The best piece of advice that Susie Fishbein, world-famous kosher cook and author, can give us is that good cooks don’t need cookbooks.
“The key is to cook intuitively,” she said at the start of the Tuesday book release of the 8th edition of her book, “Kosher by Design Cooking Coach.”
“The importance isn’t in the details,” she added. “It’s in getting excited to learn.”
Brooklyn’s Pomegranate Supermarket hosted this special evening, which was attended by many of Fishbein’s close family and friends, as well as by food writers and bloggers interested in the versatility of kosher cooking.
Gavriel Aryeh Sanders, Fishbein’s book publicist, introduced the “busy, work-from-home mother and cook.”
Fishbein’s successful cookbook series has sold more than 450,000 copies worldwide; she has made numerous guest appearances and has been profiled by media titans such as The New York Times and CNN. She has been named one of the 50 most influential Jews by the Forward, a Jewish news site. She was also an honored guest at the White House in recognition of National Jewish Heritage Month.
The “Kosher by Design” series is the result of a 10-year, unending tour, including a recent trip to Tuscany and a week-long culinary adventure in the Galil in Israel. Fishbein said it is also “the culmination of a decade’s worth of guidance and instruction and my best time-tested ideas.”
Even as a teacher, Fishbein is herself constantly learning and attests that all the books she has written so far constitute her personal journey.
“When I first started teaching over 10 years ago, my goal was to have students feel comfortable enough with my recipes to try them successfully at home,” Fishbein said. “I wanted to provide tips, techniques, advice and information that would make them more knowledgeable and capable in the kitchen.”
She aimed to instill confidence and creativity in her readers, so that they would be able to create a meal with the ingredients they like best: “Often it’s about knowing what you like to eat, and about incorporating that into your cooking,” she said.
Nothing proved this better than her cooking demonstration. The recipe was for turkey taco egg rolls (combining canola oil, ground turkey, Ortega taco seasoning mix and frozen spinach), but per her imaginative tendencies, she transformed this into other dishes — stuffed Portobello mushrooms and delicious turkey ziti.
“I want to free people from cookbooks, even for them to be less reliant on mine,” she said, addressing the creative freedom in cooking. “If you’re intuitive about what you’re cooking, you will be able to cook well,” she said.
To possess such intuition requires rather profound knowledge of each ingredient’s essence. One of Fishbein’s favorite books is “Culinary Artistry,” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, which talks about flavor profiles and what ingredients go well together.
But Fishbein certainly doesn’t limit herself to specific ingredients.
“I’ve been lucky in that every year, more ingredients are becoming kosher,” she said. “So whenever I discover a new one, it allows me the opportunity to get creative with it,” she said.
Angel Chang is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]