In that vein, I'd like to share with you my thoughts and opinions about a new cookbook sent to me by the kind folks over at Artscroll publications, for my unbiased review.
Let me start off by saying that in general, a cookbook is a very lovely hostess gift, especially for Pesach. I still treasure the cookbook that my son-in-law so thoughtfully chose for me a couple of years ago, and I look forward to pulling it down again this year - both for the sweet consideration behind the gesture as well as the usefulness of the volume.
Now on to the cookbook in question. At first glance, this is a SLEEK volume. The matte black finish of the cover makes the glossy photos of the food pop right off the page. The cute little handwritten notes scattered throughout the pages give the recipes a homey feel.
What I liked about the book:
- Though it's a Pesach cookbook, the recipes don't "scream" Pesach, nor do they seem to be doctored year-round recipes. They are merely good recipes that do not contain chometz ingredients.
- Most recipes contain a relatively short list of often-used ingredients. You won't find any ingredients within these pages that you have have to hunt down - an extra bonus considering this is for Pesach.
- Although there are some "fancier" recipes, most of them do not require inordinate amounts of prep time.
- Every single recipe comes with a large, full-color photo of the finished dish.
Who this cookbook is best for:
- People who like basic, easy to prepare foods, without a lot of fussing around or fancy ingredients.
- People who have not yet built a "staple" repertoire for Pesach, either because they haven't been married long, or because they haven't made Pesach many times.
- People who appreciate good food photography and attractive cookbooks.
- People to whom you would like to give a gift that is current and relevant.
Things I didn't like about the book:
- I don't think they really needed to include TWO different chocolate mousse recipes. Most of us have one already, and it works just fine for Pesach as well.
- There is only a very small "Gebrokts" section at the back. I understand that this was done to give the cookbook universal appeal, but I do wish there were a few more recipes there.
- Being that this will be my 30th(!!) year making Pesach, there are many (but by far not all) recipes contained within this book that I already have in my arsenal. But I suppose that might be said for most cookbooks.
Recipes that I look forward to trying:
- Glazed Pastrami (all year long...!)
- Roasted Mushroom Soup (ditto here)
- Sweet Potato Crisps Salad (recipe available here)
- Chicken Marsala
- Potato Meat Kugel
- Spinach Kugelettes
- Un-Potato Salad (made with butternut squash...I probably wouldn't use this year-round but it might be a nice change on Pesach)
Overall, I think the tag line on the book cover sums it up fairly accurately -
Trusted Favorites. Simple Preparation. Magnificent Results.
Now all you sons-in-law go out - No! Don't send your wives to do it ... It's not the same thing! - and pick up a copy for your mother-in-law this Yom Tov. Even better - inscribe something on the inner cover... ;)