Brooklyn writer Leah Koenig has assembled a vast, luscious array of Jewish recipes from around the world for her comprehensive new cookbook, aptly titled “The Jewish Cookbook.” Read a Q&A with Koenig and enter to win her book here!

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From “The Jewish Cookbook”: Sephardi Jews traditionally eat foods made with pumpkin and squash on Rosh Hashanah, when they hold symbolic significance. Jewish traders also played a major role in spreading the New World gourd across the Mediterranean during the time of Columbus, and Sephardi cuisine continues to utilize pumpkin in many baked goods, jams, and other dishes today. This tender, gently spiced bread, called pan de calabaza, can be shaped in a spiral for Rosh Hashanah, baked in a loaf pan, or formed into rolls. But this recipe’s sunset-colored challah-style braid is particularly beautiful. Serve it on an autumnal Shabbat or at any fall meal.”

Yeasted Pumpkin Bread

Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus rising. Cooking time: 35 minutes. Makes two loaves.

Ingredients

  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
  • ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4½-5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup canned unsweetened pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
  • 2 eggs

Directions

  1. In a very large bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, and the warm water. Let sit until foaming, 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, whisk together 4½ cups flour, the remaining ½ cup sugar, the cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and salt.
  3. Add the pumpkin purée, oil, and one of the eggs to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and stir until a shaggy dough begins to form. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead well, adding up to ½ cup more flour, a little at a time as necessary until a supple, elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes. (The kneading can also be done in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 5-7 minutes.) Grease a large bowl with about 1 teaspoon of oil, add the dough, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently deflate the dough with the heel of your hand and divide in half. Divide each dough half into thirds and roll each third into a long rope. Pinch the top of three ropes together and braid, pinching at the bottom to seal. Place the braided loaf on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining three ropes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush the loaves with a coat of egg wash. (Set the remaining egg wash aside in the fridge.) Cover the loaves loosely with lightly greased parchment paper and let rise for another 30 minutes.
  7. Uncover the loaves and brush with a second coat of egg wash. Bake until deep golden brown and cooked through, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf registers 195°F, 30-35 minutes. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Revive leftovers by reheating them briefly in an oven or toaster oven.

From “The Jewish Cookbook”: This North African dish of eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce has gained widespread popularity. This version is on the mild side, so increase the Aleppo pepper or serve with harissa, if desired.

Shakshuka (Photo: Evan Sung)
Shakshuka from “The Jewish Cookbook” (Photo: Evan Sung)

Shakshuka

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 25 minutes. Serves two.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium red or yellow bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ¼ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • Za’atar and fresh cilantro, for serving

Directions

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, onion powder, and Aleppo pepper and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Taste and stir in additional salt, if desired.
  3. Using the back of a spoon, create four shallow wells in the sauce. Break one egg into each well. Cover the pan and cook, basting the eggs once or twice with the sauce, until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with the feta, if desired. Scatter za’atar and cilantro over the top and drizzle with a little more oil. Serve hot.