There is nothing I love more than a good cookbook. I've been known to sit down and read one like you would a novel. Does it matter if I don't actually make anything that's in it for months? Nope. The pictures and the recipes sooth me into a pleasant state of mind. I take my little post it flags and slap them down on recipes I like. On days when I want to perk up my menus I venture over to those flags and select one. I can't really think there are any bad cookbooks, but some are definitely better than others. Here are the cookbooks on my shelf and what I think about them.
Kosher by Design by Susie Fishebein: The original cookbook that set off the Kosher by Design Craze. I have enjoyed many of the recipes in this book, but here have been some that are just terrible. She will occasionally ask for a rare ingredient tht ccan be difficult to locate but I have that substituions are generally well tolerated. I amhighly disappointed that there is not a photograph of every recipe as I like to see what the prototype is (even if my version looks different). It helps you know what you are aiming for and gives you a good visual when you decide what to make. I'd give this 4 out of 5 stars.
Kosher by Design Short on Time by Susie Fishbein: What clock this lady is using I am unsure. Each of the reciipes comes with a "prep time" and "cook time" but these are highly inaccurate. Plus if the prep time is calculated using time saving gadgets then there should be a cleanup time as well. Tat food processor is not going to wash itsself. That said, some of the recipes are time saving and the ones that aren't still usually taste pretty good. Some of my favorite recipes originated in this book. Again, you will have to make substitutions for some of the more bizarre items. Especially some the time saving premade stuff that you cannot find in every grocery store. An improvement over the original in the picture department. Every recipe has an accompanying photograph. She also has a nice section on building block recipes and good ingredients to keep on hand in your home at all times. I give it 4 out 5 stars.
Quick & Kosher by Jamie Geller: She promises to keep you out of the kitchen and she means it. If you follow the recipes as directed they are pretty quick. However I find suggestions like using fingerling potatoes which are about 3 dollars more expensive per pound in order to save time on cutting regular potatoes absolutely ridiculous. And she too neglects cleanup time. Her writing style also irks me. It comes off as condescending plus she's trying too hard. It may work well with someone who has never been in the kitchen before but it bothered me. This is another book without a photo for every recipe. She gives a handy set of premade menus for each holiday as a suggestion. The recipes that I have tried have been very hit or miss. Some were terrible and a waste of good ingredients while others were all right. Nothing yet has blown me away. 2 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck: This book is a visual masterpiece. Every photo is gorgeous although shockingly not every recipe has a photo. Syrian cuisine is a great addition to anyones cooking repetoire and the book also comes with an explanation on Jewish Syrian culture. This is a large book, but that's the way I like 'em/ Alas, the syrian half of my family has informed me that some of the recipes are a little of and you should ask friends in the know for corrections or get "Deal Delights" to supplement. Most of the recipes I tried have been good but a few did in fact need correcting. 4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.
For the Love of Cooing by Rae Dayan: Another book featuring Syrian cuisine but this one is rumored to be much more acurate. It is extremely skimpy on the photos. I have used to 'corrct' my Aromas of Aleppo recipes to great results. The pictures from one and the recipes from the other make a great combination. Unfortunately there are less recipes in this thin book. It aslo hard to find a place that sells this book right now. 4 out of 5 stars.
Spice and Spirit by Esther Blau, Tzirell Deitsch and Cherna Light: The original kosher cookbook. The lubavich cookbook is a great starter book for any Jewish home. Not only does it have recipes it has sections on candle lighting, kashrut, and other jewish laws. I remember pulling it off the shelf as a little girl when we needed to check if we made a shehecheyanu at candle lighting or not. The recipes are fair quality and cover almost everything you could ever need. There are no photographs. 3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine by the French Culinary Institute: A great read tolearn about culinary technique, especially french tecnique. The book is down to earth and very informative. HOwever a lot of it is geared towards profesional kitchens. This not a kosher book so many of the recipes cannot be used as is. A very heavy tome. 3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Martha Stewart's Cooking School by Martha Stewart: Another great book for kitchen how-to's and theory. This book has great step by step photos inllustrating specific techniques and recipes which makes things lot easier. Again, not a kosher book so you have to adapt things. Martha is also not known for being practical or time saving. Who has a home kitchen blowtorch for making creme brulee? I'd probably get kicked out of my apartment building. But sometimes that's part of Martha's charm. I like watching even if I can't do it myself. 3 and 1/2 out of four stars.
Sushi Made Easy by Kumfoo Wong: A thin, specialized book. Not for those who have no time. However it is a very fun project for a rainy day. I mad some of the veggie sushi's and they were great. I had to go to brooklyn for the ngredients but that was ok. I also am not going to make anything with raw fish, as I don't trust my home kitchen and fish provider to be up to the standards required to do this safely. Some of the illustrations are hand drawings instead of photographs which makes them open for interpretation but you can usually figure it out. 3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.
The Essential Baker: A great baking book. It has explanations on baking theory and hw to pick ingredients as well as recipes for alost kind of baked good. Everything I have made from this book has turned out great. Sometimes the ingredients are pricey and the recipes time consuming but the results are always worth it. You must adapt things if you want pareve recipes. There are few photos, which in my mind is the one great lack of this book. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recipes from America's Small Farms by Joanne Hayes, Lori Stein and Maura Webber. This book was given to me by my CSA and it has helped me use my weekly produce. There also sections on cooking with meat, poultry and fish although these are smaller. The helpful sections on produce storage and selection can be used in every household. Absolutely no pictures and they do try and seel you on CSA (which I love) and organic (I am not willing to pay extra money for it). The recipes I have tried worked out pretty well and since most recipes have vegetarian options there is less adapting neded than in your typical non-kosher cookbook. 3 out of 5 stars.
I've got a few more but this was a long post to type (especially since I am at work now). If you have a favortie cookbook let us know!