Chef of the Month - SmartCookie

Written by Miriam Pascal on Monday, 04 June 2012. Posted in Food Mood

At, we realize that our members and their contributions are the foundation of our success, as well as our continued growth. In a new feature on the Cook Kosher blog, we will have a monthly spotlight on one member who is an important part of our community. The winner of our Chef of the Month contest will be a member who contributes recipes, tips and know-how in our community, as well as reviews the recipes that other contributors submit. Each month, the winner will be featured in a blog post, and will receive an exciting prize! 

Our host for Chef of the Month is Miriam Pascal from Overtime Cook. - CookKosher
When choosing the first Chef of the Month, I decided to feature SmartCookie
Smart Cookie has posted over 60 recipes, most of them have delicious looking photos! She is also an active member of the community and helps other members by reviewing their recipes. I'm excited to introduce you all to her!
Smart Cookie was equally excited to share her cooking wisdom and experience with us. "I love the idea of this new blog feature", she told me. Here's our interview:
I love the idea of this new feature. So, here are my answers to the questions:
1. How would you describe your style of cooking?
I would call my style of cooking "Heimish with a touch of elegance." My husband  prefers very traditional food, especially on Shabbos and Yomtov. But I'm always looking for new ideas and trying to "upgrade" the traditional recipes I use.  Although many of my recipes are good old fashion favorites, I put a lot of emphasis on the value of presentation. I like make  a variety of kugels, salads & desserts from the latest recipes printed in Ami, Binah, Mishpacha, or new cookbooks, which  I always try BEFORE Yom Tov (holidays).  If my family likes it & it's really delicious, it gets saved into my personal cookbook to be made again. I especially love to use recipes that feature basic ingredients and are readily available in my local supermarket.
2. What is your favorite Restaurant? Do they serve an amazing dish you wish you could recreate?
My favorite restaurant is right here in Boro Park: Orchidea.  I recently ate out and had the Teriyaki coated Sea bass.  I loved it and sure enough that very recipe was found right here  on Someone had sent in the original recipe from Orchedia! The other recipe I'd love to see is from Spoons (13th Ave-50th Str), called "Vanilla Chocolate flavor Iced Moca". It's sinful and many times I will walk down another street to avoid the temptation of stopping in to buy one for myself!
3. What's one food will never eat? How about one food you can't live without? 
The one food I shall never eat is galarita, (Also known as p'tcha) although I've been making it for almost 30 years because my husband loves it. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law years ago. I knew it tasted good when my husband gave me the ultimate compliment "it tastes just like my mother's!"
My favorite food is chocolate! I love it in any shape or form. Chocolate bars, chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk shake, chocolate pudding, chocolate cake & mousse.  Anything chocolate is fine with me! They tell me I was born in Brooklyn, but it could easily have been Hershey, PA! 
4. We all have failures in the kitchen. Tell us about your biggest kitchen flop! What did you learn from it?
The one flop I can't ever forget still makes my face turn red! Many years ago, one of my newly engaged daughter's future in-laws were in NY for Purim, but far out of Boro park. I suddenly found out that a relative was going to the other end of Brooklyn where she the in-laws were staying. I was thrilled that I had a messenger to send them mishloach manos. I had an extra homemade delicious and beautiful shaped bundt cake. All I had to do was add some finishing touch to the top, so I grabbed my "confection sugar shaker" from the pantry and sprinkled some over the top. I wrapped it beautifully on a stunning platter along with an expensive bottle of wine.  Feeling very proud of myself,  I was horrified when 2 days later while making challahs, I realized that the shaker I used was not confection sugar but filled with flour!  All I can say is, I sure hope she was one of those people who pass on their mishloach monos to the very next person that rings the bell!  Lesson: EVERY container in my pantry now has a label. 
5. When you're on a diet, which food are you most likely to cheat on?  
I find myself always cheating on chocolate!  Even as small as one little square, but it's gotta be milk chocolate!
6. What is your favorite kitchen tool or gadget?
My favorite gadget is called Vidalia Vegetable Chopper.  It comes with 2 size blades, one for finely diced vegetables and one small size cubes for either veg or fruit . I love the perfectly uniform size of the diced onions or colored peppers in salad  etc. I use it every day when making supper. (Who doesn't need a chopped onion?)  I have two that I use all year round and two more for Pesach.  And of course, we can't forget my 2nd freezer!  I an't manage without it, especially when cooking ahead for Shabbos and Yom Tov. 
7. Describe the scene in your kitchen while you cook. 
My kitchen is quite a sight while cooking and/or baking. I always cook and bake several things at the same time, so I must be organized as well. On Erev Shabbos or Yom Tov, I always start cooking by 6:00 a.m I like to work quickly, which I do best when I cook alone. I  have the recipes I want to use printed out from my (computerized) cookbook.  I prefer to have the news on in the background when cooking in the morning or some lively music in the afternoon, which helps me move around the kitchen even quicker!  I clear the counters in between recipes because clutter gets me nervous. I just dump the utensils & bowls in the sink and leave the washing for last.   I have this thing about covering EVERYTHING with silver-foil before it's placed in my refrigerator.  and  I ALWAYS label my pans with what's in it. 
8. How did you originally hear about Cook Kosher? What is your favorite recipe or cooking tip you've gotten from Cook
I first heard about when there was a mention of it in the Ami magazine about food editor Leah Schapira taking time off from the Whisk section to develop her new website   Since the first day I found it, I can honestly say that a day doesn't go by that I don't log in (usually more than once) to check out the latest recipes and see what's happening in YOUR kitchen! I've tried many many recipes from there.  My favorite is the Zucchini Kugel  which I now make every week for supper and Bundt Cake  which I make almost every Shabbos.  Another favorite is Leah Schapira's leek soup (in her cookbook Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking) . I freeze 1 lb containers of these soups to use for lunch every day when dieting.  
As an award for her participation, we are excited to present SmartCookie with a gift set valued at $50 from Studio Patro, our favorite hand printed textile studio!
Would you like to be featured in an upcoming Chef of the Month post, and win an exciting prize? All you have to do is stay active on Cook Kosher: post recipes, reviews, and replies in our community! 

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About the Author

Miriam Pascal

Miriam's days are spent selling high end electronics, but her mind is always in the kitchen, where she spends her nights, cooking, baking and innovating.  For the full array of healthy delicacies and decadent desserts coming out of Miriam's kitchen, visit her blog, Tales of an Overtime Cook

Comments (6)

  • Diet
    06 June 2012 at 16:38 |

    So fascinating reading about other members. I would love to see a recipe for Gala. I'm not a fan at all but maybe would have the courage to make it one day for my husband.

  • AidelK
    07 June 2012 at 17:01 |

    I really enjoyed this interview. I just put one of SmartCookie's recipes in My Kitchen to try out.

  • smartcookie
    08 June 2012 at 02:45 |

    To Diet: I will post the Gala recipe today and also delicious dietetic recipes that worked wonderfully for me over the years.

  • smartcookie
    08 June 2012 at 03:57 |

    Although it's after Shvuos, when cheesecake recipes are tucked away in your closet, the Nouget Ripple recipe I picked up at Peppermill on 16th Ave, is so delicious, you will not regret baking just one more cheesecake!!

  • smartcookie
    08 June 2012 at 20:44 |

    Always on the lookout for low carb /sugar-free recipes, I was thrilled to find a most delicious chocoate chip cupcake recipe on Miriam Pascals website! I posted it on Cookkosher today for others who want to have their cake, in a low carb version, with high quality taste!

  • MindySchaper
    18 June 2012 at 18:32 |

    That was a fun read- thanks!

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