Susie Fishbein has won our hearts. Kosher by Design Short on Time is a book for the harried and the hurried, but her recipes reflect imagination and a concern for taste and presentation when time is limited. And you don't need to keep a kosher kitchen to savor Fishbein's recipes. This is a book for anyone who loves good food, whether short on time or not.
In the introduction , Fishbein says, "...there is a time and a place for quick, simple meals that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes and still yield wonderful results, both in terms of flavor and visual appeal." This statement embodies Fishbein's philosophy and speaks for the recipes in the book.
Jewish cooking adheres to kosher laws, but in taste and in use of ingredients, the cooking reflects the many countries where Jews settled. Fishbein grabs hold of this concept of fusion and redirects Italian, French, Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. This is a book for today - one that knows no geographic limitation.
If it's a warm bowl of soup you want, there' a fifteen minute Creamy Thai Sweet Potato Soup or a Lentil Barley soup that needs but an hour to cook. There are salads hearty enough to be a meal such as Grilled Beef and Radish Salad or a an innovative Coleslaw that uses cashews and spinach. You will find a recipe for a Filet Encrusted in Japanese Panko and sauced with a Melted Leek Sauce, then, when you turn the page you'll see a recipe for Chili Dogs or Blackened Veal Chops with Black-eyed Pea Ragout. For a last-minute brunch there is a Two-toned Tomato Pesto Tart that uses boxed puff pasty for ease and speed. As sides there are Sesame Spinach Sushi or Spicy Potato Stacks, all to be made in a hurry.
There are many desserts, also to be made on the run, such as French Almond Macaroons, Chocolate-drenched Stuffed Fruit, Pecan Sandies.
Fishbein is clear: " I use the best ingredients available to make elegantly simple, yet innovative food that wows the eye as well as the palate." She has succeeded brilliantly in this new book. All recipes are marked as Meat, Dairy or Parve for their kosher status. Both prep time and cooking time are listed for each recipe.
There are separate sections offering building block recipes that contain recipes for an ingredient that, when prepared once, can be used in dozens of ways and in a variety of recipes. These may be time-consuming and Fishbein suggests they are fine Sunday recipes.
The final section is on table decor. Aware that presentation is part of eating well, Fishbein puts attention to the look of the environment and the table.
There are beautiful photographs by John Uher throughout. They are among the finest we've seen.