My Top 3 Favorite Kosher Cookbooks

Truth be told, most of the cooking I do these days is inspired from a recipe I find online — usually from or a cooking blog. Or from my Friday Recipe Exchange!

But back before there were online recipe boxes, I used to love reading cook books. Yes, reading them. Cover to cover.

Although I don’t have as much time (or energy) to cook patchkied recipes these days, my years of reading cookbooks not only taught me how to cook for real; it also taught me how to take short-cuts.

It taught me, for example, what spices to use when cooking Indian vs. Italian vs. Middle Eastern food. It taught me that sauteed onions and garlic are the foundation of, oh, 99% of the things I’m ever going to want to cook! And it taught me basic techniques for everything from braiding challah to wrapping eggrolls.

When I want to sink my teeth into a good cookbook that will both inspire and inform, these are the three I reach for first:

1. Spice and Spirit

The purple cover of the Chabad cookbook might seem a little … predictable. You might even find some of the recipes cliche. But I’ll tell you what. I have yet to make something from this cookbook that doesn’t turn out exactly as I expect it to! This is good, solid, Jewish food. My favorite recipe is the cake carrot kugel, which we usually bake into muffin tins — to make it extra-palatable to our sometimes finicky five-year. (I have no idea why the cookbook is $60+ at every online retailer I checked. I did NOT pay that much, I’m sure. So, don’t order it from Amazon. Maybe Paperback Swap has it?)

2. Kosher By Design Entertains

I had heard about Susie Fishbein for years, but this fall was the first time that I really got to delve into one of her cookbooks (KBD Teens & 20-Somethings, which I was fortunate enough to get to review and give-away on my blog!). Although I wasn’t madly in love with this latest offering, I was intrigued enough to keep looking. When I found KBD Entertains, I was completely smitten! The pictures! The presentation! The blended soups! We checked it out from the library, and I’m realizing that I may just have to blow some Swagbucks to get my own copy from Amazon!

3. Enchanted Broccoli Forest — or really anything by Mollie Katzen

As a long-time (former) vegetarian, Mollie’s recipes are perfection to me. In addition to Broccoli Forest, I also love her original Moosewood Cookbook. I especially enjoyed using her recipes in Israel, where fresh produce was so abundant and so delectable. I sadly don’t cook like that as much anymore, and I really miss it — so when I need inspiration, I often find it by leafing through one of her cookbooks.

At least for the moment, these are my top three favorite cookbooks — the ones with the dog-eared corners and the oil-splattered pages.

Are you a cookbook friend? What are your top choices?

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  1. I love Mollie Katzen’s books, and Broccoli Forest and Moosewood Cookbook are two of my faves. Period. They’re the first ones I reach for when I’m looking for a new recipe.

  2. Hasya Ya'ara says

    I just found your blog and truly love it.

    I am trying to be kosher, and what a great tool this blog is.

    Thank you.

    Hasya Ya’ara

  3. My favorite is Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” (I think that is what it is called.) His book gives you thousands of mix and match vegatarian ideas that are both easy and delicious. He hits the middle ground between healthy and yummy perfectly.

  4. Spice & Spirit definitely tops my list!! I got a copy for my wedding and it is always my go-to cookbook. The binding on mine is falling apart, so I either need to get my husband to re-bind it, or buy a new edition.

    Another one I use a lot is The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. We eat mostly vegetarian during the week. She has a lot of nutritional information in this book and great ideas for making family-friendly meals.

  5. BH
    Great suggestions! The spice and spirit is available for 35 or so on still expensive but cheaper than 60!

  6. oh my favorites are: Spice and Spirit, Kosher by Design Short on Time, Levana Kirschenabum’s Levana’s Table.

  7. We are huge Moosewood/Molly Katzan fans and use her cookbooks usually weekly. She has great soups. My friend visited her restaurant in NY and brought me a glass cup as a souvenir she knew we were such fans.

    We do a lot of internet recipes, but I find it hard to relocate them if they turn out to be a hit. If we like the recipe we usually write it into our Moosewood cookbook so we can find it again and it can be a Horesh regular.

    A few other favorites for Italian: Mario Batali – Molto Italiano – he has a great fish recipe we make for Shabbat and photos of the homeland; In Nonna’s Kitchen by Carol Field (for her Ribolitta recipe); Cucina Ebraica by Joyce Goldstein for authentic Jewish Italian cooking.

    My husband has a strong interest in gastro-ethnography and discovered a book that we should all read called “A Drizzle of Honey” by Gitlitz and Davidson. It archives the recipes and lives of Spain’s secret Jews. The recipes are those to maintain a Jewish identity in private while projecting Christian conformity in public. The recipes are accompanied with the stories of the families and their fates – as what they ate was brought into the trials to convict them. The recipes are rice in lamb, fish, eggplant, and chicpeas, with savory spices such as saffron, ginger and cinnamon.

  8. My Top 3:

    The original Kosher Palette
    The taste of shabbos – can’t go wrong with the basics
    The Kosher Baker – my newest fave!

  9. My two favorites are probably Soup: A Kosher Collection by Pamela Reiss and The World of Jewish Cooking by Gil Marks.

  10. the original kosher by design. i love the newer cookbooks (and i have nearly all of them), but the original is FANTASTIC all by itself.

  11. I love spice ans spirit! and the KBD series. I have two of Katzen’s cookbooks, but honestly i’m not a huge fan of them. i find a lot of recipes on as well as if i like it i’ll print it so i have a copy.

  12. All of the Kosher by Designs and the Original Kosher Palatte are great, if you want something very nice and American-Jewish. For amazing Sephardic/Israeli style cooking, I LOVE the Book of Jewish Food, by Claudia Roden. The salatim will make you feel like you are in Israel…amazing!

  13. Two of my favorites are
    Vegetarian Meals for People on the Go by Vimala Rodgers. A small book, but full of really great recipes- I go to this one often.

    I also love Olive Trees and Honey- A treasury of Vegetarian recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World. This one is a huge treasury of recipes with lots of variations on any one recipe depending on the community or part of the world you are making it in. It’s a great way to take the same recipe and make it totally different at the same time. Plus it’s a big book so there are tons of recipes and variations in it.

  14. I love your choices of cookbooks.
    I HEART Molly Katzen and Moosewood. I own all of Molly Katzen’s cookbooks and also all the Moosewood Collective books. In fact, I just made Chocolate Ricotta Muffins from Molly Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe, which is full of amazing breakfast recipes. And I wrote a review of the original Moosewood on my blog last week!

  15. Great cookbook faves! I have a terrific one for weeknight dinners called “One-Pot Vegetarian Dishes” which has great – and cheap – recipes for chili, stews, rice dishes etc. I also love Kosher Palette – solid, trustworthy recipes.

  16. My favorite cookbook is Quick & Kosher by Jamie Geller because the recipes are SO EASY. I also love Spice and Spirit because there are so many recipes in it.

  17. What a treasure trove of new cookbooks for us to check out! Thank you ALL for sharing.

    I’m adding these to my Paperback Swap wish list – and checking them out from the library in the meantime. I am especially excited about the Sephardi cookbooks – and the one with all the great Israeli salads. Mmmmmmm!

    Thanks again – I have the BEST readers 🙂

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