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Interesting article

queenscook Sep 21, 2009 10:54 PM

Did anyone read the following article? I'm curious about what people think about it. Do you find that for shabbos and yom tov meals you do or do not tend to veer from either the old standards or the new "Susie Fishbein" standards, as the article implies?

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    DeisCane RE: queenscook Sep 22, 2009 06:08 AM

    I was definitely part of the Fishbein Generation, living on the UWS from 2001 to 2006. We had shabbos meals where the hosts would just say the page number to refer to the menu for the evening. That's influenced me now, even in the burbs, but so has the general increased foodiness of the broader US culture.

    1. c
      cheesecake17 RE: queenscook Sep 22, 2009 06:50 AM

      My family has the same basic Shabbat meals, but we do add new items.

      Funny, though, I'm the only one who has the Fishbein cookbooks- they were all wedding gifts. My mother and grandmother don't paticularly like cookbooks- they prefer to cook what they know. I've made recipes from the books, and while most have turned out well, they call for a lot of heavy or fattening ingredients.

      Could be that her Shabbat recipes are Ashkenaz based and we cook mostly Sephardic dishes.

      1. g
        GilaB RE: queenscook Sep 22, 2009 06:50 AM

        I've never cooked much from Fishbein's cookbooks, although I technically own one that someone passed on to me, but I definitely try for creative, different Shabbos meals. While I don't do the elaborate table settings prescribed in the 'Entertains' book, I definitely feel some of the stress discussed in the article, to the point where my most common bad-dream motif is that it's ten minutes to Shabbos and I realize that I haven't cooked anything/baked challahs. While I make some Jewish standard foods, particularly chicken soup, I mostly want to make things that are different and surprising, which excludes both the classics and the whole Kosher by Design family. I realize that the pressure is internally created (my husband grumbles about the fact that I won't let him just buy Shabbos food so that I'll be calmer on Friday) and that I should probably ramp down my own expectations, but it's hard to walk away from something I know I do well. I don't think that most of my stress is due yet to external expectations; I have no children to be disappointed by my differing from some norm, and I do most of the same cooking even when we don't have company, but I find Mirvis' thesis that the creativity that was once a freedom has now become another burden very interesting.

        1. serenarobin RE: queenscook Sep 22, 2009 07:53 AM

          Thanks for sharing the article. I generally cook the same basic shabbat meal every week (soup, roast chicken, potatoes, vegetable in season, dessert) where I don't need to use a recipe and can just put everything together without thinkning too much. Once every couple of weeks or so I'll add an extra "different" dish - maybe a new side dish, appetizer, soup, or dessert. Nothing too elaborate or time consuming but just enough to add something different to the table. I've used some of the Fishbein cookbooks for an idea here or there but haven't made whole menus. I give Fishbein a lot of credit for creativity and for making interesting food combinations accessible to the Kosher community, though I believe it's possible to introduce novel dishes to the table using non-kosher cookbooks and websites. I get plenty of ideas from the CH Home Cooking board and from perusing some popular food blogs when I have a chance.
          Since there are so many Yom tov meals at a time I find that I really need to add some additional dishes to the mix- I usually pull out a bunch of cookbooks in planning those meals, and will use one or two new recipes.
          Thanks again for introducing such a thought provoking discussion!

          8 Replies
          1. re: serenarobin
            Kosher Critic RE: serenarobin Sep 22, 2009 08:50 AM

            Ms. Mirvis, with whom I have shared a number of shabbat meals, does make interesting points. I take some issue with the byline, which she likely did not write. The Fishbein line can only be seen as sophisticated when viewed in comparison to other contemporary orthodox cookbooks. The early books' heavy reliance on margarine and non-dairy creamer really is all that needs to be said to prove that point. I would agree that the books have improved over the years. However, the recipes do not compare favorably with what is available in food magazines, cookbooks by accomplished chefs (I like Jacques Pepin's books) Mark Bittman's cookbooks, etc. What Fishbein's books do offer are recipes that require no adaptation for kashrut and therefore are more accessible to the kosher cook. As Ms. Mirvis writes, the books were well-timed to benefit from the explosion of interest in food, giving the kosher set a convenient outlet that has retains a certain familiarity. However, as to creativity, I find that these books have actually stunted individuality as kosher cooks limit themselves to the By Design series. Ultimately, this community's desire to conform overrides its willingness to explore different approaches to food. I suppose, though, that the books have managed to broaden kosher palettes somewhat and for that I should be grateful so I shall stop my rant here.

