Elul is a scary time for all yidden. It is a time for all Jews to look back, to think on their actions of the previous year, to look ahead and resolve to be better. Even for the less serious people, there is a certain awe and even fear the permeates the air.
For Jewish housewives, there is an additional worry, an added stress, another form of fear. While this is not a stressful matter of epic proportions, as is the teshuvah process, yom tov preparation is in fact important, as it sets the tone for the yom tov. As an akeres habayis, it's important for the frum woman to provide tasty and varied dishes over the course of the holiday season.
And that's always been the problem. There are only so many times you can serve potato kugel and chicken soup. And there are only so many tried and trusted recipes in a woman's personal repertoire. Additionally, meal planning gets tough too.
Enter The Complete Yom Tov Cookbook, by Sara Finkel. This new cookbook, from Targum Press, solves a lot of the pre-yom tov stress. Rather than organize it by type of food, (appetizers, soups, mains...) this coobook was organized by yom tov. It starts with Rosh Hashanah, and goes through the end of sukkos, finishing with simchas Torah and shemini atzeres. It also includes (under the category of chol hamoed,) all the classic foods a person might want to cook on a typical shabbos.
When I first picked up the book, I was starving. It was a huge mistake. The eye catching photos, along with the mouth watering descriptions, had me running off in search of some supper.
Having read through all of the recipes, but not yet having had the time to try any, I will post my preliminary findings. When I've surprised my mother by cooking up a storm, I'll come back with reports and pictures.
Firstly, the cookbook has a great variety of foods. My family deals with a ridiculous number of food allergies (from almost every family member) and thus, we have a difficult time finding new recipes to make. This cookbook scored splendidly in that area. Particularly exciting, were the wheat-free desserts, as good ones are hard to come by.
The next thing I noticed was the number of classic Jewish recipes this cookbook contains. While most of us have a recipe for chicken soup or chulent from out mother or grandmother, there is always a time when a person needs a typical Jewish recipe, and those are the hardest to come by. In fact, just a few days ago I admitted to a friend that I'd never made potato kugel. She was completely incredulous, but now I need not worry. This cookbook has a delicious looking recipe for that too.
Another thing that excited me about this cookbook was the soups. Call me weird, but soup is one of my favorite foods. Last winter, for a couple of months straight, I craved nothing but soup. A good soup recipe isn't so easy to come by, especially when so many of them seem to include a day and a half of chopping. This cookbook has a nice amount of soup recipes, many of which actually look pretty simple.
Speaking of simple, the next thing I noticed about this cookbook is that its recipes are all for real food. Some cookbooks have foods that look and sound so complex, it makes you wonder which sane person tries it. The Complete Yom Tov Cookbook has accomplished the difficult task of striking up a perfect balance of elegantly presented, yet tasty and inviting foods.
As soon as I get cookin, I'll be back with reports and pictures, but until then, here is the link, for all those who'd like to try some recipes out on their own. At just $14.99, with a 10% online discount, and free shipping in the United States and Israel, this cookbook is a very affordable and useful investment for your yom tov cooking. Additionaly, if you purchase this book, or any Targum book, from the above link, you will benefit BOSD, and what greater perk could there be?