For many, the name Naomi Ross has become familiar to us through her work as a food writer and contributor to various Jewish publications and websites, including Kosher.com and her personal site Kosher Cooking Concepts. Her much-anticipated inaugural cookbook, The Giving Table is being released this December by Menucha Publishing, just in time for Chanukah gift giving. Beside authoring this book, Naomi is a seasoned cooking instructor and is known for her innovative recipes.
The Giving Table is her entrance into the world of cookbook authorship and it is an impressive venture. Written from the heart, the reader is brought into Naomi’s world as if they were part of her family. Filled with personal tidbits and advice, given as though from a beloved parent or relative; the chapters flow in the perfect order. Each part of the meal is covered and her connection to Jewish life, Torah and mitzvot is apparent throughout.
Prior to each chapter the author talks about the different mitzvot that involve caring for others, visiting the sick, welcoming guests, comforting mourners, and feeding the hungry. She refers to these as ‘culinary acts of chesed’ and her explanations are enriched with quotes from many different sources.The subtle encouragement to participate in these mitzvot is like a soft push with a hug from one’s Bubbie.
From setting a warm and welcoming table to having each course of the meal flow gently into the next, her recipes are clearly written and her instructions are easy to follow, often including tips, chef’s notes and plan-ahead instructions. In the rear of the book she includes a few appendices. Appendix A is a list of suggested menus for different occasions that includes the page numbers of the recipes. Appendix B is titled “Taking care of number 1” and within these few pages the author begins by asking the reader “How can we fill ourselves up enough to give to others? And what happens when we have nothing left to give?” followed by not only her thoughtful words in response, but also with tips for strategizing time and for giving oneself a healthy snack, as well as a few old-fashioned home remedies.
Enhancing Naomi’s words are the numerous photographs of the prepared foods. The photographer Baila Gluck deserves a mention because her thoughtful staging and technique bring each of the recipes to life for the reader.
This is a cookbook for sitting snuggled up with a warm cup of your favorite beverage and dreaming about all of the wonderful foods you will make for both your loved ones and those in need. It is also a wonderful source for the typical home cook and the more serious chef alike.
Sample a recipe from The Giving Table:
Tomatoes (click here)
Review by Shoshana Isaacson, Food Editor.
Originally published in Unorthoboxed Magazine.