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Cook the Book: 'Joy of Kosher' by Jamie Geller

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Full confession: I know next to nothing about Passover and its many dietary rules. I've been to (I think) one Seder, and I was young enough to forget basically all of it. Once, my family went on a vacation with a practicing family over Passover, and I remember trying kosher brownies made from a mix. I wasn't impressed.

But I am sure that many of you will be celebrating Passover next week, and may be wanting to breathe some new life into your meals. Enter Joy of Kosher by Jewish food maven, Jamie Geller. Geller is the founder of a social website and magazine of the same name, specializing in approachable and often quick recipes for kosher families. Her new cookbook showcases the range of kosher cooking, adding sass and humor to this traditional diet.

Each recipe comes with a meat, dairy, or pareve tag. Geller also includes at least one variation that either dresses the recipe up for entertaining or streamlines it for easy weeknight cooking. Plus, many have (kosher) wine pairings, side dish pairings, and short-cut tips. It's the kind of knowledge one learns from working in the kitchen alongside an experienced cook, streamlined for the masses. Most of the recipes are simple tweaks to classic dishes; for example, Geller serves brisket with chimichurri and tosses raw root vegetables with soy sauce and ginger for a tangy, crunchy salad.

In the back of the book Gellar lists menu ideas for most Jewish holidays, the most expansive of which is the collection of Kosher for Passover dishes. She provides a four-page chart of each recipe in the book that is either suitable as written or easily modified to work over the holiday. Most of the changes are easy, such as using Kosher for Passover mustard or subbing olive oil in for canola.

This week, let Geller be your guide to a week of tasty Passover meals. We'll braise that aforementioned brisket and sample the root vegetable salad. Later, we will stew a Merlot-filled coq au vin with a bit of sausage, fry some latkes (why not?), and bake a tray of comforting potato and egg rakott crumpli. For each recipe, we'll add any notes for making the dishes Kosher for Passover, so even a goy like me can keep things straight. All modifications assume that the ingredients used have all been verified Kosher for Passover.

Win 'Joy of Kosher'

Thanks to the kind folks at William Morrow, we have five (5) copies of Joy of Kosher to give away this week. All you need to do for a chance to win is to tell us about your experience with Kosher food in the comments section below.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, SFoodie, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.

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