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Since her first cookbook bearing the Kosher by Design moniker appeared in 2003, self-taught chef Susie Fishbein has become the culinary liberator of borscht-bored kosher cooks throughout North America. So influential is the home-based wife and mother of four that in May 2010 Fishbein was invited to the White House in recognition of Jewish American Heritage Month.
Popularly known as the Kosher Diva, Fishbein is releasing her seventh cookbook, Kosher by Design Teens & 20-Somethings: cooking for the next generation, aimed at the young and digital-savvy fast food generation and those who cook for them. Commenting on how her family life has influenced her career as a cookbook author, Fishbein notes, “When my kids were younger, I published Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen. They learned to cook amazing recipes with me. I have a couple of teens now and their appetites have changed. And they are my proof-positive! This new cookbook equips young adults with knowledge and skills to create their own amazing foods, from a quick and delicious snack to a whole party.”
While unapologetically a Jewish mother, Fishbein’s recipes are light–years beyond traditional chicken soup, gefilte fish, and kasha varnishkes. In fact, among the 100 new recipes, little is discernibly Jewish (OK — the Hot Pretzel Challah, perhaps — and there is a good recipe for Chicken Soup). Teens & 20-Somethings serves up tantalizing American-style dishes such as Turkey Sliders, Peanut Butter and Banana French Toast, Tater Tot Casserole, and Tie-Dye Cookies.
But the international influences are abundant. Imagine coming home to a dinner made by your college student, featuring Mexican Pizza Empanadas, Creamy Gnocchi Pesto Salad, Thai Chicken Burgers, Hoisin Vegetables, and finishing with a Chocolate Tart in Pretzel Crust. There are dozens of suggestions here to “eat your way around the world.”
Award-winning food photographer John Uher, whose client list includes Godiva Chocolates and Bacardi Rum, has worked with Susie since the original Kosher by Design was released in 2003. Uher’s 100+ images in Teens & 20-Somethings are vivid and motivating.
Fishbein provides clear and simple guidance throughout the cookbook to help young cooks develop confidence in preparing dishes that appeal equally to the eye and palette. She offers important tips for healthy eating, safety in the kitchen, essential utensils, and menu planning.
Anyone with food sensitivities will appreciate the convenient sidebar symbols that indicate gluten-free, fat-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian recipes. In accordance with kosher cooking requirements, each recipe is clearly marked as meat, dairy, or parve (neither meat nor dairy).
She also encourages her culinary protégés to go beyond personal or family cooking; she offers four lively party templates, including a baseball theme and a board game night.
Susie’s sold-out coast-to-coast cooking demos, along with her appearances on national television and radio, have elevated kosher cuisine to a more sophisticated level in public perception. Book critic Benyamin Cohen, former editor of youth-oriented Jewsweek.com and American Jewish Life, says of Susie Fishbein, “She’s a phenom — singlehandedly redefining kosher cooking.”
But bottom line: What can the average digital-centric teen or 20-something expect to find in this curiously different cookbook? Susie quips, “Delicious fun — LOL!”