Customer Review

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much More Than I Expected, November 5, 2012
This review is from: Kosher By Design Cooking Coach: Recipes, tips and techniques to make anyone a better cook (Hardcover)
We have all of Susie Fishbein's other cookbooks in her Kosher by Design series, so when I heard she was putting out cookbook #8, I confess I was leaning toward the cynical side. Having been to some of her cooking demos through the years, I thought this would be "another pretty cookbook" with tasty recipes and lovely table settings. Anyone who is a Fishbein aficionado is familiar with the standard she's established over the last ten years. I guess you could even refer to "Kosher by Design" as a brand now. So I expected Cooking Coach to be "more of the same" (although Susie delivers 'same' at a high level).

Then we got one of the first copies sent for preview by the publisher. I was bowled over. To be sure, there are 120 very appealing new recipes in Cooking Coach and food photographer John Uher's creative work appears in over 400 magnificent full color images. But this cookbook is much more akin to a cooking tutorial. Susie has crafted ten very specific sections she calls Game Plans ('cause every coach needs a game plan, right?). They are so helpful, so down-to-earth and so downright empowering. She covers how to recognize the gamut of kosher cuts of meat; she demonstrates why you really only need three primary knives (and how to care for them to maximize their utility); she provides excellent ideas for garnishing and plating of the finished recipes.

More than just the aesthetics of presentation, Susie helps you efficiently organize your entire kitchen, from essential equipment to ingredients you'll want to always have in stock. And my favorite feature is a section called the PlayBook. It's brilliant. She shows you how to turn yesterday's leftovers into tomorrow's main course or side dish without anyone whining "Not this! Again?" It's such a simple idea - preparing one primary dish with two or three differing ways to serve it up. A good example is "Helene's Turkey Taco Eggrolls". She designed the ground turkey mixture to reappear in Stuffed Portabello Mushroom Caps and, when blended with marinara sauce, as a great topping for pasta.

Her writing style is conversational; it's like she's "there" with you. And the ideas she's giving you to work with are drawn from her best techniques which she's developed over the last ten years.

How many cookbook authors share their best methods? I saw her at a recent food demonstration at a trendy Brooklyn kosher market and she talked very candidly about designing Cooking Coach specifically to give her readers more confidence, more creativity, and more independence in the kitchen. I was impressed. But Susie has done this with a refreshing sense of humility. After ten years and eight cookbooks, she still describes herself as "a busy work-from-home wife and mother".

So - my verdict on Cooking Coach is: Susie has surprised us all again. Just when I thought Kosher by Design was getting a little stodgy and familiar, Cooking Coach appears with a vibrancy and energy all its own. But the cookbooks are really a reflection of the cook and Susie herself seems to be in a whole new space, with her fans and followers as the beneficiaries.

To anyone asking "Do I really need another Kosher by Design cookbook in my kitchen?" Yes - you really need this one. What you'll learn will definitely take your own culinary IQ to a new level.
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