Talking Real Life Kosher Cooking with Miriam Pascal
By: Elisheva Blumberg, Lubicom Marketing Staff
You may recognize her as that cook whose recipes in Mishpacha magazine’s Family Table always leave you wanting more.
Or perhaps you know her by her Instagram handle, @overtimecook.
And it’s quite likely you even own one of her cookbooks, one of which sold out its first printing in just 10 days.
Her name is Miriam Pascal — and she’s back with yet another cookbook filled with recipes we can’t get enough of.
Her latest cookbook, More Real Life Kosher Cooking, is packed with 150 new recipes that are approachable, memorable, and of course, epically delicious!
We spoke with Miriam, who shares her hard-won secrets for hosting beautiful meals, taming pre-party hostess anxiety, and getting the perfect caramelization on your roasted vegetables.
Kosher.com: I got a glimpse of your latest cookbook, and I must say, it looks amazing. What do you aim for when developing new recipes?
Miriam: Thank you! Something people know me for, something I always strive for, is to create recipes that are actually doable.
I want my readers to be able to go to their local grocery and get every ingredient they’re going to need to make it. I’m not one of those foodies who think “the more exotic the ingredient, the better,” I’m all about easy and attainable.
Kosher.com: Is that why some of your recipes are mash-ups of two traditional foods? For example, your new cookbook has recipes for Matbucha Brisket and Caramel Macchiato Rugelach.
Miriam: Yeah, I love to create combinations that are new, yet are still in people’s comfort zone. You may not know what Matbucha Brisket is, but you do know what each of those separate components are. It helps people to envision how the end result will be and makes the recipes more approachable.
Kosher.com: Yes! The tagline for this cookbook is “Approachable recipes for memorable dishes.” What does “memorable” mean to you?
Miriam: When I was developing the cookbook, I realized that every dish was linked in my mind with a special memory. Like my recipe for Braised Beef with Tortellini, for example. Whenever I think of that, it brings me back to a meal in the Sukkah with my family. Food is something concrete that we can use to anchor certain memories that would otherwise be fleeting.
Kosher.com: Do you have any tips for home cooks to make meals more memorable?
Miriam: I host people all the time — from a few guests on Shabbos to giant Purim seudahs — and have definitely learned a lot along the way. My number one tip is to plan, plan, plan!
Kosher.com: I noticed that every recipe in your cookbook has “Plan-Ahead Tips.” Is that what you mean?
Miriam: Yes, it’s one of the things people most love about my cookbooks. I cannot underestimate the importance of planning ahead. Even though I am not an organized person by nature, but I find that breaking down all the parts of a meal into more manageable tasks makes everything so much easier.
Kosher.com: How do you recommend going about planning to host a huge party?
Miriam: First, I’ll write down everything that needs to be done and then make separate lists, like “Things to Freeze,” “Things to Make Two Days Ahead,” and “Things to Do the Day Of.”
For example, salad dressings can stay fresh for a week, so I’ll make them in advance and keep them in the fridge. On the day of the meal, I’ll prepare the fresh vegetables and will only put on the dressing as the guests begin to arrive.
Kosher.com: Sounds like you have this hosting thing down pretty well.
Miriam: It took me a while to figure it all out!
Kosher.com: Were there any mistakes you made along the way?
Miriam: One thing that I think all of us struggle with is worrying we won’t have enough food. I’ve had this so many times when I cook so much and still panic at the last minute that I won’t have enough.
If I’m freaking out and feel like I must add another couple of dishes to the menu, I’ve learned to add side dishes, like pasta, instead of a roast. It kills me to waste food, so if I’m going to have too much food, at least it should be something less expensive.
And one thing that I find most valuable in these cases is finding an outside voice of reason to tell you that you’re crazy, and assure you that you’ve made enough food!
For me, that voice of reason is usually my sister.
Kosher.com: Awesome! Are there any other hosting tips you’ve found that help tame pre-party anxieties?
Miriam: Know your strengths. Focus on what you’re really great at, and delegate the rest.
Personally, I rarely bake challah. Baking challah is a beautiful thing, but it’s just not my favorite thing to do. Instead, I buy the challah and spend that extra time working on food styling and presentation.
The main thing is not to get stressed about what you think other people are doing. If you’re not up for doing a fancy tablescape, you can buy a simple vase with flowers. No one will mind! The thing that makes a meal memorable is when you, the hostess, can enjoy it too.
Kosher.com: Any advice you have for newbies to the kitchen? Or for anyone else who wants to up their cooking game?
Miriam: This is a big one: all salts are not created equal. This fact is so important that I mention it in my cookbooks. Table salt is about twice as salty spoon-for-spoon than kosher salt, so they cannot be used interchangeably. I use kosher salt in my recipes unless specified otherwise.
Oh, and one more thing: disposable pans do not conduct heat as well as metal ones. Think about it: when you take a disposable cookie sheet out of the oven, it becomes cool to the touch in a few seconds. But a metal pan takes a good few minutes to cool down.
Metal is a way better heat conductor, which makes an enormous difference in dishes like roasted vegetables, which need all that heat conduction to get a good caramelization going. Metal also makes things crispier and more evenly cooked. I always recommend metal pans, especially metal sheet pans.
Kosher.com: Thank you, Miriam. We can’t wait to try out some of your latest recipes — and create some amazing memories at the same time!
Miriam was kind enough to share two AMAZING recipes from her newest cookbook with us. We hope you enjoy them!