Guest Blogger: Talia Rona
Some people get excited about meeting politicians. There are those whose hearts flutter when they spot a celebrity. There are even guys who stalk highly esteemed rabbis (my friend’s brother. I’m not lying.) And then there is me—I get excited to meet someone who cooks Kosher food. Can I be any more of a typical Jewish girl?!
So, when my good friend Alison Barnett, a.k.a. Chef Ali of AliBabka.com, invited me to attend a press-only event for the release of Susie Fishbein’s new cookbook, Kosher by Design: Cooking Coach, I was ecstatic! My first cookbook ever was actually Susie’s second, Kosher by Design Entertains, and I read it word for word and cover to cover probably around 37 times. Since then, I have bought 5 other Kosher by Design cookbooks and basically memorized them. I even modeled an application for a fellowship I applied to after my first cookbook and called it “Fellow by Design Impresses.”
The press event was held in Pomegranate, which is an experience in and of itself. (For those of you who are unaware, it’s kind of like an all Kosher Whole Foods located in Brooklyn on the corner of Avenue L and Coney Island Avenue.) It felt pretty cool to be part of this exclusive event where there were chairs set up for only around 40-50 people. There were reporters from all the big Jewish newspapers and magazines and it was fun to network with and put faces to the names I always read on these publications.
Susie did a demonstration where she made one recipe and then used the leftovers to make 2 very different dishes, which I thought was genius. And of course, we each got to taste all 3 of the dishes in our own servings. Susie did not disappoint—it was delicious! After the demo, anyone who wished to could line up and take a picture with Susie and get her autograph.
As awesome as it was to meet her, my favorite part of the evening was receiving a gift bag with Susie’s latest cookbook, Kosher by Design: Cooking Coach so I could put the skills I just learned into practice. This cookbook is super helpful because not only is it chock full of recipes, but it also includes tips and techniques on how to improve your cooking skills. I already tried out a bunch of them, but my favorite is the Mushroom Arabiatta Over Spaghetti Squash. Spaghetti squash is so easy to make (you literally just put it in the oven and that’s IT); it’s really healthy and low calorie, and it’s also huge so you are guaranteed leftovers that last for a while.
Thank you, Chef Ali, for letting me be your +1 for the evening!
Mushroom Arabiatta Over Spaghetti Squash
1 whole medium spaghetti squash, about 3 pounds
freshly ground black pepper
½ small green pepper, seeded, cut in half horizontally and then into very thin strips
½ medium Spanish onion, peeled, thinly sliced
12 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Place the whole spaghetti squash onto a cookie sheet or directly on the grate of the oven. Bake for about 1 hour, until slightly darker in color and a little soft when you squeeze the sides. The time may vary based on the size and weight of the squash; it may need an extra few minutes, but don’t overcook the squash or it will come out mushy. Remove from oven and allow to cool until it is easy enough to handle. Once the squash is cool, cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Use a fork to scrape the flesh into spaghetti-like strands and place them into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a large (12- 14-inch) skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the green pepper and onion. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, sauté for 4-5 minutes until liquid is released from the mushrooms and starts to cook off. The mushrooms should start to caramelize. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and ¾ teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Add in the tomato sauce. Stir well. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
4. Transfer the squash strands to a serving dish; top with the mushrooms. Serve hot.