To be completely honest, I barely ever use cookbooks. Whoops, that’s a tiny lie. I do use them; I read them like a novel, but I don’t usually use them for cooking actual food. I love reading a cookbook from cover to cover like it’s a story book. Well, the truth is, most cookbooks are a story. They are a personal memoir of the chef’s life and all the recipes they created throughout their life. A cookbook usually tells a story of all the experiences a chef has had and how they were inspired to write each recipe. Yes, recipes always have a backstory and a memory attached to it. Creating recipes is hard work and they take lots of love and time to compile. Every time I open a cookbook I see much more than just the recipes and the pictures that make me drool. I see a chef who put their heart and soul onto paper and published it. I see all that hard work behind creating each and every recipe. All the testing and retesting and getting it just right. You would be surprised how many times it can take to get a recipe to come out right and consistent every time. A truly tested recipe is just perfect. When I open a cookbook, I see all the hours put into getting just the right picture to portray all the deliciousness in the recipe. I see all the photo sifting and edits to choose just the right one. All the editor’s notes and changes that take forever. All the hours sitting down at a computer writing down all your memories and inspiration stories for each recipe. For the most part, I see the chef’s entire heart and soul written down on those pages.
Although I love reading cookbooks as storybooks, there are a few cookbooks that I actually use for cooking. Yes, these are few and far between, but I must say, if I like a cookbook it means the recipes are really practical and easy to follow. They then become my go-to recipes, and by the time I’ve made them three or four times I know them by heart. That being said, if I actually make a recipe twice it means it’s a really good one! Let’s just say I can count on my fingers the number of cookbooks I use for cooking.
One of my go-to cookbooks for Pesach is Naomi Nachman’s cookbook. It’s called Perfect For Pesach, and you know what? It’s also perfect for all year round. I have three in my house. One for me for when I have my own house, one for my mother for Pesach, and one for my mother for during the year. The recipes are all so natural and healthy. She uses very easy-to-find ingredients and makes everything so simple and uncomplicated. Every page has instructions for how to freeze everything properly. There are such incredible, quick recipes that everyone loves.
One of my favorites is her fried cauliflower rice. It’s so easy, yet at the same time such a terrific, scrumptious dish that adds so much to your meal. This year I saw there is a new brand of frozen cauliflower rice. The company is called Heaven on Earth and they sell kosher-for-Pesach frozen checked cauliflower rice.
Here is Naomi Nachman’s recipe from her book. Pictures taken by Miriam Pascal.
Don’t forget to pick up your own copy of her cookbook to get all her other fabulous recipes!
Cauliflower Fried ‘Rice’
With imitation Pesach soy sauce improving over the years, it’s really nice to have Asian dishes on the menu for Pesach. Feel free to switch up the vegetables and use your favorites in place of those used here. This recipe is a great way to use up leftover chicken or meat. You can also omit the chicken or meat for a pareve side dish.
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
Add ginger, garlic, carrots, and scallions. Sauté on low until vegetables are soft, 5-7 minutes.
Add soy sauce, meat, and eggs. Stir in cauliflower “rice” and nuts, if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons imitation soy sauce
- ½ pound cooked meat, chicken, corned beef, or pastrami, shredded
- 2 large eggs, beaten and scrambled in a small sauté pan
- 1 batch cauliflower “rice” (see tip below to make your own, or use two store-bought bags)
- ¼ cup chopped almonds, or other nut (optional)
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
If you can’t find frozen cauliflower, prepare this with fresh: Put two heads of cauliflower through the food processor, then place into a bowl and cover with water. Microwave or boil in a pot until soft, then drain and squeeze dry according to the instructions for frozen cauliflower.
Bracha Serle works as a private chef specializing in healthy cooking such as gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and other dietary restrictions or allergies. She also does end-product marketing for kosher food companies and supermarkets, teaching consumers how to use new food products on a daily basis. Bracha gives clean-eating healthy cooking classes and demonstrations. You can check out her work on Instagram @shesthechef and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.