Thursday, December 11, 2008

Review: Kosher by Design Lightens Up by Susie Fishbein

I got this cookbook back in late October, but I wanted to wait until I had a chance to try out a few of the recipes before reviewing it. I have no need to keep Kosher but that certainly won't stop me from trying out a great cookbook.

The cookbook has a terrific layout. My favorite thing: there is a picture for every recipe. The pictures are big - full page and clear, not overly styled. They look like things you'd be pleased to put on the dinner table.

One thing that disappointed me, especially for a healthy cookbook: there is no nutritional information provided. My father is a diabetic and I often check the carbs and sugars on holiday recipes and I always check the fat content of things I make for myself. While I don't always rely on it, that information is always good to have.

Now, I should warn you that I've never met a recipe I couldn't alter just a teensy, tiny bit. I tend to use recipes as a guideline and I am never afraid to try a cooking method or ingredient that I think will work better. So I'll tell you up front that I...adjusted these recipes. They still came out great and, adjustments or not, I'm sure they would work for others.

The first recipe I tried was the Rib Eye Portobello Steaks. It's a great, simple recipe - thickly sliced mushrooms, well-seasoned steak and a side of diced tomatoes. I love portobello mushrooms and I will be using this method for roasting them and serving them as side dishes with other meals. The cooking method is generally light (I used a lot less olive oil than the mushrooms called for), but it still uses basic ingredients; I am always suspicious of recipes that depend too much on fat-free, reduced calorie items to keep the calorie count down.

Another recipe I tried was the Marrakesh Carrot Salad - North African spices on nice, healthy carrots. Again, I modified the cooking method and the recipe. The recipe called for boiling the carrots, but I've always read that boiling leaches out a lot of vitamins, so I steamed them in the microwave. I also cut back a bit on the olive oil. That's something I found myself doing a lot with these recipes. I cut down on the olive oil, I changed the cooking methods...lamb patties sound great, but why fry them in oil? There are healthier cooking methods you could use.

The third recipe I tried, I actually used for my Thanksgiving turkey. I roasted a turkey breast with cranberry-pineapple glaze based on the Glazed Turkey Roast with Cranberry Chutney. The flavor of the turkey was fabulous and the pan drippings were sweet and savory. Really a hit.

Overall, I like the cookbook and I have turned out some good meals with it. As I said earlier, I adjusted ingredients and changed cooking methods, but I would do that with any cookbook. There are some great recipes here with a definite emphasis on healthy ingredients and cooking.

Susie Fishbein has put out a series of cookbooks for cooks who want to turn out great Kosher food. You can find more information on her cookbooks here. My copy was an Advanced Reader Copy. Buy your copy at


Anonymous said...

I think this is a great cookbook, too. I love all of the pictures and the fact the recipes are for foods people really eat.

The Tome Traveller said...

I liked it too. You know, I never noticed that there was no nutritional info! You would think there would be, it does say "Lightens Up" after all. But overall a good and useful cookbook.

Really fabulous review!


George Erdosh said...

Good cookbooks are so rare that if you have one, use it often. I believe my recently published one (Nov/08) is in this category: filled with great but simple recipes, much kitchen references, a little science. Check it out:

“Tried and True Recipes from a Caterer’s Kitchen—Secrets of Making Great Foods”

Lisa said...

George, I'd be happy to review a copy of your cookbook here. My email address is on the main page - feel free to get in touch.

Anonymous said...

Too love to try recipes at

Anonymous said...

I'm not a confident enough cook to make adjustments the first time I try a recipe -- I envy people like you who can!

I'm so surprised that there's no nutrition info in the book; even recipes in the newspaper include those basics.

Nice review, Lisa.