The latest addition to Susie Fishbein’s cooking library, Kosher by Design—Cooking Coach: Recipes, tips and techniques to make anyone a better cook (ArtScroll/Mesorah, October 2012), has something for everyone. Ms. Fishbein’s other books, which have sold a total of 450,000 copies, are relished by gourmet food connoisseurs as they raised the bar on the kosher culinary experience and introduced high-end ingredients, techniques, and recipes to thousands of Shabbos tables. In this book, Ms. Fishbein brings the rest of us along for the ride, teaching us tips of her trade that allow us to re-create these previously out-of-reach recipes.
What makes this book unique is that although it can be used comfortably by “beginners,” it does not simplify the recipes, as other beginner cookbooks do, to make them quicker and incorporate shortcuts. “Cooking Coach” is an apt description in that Ms. Fishbein’s goal (I can picture her, whistle in hand, telling everyone to do five laps around the kitchen) is to bring the beginner up to an advanced level, not to bring the recipes down to an easier level. The non-kosher cookbook authors can never understand the expectations, and even the mitzvah, of eating delicious food, served in a beautiful manner, on Shabbos and yom tov. Settling for mediocre meals is just not an option, even for beginners.
Ms. Fishbein offers us a full course of culinary methods, including which equipment you really need in the kitchen, how to dice an onion, how to select the best fish, how to butterfly a chicken breast, a guide to meats, etc. She includes this useful information in the “Game Plan” preface to each chapter, and this is really the best part for beginners. Ten easy-to-follow pictorial coaching sections make the beginner feel she is with Susie at a live cooking demonstration. As Susie explains in the introduction, “Here are the best tips and techniques I’ve used and taught over the last ten years. And now, they’re yours!”
Another sure favorite is her Playbook, a whole section devoted to creative ways to use leftovers from many of the recipes in the book. After all, once you have learned all these great techniques and created an exquisite Susie Fishbein dish, why should leftovers go in the garbage?
Beginners and advanced alike can enjoy over 120 new recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, poultry, meat, fish, pasta and eggs, side dishes, and dessert. Accompanied by 400 mouth-watering pictures (photography by John Uher), it’s hard to choose which of these delectable dishes to cook first. But beware: the finest foods do require the finest ingredients, and some of these recipes contain some-hard-to-find items. This is where some food lovers will go forward full steam ahead while some pressed-for-time folks may skip to another recipe with more ingredients that are already on hand. That’s OK; there’s enough to go around.
For Shabbos, I decided to try the Curried Sunflower Chicken, Silan-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Leeks, and Baked Coconut Brown Rice Pilaf. These were ambitious recipes. I was impressed that my supermarket had all of the ingredients. I must admit to making a few mistakes. My family still enjoyed the food, but I know that if I had listened to more of Susie’s advice, things would have been better, and I plan on improving for next time. With my own determination and effort and the book’s guidance, even I can be a Susie Fishbein-inspired cook.
If you’re looking for a great gift for yourself or someone else, this book, like many of the recipes inside, is a can’t miss. v
Silan-Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Leeks
From “Kosher By Design Cooking Coach”
By Susie Fishbein
Parve – 8 Servings
Silan is date honey or date syrup. Available online, it can also easily be bought anywhere Israeli products are sold, particularly in Syrian and kosher markets. This versatile ingredient is sweet, sticky, and will do wonders for any vegetable that you can roast. It has a unique flavor, deeper and richer than honey. I have seen it used in everything from cookies, Passover charoset, dressings, chicken and meat dishes, to topping off an ice cream sundae. Track a bottle down, it is so worth it.
2 large leeks, root end and top 4 inches trimmed, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds, cleaned well
6 large sweet potatoes, peel half of them, cut each into 1½-inch chunks
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup silan date honey
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cover 1–2 jellyroll pans with aluminum foil. Set aside.
3. Place the sweet potatoes and leeks into a large bowl. Toss with the oil to coat all of the vegetables. Pour in a single layer onto prepared pan. Roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle on the silan. Be careful, the pan will be hot. Coat the vegetables well. Return, uncovered, to the oven and roast for an additional 15–20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender and sticky. Toss once during the roasting time.
4. Transfer to serving bowl.