Each year, before the start of the Jewish holidays of fall and early winter, a new crop of Jewish cookbooks arrives at bookshops. This year, there are several good choices.
An expanded version of Joan Nathan's "Jewish Cooking in America" (Knopf, $35) is being released as a companion volume to the soon-to-be-aired PBS series "Jewish Cooking in America With Joan Nathan." In addition to the recipes and stories of the people who created and maintained American Jewish traditions--which won the book a Julia Child Cookbook Award and a James Beard Award in 1994--there are 35 new recipes from the families and personalities whom Nathan visited during the filming of the series.
For special-occasion baking, there is Marcy Goldman's "A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking" (Doubleday, $25), which covers challah, hamantaschen, babka and other traditional breads and pastries as well as a collection of chocolate desserts (chocolate honey cake, for instance) and some Montreal-based recipes from Goldman's childhood. There is also a useful introductory chapter on baking basics that should help novices attempting their first marble cake or sticky bun.
Pamela Grau Twena, who lives in Newport Beach, takes a very personal approach to "The Sephardic Table" (Houghton Mifflin, $16). A nonobservant Jew raised in the traditions of Hollywood not kashrut, she describes how her marriage to an Iraqi Jew changed her perception of what Jewish food could be in an amusing, self-depreciating manner.