After publishing eight cookbooks in the popular “Kosher by Design” (Artscroll) series, with almost 500,000 in print, the effervescent Fishbein is closing this chapter of her career with her ninth and final cookbook (and possibly her best, in my opinion): “Kosher by Design Brings it Home.” Having taught cooking classes and led tours throughout Israel, Mexico, Italy, France and North America, on her 15-year culinary journey, Fishbein brings it home with 115 tempting recipes from her travels.
Fans, take heart. “This is not the finale for me,” she said by phone from her home in New Jersey. “I’m too young and too excited by the kosher food world to retire. I will still give cooking classes. In fact, I’d love to be brought out to California.”
Julie Ghodsi, of Golden Dreidle in Irvine, Orange County’s headquarters for all things Judaica, is thrilled by that idea. “All of Susie’s cookbooks have a loyal following,” she said, “and my customers love them, from the very observant, to reform. They sell themselves.”
Every February, Fishbein leads a food tour in Israel with famous chefs. “Meir Adoni and Michael Katz are the Bobby Flays of Israel,” she explains. “They’re on TV and in magazines. I give classes, market tours and walking tours. We go to amazing restaurants, stay in the coolest hotel, Beresheet Spa. We go to goat cheese farms and do the salad trail to see how Israel bloomed the desert, how out of nothing 90 percent of Israeli exports of fruit and vegetables are produced.” For more information on the tours, Like Susie Fishbein’s fan page on Facebook.
With Shavuot approaching, we immediately think dairy when meal planning. Instead of the usual cheesecake, why not try this unusual dessert: Kanafe, a Levantine cheese pastry made with kadaif (shredded phyllo dough) soaked in simple syrup. “In 2014, when my Israel foodie group was leaving the Beresheet Spa,” she recalled, “after enjoying what might be the best breakfast buffet in Israel, I told Chef Boris Paukman that if he didn’t share his Kanafe recipe, I would not be allowed back on the bus. He was lovely and accommodating. He made his in a 12-inch aluminum pan that looked like a pizza pan, but he said it can be baked in a Pyrex pan or in a tart pan with a removable bottom. It does not even have to be round, just shallow. “
A perfect dairy meal for Shavuot (and why would you consider anything else?) is Fishbein’s riff on Israel’s iconic shakshuka: eggs poached in a piquant tomato- and pepper-based sauce. But this is no ordinary shakshuka; the whole shebang is baked in pizza dough boats. “The ultimate place to sample my inspiration for the dish is a block off Machane Yehuda at Khachapuri Restaurant,” Fishbein explained, “which I do every time I visit Israel. I came home to try to recreate the dish and swapped out the heavy cheese for the lighter and healthier shakshuka filling. Although not authentic, it brings me right back to a happy place with a calorie count that I can live with and the ability to prep in advance. In fact, I make a double batch of the shakshuka and freeze it, so all I have to do is pick up a ball of fresh pizza dough from my local pizza store or supermarket, and brunch or lunch is ready in a snap.”
Where will Fishbein’s career take her next? “My cooking classes keep me very busy,” she said. “I feel very passionate about what I do and am curious to see what opportunities come next.”
Yields 5 servings
Khachapuri is Georgian comfort food at its best. This boat-shaped delicacy is traditionally filled with a combination of tangy and gooey cheeses. Just before the bread hits your plate, an egg is added, which you stir into the cheese and devour before it has a chance to fully set.
1 onion, peeled
1 jalapeño pepper
1/2 green pepper
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup water, plus more for thinning sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons sweet or hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ball (1 1/2 pounds) prepared pizza dough (enough to make a standard pie)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
chopped parsley, for garnish
1 Prepare shakshuka: In bowl of food processor fitted with metal “S” blade, chop onion, jalapeño, green pepper, and garlic. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add vegetables; sauté until shiny and translucent, 8-10 minutes, or until fragrant.
1 Add crushed tomatoes, 3/4 cup water, tomato paste, paprika, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower heat; simmer 15 minutes, adding water a tablespoon at a time if sauce is too thick, stirring occasionally.
1 Preheat oven to 450°F. Cover 1-2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
1 Cut dough into 5 equal parts. Roll each into rectangle or oval, 1/3-inch thick. Lay dough on prepared cookie sheets. Roll each long side over itself and pinch each end into a canoe shape. Use your fingers to spread edges and stretch dough to make space in center for shakshuka. Ladle some shakshuka into center of each boat (you will have extra).
1 Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with feta. Crack 1 egg into center of each boat. Return to oven until egg white is slightly set, 3-4 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Beresheet Spa Kanafe
Yields 10 servings
Apollo, Athens, and Filo Factory package their kadaif, a shredded phyllo dough that looks like thin noodles, in 1-pound boxes. Use half the box.
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
1/2 pound kadaif
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese
1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Tnuva brand Israeli Quark 91% fat free, or 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
chopped pistachios, for garnish
1 Simple syrup: Place sugar, water, lemon half, and cinnamon stick into medium saucepan. Bring to a bubbling simmer; cook, uncovered, until reduced slightly and thickened, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard lemon and cinnamon stick. Stir in rosewater. Set aside to cool. Can be made ahead and stored in fridge.
1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
1 Place kadaif into a bowl. Separate strands. Add 5 tablespoons of the melted butter, reserving some for brushing pan. Using your hands, toss strands to separate and coat with melted butter.
1 Brush 12-inch round aluminum pizza pan, tart pan, or 11-inch Pyrex pie plate with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Press in half the kadaif evenly, spreading with your palms, covering pan sides slightly.
1 In stand mixer, combine cream cheese, ricotta, Quark cheese, and sugar, (not smoothly – leave some lumps). Spread cheese mixture over kadaif. Top with remaining kadaif. Brush with remaining melted butter, tucking kadaif edges into pan.
1 Bake 25 minutes. Broil 2 minutes until deep golden brown. Drizzle cold simple syrup onto the hot kanafe. Garnish with chopped pistachios.
Source: Kosher by Design Brings it Home (Artscroll, $34.99)
Jlife food Editor Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of “Cooking Jewish” (Workman) and “The Perfect Passover Cookbook” (an e-book short from Workman), a columnist and feature writer for the Orange County Register and other publications and can be found on the web at www.cookingjewish.com.