Monday, January 08, 2018

Real Life Kosher Cooking {Cookbook Review & Giveaway!}

This cookbook was generously provided by Artscroll.
The  review and opinions expressed below are completely my own.

Real Life can mean different things to different people. Just 6 months ago, my definition of real life meant being a stay at home Mom with two toddlers attached to me basically all of the time, with the exception of a short afternoon preschool program for my oldest (which required a 20-minute walk with both boys, come rain or shine). Today, real life looks like working full time, while both boys are attending full-day preschool and after-school therapeutic programs. Regardless of how our routines and schedules have changed, one thing remains the same - it always seems like every minute of the day is accounted for and any spare minute here or there is valued beyond words.



When I read the title of Miriam Pascal’s latest cookbook, I couldn’t help but hope that the pages within really, truly reflected the promise of the title. Real Life Kosher Cooking, just seemed too good to be true. The best way I could imagine putting it to the test, was to incorporate it into our weekly menu planning - a week that looks like two parents working full time and two little boys spending 30+ hours a week in school with therapeutic supports as well as after school programming. Four schedules and just as many routines. Backpacks to pack, clothes to wash and a home to maintain. Cuddles, playing and outings. And y’know some sleep here and there!



We chose a handful of recipes and incorporated them into our weekday and Shabbos menu. These included:

Lemon Oregano Roasted Chicken p. 130
Crispy Onion-Topped Potatoes p. 202
Orange Dijon Salmon p. 179
Mexican Omelette with Crispy Home Fries p.20
Lemon Crumb Cake p.260
Pecan Pie Bundt Cake p.258

They were all great but the omelette was by far my favourite! And with my husband prepping the potatoes before he left the house, the whole meal was able to be made quickly, after we all got home! My husband especially loved the Pecan Pie Bundt Cake! He isn't usually so enthusiastic about bundt cakes, but he remarked a few times over Shabbos how much he loved it! It was so easy to make, and the title really captures the flavour perfectly - it actually takes like a pecan pie, in all it's sticky, deliciousness, but in the form of a bundt cake! Just make sure you super prep the pan so that it comes out in one piece!



I love that the recipes in this book do not compromise on flavour or quality, while still ensuring they’re approachable enough to be made in a real life, kosher kitchen, with all the demands of a daily schedule. The variety is also worth noting - whether you’re looking for something for a weekday dinner, an addition to your Shabbos menu or even a great dessert to gift to a friend, you’ll find it  all. We really appreciated the variety of chicken options, given it’s a staple in our home and our regular recipes tend to get a bit repetitive. While I’ve yet to make them, the first two recipes of the book had me hooked right away - Churro Waffles & Healthy Oatmeal Pumpkin Pancakes! Yesss! Having had success with so many of Miriam’s recipes from her blog, OvertimeCook.com, I approached the book confident in her directions and the combinations of flavours she presented, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed!


The style of the book is very similar to Perfect for Pesach, which Miriam also photographed! It's very straightforward and the layout makes it very easy to navigate. Additions to recipes such as, Notes, Variation, Plan Ahead and more, give you the opportunity to take the recipes to new levels and shape them to accommodate your schedule. The only thing I found missing was an estimation of how much time each recipe takes. A quick overview of the recipe itself provides an idea, but it's always nice to have an estimate as well. I do like how the different sections of preparation are highlighted frequently within the directions for different recipes. When a dressing for instance is being prepared, it's highlighted to show you you're working on a different step, instead of it all being jumbled together. This is also helpful if you want to work on a specific aspect of the recipe first! There are also a variety of menus interspersed throughout the cookbook as well (Yom Tov Lunch, Friday Night With Guests etc). I love the ideas and combination of recipes included, the only downside is that they're presented at the beginning of each different chapter, and the first time I was slightly confused because I thought it was an index of the recipes in that chapter! Otherwise, it's another thoughtful, helpful addition!

If you're familiar with Miriam's website OvertimeCook.com, you'll know that her food photography is incredible! The images you'll find in the cookbook are just as crisp, and enticing. I especially love that they're so real! They are presented simply and cleanly, highlighting the dishes and making the recipes the focal point without distraction. They also feel doable! You see the image and not only do you want to immediately make everything because it looks so appetizing, but you also truly feel like you can plate it the same way and that the presentation will have all of the wow factor without any of the intimidation! It's a great representation of how the book is accessible and truly geared for everyday kosher cooking in a real life, kosher kitchen!

With a new year starting and all the hope for a fresh start, this book is an asset. Whether you're hoping to menu plan more consistently, eat out less and make quick and delicious meals at home, or simply change up your regular menu with options that are approachable and straightforward while still maintaining a wow factor result, Real Life Kosher Cooking is a great kitchen companion to get you through!


As a special treat, Artscroll has generously given us one copy to giveaway! In order to enter, visit our Instagram page and check out the giveaway post! For a bonus entry, leave a comment sharing your favourite "real life" weekday dinner!

The contest is open to US entrants (the cookbook will only be shipped to a US address). The contest will run from Monday January 8th, 2018 to Thursday January 11th, 2018 at 8:00PM EST, when 1 (one) winner will be chosen. No purchase necessary. Miriam Pascal's Real Life Kosher Cooking will be shipped directly to the US address, Itsy Bitsy Balebusta assumes no responsibility for shipping. The winner will have 24 hours to respond before there is a re-draw for the prize. Good luck!

As another treat, here's the recipe for the Pecan Pie Bundt Cake that was such a hit here (reprinted with permission). Enjoy!


Pecan Pie Bundt Cake (p. 258 Real Life Kosher Cooking, Miriam Pascal, 2017, Artscroll)
Pareve

3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups flour
3/4 cup soy milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a standard (12-cup) Bundt pan well with floured baking spray, be sure to coat the pan very well, as the cake will be sticky. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together pecans, brown sugar, oil and corn syrup. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium speed, beat together eggs, oil, sugars, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until creamy.

Turn mixer speed to low; add half the flour, followed by half the soy milk, then the remaining flour and remaining soy milk, beating each time until just combined.

Pour about half the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Top with the pecan mixture; add remaining batter.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

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