AS: The buzz about Peas Love and Carrots: The Cookbook is extraordinary, with over 25,000 (!) copies pre-sold before it’s even been released! Where did all the excitement come from?
DR: I’ve developed a really close relationship with my community, and they’ve been with me as I collected and developed the recipes and narrowed them down to the ones that work the best. The community — tens of thousands of us, and growing every day! — worked with me to create this, and we’re all very excited about it. We’re a very diverse group: Sephardim and Ashkenazim. Chassidim, yeshivah people, modern Orthodox, secular Jews. We’re all people who like to put beautiful food on the table, who enjoy eating, and serving, different, interesting foods. I bring them fantastic recipes and share techniques to make their cooking better.
AS: Tell us something about those recipes.
DR: They are very approachable. Most are budget-friendly, quick and simple to follow, but there are also the exotic, unusual recipes that need more preparation, for holidays, entertaining, or when you’re in the mood for cooking something really exciting. There is so much here: More than 250 recipes! About two-thirds of the recipes are for everyday meals, particularly dinner, which is always a challenge. The other third are designed for Shabbos and Yamim Tovim.
AS: How do you go about developing — and taste testing — your recipes?
DR: I wake up in the morning and see what kind of cuisine I’m in the mood for! My kids are my guinea pigs, and I don’t know anyone who is a pickier eater than my husband. If a dish gets everyone’s approval, I make it a second time to tweak it to perfection, and then I make it a third time to make sure the results are consistent.
AS: With so many recipes to choose from, what are your personal favorites?
DR: The ones that are meaningful for me, the foods that bring me back to my childhood and elicit memories of my grandmother, bring me to a special place and time. For me, food is so much more than sustenance. It is what ties our future to our past. It is what brought me to the table growing up in my parents’ home and what brings my own children to the table today.