            1. re: Kosher Critic
              DeisCane RE: Kosher Critic Sep 22, 2009 09:28 AM

              Nice post, KC.

              1. re: Kosher Critic
                cheesecake17 RE: Kosher Critic Sep 22, 2009 09:34 AM

                Now that I think about it... I have friends who ONLY cook from 'kosher' cookbooks. They claim it's too much work to figure out if a recipe can be made using only kosher ingredients. I agree that the books are kind of like a crutch for some...

                1. re: cheesecake17
                  avitrek RE: cheesecake17 Sep 22, 2009 09:52 AM

                  Wow, that is lazy. I can go through a normal cookbook and even if I ignore every problematic recipe, most of the recipes are usable as is. A roast chicken is a roast chicken.

                  1. re: avitrek
                    DeisCane RE: avitrek Sep 22, 2009 10:19 AM

                    Baking cookbooks may be a different story but otherwise I agree. Still, as it is for those of us who eat vegetarian out, it's just easier when you don't have to feel limited when you look at a list.

                    1. re: DeisCane
                      avitrek RE: DeisCane Sep 22, 2009 10:25 AM

                      Baking cookbooks are also fairly easy if you're making a dairy meal. But yes, converting a dairy recipe to parve can be challenging depending in the ingredients.

                2. re: Kosher Critic
                  cappucino RE: Kosher Critic Oct 19, 2009 07:39 PM

                  I love Pepin. I serve a 90% traditional Shabbos with a twist of some new recipe from a cooking mag. Occasional Kosher Palette.

                  1. re: cappucino
                    azna29 RE: cappucino Oct 20, 2009 12:03 PM

                    collichio's books are very good too because they are usually very simple with basic ingredients. He is heavy on butter and bacon, but those are easily replaced or ommitted.

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                azna29 RE: queenscook Sep 22, 2009 12:34 PM

                Great points KC. I agree. I have 2 of the fishbein books and both were gifts. I have made only a few of the recipes and most were not great. I do not at all consider those books to be gourmet. In my opinion they are the equivalent of Rachel Ray books. For people who really can't cook and suddenly need to prepare elaborate meals every week. I usually make something different every week and I really enjoy perusing cookbooks and magazines for ideas and making recipes kosher. I personally don't think there is pressure to create something different or unusual, but there is pressure to create something tasty, wether traditional or not. But this is always true, its not a kosher thing.

                1. m
                  MartyB RE: queenscook Oct 19, 2009 06:37 PM

                  Try "Recipezaar" ( http://www.recipezaar.com/ ). If you filter by Kosher you have 6,342 recipies. More than enough to keep you busy. One can drill down further by various categories and ingredients. I usualy choose Preparation->Simple->5 or less ingredients - that leaves me with 932 recipies. (I am NOT a Fishbein fan - too may ingredients, but thats me :


                  One can create a quasi-kosher search by excluding ingredients.

                  Example; Search for meatballs
                  Returns 1,987
                  Exclude Milk, butter, cheese,pork -> 1,049

                  As you drill down into recipies, if you find too many recipies with non-kosher ingredients or inapropriate ingredients (dairy ingredient in a meat dish) simply exclude it from your search.

                  One can also create your own "Cookbook" with your favorite recipies.

                  Online - thats the way to go!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MartyB
                    GilaB RE: MartyB Oct 19, 2009 08:16 PM

                    Filtering by 'kosher' on the popular recipe websites gets you the recipes that they published as part of their Passover, Hannuka, and maybe Rosh Hashana features, which excludes the vast majority of recipes on those sites that are actually kosher. The exclusion feature works much better, but bear in mind that if a recipe calls for a small amount of some dairy products (a quarter-cup of milk, a tablespoon of butter, etc), it's probably easily replaceable by soy- or nut-milks, or olive oil, so don't get too doctrinaire about it.

                    1. re: GilaB
                      MartyB RE: GilaB Oct 19, 2009 08:59 PM

                      That is true. I usually resort to the exclusion feature if I get too many hits and need a way to reduce the hits. Most of the time the preliminary hits are sufficient. As an example If I want Kugel recipies, the preliminary search returns 262 recipies and sorting by rating is usually sufficient for my needs.

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