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KosherEye Featured Cookbook

Author of Persian Food  from The Non-Persian Bride

Enjoy our chat with Reyna Simnegar – in addition to wonderful kosher Persian recipes, the cookbook includes other kosher Sephardic recipes.

reynasimnegarHave you always loved to cook?
Cooking is a pleasure. Growing up, I would cook with my grandmother and aunts in Venezuela.

How did you develop your recipes?
Most are from tradition, and are true to authentic Persian cuisine. I spent two weeks with my future mother-in-law to learn to cook the dishes my husband likes. I developed a love for Persian food and wanted to make my husband happy.  I took notes - she did not measure anything. So I measured before she put the ingredients into the pot (and sometimes after).

(For my personal version) I wanted to make recipes shorter but authentic.  Also, I make it with ingredients that you can get. I had  to be creative to achieve the Persian flair.

What are your favorite kitchen tools?
My Kitchenaid mixer, Bosch mixer (huge - I use it for large batches of dough that cannot be made in the Kitchenaid), tongs, and the mortar and pestle. In Venezuela, the mortar is used a lot in cooking - for corn, garlic, etc.

Please share your favorite kitchen tips/secrets with our readers:
It is important to plan ahead for your ingredients and, with five boy, I cannot always plan ahead to have margarine and eggs at room temperature when baking. So I microwave the margarine for 10-15 seconds and place the eggs in warm water to bring them to room temperature.

Are you planning on writing a second cookbook?
Yes, I started recipe research already. It is on hold at the moment because I am so busy touring with Persian Foods. So far, it is mostly South American recipes. Also, anecdotes of Jews living in Latin American countries.

I am also working on a TV show. The episodes will soon be available on my YouTube channel. We are working on finding a reliable TV channel to distribute them.

What is a little known fact about you that we can share with our readers?
I use to model in Venezuela – and did ads for toothpaste. I entered the Ms.Venezuela contest but was told I was too short.

March 13, 2011

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by Reyna Simnegar

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Many believe our path through life is destined – there are no chance encounters – everything happens for a purpose. The vivacious author of our featured cookbook, Persian Food from the Non-persian Bride , has traveled a very interesting path to arrive at her current destination.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Reyna Simnegar was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools. Her life changed at age 12 when she discovered her father's family were Marrano Jews. After seeing the movie  Schindler's List at age 15, she was drawn to her Jewish neshama, began to understand certain customs she saw practiced by her father and his family, and decided to convert to Judaism. Being underage, she did not start the process until several years later. Along the way, she moved to the United States to learn English, attended UCLA  in California and met her future husband (a Persian Jew) at a restaurant. Concerned that she did not know how to cook the Persian delights that her future husband, Sammy, loved, she learned to cook "real" Persian food from her future mother-in-law.

Fast forward several years: While married to Sammy and living a fulfilling Jewish life as the mother of five little boys,  Reyna decided to create a book of these treasured Persian recipes for her five future daughters-in law. She told a friend about her project and was encouraged to create a publishable version. Her friend helped her find the right professionals to formulate and "birth" the cookbook. On a trip to Morocco, she met a relative of the publishing firm, the Feldheim family, who eventually published her book.  A very interesting, and destined, traveled road!

It took Reyna almost two years to complete the cookbook. Her love of cooking, and especially Persian food, was evident in our conversation with her. "Food is satisfying for the body and soul. If there was a scent to "infatuation", that is what Persian food would smell like."  She also treasures her South American heritage and the foods she grew up loving. Several of the recipes in the cookbook are a marriage of these two cultures – like Reyna and Sammy.

Persian Food from The Non-Persian Bride is a beautiful and fascinating introduction to Kosher Persian cooking.  It features both traditional and contemporary recipes, with easy–to–follow directions. The recipes are presented in a clear and concise manner and several contain additional Tricks of The Trade tips from Reyna.  The short introduction antidotes that accompany each recipe are delightful, informative and fun to read. The book contains 100 recipes that are accompanied by beautiful, full–color photographs by Marina Karassellos.

 A detailed description of the spices, seeds and herbs used in Persian cooking is included and will help the reader better understand this ancient cuisine that is defined by its blending and use of herbs and spices. Food has always been an important element in the Persian way of life and after reading this book, we can understand why.

 Rice is a major part of the Persian meal and Reyna presents seventeen wonderful recipes for this Persian staple, plus step–by–step directions for making Tadig. This is the prized crispy rice taken from the bottom of the pot and traditionally served to guests at a meal.

