Suitable for Jewish audiences at all levels of observance and culinary skill, Faith Kramer’s 52 Shabbats is an informative, treat-laden cookbook full of ideas for those who want to set their weekly holiday tables in style.
Honoring traditional tastes and suggesting delectable twists on family favorites, Kramer’s smart and seasonal cookbook introduces enough recipes to feed its audience well throughout the year, beginning in the fall, with Rosh Hashanah. Each section is preceded by an introduction to the Jewish holidays that fall in the period in question.
Though the book includes instructions for classics like tzimmes, hummus, latkes, and challah, it prioritizes fusion dishes that highlight the worldwide spread of the Jewish community. Recipes for dishes like Brisket Fried Rice, Matzo Ball and Pozole Chicken Soup, and Winter Borscht with Lamb are accompanied by boxes explaining where they might fit in a Friday night meal; their instructions are clear. Periodic explanations of the meanings of single ingredients within Jewish traditions, as with the place of fish in Ashkenazi and Mizrahi cuisine or the symbolism of carrots, are edifying additions.
Kramer is a thoughtful guide who makes sure to drop recommendations for those who need to prepare their meals ahead of Shabbat, or who may want to substitute ingredients to guarantee a kashrut flow to their dishes (she reminds her audience early on that meat and dairy don’t mix, for example; and dishes that can easily be made vegan or vegetarian are noted as such). In this way, and because of the appealing, rich nature of the dishes themselves, her “food becomes almost a form of prayer.”
Kramer knows that “the main ingredient of a Friday night dinner menu is intention … As long as you have that, you have Shabbat.” Her educational and tantalizing cookbook is the perfect aid for creating such spaces in one’s own kitchen.
Michelle Anne Schingler
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