Enhanced with the inclusion of beautifully painted vegetables, the individual recipes are deftly organized into sections featuring Salads; Soups; Cutlets; Stewed Dishes; Miscellaneous Dishes; Blintzes (Stuffed Crepes); Omelets; Porridges; Frittatas; Kugels with Cholents
; Puddings; Latkes; Passover Foods; Substantial Puddings; Sauces and Creams; Stuffed Foods; Baked Goods; Jams and Preserves; Turnovers; Compotes and Desserts; Glazes and Garnishes for Cakes; Coffee, Buttermilk, and Yogurt; Marinated Foods; Ices; Wine, Mead, and Liqueur; Vitamin Drinks and Juices.
German poet Heinrich Heine, known for his complicated relationship with Judaism, had cholent, that steaming Sabbath stew that he exalts in an 1851 poem entitled Princess Sabbath.
Cholent as we know it today--a slow-cooking stew most commonly comprised of potatoes, barley, beans and beef--likely got its start in the late 12th or early 13th century, according to Gil Marks, author of Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.
Served for Shabbat lunch and defined by its long cooking time, cholent has the distinction of being one of the few uniquely Jewish dishes.
Cholent, though, is a product not of geography, but of religious mandate.
The word cholent, according to Marks, probably comes from chand, the Old French word for "warm," though some maintain that its origin is chand-de-lit, meaning "warmth of the bed." Others say that it is a variation on the Spanish escallento, also meaning "warm," and still others believe it is derived from the Yiddish shul ende, conveying that the dish would be eaten when services were over.
Because cholent is a dish primarily of function--the need to withstand a long simmer--rather than form, ingredients vary widely based on availability and personal taste: The only common denominator is that they are impervious to overcooking.
The French cassoulet, a mixture of beans and various meats, is, according to Marks, almost certainly a twist on cholent. And he suspects the Tex-Mex staple chili con carne may be a direct descendant of the Shabbat classic, a result of Jewish con-versos moving to the area north of the Rio Grande.
Within the Jewish community, cholent can inspire cult-like adulation among those who eat it frequently--a group composed primarily of Orthodox Jews.