#Readukkah: Joan Nathan's Holiday Cookbook


“We hope that the variety and richness of these recipes bring you much joy at those special times of the year.”  --Chris and Julie

Slightly charred on the back, duck-taped together on the spine, my copy of  Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook was inscribed by Chris and Julie: their wedding gift to my husband and me.  I am embarrassed to report that many years and many moves later Chris and Julie are no longer in our circle. I’ve even forgotten their last name. Their gift, however, has become a part of our holidays and home and has continued to bring us joy.

It would not be Hanukkah at our house without the Jewish Holiday Cookbook’s Russian Vegetable Soup. This is a great soup recipe, even for amateurs; it requires only chopping and grating. Everything on the ingredient list is thrown into the pot without any fussy sautéing.  It can be made with stew meat, or without, turning it into a hearty vegan stew.  Sometimes I add a whole chopped onion.  The soup is excellent however you choose to make it.  But if you do decide to take the Russian Vegetable Soup into your life, be prepared with the largest size soup pot you can find: the recipe generously feeds 8-10.  Every time I serve this soup, I am grateful for the abundant and rich sustenance it brings to my family and friends.

There are other wonderful recipes in this classic cookbook. The Roast Chicken, for example, found in the Purim chapter, is another of our favorites.  Again it’s a winning combination of simple preparation and delicious results. This Roast Chicken, Ms. Nathan tells us, is the one dish that her busy grandmother, Martha Kops Gluck, who owned a millinery shop and worked all week, would prepare each Friday.  I think about her when I cook this dish, especially on a Friday night after my own busy week.   It is the stories about the recipes, like this one about Ms. Nathan’s grandmother, that make The Jewish Holiday Cookbook my #readukkah choice.  I never tire of reading and rereading them. Some of the characters in these food tales, like Martha Kops Gluck and Esther Becker, whose challah recipe calls for fifteen cups of flour, now feel like old friends.

Wonderful holiday food and great stories, what more could you ask for in any book? Trust me, Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook will bring much joy to you and your holidays.

This blog review is a part of the Association of Jewish Libraries #readakukkah Blog Tour.  Celebrate the holiday season by reading.  Happy Hanukkah!