My Life in Recipes

Food, Family, and Memories

Author Joan Nathan On Tour
Look inside
A new cookbook from the best-selling and award-winning author that uses recipes to look back at her life and family history—and at her personal journey discovering Jewish cuisine from around the world

"There is no greater authority on Jewish cooking than Joan Nathan." —Michael Solomonov, James Beard award-winning chef and author of Zahav


Before hummus was available in every grocery store—before shakshuka was a dish on every brunch menu—Joan Nathan taught home cooks how and why they should make these now-beloved staples themselves. Here, in her most personal book yet, the beloved authority on global Jewish cuisine uses recipes to look back at her own family’s history— their arrival in America from Germany; her childhood in postwar New York and Rhode Island; her years in Paris, New York, Israel, and Washington, DC. Nathan shares her story—of marriage, motherhood, and a career as a food writer; of a life well-lived and centered around meals—and she punctuates it with all the foods she has come to love.

With over 100 recipes from roast chicken to rugelach, from matzoh ball soup to challah and brisket, here are updated versions of her favorites. But here too are new favorites: Salmon with Preserved Lemon and Za’atar; Fragrant Spiced Chicken with Rice, Eggplant, Peppers, and Zucchini; Mahammar (a Syrian pepper, pomegranate and walnut dip); Moroccan Chicken with Almonds, Cinnamon and Couscous; Joan’s version of the perfect Black and White Cookies.

This is a treasury of recipes and stories—and an invitation to a seat at Nathan's table.
"The grande dame of Jewish cooking. . . . Nathan is a household name. . . to a Jewish American household. . . . Nathan has often been referred to as the Jewish Julia Child; as it happens, she knew Child, quite well. . . .  [My Life in Recipes is] a job, and a project, that it’s easy to imagine her undertaking, fueled by her ferocious curiosity and almost aggressive charm." —Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker

"[My Life in Recipes] for the first time fully focuses on her own story, from inquisitive schoolgirl to the world’s preeminent expert on Jewish food. . . .  Zelig-like in her ability to observe notable people and events in the worlds of food and politics, but hardly ordinary herself even as she gently but persistently cajoles secret family recipes from home cooks around the world, Nathan’s life reflects the ever broadening tastes of the American palate. . . . Nathan’s work exudes a respect for tradition — leading Jews of many different political convictions and cooking abilities to trust her when they need holiday recipes — as well as an openness and even eagerness to learn and experience 'the new.'" —Laurie Ochoa, LA Times

"Add Nathan to the list of food writers who can also pen the most marvelous of memoirs. The author of a dozen cookbooks and winner of almost countless honors, including a Grande Dame of Les Dames d’Escoffier and a James Beard Award, Nathan has been a food writer for the New York Times and Washington Post, written for Julia Child's famed editor at Knopf, Judith Jones; and hosted a well-regarded PBS show on Jewish cooking. She drops some names—she shared a hello with Marilyn Monroe and a friendship with Jeane Kirkpatrick. . . but it’s not braggadocio; this has simply been her life. . . Warm and wise anecdotes are sandwiched among the dishes; for instance, she writes of her husband's passing with sorrow and accepting elegance. Readers will find it difficult not to reread Nathan's journey of a lifetime with thanks and appreciation." 
—Barbara Jacobs, Booklist

"Part travelogue, part cookbook, and part family history, the latest cookbook from award-winning Nathan (King Solomon’s Table) brings readers on a journey steeped in tradition, culture, history, and, most importantly, memorable meals. Nathan is both a well-traveled and a well-read chef, and this selection of recipes draws on her numerous international expeditions, research into vintage cookbooks and historical documents, and access to her family’s own intergenerational collection of recipes. Those well-versed in Ashkenazi Jewish cooking will find new recipes for a bevy of beloved standbys. . . . Additionally, Nathan includes less universal, yet nonetheless appealing, offerings such as “hippie” molasses muffins and Ann Arbor schnecken. Peppered with diary entries, personal letters, and family photos, the book serves as a retrospective of Nathan’s impressive and sprawling culinary career. . . . A sure hit."
Ingrid Conley-Abrams, Library Journal

"My Life in Recipes is certainly about food — it features 100 wide-ranging recipes. But more importantly it points, poignantly and repeatedly, to what all that food is for: bringing joy, meaning and strength to family and friends. . . . The memoir’s glossy pages tell the story of her constant interest in food growing up as a child in New York through vibrant color photos and astute recipes. . . . Strength and survival, Joan’s book makes clear, is with tradition, food and friends. . . . My Life in Recipes turns out to be not really, or not just, about recipes. It’s about how a life with food helped Joan face sorrow, how the deep friendships she forged in the food world revived her spirit, and how the rituals and recipes of her tradition returned her to life." —Rob Eshman, Forward
© Hope Leigh
JOAN NATHAN is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and other publications. She is the author of twelve books, including Jewish Cooking in America and The New American Cooking, both of which won James Beard Awards and IACP Awards. View titles by Joan Nathan

