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The Giving Table Review: Nurturing And Spirituality Through Food

The Giving Table Review: Nurturing And Spirituality Through Food

The Giving Table: Cooking for others as a source of nurturing, spirituality and inspiration


“Naomi Ross is like your favorite high school teacher whose class you wish you could take again and again. Naomi Ross’s desire to impart culinary knowledge is baked into every page. Her warm heart weaves the healing effects of food into each chapter.” —Susie Fishbein, author, Kosher by Design series


For Naomi Ross, her kitchen is her canvas. She believes in inspired kosher cooking and infusing meaning into the everyday kitchen experience. A cooking instructor for nearly two decades, Naomi is a regular contributor to Fleishigs magazine, Joy of Kosher magazine, Binah magazine, and OU Jewish Action.


 Photographed by Sarah Hodge for this review.


When Naomi originally started teaching, her lessons centered around the dishes of a traditional Shabbos dinner. Over time, her classes and workshops evolved into teaching a wide range of culinary topics to include men, women, and kids in all stages of life. She teaches regularly at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA) and the Kosher Culinary Institute of the Five Towns JCC in addition to private lessons and demonstrations.


Naomi’s debut cookbook The Giving Table, released in time for Chanukah, features 160 delicious kosher recipes, helpful step-by-step photos and QR codes to learn new techniques, handy menus, and inspirational boosts drawn from Jewish tradition. Sprinkled throughout are ideas for gifting food for the elderly and infirm, cooking for new mothers, cooking for shivah houses, gifting food, and welcoming guests.


The Torah teaches to emulate God and to walk in His ways, as the Talmud says, “Just as He is merciful, so should you be merciful. Just as He is kind, so should you be kind.” —Shabbos 133a


The Giving Table is based on the notion that time spent cooking is a worthwhile avenue for giving and nurturing, as well as a source of spirituality and inspiration. Visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, comforting mourners, and welcoming guests are all acts of chesed (loving-kindness) that highlight the impact that cooking can have on others. Naomi profiles Masbia, the nonprofit network of kosher soup kitchens and food pantries that serves 1,500 families daily and provides food relief to 7,500 weekly.


Naomi also stresses the importance of self-care and making healthy choices, and many of The Giving Table’s recipes are infused with health-boosting ingredients like fresh ginger, turmeric, dark leafy greens, and whole grains. You’ll also find reminders to hydrate, get adequate sleep, and eat a healthy balanced diet.


Photographed by Sarah Hodge for this review. 


Recipes are broken down into three skill levels: “Easy-peasy” (easy and straightforward), “Worth the wait” (intermediate), and “Patchke perfect” (more intensive prep or advanced skills). You’ll find plenty of international choices like veal scaloppine with tomatoes and cremini mushrooms, easy beef udon noodle soup, gyoza, Tex-Mex tortilla casserole, and California niçoise salad as well as comfort food like beef and barley soup, brisket, sweet potato latkes and blinztes. So far, I’ve made numerous recipes from The Giving Table including the caramelized apple and parsnip soup, roasted Cornish hens with spiced compote stuffing, Murgi chicken, sticky miso-glazed sweet potatoes, and the marble chiffon cake.


Photographed by Sarah Hodge for this review. 


It was my first time cooking Cornish hens, but Naomi’s step-by-step instructions seemed as though I was cooking with a good friend at my side. I loved the contrast of sweet fruit, spices, and crunch from the almonds, and the moist, tender meat. The Murgi chicken, marinated in a blend of onions and spices, offers a satisfying crunch from cornflakes and reheats like a dream, while the sticky miso-glazed sweet potatoes pack an umami punch with the addition of white miso paste, soy sauce, and sriracha (red pepper sauce).


Photographed by Sarah Hodge for this review. 


As I am primarily a baker, I loved Naomi’s chapter on challah and other breads. Challah is infused with holiness as it is the only bread associated with a mitzvah: that of hafrashas challah. Naomi says, “I like to believe that my love and prayers are those intangible ingredients which flavor the dough the most.” In addition to classic challah, you’ll find whole-wheat and gluten-free variations, as well as recipes for quick breads and focaccia.


