Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cooking w/Giveaway, Susie Style!

Ever since Pesach 2008, I've been in love. The love affair has taken me to flavorful heights and through disastrous experiences. No, I'm not talking about my life since meeting Tuvia, I'm talking about my falling in love with the kitchen and cooking. I've always loved baking -- for me, it was easy to throw together cookies or a cake or some brownies. But cooking? It required knowledge of recipes and vegetables and spices and oils and other things I had zero experience with. Home was not a place where I was prepared for the big, bad world of food, so I took it upon myself to learn. I never wanted to learn to cook. After all, my original desire in a spouse was for him to be completely kitchen trained. I dated a few guys with skills that would put Martha Stewart to shame (Manishewitz in a pasta sauce? you bet!), but in the end, I need to figure it out for myself.

More than two years later, I consider myself pretty skilled in the kitchen. I've cooked for a few people, for two families with kids, for my in-laws ... you name it. I'm confident in the kitchen (except when it comes to serving, and then I sit on the edge of my seat waiting for pleased responses). But I didn't get here alone. I've had the help of my favorite Kosher cooks: Jamie Geller, Susie Fishbein, and the Internet! Thus, here begins an ode to one of my chef partners, Susie Fishbein.

I promise you, at the end of this post, there will be a giveaway for the book I'm about to discuss, so keep reading!

I received a copy of Susie Fishbein's upcoming (as in, today's its release) cookbook, the newest in the Kosher by Design series, Teens and 20-Somethings, and upon receipt I 3M flagged the heck out of it. Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself. At first, I was amused by the cover design -- a spaghetti squash with headphones ... how silly. But I wasn't completely sold on the concept. I flipped through the cookbook and the first thing I noticed was the layout and design, which, to be completely honest, I wasn't jazzed about. As a proverbial "20-something," I felt sort of ... talked down to. I know that this cookbook is geared toward a variety of ages and that the goal is for the book to appeal not only to the title's demographic but also to those cooking for them ... but the design just rubs me the wrong way. It reminds me of 1980s teen style. Bright colors, paint splatters, quirky phrases. It's just trying to hard. Susie gives party ideas in the back of the book with menu suggestions, and the party suggestions seem very, well, geared toward a 5-year-old. Again, I felt like the book was talking down to me. But is the point of the book the layout and design? Probably not. But aesthetics are big when it comes to appeal and selling points. But let's move on to the food. That's why you're here, right?

I decided to make a few things straight out of the book to get a feel for this edition and whether it rocks my world as much as the others I have purchased since moving to Teaneck. I opted for the Mexican Chicken and the Blondies, both which surpassed my expectations in ease of preparation, cooking time, and taste. The great thing about the new edition is that Susie took the time to label each recipe with its "free-ness." That is, nut free, gluten free (GF), dairy free, etc. Although the number of gluten-free recipes is minimal, I'm a firm believer that just about anything can be made gluten-free. Neither of these recipes were labeled as such, but some simple replacements made for an easy cooking experience.

The Mexican Chicken was a breeze (once my husband chopped up some chicken thighs because, well, we're in the Poconos and the chicken selection is limited in the kosher department). All I had to do was crush some tortilla chips (corn = GF), some corn flakes (GF), and put in some taco seasoning (of the GF variety), throw it in a bowl, then toss the chicken pieces in some salsa to coat and then in the chip/corn flake mix to coat, in a pan, bake at 350 and blamo. Twenty minutes later I had some nommy eats. I mixed up the sauce offered with it, which my husband used to mask the seeming "salsa taste" that the chicken had. He doesn't dig salsa, I do. We compromised. It looks yummy, right? It was, believe me.

Once the chicken was in, I got to work on the Blondies, which, I learned, are basically chocolate chip cookies in brownie form (note: this is my first-ever blondie attempt). It was a quick and easy substitution of Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose GF Flour with some xanthum gum, mixed in with the other bits and pieces of the recipe (you'll have to buy the book for this, folks), and ta-da. Blondies. Oh, and don't worry if you messed up -- I put (on accident) probably two to three times more vanilla that I should have. And? Even still: soft, moist, scrumdiddlyumptious. And I guarantee a stranger wouldn't know they're gluten free, either.

Evan really enjoyed the blondies. Really.
Overall, I'm excited about many of the recipes -- which range from drinks to desserts and include a variety of cuisine styles -- in this cookbook, including Orange Butternut Squash Soup (p. 56), the Pizza Soup (p. 62), the Amalfi Chicken (p. 102), and, especially, the Confetti Spaghetti Squash (there's a squash at home calling my name; p. 160). Oh, and, of course, there's the Cappuccino Mousse (p. 210) and the Molten Deep-Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 214) -- gluten-free-ified, of course!

So now you know there are good eats, are you ready for the giveaway? Read carefully!
  1. This giveaway starts now and ends on Tuesday, November 2 at 10 p.m. 
  2. One winner will receive their very own copy of Susie Fishbein's Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-Somethings.
  3. How do you enter? I'm giving you two options. 
    1. Pick your favorite recipe from the Kosher by Design series and post it to the comments, and tell me what you love about it. 
    2. If you don't happen to have the Kosher by Design series on-hand, pick your favorite go-to recipe and post it to the comments and tell me how you found it and why you love it.
  4. BONUS entry for those who also post a link to a picture of their favorite Kosher by Design recipe! (Note: you have to have made the food in the picture, no taking pictures from Susie's cookbooks.)
I'll post the winner late Tuesday night. And if you don't win? Never fear. Following this giveaway will be another giveaway of Jamie Geller's new cookbook, Quick & Kosher: Meals in Minutes.

Also, probably the coolest part of this post and the giveaway? Your access to the Kosher by Design Recipe Index! Seriously, the best invention ever! No need to look through all of your KbD books, just check out the index if you can't find a recipe.

Rocking Kosher Fest with Susie Fishbein!
Finally, a little ditty with goods and details: Preorder your copy today at – enter the coupon code KBDBLOG at checkout to save 10% and receive free shipping in the continental U.S. Join us online to find more reviews and giveaway contests! Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-Somethings: cooking for the next generation is aimed at the young and digital-savvy fast-food generation and those who cook for them. Susie Fishbein is an everyday cook who loves to share her passion for cooking and entertaining with friends and family. Her enthusiasm for food and entertaining led to the creation of her best-selling cookbook, Kosher by Design, published in 2003 by ArtScroll Shaar Press. For more recipes and updates, visit our blog or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.