We look forward to using this cookbook to make fabulous, enticing Persian meals for our family and friends. We place this cookbook on our "gift yourself, gift others" list. Treat yourself – it will become a welcome friend on your shelf.

 Watch Reyna demonstrate how to prepare Persian Steamed Rice (Chelo) with Potato Tadig.

 Read more of our Chat With Reyna Simnegar and enjoy the following recipes from her fabulous new cookbook.

Shirazi Salad, Red Rice with Onions (Polo Gemez) and Persian Ground Beef Kebab  (Kebab'e Kubide).  - Enjoy!

 Please visit Reyna at her website, KosherPersianFood.com. The cookbook, Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride is available on Amazon.com .

March 13, 2011

 

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A Winning Superbowl Menu

by Jamie Geller

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Jamie Geller proves that a busy person does not have to spend hours in the kitchen to create a nourishing, fast, delicious, eye appealing meal. In fact, she makes no bones about not being able to even cook when she was a newlywed. This enterprising, energetic and talented woman even wrote a bestselling cookbook (published in 2007) based on that premise – Quick & Kosher - Recipes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing.

Obviously, this "bride" now knows something about food and cooking. She has written a second book in the Quick and Kosher series, Quick & Kosher: Meals in Minutes, is Chief Foodie Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for the online kosher supermarket Kosher.com, writes a daily blog, gives cooking demos around the USA and is featured in print, on radio and TV.  

KosherEye caught up with Jamie and enjoyed an interesting (and fun) conversation with her. After completing the first cookbook, which took two and a half years and, in her own words, she had "no clue when writing the book.", she told herself "she would never do it again!" Short lived promise –  but experience is a good teacher. The current cookbook took 10 months to complete and she already had a team in place for testing and recipe development.

Jamie credits Susie Fishbein, best–selling author of the Kosher by Design cookbook series, for being the first modern kosher cookbook pioneer and her mentor. "Susie is high–end, elegant kosher cooking. I am more Rachael Ray and aspire to cook like her –  fast, tasty food."  

We asked about her favorite kitchen tools and her answer  surprised us. "I love tongs; they are like an extension of my arm. They are total low maintenance  and I have many styles. The food processor took me a long time to come to love; in the end, it saves a lot of time."

Jamie loves to entertain but never really loved to cook. She considers herself "the only cookbook author to free people from the kitchen" and her recipes reflect the use of ready–made items and few (if any) complicated steps.

Quick & Kosher: Meals in Minutes features 217 new, triple tested recipes. Several of them are "quick" interpretations of the more complicated versions. Beautiful, full color photographs accompany many of the recipes – an opportunity to feast with the eyes. The book is organized into three sections based on total time, from Prep to Cook to Serve: 20 Minute Meals, 40 Minute Meals and 60 Minutes Meals.

Also included in Quick & Kosher:  Meals in Minutes are recommendations for cheese, wine and kosher products. The book is perfect for the busy person who has no time to spend in the kitchen but appreciates and wants to serve good food. It is a KosherEye "gift yourself, gift others" selection.

And what is a little know fact about this "kosher Rachael Ray"?

"I was a professionally trained dancer and performed before live audiences at age 5. I was the only child star in an all adult dance troop. By age 12, I taught dance - Hip Hop, Jazz and Tap. And, up until three years ago, competed and won medals and awards and taught dance for teens and adults."  Now why aren't we surprised by this revelation!

Jamie has graciously created a Super Bowl Menu for our KosherEye readers. The recipes are from Quick & Kosher -  Meals in Minutes,  From The Bride Who Knew Nothing and her online  Kosher.com blog.

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Super Bowl XLV Kosher Menu

Crispy Artichoke Hearts

BBQ pulled Chicken Sandwiches with  Creamy Coleslaw
Mexican Burgers with Flour Tortillas with Rice with Corn and Peppers
Turkey Chili with Loaded Corn Bread Muffins

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Tofutti Ice Cream with Granola and Sliced Peaches

Jamie's cookbooks are available on Amazon.com. Quick & Kosher: Meals in Minutes and Quick & Kosher - Recipes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing

February 3, 3011

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kbdsrecipeindex-1

How we wish that we could sit back, press a key on our computer and see an categorized, alphabetical index of all of the recipes in all of our cookbooks. We never remember which book has that perfect strawberry salad, cheese quiche, chicken cacciatore and so forth, even though we do have many sticky notes marking pages.  

Wel, finally someone has fulfilled our wish, and yes it’s our friend, Susie Fishbein.  The entire 7 volumes of Kosher by Design is indexed – every recipe is easily found. Now of course, the one caveat is that you must have these books in your library. If you don’t have have them, please treat yourself, or someone else, to the set. And then, find just the right recipe... anytime!

