"Simply" Book Review: Maximum Flavor With Minimum Time And Effort
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Rivky Kleiman remembers being her mother’s sous chef at a very young age, gradually taking over salads, baking, and dessert duties while her mother attended school. Rivky’s creativity and passion in the kitchen continued after getting married and teaching for many years; she co-authored the popular Bais Yaakov cookbooks and writes regularly for Mishpacha magazine’s Family Table as well as Kosher.com. Rivky identifies her style as simple gourmet that is doable for all, no matter what level of home cook.
After the runaway success of her debut cookbook Simply Gourmet, Rivky has released Simply, in which you will find over 140 simple yet gourmet recipes, and a dedicated section of “Simple Suppers” offers menu options that are on the table from start to finish in under an hour. I appreciate that so many of Rivky’s dishes use pantry staples that I already have on hand – nothing is more frustrating than finding a recipe that looks great only to find that you’re missing one or two key ingredients.
I love the trend of kosher cookbooks embracing international cuisine as it opens up so much culinary exploration, and Simply is no exception! Having spent the last six years living in Taiwan and Japan, I loved Rivky’s Asian-inspired recipes like Japanese yam spears, soy-glazed edamame, tuna tartare tower, beef and broccoli ramen bowl and seared tuna with sesame seeds. You’ll also find tried and tested family favorites like stuffed shells, ravioli, BBQ brisket, and chicken tenders that the whole family will enjoy.
Japanese yam spears by Rivky Kleiman. Photograph by Sarah Hodge.
I loved “Raizel’s favorite quinoa salad,” which adds cranberries and roasted butternut squash for a hearty side or even a main dish, and the simple yet satisfying Zisi’s “Down Under” tomato salad, made with only three ingredients. There are loads of vibrant veggie salads and sides along with mouthwatering mains like “Eileen’s sweet and tangy chicken,” maple-glazed French roast, braised bourbon ribs, and baby lamb chops with roasted garlic vinaigrette.
Branzino with Citrus and Garlic Butter by Rivky Kleiman. Photograph by Sarah Hodge.
Rivky’s seafood recipes are amazing; she uses a wide range of fish like barramundi, branzino, turbot, and sea bass in additional to salmon and flounder. The branzino with citrus and garlic butter was so easy to prepare yet looks restaurant-worthy – Simply Gourmet, just like the title promises. I paired it with the spinach mushroom rice, which packs a flavor punch with the addition of umami powder, plenty of garlic, and meaty mushrooms. And the smoky cauliflower bites are the perfect blend of sweet and savory with a zesty mix of smoked paprika, chili flakes, and a drizzle of honey and lemon – my entire family loved them and there wasn’t a single piece left! I loved Rivky’s tip of mixing the olive oil and spices in a resealable bag so there is no mess.
Smoky Cauliflower Bites by Rivky Kleiman. Photograph by Sarah Hodge.
For a sweet end to your meal, there are plenty of tempting desserts ranging from fruit-based salads to the showstopper chocolate mousse cream puff ring as well as a chapter of baked goods.
Simple Suppers: Meals In Less Than 1 Hour!
Amazon reviewer E.S.: “This cookbook not only has amazing recipes, it also has the time-saving section for simple suppers. I love everything I have tried so far. Highly recommend.”
Rivky uses meal planners and simplified techniques to make prep as user friendly and quick as possible. The Simple Suppers chapter highlights complete meals that take no more than 10 minutes to prep and are on your table – prepped and cooked – in under an hour. And each recipe has a symbol showing one, two, or three utensils to easily identify the difficulty level of each dish. The book’s layout deserves a special mention as well, with gorgeous photography and a clean, uncluttered design that’s color-coded by section.
Overall, Simply: Simply Gourmet, Every Day is a cookbook I find myself returning to time and time again for easy, delicious, gourmet meals that ANY level of home cook can accomplish. As Rivky says, “Anyone can be a gourmet. It’s not about spending hours. It’s about working with flavors, using creativity, and following directions. Anyone – starter cook or someone really seasoned — should be able to walk away and say ‘I’m a gourmet.’”