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Friday, October 9, 2015

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Coach Susie Fishbein steps up to the plate

Tags: Food

Susie Fishbein delivers a winning game plan to inspire her readers and teach them how to become better cooks in Kosher by Design Cooking Coach: Recipes, tips and techniques to make anyone a better cook. The popular cookbook author offers up 120 delectable recipes from all over the world. There are 400 full-colour photos by food photographer John Uher. Fishbein generously shares the skills and secrets that have worked for her as an everyday cook with a super-busy life. This is her eighth cookbook, and her advice works for cooks of all levels, from novice to expert.

There are excellent tutorials on how to choose knives, sharpen and store them. Fishbein says, “I can make any recipe that I have ever written with a simple and basic set of 3 knives.”

You’ll find colour photos of different brands of food processors, blenders, mixers, immersion blenders, thermometers and Fishbein’s recommendations for cutting boards and essential cookware. “When buying pots and pans, buy the best you can afford… they will last a lifetime. Don’t be tempted to buy a set. I prefer open stock so I can get just the pieces I need.”

Fishbein provides a detailed list of basic ingredients you should always have on hand for a well-stocked kosher kitchen, including fresh lemons, olive oil, sriracha sauce (a kind of hot sauce), rice vinegar, coconut milk, quinoa, panko and chicken bones, along with helpful tips on buying and storing spices.

There are 10 comprehensive chapters, including appetizers, salads, soups, fish, poultry, meat, side dishes, pasta/eggs and desserts. Each chapter starts with a Game Plan to guide the reader about basic cooking techniques. You’ll learn plating and garnishing techniques, how to clean and store lettuce for a salad, how to choose the best baking ingredients and much more.

I really love the Game Plan for the meat chapter, which includes a pictorial guide and demystifies the various cuts of kosher meats, explaining how to cook them properly for best results. Fishbein explains: “Different stores and butchers use different names for the same cuts of meat. This can make it very confusing. Many nice roasts come from the chuck and can be used interchangeably in recipes like pot roast or in those that sear and then braise the roasts in liquids and then cook them slowly and covered.”

Fishbein’s family is anti-leftovers so she created a “Playbook” to help you “reincarnate food” – cook once, eat twice! When making Helene’s Turkey Taco Egg Rolls, make a double batch of filling and freeze some. Then mix the thawed turkey filling with marinara sauce and use it to stuff Portobello mushroom caps or serve over pasta. Tonight’s Moroccan Chicken can be tomorrow’s Moroccan Couscous, and Soy-Poached Salmon is transformed into an Asian Rice Bowl for tomorrow’s lunch. Marvelous makeovers!

You’ll find a wide variety of tempting recipes: among them, Roast Turkey with Maple Mustard Glaze (one of Fishbein’s favourites), Yemenite Meat Soup (her husband’s favourite), Sweet Potato Squash Kugel (for those on gluten-free or low-carb diets), Miso-Glazed Eggplant, Chocolate Babka Meltaway and Chocolate Peanut Butter Molten Cakes.

Cooking Coach is like going to cooking school, but in the comfort of your own kitchen! Here are some recipes to please your palate.




An old childhood favourite gets a makeover! The gorgeous sweet potato crust hides a healthy and delicious turkey filling, a nice change from the ground beef of its ancestors.



6 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks

1⁄3 cup real maple syrup, NOT pancake syrup 

1⁄2 tsp. fine sea salt

1⁄8 tsp. cayenne 

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. canola oil, divided 

2 lb. ground turkey 

1 medium onion, peeled, cut into 1⁄4-inch dice

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced 

1 1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano 

1⁄2 tsp. ground sage 

1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 

1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock 

1 1⁄2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp. water

1 cup (6 oz.) frozen green peas 

1 1⁄2 tbsp. dark brown sugar


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes. Boil until fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain very well. Mash with the maple syrup, salt and cayenne. Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey in one piece, as it comes from the package. This allows for good caramelization and flavour. Once caramelized and brown, flip the turkey to sear the second side. Use a wooden spoon to break up the chunk and cook just until no longer pink in the centre, about 3 minutes – not longer, since turkey dries out easily. Transfer to a bowl, chopping more with the spoon. Set aside.

 Add remaining 2 tsp. canola oil to the pan. Heat. Add the onion and garlic. Use a wooden spoon to stir up the fond from the drippings. Cook until the onion caramelizes, about 6-7 minutes. Add the oregano, sage and black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes longer until the spices are fragrant. Add the turkey to the pan. Add the stock and dissolved cornstarch. Stir well to distribute the onions. Bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened. Add the peas and cook until they are shiny, 3 minutes. Transfer to a 9x13-inch oven-to-table casserole dish. Spread the sweet potato in an even layer over the turkey.

Preheat oven to broil. Sprinkle the top of the sweet potatoes with the brown sugar. Place the dish 3-4 inches from the heating element and broil for 5-6 minutes until the brown sugar starts to caramelize. Serve hot. Yield: 12 servings.



Fishbein writes, “I remember from my pregnancy days that kale is one of the healthiest foods around. After a few misses with recipe ideas, this one was a pleasant surprise for my kids. If you start with bone-dry kale, you will end up with a crispy, potato chip-like result that is surprisingly addictive. My kids were snacking on them right off the cookie sheet – the first batch never even made it to the dinner table. If you have leftovers, which I doubt, you can re-crisp them, uncovered, the next day in the oven.


olive oil-flavoured cooking spray

1 large bunch curly kale, thick ribs removed and discarded, washed, dried very well

3 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. smoked paprika

1/8 tsp. ground white pepper

fine sea salt


Preheat oven to 375. Cover a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the pan into the oven as it preheats.

Roughly cut the kale into large pieces. Place the dried kale into a large bowl. If the kale is wet, it will steam rather than crisp in the oven. Drizzle on the olive oil and, using your hands, toss to coat the leaves well. Sprinkle on the garlic powder, smoked paprika and white pepper. Toss well.

Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven once it is fully heated. Place the kale onto the pan. It is okay if some overlap slightly. Spray the tops with one more sweep of nonstick olive oil cooking spray.

Roast, uncovered, for about 10-12 minutes until the kale is deeper in colour, crisp, and a little brittle. Go by colour more than by time, so keep checking. Remove individual leaves as they are done. Don’t overcook or the leaves will taste burnt. Immediately sprinkle with a batch of fine sea salt. Yield: 4 servings.




I like the Ancient Harvest brand of quinoa because it is pre-washed. If you can’t find that, just rinse the quinoa well in a fine-mesh strainer to remove the soapy coating. I have a small, 6-cup bundt pan that works nicely with this recipe. I spray it heavily with nonstick cooking spray and then pack in the quinoa once it has cooked. To unmould, I just hold a plate over the top and invert. You can also do this in individual bundt pans or silicone moulds.


1 cup red quinoa

1 cup quinoa

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp. canola oil

1 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice

neck of 1 small butternut squash, peeled, cut lengthwise, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1-1/2 cups)

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning blend

1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 plum tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 scallions, roots trimmed, sliced thinly or diagonal


Place the red and plain quinoa into a medium pot. Add the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15-18 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.

Heat the canola oil in a large (12-14-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, squash, garlic and thyme. Sauté until the vegetables are shiny and soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add the Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, tomatoes and scallions. Sauté for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir the quinoa into the vegetables. Toss to combine. Transfer to serving dish or mould as per headnote. Yield: 8 servings.

Norene Gilletz is an author of kosher cookbooks, a culinary consultant, cooking instructor and food editor.

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