About

A new cookbook from the best-selling and award-winning author that uses recipes to look back at her life and family history—and at her personal journey discovering Jewish cuisine from around the world

"There is no greater authority on Jewish cooking than Joan Nathan." —Michael Solomonov, James Beard award-winning chef and author of Zahav


Before hummus was available in every grocery store—before shakshuka was a dish on every brunch menu—Joan Nathan taught home cooks how and why they should make these now-beloved staples themselves. Here, in her most personal book yet, the beloved authority on global Jewish cuisine uses recipes to look back at her own family’s history— their arrival in America from Germany; her childhood in postwar New York and Rhode Island; her years in Paris, New York, Israel, and Washington, DC. Nathan shares her story—of marriage, motherhood, and a career as a food writer; of a life well-lived and centered around meals—and she punctuates it with all the foods she has come to love.

With over 100 recipes from roast chicken to rugelach, from matzoh ball soup to challah and brisket, here are updated versions of her favorites. But here too are new favorites: Salmon with Preserved Lemon and Za’atar; Fragrant Spiced Chicken with Rice, Eggplant, Peppers, and Zucchini; Mahammar (a Syrian pepper, pomegranate and walnut dip); Moroccan Chicken with Almonds, Cinnamon and Couscous; Joan’s version of the perfect Black and White Cookies.

This is a treasury of recipes and stories—and an invitation to a seat at Nathan's table.

Reviews

"The grande dame of Jewish cooking. . . . Nathan is a household name. . . to a Jewish American household. . . . Nathan has often been referred to as the Jewish Julia Child; as it happens, she knew Child, quite well. . . .  [My Life in Recipes is] a job, and a project, that it’s easy to imagine her undertaking, fueled by her ferocious curiosity and almost aggressive charm." —Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker

"[My Life in Recipes] for the first time fully focuses on her own story, from inquisitive schoolgirl to the world’s preeminent expert on Jewish food. . . .  Zelig-like in her ability to observe notable people and events in the worlds of food and politics, but hardly ordinary herself even as she gently but persistently cajoles secret family recipes from home cooks around the world, Nathan’s life reflects the ever broadening tastes of the American palate. . . . Nathan’s work exudes a respect for tradition — leading Jews of many different political convictions and cooking abilities to trust her when they need holiday recipes — as well as an openness and even eagerness to learn and experience 'the new.'" —Laurie Ochoa, LA Times

"Add Nathan to the list of food writers who can also pen the most marvelous of memoirs. The author of a dozen cookbooks and winner of almost countless honors, including a Grande Dame of Les Dames d’Escoffier and a James Beard Award, Nathan has been a food writer for the New York Times and Washington Post, written for Julia Child's famed editor at Knopf, Judith Jones; and hosted a well-regarded PBS show on Jewish cooking. She drops some names—she shared a hello with Marilyn Monroe and a friendship with Jeane Kirkpatrick. . . but it’s not braggadocio; this has simply been her life. . . Warm and wise anecdotes are sandwiched among the dishes; for instance, she writes of her husband's passing with sorrow and accepting elegance. Readers will find it difficult not to reread Nathan's journey of a lifetime with thanks and appreciation." 
—Barbara Jacobs, Booklist

"Part travelogue, part cookbook, and part family history, the latest cookbook from award-winning Nathan (King Solomon’s Table) brings readers on a journey steeped in tradition, culture, history, and, most importantly, memorable meals. Nathan is both a well-traveled and a well-read chef, and this selection of recipes draws on her numerous international expeditions, research into vintage cookbooks and historical documents, and access to her family’s own intergenerational collection of recipes. Those well-versed in Ashkenazi Jewish cooking will find new recipes for a bevy of beloved standbys. . . . Additionally, Nathan includes less universal, yet nonetheless appealing, offerings such as “hippie” molasses muffins and Ann Arbor schnecken. Peppered with diary entries, personal letters, and family photos, the book serves as a retrospective of Nathan’s impressive and sprawling culinary career. . . . A sure hit."
Ingrid Conley-Abrams, Library Journal

"My Life in Recipes is certainly about food — it features 100 wide-ranging recipes. But more importantly it points, poignantly and repeatedly, to what all that food is for: bringing joy, meaning and strength to family and friends. . . . The memoir’s glossy pages tell the story of her constant interest in food growing up as a child in New York through vibrant color photos and astute recipes. . . . Strength and survival, Joan’s book makes clear, is with tradition, food and friends. . . . My Life in Recipes turns out to be not really, or not just, about recipes. It’s about how a life with food helped Joan face sorrow, how the deep friendships she forged in the food world revived her spirit, and how the rituals and recipes of her tradition returned her to life." —Rob Eshman, Forward

Author

© Hope Leigh
JOAN NATHAN is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and other publications. She is the author of twelve books, including Jewish Cooking in America and The New American Cooking, both of which won James Beard Awards and IACP Awards. View titles by Joan Nathan