The kosher cookbook market continues to flourish, and it can be difficult to know which cookbooks are the right match for each home cook. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses in the kitchen, some like to try varied international cuisines while others prefer to stick with the more familiar, and, of course, some people are happy to spend time making complex recipes but others are staunchly in the quick-and-easy-only camp.

From time to time, I'll be reviewing different cookbooks here, giving you a little glimpse inside each one, to help you decide which ones might be a good investment for you.

Have you heard about the new Secret Restaurant Recipes cookbook? It has been exceedingly popular so far, and the publishers have sent me a copy to review. We also have a second copy for one lucky reader!

So, what's special about this cookbook? Authors Leah Schapira and Victoria Dweck have gone behind the scenes at more than 70 kosher restaurants from across the United States, Canada, Israel, England , Italy, Mexico and even Panama, to bring us some of the top chefs' tips, tricks and recipes. A novel concept, indeed!


Every single recipe in this book has a full-page, full-color photo—arguably one of the most important characteristics of any cookbook. With a picture, you know what to expect and what to aim for. I, for one, am a lot quicker to try a recipe with a photo, than a recipe without. The pictures also show how to plate the dishes elegantly.

While I was happy to see so many pictures, I did find some of them wanting. Many of the photos are stunning, but some of the food styling and photography definitely could have been improved.

RECIPE: Rockport Salad from the Milk Street Cafe in Boston, MA.


I'd say Secret Restaurant Recipes includes predominantly American-style food (eg. short ribs, basil fries, chicken fingers with cranberry dipping sauce), with a sprinkling of Mexican (eg. chermoula chicken breast, huevos motulenos), French (eg. cote de bouef, popover potatoes) and American-Style Chinese (eg. sesame chicken, Mongolian beef) . There are also several dairy pasta dishes (eg. totelloni, cannelloni, fettuccine tri funghi) and desserts (financiers, creme brulee, praline brownies).

I would have liked to have seen a broader spectrum of cuisines covered—maybe some authentic Chinese and Indian curries—but, all in all, there's certainly a good selection here.

Tips 'n Tricks

The cookbook begins with a short chapter explaining important techniques such as emulsifying, using hot pans, and keeping herbs fresh and bright for garnishing.

The recipes are also peppered with tips from some of the best chefs in the kosher industry.

"Of all the rules of the kitchen that I have learned and followed over the years, I feel the most important one is if you enjoy cooking, then you do it right. Try not to cook if in a foul mood. And just have fun."

-Daniel Gilkarov, Segal’s Oasis Grill

"Season and re-season at every stage of cooking. If you sweat onions, add salt and pepper. When you add other ingredients, add salt and pepper as well. As a chef I always season in layers, adding a little at a time.”
- Chef Aryeh Goldenson, Estréia

If you're looking to take your cooking to the next level, you will very much enjoy this feature.

RECIPE: Sea Bass Spring Rolls from Mocha Bleu in Teaneck, NJ.

Who Will Enjoy this Cookbook?

While I can't promise that you will or won't enjoy Secret Restaurant Recipes, I'll give some general suggestions.

  1. If you enjoy eating out, and have eaten at lots of kosher restaurants, you will probably find this book thrilling. You may find some of your favorites in here, or some interesting tidbits about the eateries you enjoy. If, like me, you're not big on eating out, you'll probably still find some great new recipes, but you may also find the book a little less intriguing.
  2. If you're looking for quick and simple, this is not the book for you. Most of these recipes are slightly more complex and time consuming, and some call for hard-to-find ingredients. If you're an adventurous cook, or looking to branch out, give it a go!
  3. If you're a healthy cook, this book will have limited options for you. There are some healthier recipes, but on the whole there is a lot of deep frying and a lot of refined sugars and sweet sauces. You can, of course, try to lighten up the recipes yourself, but then you may be disappointed with the outcome and wonder why it doesn't taste the like the restaurant version...

Braised Short Ribs

One of the dishes which caught my eye was these Braised Short Ribs from Estreia in Lakewood, NJ, and I'm sharing the recipe with thanks to Artscroll/Mesorah publications. It looks positively mouthwatering and is definitely one of the easier recipes.

Yields: 4 servings


  • 4 (2 x 8-inch pieces) boneless flanken
  • kosher salt, for sprinkling
  • coarse black pepper, for sprinkling
  • oil, for sautéing
  • 1½ cups barbecue sauce
  • 1½ cups apple juice


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Season flanken with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add flanken and sear, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer meat to a baking pan.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce and apple juice. Pour over flanken. Cover baking pan with a double layer of plastic wrap, then cover the plastic wrap with a double layer of aluminum foil. Be sure to crimp the edge of the foil over the plastic wrap, covering it completely to prevent plastic wrap from melting. (It is preferable to use heavy-duty plastic wrap when using this technique. Ordinary plastic wrap can be used, although it does not hold up as well; it will tear easily as you remove it from the pan. This technique will help seal in the moisture.)
  4. Bake for 3 hours. Remove from oven.
  5. Raise oven heat to 375°F. Before serving, brush ribs with a thin layer of additional barbecue sauce and bake, uncovered, for an additional 20-30 minutes. Serve over Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and crispy onions.

So, is Secret Restaurant Recipes a cookbook you'd love to own? We are giving away a free copy to one lucky reader! It could be you! Do you like eating out or do you prefer a home-cooked meal? Which kosher restaurant dish do you wish you could recreate? Leave a comment and let us know.

NOTE: Cookbook can only be shipped in the U.S. Entries must be made by 11:59pm EST on Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, January 22, 2015.