Below is an interview with Esther Deutsch, author of the new cookbook, “Chic Made Simple”, and food editor at Ami Magazine. She is also a food stylist, columnist, and recipe developer.
Be sure to check out Kosher Scoop’s Facebook Page to see how you can win a copy of “Chic Made Simple” just by LIKING and SHARING our post!
Estee: Hi! Can you tell us a bit about your background, and how you got into cooking, and then writing for Ami magazine?
Esther: It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I decided to write a cookbook, but subconsciously, I think that ever since I got married and started seriously cooking, I wanted to write one. I’d been collecting cookbooks for years and currently own over 300 of them, and wanted to see my own book tucked in there. Aside from the actual satisfaction I get from cooking, plating (and eating, of course :), cookbooks can tell complete stories with the pictures and text, capable of capturing all your five senses. I also love feeding people, and through a cookbook, I get to vicariously “feed” many readers and their families. I began experimenting with various styles of cooking and plating food, and as a photography enthusiast, would capture my plated dishes on camera. Looking to take it to the next level, I scheduled a session with a professional food photographer to photograph my favorite family recipes to get my cookbook project going, but life got busy. Having my son and daughter close in age, I put the pictures (and the idea of writing a cookbook) on the “back burner”. Fast forward a couple of years, while organizing family photos on my hard drive, I came across the food photographs and I thought, “What a shame that such beautiful mouth-watering images were left forgotten!”. So, I posted them on facebook. Rechy Frankfurter, who was then the editor for Mishpacha magazine, (now editor of AMI magazine) stumbled upon my photographs on facebook and the rest is history.
Estee: Many people have a preference for cooking or baking. Do you prefer one over the other?
Esther: I definitely prefer cooking to baking. I am very rebellious when it comes to cooking and I have a hard time following the rules. I’m pretty sure I have never followed a recipe precisely. So, I am still working on the self discipline that baking requires. When I cook, I measure intuitively. Measuring utensils only come out of the closet when I bake.
Estee: Has any particular recipe gotten more attention or feedback than others?
Do you have any personal favourites, recipes you often make, or like to refer to others?
Esther: Gosh, it’s hard to pick a favourite, especially when you have so many! When developing a recipe, my goal is to be big on flavour and presentation, and short on ingredients and time. I also love when classic dishes, using simple ingredients, evolve into unique exciting recipes. Some examples are the four recipes featured here. These are the kind of recipes that take you by surprise. You don’t expect quinoa, gefilte fish, chocolate chip cake or a super simple salad to taste that good.
Estee: Writing a cookbook can be a huge and daunting undertaking. What was your easiest part, what part of the process did you enjoy most, and which the least?
Esther: While there was no “easy” part when it came to writing the book, it was a lot of fun! My youngest child would come home by 2:30 every day and I would stop working immediately. So I was cramming a full time job into part time hours. If I didn’t meet my work quota for that day, that meant resuming work late at night until the wee hours in the morning, or getting up at 5 am the next morning, while my children were still asleep. I scheduled photo shoots once every six weeks, and would cram in as many as 12, 15, or sometimes even 18 shots a day, so I wouldn’t have to go to the studio more often. Everything, from recipe development, testing, writing up the recipe, shopping for props, and experimenting with presentation ideas, while challenging, was quite enjoyable. When you allow yourself to be creative, you are transported to your own little world, which can be fairly rewarding. When you do what you love – nothing is too difficult. The best “side effect” of writing this cookbook? It cured my Type A perfectionist personality very quickly! With a looming deadline, there was a limit as to how many times I could perfect the tiniest detail!
Here’s some recipes from this great cookbook! Thank you Esther!