Fried Coconut Tilapia Strips

November 30, 2012

As a home cook, I strive to create delicious meals that are beautiful, yet simple. Meals that fit comfortably within the realities of every day life, with it's incessant hustle and bustle. That is not to say that once in a while I will not find the time to prepare a dish that requires the use of 3 pans, 12 different ingredients, 2 different kinds of meats, and homemade broth, for the sake of being a la Julia Child. But for weekday dinners, casual gatherings, and even special occasions, I try to keep it simple, quick, and easy. Esther Deutsch, in her new cookbook Chic Made Simple, brings 200 new recipes to pique your interest and satiate your appetite.

In Chic, you have a little bit of everything, from French-inspired Beef Bourguignon to Orange-Scented Rack of Veal, from Pistachio Pesto Fettuccine Alfredo to Spiced Mocha Mousse with Viennese Crunch. And there is even a step-by-step guide to make the cutest Chanel cupcakes. 

I got a chance to ask Esther a few questions about the book.

What drives you to keep on creating and developing recipes?
I have a hard time following recipes precisely. When cooking with a recipe I have this innate compulsion to change or add ingredients. (It’s so much easier using ingredients you already have on hand than having to run out and buy ingredients). Because of my "inability to follow a recipe syndrome" developing new recipes became second nature. Many of the recipes in CHIC include substitute suggestions that can be used to replace certain ingredients in the recipes. Other than being convenient, the suggestions convey a message of confidence to the readers that enables them to use their own creativity in the kitchen. Most of all, it's a thrill for me to create recipes that are super easy yet give the impression that you slaved for hours.

Where do you gain inspiration?
Wanting to spend time with my children inspires me to create fast and easy recipes. Raising young children definitely does not offer the luxury of fussing in the kitchen all day. When expecting company, I don’t want to spend an entire Friday cooking in the kitchen while my children are home. So when I cook, my main objective is to cook recipes that will be quick and easy.

How long did it take you to work on your cookbook?
It took me two years to work on the book. But, since I was having so much fun doing it, it went by fairly quickly.

What makes you feel successful in this endeavor?
I am most proud that I managed to write this book while still being there for my children
when they got home from school every day. Balancing both was a daunting challenge.
Cramming full time hours in to a part time day taught me tremendous discipline and
focus that transfers to other aspects of my life.

You have great skills in styling and plating the food. Where did you learn and what tips
can you share with our readers?
I have never gone to culinary school and don't consider myself to be a chef - I am a cook. So, there isn’t really a specific method of training behind my food styling. My approach is "less is more" when it comes to plating food. What people find appealing is presentation that's kept simple - all you need is a clean white plate, a simple garnish, and a little TLC to produce a beautiful dish. It's ok if it's not perfect. There is beauty in imperfection. The photographers that worked on Chic Made Simple are amazingly talented and they were able to capture the special quality of the recipes. The camera is less forgiving than food that's presented in real life, so in the studio my most important tool is a pair of tweezers. Who knew tweezers can be so effective?

Thank you Esther for sharing your experience with us.

Now to truly gauge the success of a cookbook, you must try the recipes. I did just that, starting with the Coconut Tilapia with Apricot Teriyaki Sauce.

The fish was coated in a crunchy layer of breading and coconut flakes, with the coconut adding a hint of flavor that was at once unexpected and welcomed. It enhanced the delicate flesh of the tilapia and balanced the flavors remarkably.

I served it alongside a fresh arugula salad and it made a perfectly light and filling dinner. The kids liked it, too, which means it got promoted to being part of my meal planning (the one I make and never keep) repertoire.

If you'd like to peruse the book yourself, now you'll have a chance to win a copy, a special gift just in time for the holiday.


1. Leave a comment. Tell me what your favorite fast, yet fabulous recipe is. Or what you're making for dinner tomorrow. Or what you'll do with the cookbook if you win.

Additional Entries

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4. Tweet about the giveaway: Enter to #win Esther Deutsch's Chic Made Simple #Kosher #Cookbook @thekosherspoon #giveaway

Remember to leave a separate comment for every entry. If you already follow The Kosher Spoon, leave a comment saying so.

Giveaway starts on November 30, 2012 and will run until December 9, 2012 at 11:59pm PST.

I will announce the winner on December 10th, so please check back to see if you won, otherwise leave an email address or a link back to a site so I have a way of contacting you. If the winner does not respond within 3 days, I will pick a new winner.

*Two food blogging friends are also hosting giveaways here and here, so check them out for more chances to win fabulous cookbooks.

Official Rules:

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

To enter leave a comment.

One winner will be selected at random via

The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.

No purchase necessary.

Disclaimer:  I was provided with the cookbooks for the purpose of doing a review and giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Crêpes filled with Maple Roasted Pears

November 18, 2012

I grew up indulging in sweet crêpes stuffed with so much Nutella, it would spill to the side and I'd then happily wipe it clean with another piece of delicious dough. Until now, my mind can't disconnect crêpes from the chocolate-hazelnut goodness it partners so well with. 

It wasn't until my friend Aurelie, a born and bred Parisienne, shared her dinner ideas that she enlightened me with savory crepes. She regularly serves her family crêpes stuffed with cheeses and vegetables. What a lovely idea, it is. 

But I still couldn't do it. Crêpes, to me, are fundamentally a decadent breakfast or a sweet dessert. So, instead, I decided to bridge a small gap and stuffed them with Maple Roasted Pears. The chocolate-hazelnut goodness had to stay on the shelf this time. 


The result was a subtly sweet pear stuffing wrapped in a savory crepe batter, a harmonious balance of tastes. I finished it off with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar, for a faint crunch, that adds some texture to each bite.

This crêpes recipe that I found here is actually Julia Child's Master Crêpes Recipe, it can be used for sweet or savory fillings and is an easy, versatile recipe. A treasure to keep in your recipe box.

I hope you enjoy. And maybe bring out the chocolate-hazelnut decadence for your final bite. It's crêpes after all.

Turkey Meat Ragu Pasta Sauce

November 14, 2012

I have wonderful news to share with you: it's finally fall in Los Angeles. The mornings are crisp and chilly, perfect for layering with a sweater and scarf. The cold is a nice change, and in case you think I'm crazy to like the cold, know that it doesn't last long because by noon I feel like it's summer all over again. Yes, everyday I experience 2 seasons at once, and no I'm not complaining.

When I first moved to LA from New York, I, the committed east-coaster, remember asking every LA-loyalist what made them fond of this city. I definitely didn't think it was the bustle, or the architecture, or the culture, or even the people (who are quite nice, I should add), they all unequivocally said it was the weather. Every person without fail paid allegiance to their town because of it's mild, ideal weather. How overrated, I thought.

Fast forward a few years and well, I'll admit I also plead allegiance to LA for it's beautiful, pampering weather. I've taken it for granted that I wear boots for style more than necessity or that my kids play at the park all year round. And though I don't get to experience the changing autumn leaves or beautiful white snow, I feel thankful and spoiled that I live in this city.

But don't think that I don't look forward to cozy, hearty dinners. The chill in the air returns fiercely once the sun has set and I enjoy nothing more than the heat from the stovetop warming my home.

This is exactly what this Turkey Meat Ragu Sauce did. I let it cook slowly, almost endlessly, until the flavors were so integrated that you couldn't distinguish any particular ingredient from its smell. I made it with ground turkey and some semi-sweet red wine I found somewhere in the back of my fridge. It's always a nice feeling to use something that's almost expired.

All family members were happy and sated, which is always an accomplishment.

I hope you enjoy your autumn chill, however long you've had it. And to all the east coasters affected by Sandy, I pray that your lives should return to normalcy and you only see good and blessings.

Homemade Pumpkin Granola

November 8, 2012

Breakfast is undoubtedly my favorite meal of the day. I'll eat breakfast foods for lunch or dinner. Every day, if I could.

Funny thing is that it happens quite often that I'll have cereal or toasted bread (feta cheese and arugula make great toppings, you should know) at lunchtime. Just like many mothers of small children, my days are busy, and unfortunately I often resort to quick meals to satiate my hunger. And so, cereal and toast it usually is. It's healthy-ish, I reason.

The problem with eating too much cereal is that it gets boring, especially since I try to keep it wholesome. So, I decided to shake things up and instead of having cereal with my milk, I put in some granola.

I made this Pumpkin Granola in very little time and it tastes oh, so much better than store-bought granola. The oat chunks came out crispy and let out the flavors of the pumpkin and spices. I savored each spoonful to the point that I refused to share, not even a little.

The pumpkin puree and spices add a delicate touch of flavor and aroma that makes it perfectly spiced and not overbearing. It makes a great topping for yogurt, as well.

The recipe is from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook which I told you about already. And it was so it. So the sprouted kitchen to make something healthy and delicious. The granola is naturally sweetened (with maple syrup), has healthy fat (olive oil), and enough crunch that it's addicting. I surely don't mind eating this every day.

It's a perfect recipe and one I will surely double next time. It didn't last more than 2 days, making my lunches quite delicious.

This would also make a lovely homemade gift for someone packaged in mason jars and tied with ribbon.


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