and get a hoard of ideas.
I also scour the New York Times archive for Jewish recipes. There is a treasure trove of great dishes.
Oh, yeah, both the NYT and Smitten Kitchen are great rescources!
Another site: notderbypie.com has a number of Jewish recipes (including some kosher for passover, if that's a challenge you want to take on). I had good luck with her hamantaschen dough this year.
Judy Zeidler has written about Kosher cooking for the LA Times for years. Her blog, www.judyzeidler.com is excellent reference . Her book, The Gourmet Jewish Cook is one of my staples. Faye Levy's "Jewish Cooking for Dummies" is a great compendium of both traditional Askenazi AND Sephardic cooking -- which are quite different from one another.
And I have a number of great recipes from my Grandma, if you care to message me.
ChefJune, I'd love to see your Grandma's recipes too!
I'll second nogaga's recommendations on The Book of Jewish Food, and the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. I have no reason to be observant because I'm not Jewish, but I am a dedicated student of food history and I cook for Jewish holidays even if I don't have to. Claudia Roden's book is packed with fascinating scholarship on subjects like the Marranos---the secret Jews of Spain and the Sicilian Jews who had to leave Sicily (a Spanish possession) during the Inquisition with most going to Rome. I have New York friend of Spanish decent who thinks his family is Marrano but doesn't know for sure because the tradition is so cloistered. I'm an analog guy and I'd rather have my book shelves filled than to Google everything.
My Aunt recently had her non fiction book published, Trees Cry For Rain (available via Amazon), which is about a Marrano or Secret Jew, who is betrayed by the Spanish Holy Office of The Inquisition. What's "food interesting" in the book is that the Sabbath stew on the stove is a tell-tale sign of being caught as a Jew and is detailed to emphasis the connection between food, family, and God and its significance. My family is Ashkenazi Jews from Russia. The food translation to us during the high holidays (besides keeping Kosher), specifiy Russian and Eastern Eurpean peasant type dishes to keep with tradition. I once asked to include a quinoa dish and was schooled on why it wasn't acceptable.
Another blog, now owned by the Forward:
As for books, my mother-in-law gave me The Molly Goldberg Jewish Cookbook, and there's one from Grossingers -- for Ashkenazi/American cooking. Mimi Sheraton has one, Joan Nathan has several... My prize possession is my mother's book, Love and Knishes by Sara Kasden, a gift from my father, with the inscription, "You provide the knishes!"
Interesting that many families apparently morphed from Sephardic to Ashkenazic over the centuries after being expelled from Spain and finding a safer place in Eastern Europe. We recently learned our family, from the Warsaw Ghetto, was originally Spanish. Who knew?
And, sexyLAMBCHOPx, quinoa would probably be okay during the holidays in a Sephardic home. They eat rice during Passover.
Certainly, ChefJune but since we're Ashkenazi we stick to food that was available and indigenous to the region to keep with tradition. All our food is sweet, salty, fatty, lacks color and carby - but don't tell on me! It's interesting to read about other Jews worldwide - Chinese, S. American, Italian, Mexican just to name a few.
To cook "authentic" Jewish food, IMO, you need to know the ethnicity of the Jew (Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi, etc.) and the denomination (Traditional, Alternative, Reform, Orthodox, etc.) and mindful of the time of year, such as holidays & Sabbath and obeying each of its dietary laws (food & preparation).
Watch for 'Inside the Jewish Bakery' by Stan Ginsberg et al due to be published next month.
The authors are the real thing, retired NY Jewish bakers.
Many of their recipes have been tested by members of Thefreshloaf.com and have received rave reviews. This will be a treasure trove of Jewish recipes!
Ashkenazi food is food "from hunger" - the hearty and tasty solutions devised by home cooks with limited resources and hungry families to feed. Even if you had some money, there wasn't much to buy in the middle of a long winter in Poland or Lithuania. And most people didn't have money. When your children are starving, chicken schmaltz (rendered fat) extends chopped liver and keeps bellies feeling full - it also goes down really nicely. Not healthy, not brimming with antioxidants, but very clever about using everything you've got.
When these families came to the US, they continued to cook and serve the foods they knew and loved. They also took advantage of the plentiful markets and new techniques and equipment. I have no doubt that the Ashkenazi meals my grandmother made in this country were fresher, healthier, and tastier than anything her mother could have dreamed of in the "old country." And what I make, and what my daughter makes, take these beloved traditions and fuse them with foods from the Americas, Asia, and beyond. So we love having latkes with tamales for our Chanukah party. Once in a while, it's fun to relish the taste of chopped liver with real schmaltz - but it's a decadent treat, not a part of daily life.
The Jewish Sephardic tradition celebrates the bounty of the Mediterranean. They are Jewish riffs on classic cuisines of the Mideast, Spain, Italy, France, and surrounding areas. It incorporates Jewish dietary practices (which vary from Ashkenazi requirements), but takes advantage of the plentiful produce, grains, fish, and meats of this area. This is exactly the kind of diet many of us aim for - lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, fish, limited meat, whole grains.
So there isn't one kind of Jewish cooking. Some Ashkenazi traditions are nostalgic tastes of a world that no longer exists. Many Sephardic traditions are very alive in Israeli preferences. There's lots to explore from both traditions.