More than 40 kosher and kosher-conscious cooks and food fans assembled at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County on Oct. 17 to learn from famed chef and cookbook author Susie Fishbein. They also had the opportunity to sample three of her popular recipes — zucchini lentil soup, crispy chicken lollipops, and a warm apple and pear beggar’s purse.
Fishbein, best known for her “Kosher by Design” series of cookbooks (ArtScroll Shaar Press), also introduced the eighth title in the series, Kosher by Design Cooking Coach. The official publication date, Oct. 22, was just days after the Marlboro event.
What makes this new volume different from her earlier efforts, said Fishbein, is that it features not only recipes, but kitchen tips that the author has found helpful, whether cooking for her family of six or for large gatherings of as many as 500.
Each chapter of Cooking Coach begins with hints and “how to” advice. In one instance, Fishbein offers instructions on how to butterfly a chicken breast. In another, she lists all the various names used by kosher butchers to designate the same cuts of meat.
Fishbein prepared and served a three-course meal for the audience at the Schechter school. “It’s always a good idea to start with soup,” she told the gathering. “It’s an effective way to get kids to eat vegetables, and vegetables provide lots of antioxidants and fiber, which are good for anyone at any age.”
Her coaching hint for the zucchini lentil soup was to cut the vegetable into similar-sized pieces to avoid some of them remaining on the raw side, while others turn to mush.
To dress up the soup course, she added egg-roll wrappers spiced with dried dill and dried basil.
Crispy chicken lollipops is a new recipe, although she had offered in the past a Passover version. In the new year-round recipe, all-purpose flour and panko breadcrumbs make an appearance that wouldn’t be possible at Pesach.
Fishbein’s coaching hint here is to season the flour and breadcrumbs all at once rather than try to do each cutlet individually.
During the breading process — and throughout virtually all stages of food preparation — Fishbein wore rubber gloves, which she changed frequently. She told the gathering that this technique is used by professional chefs, and it is the most effective means to prevent the spread of diseases like salmonella. For the same reason, she said, “It is essential to disinfect all cooking surfaces before leaving the kitchen.”
Fishbein’s accompaniment for the chicken lollipops (which, of course, are served on skewers) was spaghetti squash.
Her tip here: “Tell the kids it’s delicious and it’s fun to eat. But don’t tell them it’s real spaghetti, or they will never trust you again.”
While Fishbein’s audience was mainly female, there also were a couple of males in the room. One was Drew Denker of Rumson, whose wife is Rabbi Michelle Pearlman, religious leader of Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls.
Another was 11-year-old Benjamin Weiss of Ocean, who has been cooking seriously for about two years. His favorite Susie Fishbein recipe, he said, is a dessert — white chocolate mousse in chocolate boxes — which is featured in her Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen.