I’m super excited to be reviewing another fabulous and hot new kosher cookbook, CHIC Made Simple. The author, Esther Deutch, actually writes for the same magazine as me, Ami Living’s Whisk magazine. Oddly enough, I didn’t meet her until Kosher Fest, when we practically bumped into each-other. “You’re Overtime Cook?!” She exclaimed. “I am such a fan.” Well. After an introduction like that, I couldn’t wait to see her beautiful cookbook and try some of the recipes.
At a First Glance:
CHIC Made Simple is beautiful. And I am not talking simply about the pictures (which are really nice!). This book is big, hard covered, and really nice all around. Every page has a recipe and a full page picture. Every picture is beautiful, the lighting, the coloring, and most importantly, the styling.
Some Features I liked:
This book isn’t just a book of recipes, it’s a book of fabulous food ideas. Say you don’t feel like making the Mushroom and Bell Pepper Lettuce Salad, you see a beautiful picture of salad arranged in a row of martini glasses, and the inspiration is there for your next party, whichever salad you want to make!
On each page, next to the recipe, there’s a box with some information about the recipe. On some pages, there’s an interesting tidbit about the ingredients (did you know delmonico steak isn’t a specific cut of meat, rather the name for the most prized cut on hand?). On some pages there’s a personal story about the author’s son and how much he enjoyed that particular cookie recipe. On other pages, there’s some advice about working with the ingredients in the recipes, and some have humorous anecdotes, such as the author’s friend texting her that she was dreaming about the salad recipe. In some cookbooks, I feel like the introductions to the recipes are very contrived, but in the case of CHIC I actually enjoyed reading all of them.
I also enjoyed the creativity of this books. While there are some old standbys like Penne a la Vodka and Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies, there were a lot of recipes that made me mutter that’s a really good idea to myself. Some were even good enough that I chided myself with a why didn’t I think of that? Esther uses a lot of interesting a new ingredients, and combines lots of others in way I wouldn’t have imagined, and the results of mouthwatering and beautiful.
Some Recipes I Can’t Wait to Try:
Although I don’t usually do this, I took pictures of the recipe’s photo in the book, to give you a taste of the beautiful styling!
Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Cajun or Garlic Basil Mayo:
I love sweet potatoes, and am beyond excited to try the amazing looking dipping sauces! Also, how amazing is that way of serving fries for a party? Suddenly they look elegant!
Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip:
I love dips of all sorts. Also, I love eggplant dip, and I love red pepper dip. This is totally happening soon.
Grilled Chicken Satay with Peanut Butter Barbecue Sauce:
It’s no secret that I am a total grilled chicken fan. Also I love peanut butter, so that barbecue sauce sounds completely out of this world. Also, I feel like a broken record but how amazing is that for serving simple grilled chicken at a party?!
Creamy Tomato Vodka Soup:
This recipe is super clever. It’s a favorite pasta dish turned soup. I might just make this one for my family’s Hanukka party!
Apple Rose Custard Turnovers:
Ok, you all know that I am a sucker for beautiful desserts. Well how pretty is this one? PS: it uses pre-made puff pastry, so it’s not too hard to make!
Who This Cookbook Is For:
CHIC Made Simple is a great option for any cook, specifically a Kosher cook, who enjoys to create delicious food that also looks great. It is particularly a good option for anyone who frequently hosts parties, and wants to really take things to the next level.
CHIC Made Simple is also a good option for anyone who feels bored with their recipes, and wants to spice things up with lots of creative ideas.
Who This Cookbook Isn’t For:
This book has a lot of recipes that are more elaborate than your average dinner time quick and simple favorite, so it’s not the greatest option for people who are simply looking for that type of recipe.
The book doesn’t really cater to any special diets, so if you are gluten-free, sugar-free, carb-free, etc, this book will have a lot of recipes that you won’t be making.
Also, the book is a Kosher cookbook, and some of the recipes are more traditional Kosher recipes (or cool takes on it, like Gefilte Fish Sushi) and might not be of interest to a non Kosher Cook.
