We’re all so excited about Simply Gourmet, the fabulous cookbook being released! We spoke with author Rivky Kleiman about her culinary journey and how she develops such amazing recipes.
AS: Rivky, you are a star in the kosher culinary world: a popular contributor to kosher.com and Family Table, co-author of the Bais Yaakov Cookbook, and now a member of ArtScroll’s incredible cookbook team. How did you do it?
RK: My mother went to medical school when I was in 6th grade. We were three sisters, so while she was in school she would leave a list on the fridge with the jobs we should do. Because I enjoyed the kitchen so much, I wound up making all the cakes, kugels, desserts, salads. When it came to food my mother was very forward thinking, and she loved variety. My friends loved to come to supper; they knew they’d get something interesting and delicious. Actually, when I was newly married, I was afraid of making traditional chicken soup and gefilte fish — but I could make gourmet meals!
AS: What is your cooking philosophy, and how does it play out in Simply Gourmet?
RK: I like to work with foods that are familiar to people, foods that they recognize, but I also want a twist. I keep up with today’s trends and modernize. I love to layer the flavors, to give foods depth of flavor. We’re long past just salt and pepper. You can transform a dish with a few spices or herbs. I use items in your pantry, or items that you will incorporate into your pantry after you’ve discovered them.
AS: Some examples?
RK: I love chili powder. It’s a mixture of different spices, and it elevates the taste of the meat and poultry. People don’t realize the value of it. And you can easily make your own. Fish-free Worcestershire sauce adds that little oomph. Or a bit of lemon zest — it takes no extra work, you’re using the lemon anyway, and you get an explosion of flavor!
AS: What do you hope to accomplish with Simply Gourmet?
RK: I taught for many years, and I’m using the skills I’ve developed to teach home cooks so that they can elevate what they do. I’m taking away some of the fear of the unknown. When you try something and it works, what a great feeling!