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Book Review: Here are some Shabbos meals with flair

“Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes” 

by Laura Frankel. 

(Agate Surrey, (c) 2015, 256 pages)

SAN DIEGO — Laura Frankel knows a thing or two about kosher food. As the former chef and founder of kosher fine-dining restaurants in Chicago and New York, and current executive chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago, Frankel’s professional focus is on creating sophisticated kosher food, on par with anything non-kosher.

In the first paperback edition of “Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes: 120 Holiday and Everyday Dishes Made Easy,” Frankel sets out to elevate kosher home cooking as well, inspired by her family’s weekly slow-cooked Shabbat meals. In it she shares her philosophy for putting stunning meals on the table with less time and effort. She advocates for using only the freshest seasonal ingredients and purchasing good-quality pantry items including grains, wine, chocolate and salt. She emphasizes prep work and finishing touches to build layers of flavor — taking the time to brown meat and vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker, grinding her own spice mixes, and making stock from scratch.

Many recipes are best suited for those with some level of skill in the kitchen, but as far as eating goes, there is something for everyone. Humble classics like Cheese Fondue share space with fancy fare like Cauliflower-Apple Soup with Duck Confit. Updated traditional dishes — Cholent, Rubbed Brisket — rub shoulders with more exotic fare — Mulligatawny (a peppery Indian soup), Lamb Tagine, Thai Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaves. There are slow-cooker surprises — Tamales, Stewed Eggs (with coffee grounds!), and Root Beer BBQ Sauce — as well as decadent dishes perfectly suited to slow cooking — Creamy Risotto with Italian Sausage (from chicken), Peppers and Onions, Falling-off-the-Bone Short Ribs and Black Forest Bread Pudding. No matter the dish, Frankel’s food is bright, thoughtful and satisfying.

More than just a collection of recipes, the cookbook provides thoughtful instructions for creating delicious, elegant meals every day of the week. Recipes are labeled meat, dairy or pareve for kosher eaters, and symbols designate the best time of year to cook certain dishes based on what is in season. Slow cooker basics, tips for browning meat and stocking a pantry, and a helpful section of holiday menus are also included. Bonus recipes that don’t require a slow cooker, but pair well with noted slow-cooked dishes, round out meals and simplify planning.

This is modern kosher cooking made easy — food that is meant to be shared, with gourmet and global flair.

Erin Philips is a freelance writer who specializes in coverage of the dramatic and culinary arts. You may contact her via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This review was originally published by the San Diego Jewish World, www.sdjewishworld.com, and is reprinted with permission.