Jamie Geller: Quick & Kosher

Is Jamie Geller kosher cuisine’s answer to Rachael Ray?

The Bride Who Knew Nothing’s Quick & Kosher Meals in Minutes (Feldheim 2010) is a book of recipes organized by preparation, cooking time, and menu. Jamie is a firm believer in fast:

I’ll level with you. I think the way to cook with kids around is “as fast as you can.” (p. 8 )

Hers is the school that Rocco DiSpirito and other fine chefs have embraced: the ready-made short cut. If you are clueless, have young kids, and happen to be kosher, and don’t want to cook from scratch – this is your ticket. Jamie delivers it up with fun and spunk – much like Rachael Ray’s 30-minute meals – these just happen to be kosher.

Despite her belief in speed, Jamie believes that there is room in the kitchen for kids and gives suggestions for what kids can do to help. “I make a point of it. I figure, if I get them involved in cooking at an early age, they’ll gain the kitchen confidence I never had.” (p. 24) Confidence, one presumes, she has heaps of now.

The 20-minute meals include recipes with plenty of packaged ingredients (available on http://www.kosher.com) like Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry (p. 37) that calls for Mikee Chinese Marinade with Garlic and instant rice. The dish might be better with real rice, which really doesn’t take much longer then 20 minutes to cook. Other recipes have fewer packaged ingredients like Fines Herbes Goat Cheese Omelet (p. 45) with Natural & Kosher Natural Chevre. On the same page she includes a Mixed Green Salad to complete the meal. Each recipe has a separate prep time and total time listed. There is also a wine recommendation for each meal. The inspiration for the meals ranges around the globe with finished plate photographs of every meal by Ann Straton.

The recipes in 40- and 60-minute meals are more interesting and rely less on packaged foods. Most meals include a vegetable, a protein, and a starch in one to three recipes – you could mix and match, or simply follow her suggestions for recipes that go well together and make a balance dinner.

A holiday section at the end of the book that has more complex and slightly more time consuming recipes presented in menu style. Jamie suggests her Samosa Latkes for Chanukah along with Bombay Salmon with Jasmine Rice, Persian Cucumber Salad and Mango Cardamom Shortcakes with Ginger Whipped Cream for dessert (pp. 261-263). The recipe calls for real rice this time, and even the shortcakes are made from scratch. The prep time is still manageable, ranging from 4 to 15 minutes for each dish.

Jamie finishes her book with interviews of Jay Buchsbaum of Royal Wine for a quickie wine course, Henry Kauftheil, chairman of Kosher.com, an online Kosher food market where Jamie works, and Brigitte Mizrahi of Anderson International Foods on cheese. The interviews promote the websites and companies, but they are also interesting reading for insight.

RECIPE Samosa Latkes

Prep 15 min. Total 40 min.
Russet potatoes are the best for baking

3 baking potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup matzoh meal
2 latge eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup canola oil
Sour cream for serving
1 (10-ounce) jar chutney, any variety

Line a cookie sheet with paper towels.

In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, onions, peas, matzoh meal, eggs, curry powder and salt.

In a large nonstick saute pan, heat 1/4 cup oil over high heat, until shimmering but not smoking, about 1 minute. Ladle about 1/4 cup batter per latke into the hot oil, spreading batter to form a 3-inch round. Make three latkes at a time. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 4 minutes on each side until latkes are golden. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.

Continue making latkes, three at a time, until all of the batter is used. Add oil to the pan as necessary, heating oil after each addition before adding more batter.

Serve with sour cream and chutney.

Jamie Geller photo gallery:

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