AS: So exciting — a new cookbook just in time for Chanukah! How long does it take, from concept to published book?
MP: The thing about writing cookbooks and creating recipes is that I love doing it, and I don’t really know how to turn it off! So pretty much as soon as I wrapped up my previous cookbook, Real Life Kosher Cooking, my brain started coming up with ideas for another one. Two years later, here we are!
AS: What’s the process when you develop a recipe? Do you imagine the final end product and then explore how to get there? Or do you simply experiment with different tastes, colors, textures?
MP: Sometimes I develop a recipe very deliberately. I come up with an idea, I research it, I play around, I make it, I tweak it, and then I finally have the perfect recipe. Other times, it’s far more spontaneous. I’ll throw a little this and a little that together and then, when we eat it, if the end result is fantastic, I quickly write down everything I did so that I can remake it as a recipe.
AS: Have you ever had any real disasters in your kitchen?
MP: I’m human, so of course! I’ve had my share of burnt food and recipe flops, but by far the most devastating for me was when I finished photographing a roast, and I put it on the counter to put away later. I’m sure you can guess the end: I woke up the next morning and realized I hadn’t put it away. I was really sad to have to throw out a whole roast, but what could I do?
AS: Did fan feedback influence how you wrote your cookbook?
MP: Absolutely. In fact, I wrote about this in more detail in the introduction to my new book. For example, every time I published a recipe, so many people would ask me if it could be frozen. To ensure they wouldn’t even need to ask, I started to include detailed “plan ahead” information for each recipe, and it’s become a tremendously popular feature of my books!