Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Taste of Pesach

Now that Purim has passed, we are officially allowed to utter the "P" word. 
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... ;)


ArtScroll said...

Thanks for a great review! We're glad you enjoyed the book.

Anonymous said...

Just bought it (for myself, I'm not waiting around for my son in law!) , can't wait to use it! Seems to be all that you posted. Though I must say there are quite a few brand new recipes I haven't seen yet. I really want to try the herbed salmon, tropical avocado and English ribs.

Faygie said...

Thanks for this informative review! My mother-in-law gifted this cookbook to me as a Purim present, but I have not gotten around to reading it yet- now I will! My daughter, who read it, recommended the sweet potato salad that you did.
Do you have any interesting go-to Pesach recipes that are a little different?
Do you keep the German-Jewish minhag of not eating poultry on Pesach, only meat?

G6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G6 said...

Hi Faygie -
I'm glad you enjoyed the review.
We do not have the minhag of refraining from poultry over Pesach, but since meat is so expensive, it has been relegated in our family to a special Yom Tov treat, so my Yom Tov menus are "meat heavy" anyway.
I actually made the sweet potato crisp salad this past Shabbos, and it was very good. The crisps were a bit of a pain to make (and used a MUCH shorter fry time than listed), but the results were tasty.
My absolute favorite Pesach recipe can be found here:
but is gebrokts, so I apologize in advance if it is useless to you ;)
Please tell me what other recipes you might be interested in. Having made Pesach for so many years, I've got a fairly decent repertoire.

Faygie said...

Non-potato sides!Thanks!

Mark said...

I ordered the book a few days ago. Hoping that it arrives before Pesach (almost sure that it will, unless there was sudden demand and they ran out).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this review! Even though I've made Pesach before, the recipes you listed sound interesting, and it makes me really want to go out and buy this cookbook.

YW said...

I like twitter recipes. Recipes that are 140 characters or less. It is too long, I don't have patience to make it.

Anonymous said...

My M-I-L gave it to me! No complaints here!! I spent a nice hour perusing the recipes and putting in my color-coded sticky tabs! Can't wait to start cooking and baking!!

Unknown said...

Prior to the publication of this beautiful cookbook, this Yeshivah issued small pamphlets of recipes. Volumes I thru VII. I treasured my copies but unfortunately volumes III, V, and VI were damaged by basement flooding. If anyone has extras or knows where they may be obtained, please post. Yeshivah is out of printed copies.