See also: Kosher 'Table' inspirations
For many years, my mailbox was clogged with review copies of cookbooks from publishers hoping I would give them glowing reviews. At one point, I had over 600 cookbooks, most of which I did not review. I used Covid to reduce that number by half, though I wanted to get to the “favorite 100!”
I am grateful that publishers now send new books in PDF format. That is, I was thankful until a few days ago — when I received a new cookbook to review in a PDF format. In all honesty, I hate reading on the computer, but I said I would read it, so I sat down. Before I knew it, three hours had passed. I had read most of this book and wanted more.
I have not been as excited about a cookbook in a very long time. Call me jaded, but, lately, I find many of the books I see to be derivative and not very exciting.
But here I was confronted with something that made my heart sing and made me want to rush to the kitchen to cook and bake!
“The Giving Table” — by Naomi Ross of Woodmere — is new, enticing, and quite beautiful.
I was hooked at the dedication: “To my father who put ketchup on everything.” That was my dad. And to her grandmother who taught her to taste everything. My grandmother taught me to cook starting at two, and here was another grandmother teaching what my grandmother taught me, “taste and taste again.”
I like my cookbooks logically organized and this book is beautifully organized and formatted. The author took care with every aspect of the book. Each chapter begins with (or includes) a story that connects to its title — “Chicken Soup for Your Neighbor’s Soul,” “The Gift of Health: Perspectives on Eating,” “Masbia: Giving Food to Those in Need,” “Cooking for New Mothers” are just a few of the titles. I especially loved the section on the care and feeding of new mothers.
Most importantly, Naomi Ross’ writing flows, taking the reader into her stories with grace and clarity, carrying them on emotional journeys while, at the same time, providing directions that are clear, precise and accurate.
The book includes a mix of familiar recipes (like Creamy Potato Leek Soup) and many with an international flavor (including Chicken Tikka Masala, Korean Fusion Chicken Wings, Bulgogi Filet Split, Sweet Potato Tempura Salad with Sesame-Miso Dressing, and Tuna Sashimi Salad with Vidalia-Soy Dressing). The mix is both exciting and comforting.
Many of the desserts are new and surprisingly simple to make, and the pictures are mouth-watering. I was mentally going through my cabinets wondering if I had the ingredients to make all of them. I can’t wait to try the Rum-Cherry Apple Cake, Honeyed Apricot Almond Tart, Lotus Cream Roll, Lemon Ombré Mini Trifles, Salty-Sweet Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Bars, and many more.
This book not only has dozens of recipes I will make, it also has heart and soul. The stories are real and beautiful and reflect all the values we want to emulate. As an added bonus, the book includes QR codes so the reader can watch videos of the recipes being prepared. I love that!
“The Giving Table” is a beautifully illustrated cookbook that is suitable for cooks at any level. Ross ranks her recipes from “easy-peasy” to “patchke-perfect.” Even those “patchke-perfect” recipes are not that difficult.
As I said, I have rarely been as enthusiastic about a new cookbook as I am about “The Giving Table.”
If you are looking for a lovely Chanukah gift that will become a favorite, look no further than “The Giving Table.”
Naomi Ross’ cookbook is available at Amazon.com, and locally at Judaica Plus (445 Central Ave.) and Berman Books (408 Central Ave.),as well as at West Side Judaica (2412 Broadway) in Manhattan.