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The Healthy Jewish Cookbook

by Michael van Straten

(Kyle Cathie, 2005)

Michael remains one of my favourite cookbook writers. Thirty books on, his no-nonsense explanations of what makes ingredients healthy has introduced the idea of diet as medicine to more people in Britain than anyone else. And with his thoughts are always towards real home cooks, with recipes for uncomplicated dishes that deliver taste with a minimum of fuss.

This book is his most autobiographical to date, as Michael draws on his family stories to illustrate an intimate collection of recipes. Ancient hearty dishes are tweaked to suit a modern palate, with recipes chosen from many of the diverse regions that traditional Jewish cookery hails from. There are Greek, Moorish, Spanish and Persian Jewish dishes alongside more familiar American and Eastern European fare.

Stronger on vegetarian recipes than many Jewish cookbooks, The Healthy Jewish Cookbook also covers meat and fish dishes, plus great deserts including my own childhood favourite, Cinnamon Balls.

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