New Jerseyans Jason and Yael Gevertzman are mad about food — tasting, making, and sharing it. Now they have come out with a cookbook that offers kosher recipes for dishes from far and wide.
The couple, who got married in July last year, self-published their book, Newlywed Kosher: A Marriage of International and Traditional Kosher Cuisine, in September and sold out their first batch — 250 copies — within weeks. The next batch is hot off the presses and ready for gift-giving and to open up new options in readers’ kitchens.
For example, apropos of the season, when it comes to latkes, they suggest going “two-toned” — using sweet and regular potatoes. They make their sufganiyot, or doughnuts — Israel’s traditional Hanukka treat — like Italian zeppole. If you want to look past familiar Jewish fare, they offer “zushi,” Japanese sushi wrapped in slivers of zucchini instead of seaweed.
Their level of expertise belies their youth. Jason, a business graduate from Yeshiva University, is 27; Yael, who graduated from Barnard College with a major in psychology and serves as administrative assistant at Congregation Anshe Chesed in Linden, is 24. But the couple, who lives in Teaneck, said their passion for food goes back to childhood. Both grew up cooking with their mothers, she in Highland Park, he in Twin Rivers, and when they started dating in their teens — as students at Moshe Aaron Yeshiva High School in South River — it was one of the things that brought them closer.
They parted ways after Jason went to college, but stayed in touch, and began dating again three years ago. The cooking bug had grown even stronger. “I was sharing an apartment in the city and I cooked just for myself because the others had different eating habits,” Yael recounted, “but Jason was sharing a place too and he cooked for everyone. We started making dinners for each other.”
They don’t look like eating mavens; they’re both slim, but both have that key quality of good cooks: They can analyze what’s in dishes they love, and remember and can recreate tastes they remember.
“And Jason’s interested in the ins and outs of every possible thing, especially with cuisine,” Yael said.
That proved particularly useful on their honeymoon last year. While sticking to the rules of kashrut, they managed to explore Italian and Spanish and Israeli cuisine. Jason has also been to Paris and discovered some French favorites there.
He said, “I enjoy the creative outlet that cooking gives me, especially when crafting a dish from scratch. I’m able to play with flavors and techniques and continuously try new ideas. I love to experiment with flavor profiles that are foreign and make them more accessible to myself and others.”
Egged on by their appreciative family and friends, they shifted gears earlier this year: “Instead of just adding by taste — like a pinch of this or a spoon of that — we began noting down exactly what we were doing and what worked best,” Yael said. Jason also began photographing the finished products.
The result is 150 recipes, all temptingly illustrated, with useful notes on what each dish goes well with, plus “healthy or helpful hints.”
Jason said, “For us, cooking is just something we love to do. And it’s even better when you love the person you’re cooking with. Our cooking skills and techniques complement one another. On our own, we can each create a lot of nice dishes, but together, we hone our skills and learn from each other’s strengths to create something great.”
(To buy Newlywed Kosher: A Marriage of International and Traditional Kosher Cuisine, visit www.newlywedkosher.com.)