If you like to read cookbooks like novels, then you will love reading this book, because it is much more than a cookbook. If you are interested in genealogy, this book is also for you. It is the quintessential example of how to preserve your family stories, history, photos, and of course, recipes. In fact, a genealogist, such as myself, is in awe of the hours of work it took to put together this 704-page book with 532 recipes. Photos of Judy's family are sprinkled throughout the pages complete with captions. Judy's wonderful sense of humor creates a delightful flavor to the book.
Located throughout the book are orange boxes which contain precious treasures of family stories. I especially like the one by her son Stu, who made "Spaghetti a la Bradley" for his in-laws only to discover a whole jar of garlic doesn't equal one clove of garlic. Why do these things always happen when cooking for in-laws?
Judy was able to secure over 500 recipes from over 200 of her relatives! A family tree is included to keep the family members straight. I agree with Judy when she says that it took a planet, not a village, to write this cookbook.
Just when you need one, Judy supplies us with a cooking tip. I wouldn't attempt making challah without following her advice. The tips for making cookies are good reminders.
Some of the titles of the recipes could only be found in a family heirloom cookbook, such as "Chicken Stupid!" and "Tanta Esther Gittel's Husband's Second Wife Lena's Nut Cake."
Not all of the recipes in the book are traditional Jewish dishes. There's "Sally Kay's Tzatziki Dip" from her son's co-worker, "Taal's Chicken Biryani from Taal Indian Restaurant in Orange County, California, and "Chicken Stir-fry with Walnuts." Cooking Jewish is a cookbook full of recipes from around the world, cooked by a Jewish family.
Of course, there are plenty of Jewish dishes to make. Farfel is a tiny egg noodle and used in the side dish, "Grandma Blanche's Farfel." Serving "Gefilte Fish" is a Sabbath tradition. And, what everyone knows as Jewish penicillin, "Chicken Soup," is not just any chicken soup. This recipe comes from Judy's mother, Lillian Bart, who is seen holding a large terrine of her masterpiece in a photo which appeared in the food section of The Orange County Register.
Why it is so much fun to enter into the world of another family through the food they eat is probably because we can all relate to the sharing of food. Stories are told and traditions are created. Take a peek into Judy's family and you will share in her family's memories, history, and of course, the food they eat.
I chose to make Judy's "Bread Machine Pita" recipe when I read her story of why she bought a bread machine. These pitas were very simple to make as the bread machine does most of the work. I baked half of them. I wrapped the other half of the dough in a plastic bag and put it into the refrigerator. I made the second half of pitas two days later, and they came out just fine. If this recipe is any indication of the others in this book, then they are winners. I will definitely make these pitas again and again. They are absolutely delicious! I also can make them anytime because these ingredients are staples in my house. Enjoy!
Bread Machine Pita
(Makes about 22)
3 3'4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large egg
11'2 tablespoons honey or sugar (I used sugar)
2 teaspoons yeast for bread machines
Vegetable cooking spray, for greasing the baking sheet
1. Place all the ingredients except the cooking spray in the bread machine bowl, following the order suggested by the manufacturer. Set the machine on the dough mode.
2. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
3. When the cycle has completed, remove the dough and shape into golf-ball-size balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. (An oven preheated to the lowest setting and then turned off works for me.)
4. Place an empty, ungreased baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
5. Roll the balls of dough to form flat rounds and place them on another ungreased baking sheet. When you have 7 or 8 rounds, remove the hot baking sheet from the oven (with a mitt, please!), spray it quickly with vegetable cooking spray, and quickly throw the flattened rounds onto the hot sheet. Bake until brown on one side, 2 minutes.Turn them over with tongs, and bake until brown on the other side, 1 minute more. Quickly remove the pitas from the baking sheet and place them in a single layer on another baking sheet. Respray the hot baking sheet, and repeat this process until all the dough has been flattened and baked.
6. The pitas will puff upon baking and will be easy to split if you don't cover them or seal them in a plastic bag. To serve, split the pitas and fill them for sandwiches, or cut or tear them into eighths for dipping. I like to serve them in a straw basket lined with a linen napkin.