To view, download or print the free index, just click -  Kosher by Design Series Recipe Index. Visit Amazon.com to purchase the  Kosher by Design Cookbook Series.

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Recipes and Rituals, Memories and Mitzvahs

By Maggie Glezer

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Two times James Beard award winning author Maggie Glezer is a woman of many hats.

While Maggie and her family were living in Tucson, Arizona in the early 90’s, this stay - at - home mom became passionate and obsessed with the science of baking.  As she told us, “instead of drinking too much, she chose baking too much”. Her baking addiction evolved into a successful avocation and career. Maggie’s interest in artisan bread baking took her to Manhattan, Kansas where she consulted with Tom McMahon, founder of the Bread Bakers Guild of America. an organization with a mission to shape the knowledge and skills of the artisan baking community through education. She contributed numerous articles to the Guild’s professional magazine. Then In 1993 she attended the Culinary Institute of America for an intense 10 day baking course with famed French baking expert, Professor Raymond Calvel.

Maggie’s dream was to write a book about baking. Now, finally armed with the knowledge to do so, she experienced a “chance” encounter with Julia Child, who was a special guest at a 1998 Baker’s Guild convention.  And, alongside Julia was her publisher, Ann Bramson. The publisher was bombarded with accolades about Maggie’s articles on bread baking, and invited Maggie to submit some to her. And so it happened; Maggie’s first award-winning book was born, Artisan Baking Across America: The Breads, The Bakers, The Best Recipes became a best selling reality winning a James Beard Book Award!

After this successful achievement, Maggie’s Atlanta friend, Chabad Rabbi Eliyahu Shusterman, suggested that her next book should be about challah baking. And so it is! A Blessing of Bread became Maggie’s second James Beard Winner, also received The IACP Cookbook Award and is a "must have" book for bread bakers.

It took her several years to research and test the recipes and it shows. A Blessing of Bread features recipes for challahs from around the world, as well as babkas and honey cakes, bagels and matzot, crackers and everyday breads such as deli rye.

The book is a journey into traditions – bread-making traditions of Jews from around the world:  Ashkenazi Jews from Austria-Hungary to Russia. Sephardic Jews from Greece to Syria.  North Africa Jews from Morocco to Ethiopia. Near Eastern Jews from Israel to Uzbekistan.

In addition to fabulous recipes, some beginner level, some more advanced, Maggie shares challah and bread baking tips –  including types of flour and supplies, stories about the origins and history of each recipe, and detailed pictures on multiple challah braiding techniques– tapered braids, single-stranded, high two-stranded, high four-stranded, twinned pan braids - to name a few.

This is a "must have" book if you love to bake bread, love to read about bread and its history, know someone who bakes bread, or just want to give a beautiful gift.

Maggie has graciously offered to share challah baking advice with KosherEye readers. If you have a question, email it to us at: ContactUs.

Some tips from Maggie:
•  Use a kitchen scale to weigh bread-baking ingredients
•  Use instant, quick rise, rapid rise yeast if possible
•  Bread dough can be held in the refrigerator while "ageing" for 2-3 days until ready to bake, at any point from beginning of rise to after shaping.  The dough should be covered with plastic wrap.  Just bring to room temperature and continue process.
•  Bread machines are especially good for disabled bakers – since they can do everything.
•  Freeze challahs in airtight plastic bags, and they can Last for months.

And Maggie shared her latest bread baking tip with us –  she no longer kneads the bread. She skips this step entirely:
"I mix all my ingredients together, make sure the dough is the correct consistency (add more flour or water, whatever the case might be) and put the dough in a container to ferment (rise). I don't use the food processor or the stand mixer anymore.  I have honestly not noticed any difference in my bread when I stopped kneading the dough.  However, that is because the kneading machines available to home bakers are so awful.  When I have used professional equipment, I notice a big difference. So if our kneading machines don't really make a difference in the quality of the bread, why bother? There is really nothing to this method; you are just skipping a step.  Any and all recipes can omit this step.  Try it!"

Please try two challah recipes from A Blessing of BreadCzernowitzer Challah and Savory Olive Oil Challah.

Guess what Maggie’s doing now?  She is following her newest obsession (no not Marshal Arts or Belly Dancing, been there, done that) but she is passionate about her new hobby – gold and silver smithing. We are certain that she will shine!

Maggie's amazing, award winning cookbooks are available on Amazon.com:  Artisan Baking and A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World

January 27, 2011

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