What I Didn’t Like About This Cookbook:
The book is called CHIC made simple, but I think it delivers a lot more on the chic promise than the simple promise. Some recipes are indeed simple, but lots of recipes are more complicated recipes.
The other main issue I had with this cookbook is the photography. While the majority of the pictures are beautiful, they weren’t all taken by the same photographer, so there was a slightly disjointed feel to the book. To be fair, this is something that I, as a (novice) food photographer, notice much more than most readers would, but still, it’s an issue I had.
And lastly, as I often mention in cookbook reviews, there weren’t many dietetic recipes in this book. Again, this is a personal preference coming from a perpetual dieter, but it’s something to be aware of.
CHIC made simple is a gorgeous cookbook with beautiful pictures and creative ideas, both in ingredients and serving.
I don’t think this is a book I’ll pull out when I need a quick and easy supper idea, but you can bet I will turn to this book every time I make a party, cook for a holiday, or even need to impress a guest.
Want to win a copy of CHIC Made Simple? Scroll down past the recipe for your chance!
Let’s talk a bit about this recipe. I chose it because it looked delicious, and also because it so perfectly illustrates the cool ideas in this book. When I first saw the picture, I was like, ok, a slider. Yawn. But then I looked closer. And noticed that the “bun” wasn’t a bun at all, but a mushroom. Brilliant, right? Also a great option for an appetizer when you have gluten free folks around!
Mushroom Beef Sliders:
Adapted from CHIC Made Simple.
for the mushroom “buns:”
1 1/2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
for the sliders:
1 pound ground beef (I used lean ground beef)
1 teaspoon ground dries rosemary
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
15 mushroom stems, from mushroom buns, finely minced
optional garnishes to assemble:
fresh basil leaves
2-3 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
fresh rosemary sprigs, to garnish
For mushroom buns:
Preheat oven to 350. Remove the stems from the mushrooms, set aside about 15 of them, and discard the rest.
Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Place the mushrooms on the pan. Drizzle them with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Bake uncovered at 350 for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
While the buns are baking, prepare the sliders.
Heat a grill or grill pan, or oil in a frying pan to medium-low heat.
Mix together all of the ingredients for the sliders until combined. Form small patties, about the size of the mushrooms. Grill or fry until cooked through at the level of done-ness you prefer. Remove from pan.
When the sliders and mushrooms are done, assemble them. Spread barbecue sauce on the inside of each mushroom. Place a slice of tomato on top of a mushroom. Layer it with a slider and a basil leaf if using. Top with another mushroom. Stick a rosemary sprig through the entire thing, both for decoration and to keep it together.
Giveaway is closed!
And now…for the giveaway! Please read the directions carefully. All entries must be made through a comment on the blog in order to be counted. Multiple entries in one comment will only count once! To enter the giveaway for a copy of CHIC Made Simple: Please note: Each entry requires its own comment! Multiple entries in one comment will only be counted once! Entry #1 – Leave a comment on this post telling me about a dish you have made/served at a party or event that was very popular. Entry #2 – Follow @OvertimeCook on twitter and leave a comment on this post telling me that you did. Entry # 3- Like Tales of an Overtime Cook on Facebook and leave a comment on this post telling me that you did. Entry # 4 – Follow @OvertimeCook on Pinterest and leave a comment on this post telling me that you did. Entry # 5 – Subscribe to OvertimeCook via email (link is on the right sidebar of the blog). and leave a comment on this post telling me that you did. Note: if you already like/follow etc, that’s fine. Just leave a comment letting me know that! Giveaway Details: Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on Saturday, December 8th. A valid email address or twitter profile must be provided. Giveaway is open to residents of North America. Giveaway is sponsored by the author. Good Luck!
Disclaimer: The author sent me a copy of this book to review, free of charge, and is also sponsoring the giveaway. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. There are affiliate links within this post.
Thanks folks for stopping by! Come back soon for a Chanukah dessert! PS- did you check out my dessert recipes in Ami magazine yet? No? Well don’t miss this issue…I made funnel cakes. And peanut butter fudge! -Miriam