The cookbook Chic Made Simple has such stunning images that you may be tempted to reserve it for viewing, like a fashion magazine. Do not make that mistake: the recipes in Chic are as accessible as a Target wardrobe.
Chic is part of a new breed of kosher cookbooks featuring the same recipes and photos we see in the general gourmet world. What sets Chic apart is that the recipes are truly simple, no matter how fancy they appear. Author Esther Deutsch is a self-taught cook, and her view is that if she can do it, you can, too.
Esther is the food editor of Ami Magazine. For her book, she developed the recipes and did the food styling for the photos. She said, “There are plenty of cookbooks that offer quick and easy recipes and cookbooks that offer sophisticated recipes. My goal in writing Chic was to combine them both.” She truly believes that food should never look better than it tastes.
The recipes are fresh, creative and healthy, with the only occasional heavy glaze. Chic updates potato kugel in a roulade and introduces the kosher community to new flavors such as green tea and lychee in a tart. Each chapter introduction has a lovely layout of multiple photos of the recipes within.
I used Chic to create a summer Shabbat lunch menu. I made the Arugula Waldorf Salad with Maple Walnuts, which feeds a crowd, but you can easily reduce the salad components and add the delicious maple vinaigrette as needed. I loved the combination of walnuts, dried fruit, lettuces and apples.
Our next course was the Creamy Broccoli and Asparagus Soup with fresh avocado. It was tasty and extremely easy to prepare.
For the Savory Chicken with Papaya Salsa, I substituted mango, and the salsa was gorgeous and flavorful. The spice rub has the right amount of kick and great southwestern flavor. The stated cooking time is long—an hour and a half in a 400-degree oven for chicken quarters. However, after 70 minutes I had crisp and juicy chicken. I enjoyed the chicken hot out of the oven and at room temperature the next day.
For dessert, I baked the Warm Deep Dish Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Torte. The recipe makes two 8-inch round cakes. I followed the instructions and baked them for 55 minutes but the edges were overbaked. The center, however, was gooey childhood yumminess, a giant version of your favorite chocolate chip cookie, only better because you get a big slice rather than an individual cookie.
As the dessert recipes in the book provide a range for baking time but no visual directions to indicate what to look for, I would start out with the shorter suggested baking times, then check for doneness and add time as needed.
Esther’s message to people starting to cook and entertain is: “Don’t be overwhelmed by the photographs in the book. Chic’s recipes were designed for busy cooks and are simple enough for amateur cooks. The dishes only look complicated.” She gives you the option for styling your dishes, but even without fancy plating, you will have delicious food.