The chapters on pies, tarts, cakes, and baked goods include ample ideas for sweet endings to your meal, including a rum-cherry apple cake, Lotus cream roll, honeyed apricot almond tart, spiked chocolate cheesecake, and salty-sweet chocolate chip peanut butter bars.


The Talmud tells us, “Hame’aneg es haShabbos nosnin lo mishalos libo — whoever gladdens the Shabbos will have his heart’s desires fulfilled” (Shabbos 118b).


Photographed by Sarah Hodge for this review.


Cooking for Shabbat is different than preparing meals the rest of the week. “The food enhances the holiness of the day, but the day elevates the food as well,” Naomi writes. Naomi’s suggested Friday night Shabbat menu includes triple mushroom meat and barley soup, roasted garlic za’atar chicken, veggie rice pilaf, rainbow carrots with charred dates and tahini, and marble chiffon cake. There are also suggested menus for a home kiddush party, Purim seudah feast, Chanukah party, and an international vegetarian buffet supper.


For those still gaining confidence in the kitchen, Naomi’s helpful tips, do-aheads, QR code videos demonstrating techniques, and tips on menu planning and variations take the guesswork out of preparing delicious, healthy meals that the whole family will enjoy.


The Giving Table is the perfect gift for everyone on your list! Get your copy at Menucha Publishers or Amazon. While you wait, try one of these recipes from the book:



Murgi Chicken

 by Naomi Ross


“Murgi” is Hindi for “chicken” — but I didn’t know that when an old friend taught me this method in college. All I knew was that it was the most flavorful crispy chicken cutlets I had ever tasted. A potent marinade makes all the difference to impart flavor underneath a sturdy triple breading. This recipe stretches and doubles easily. You can also cut the chicken into smaller strips and make the best chicken fingers ever!




1 medium onion, quartered

2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger (about a 1-inch piece)

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4–6 boneless chicken breasts (cutlets)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs beaten

1 cup cornflake crumbs

1/2 cup corn or peanut oil, or more as needed




1. Prepare the marinade: In a food processor, process the onion, ginger, garlic, and spices until pureed.


2. Pound chicken breasts thin until they have an even thickness (cutlets should be not more than 1/2-inch thick).


3. Marinate: Place chicken breasts in a large bowl with the onion mixture; turn to coat well. Cover and marinate for two to three hours in the refrigerator.


4. Breading: Remove chicken from marinade. Dredge in flour, then beaten eggs, then cornflake crumbs; place in a single layer on a plate or sheet pan until frying time.


5. Fry: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot (a crumb should sizzle upon contact). Fry cutlets about three to four minutes per side (depending on size and thickness) or until breading is golden brown, flipping once during cooking. Drain on a rack or paper towels. Serve and enjoy!


Fish Variation:

Murgi Fish is delicious too! Use the same marinade and breading on your favorite white-fleshed fish like cod or tilapia. Marinate fish only up to 30 minutes.


Cook’s Note:


If making ahead, refresh in a single layer uncovered in a 350-degree-Fahrenheit oven to re-crisp breading.



Sticky Miso-Glazed Sweet Potatoes


Miso paste lends an umami burst of flavor to these simple sweet potatoes. For a fun colorful twist, try this recipe with Japanese purple sweet potatoes!




3 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste

3 tablespoons honey

1 and 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon red pepper sauce (like sriracha)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed, trimmed, and cubed (3/4-inch)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnishing

sliced scallions, for garnishing (optional)




1. Line a sheet pan with heavy-duty foil or parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.


2. Coat: In a large mixing bowl, combine miso, honey, soy sauce, lime juice, red pepper sauce, ginger, and oils; whisk to blend well . Divide and reserve half the sauce in a separate bowl . Add potatoes to the remainder in the large bowl; toss to coat . Spread potatoes out on the sheet pan in an even layer.


3. Bake for 15 minutes . Pour remaining half of sauce over the potatoes, toss to coat, and roast for another 10 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork and glazed all over.


4. Garnish: Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and scallions, if desired .


Best served fresh!


Follow Naomi Ross at @naomirosscooks on Instagram or visit her website at www.koshercookingconcepts.com.