Kosher by Design Lightens Up, by Susie Fishbein. Published 2008 by ArtScroll Mesorah Publications. Nonfiction. Cooking.
Like many people, I love to cook and bake, and what's more fun than experimenting with a new cookbook? And like many women, I'm primarily responsible for providing meals for my family, so I appreciate cookbooks that offer practical advice, doable recipes and of course- delicious food! Well, I'm happy to say that Susie Fishbein's latest delivers on all counts.
First of all the book is beautiful to look at and practical to handle in the kitchen. Packaged in a hardcover binding that lies flat on the counter, each recipe is presented on its own page with a brief introduction detailing its nutritional benefit and accompanied by a color photograph of the finished dish. Fishbein also makes note of each recipe's kosher category- meat, dairy or parve (neutral). At the beginning, she provides some brief guidelines on kashrut (kosher laws) and teams up with dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix to provide nutritional tips and definitions of different terms related to food and nutrition.
Fishbein has written an entire series of books dedicated to kosher cooking- past titles include Kosher by Design Short on Time, Kosher by Design Entertains, Passover by Design and many more- so she's experienced when it comes to creating appealing and popular kosher food. I tried two of the recipes in this book- the Garlic Burgers and the Coconut-Lime Tart- and found both of them to be easy to prepare and delicious. Fishbein takes advantage of a wide variety of cuisines and ingredients. She adapts ideas from Korea, Greece, Mexico among others, as well as including traditional favorites like cheesecake and the Reuben.
I only have one quibble with Kosher by Design Lightens Up. Nowhere does Fishbein include nutritional information with the recipes, such as calorie count, fat and carbohydrate content, or other information that many people interested in a healthy diet would like to know. In her introduction Fishbein says that this book "is not about numbers or nutritional analysis. It is about becoming a more educated eater." The two are not mutually exclusive, and healthy eating isn't about guesswork or about trusting a cookbook author to know what's best. Family cooks need information at their disposal as well as reassurances, so they can make the best-educated decisions possible for themselves and their family. These days, basic nutritional information can be found in almost any cookbook (or cooking magazine) you pick up. I don't think there's any good reason to exclude it from this volume.
Overall though I think Kosher by Design Lightens Up is a useful and appealing volume. I would make just about anything here with confidence and I think the book would be useful for both families that keep kosher and for those that don't. I find it to be a welcome addition to my collection, my kitchen and my dinner table.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review.