Jamie Geller left a fast-track career as a New York City television producer to embark on the frazzled-track career of Jewish wife and mother. Jamie's first cookbook,
was a runaway success. Jamie's new book,
responds to the needs of today's busy home cook, by sharing quick, simple dishes that have the gourmet look and taste, without elaborate preparation.
1 You began your professional career as a writer and producer for HBO, what made you decide to switch from cable to a cutting board?
The switch was born from necessity. I had never intended to leave TV and that was my life’s goal for a very long time. However, as I adopted a kosher lifestyle, my goals changed. Having 20 people in my home for shabbos quite regularly became one of them. So I quickly realized that it was time to hit the cutting board!
2 In your new book, you organize recipes based on how much time it takes to cook. How do you make a meal in minutes that looks like it took hours?
Thank you. You’re my new best friend! That was my exact goal and I’m glad that it comes across. I wanted to come up with meals in minutes that look and taste like you slaved all day - I’m the only cookbook author who wants to get you out of the kitchen. (Another one of my new life goals)
3 What advice do you have for the busy home cook?
Buy my books! ...But seriously, I would definitely say RELAX, you don’t have to put out a gourmet meal every night, your guests are not critics for the NY Times (at least, I don’t think so), they’re there to enjoy your company, so know that you can do it!
4 How do you juggle three full-time jobs: mom, cookbook author, food spokeswoman at Kosher.com?
Well, my official title is CFO, Chief Foodie Officer at Kosher.com. It is fun and busy – I’m a spokesperson and I also run my own blog. I post something new almost every day - recipes, videos, my famous Confessions of a Jewish Bride and there’s even a special section called “Ask Jamie” where I answer a new reader’s question every week. As far as juggling goes, I am a work in progress – ALWAYS. There’s always room for improvement and I’m always working on it. I’m trying to leave the blackberry at home when I take my kids to the bus in the morning so I can really give each facet of my life complete focus, especially the most important job of all, being a mother and wife. I daven for G-D’s help to get me through the daily juggling act.
5 What is your favorite dish to make with your children?
That would be challah . I love to daven for my kids when I am kneading the dough and hear them say “amen” to my bracha when I separate the challah. They love getting creative and making special shapes and just getting their hands all doughy. We top their challah with sprinkles, chocolate chips whatever they are into that erev Shabbos. They take such pride in passing out their challahs at the table.
Desserts are another favorite mommy and me cooking adventure. Personally I love desserts. Some of the dessert recipes my kids really enjoy are: Puff Pastry Apple Purses (from my first book, “Quick & Kosher Recipes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing) and the Chocolate Pretzel Crust Tart (pg. 246 in my new book, “Quick & Kosher Meals in Minutes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing.”) The kids love to bang on the pretzels with wild abandon and make crumbs for the crust an topping.
6 Who do you look up to in the culinary world?
I love Rachael Ray – She makes it look easy and she is the one who made it OK to take shortcuts in the kitchen.
7 What do you see as the next big trend in kosher cuisine?
I think that trend will be experimenting with different cuisines from all over the world. I started doing that – In my new book you’ll see find Irish Stew, Vietnamese Beef and Noddle Soup, Tex Mex Mac and Cheese, Mexican Burgers and I have an Indian themed Chanukah menu which includes Bombay Salmon, Samosa Latkes and Mango Cardamom Shortcakes. The book is also filled with a lot of traditional dishes with an inspiring, creative or international twist. So many interesting new products are now kosher and available to the consumer and of course available through kosher.com no matter where you may live.
8 When you are not wearing an apron and standing behind the stove, what do you like to eat?
I don’t always remember to wear my apron! I love to eat out at restaurants (no cooking, no cleanup, the best!) and I have a few faves– Prime Grill and Solo are amazing NYC eateries and the Purple Pear in Monsey is incredible for dairy. When I worked at HBO and they were located in Midtown Manhattan, I would frequent My Most Favorite Dessert Company. I particularly love fish and any dessert with custard in it. My newest obsession: cupcakes!
9 What food do you dislike?
I’m not a huge fan of turkey even though I do make it for my family. I will eat the stuffing though, that’s for sure.
10 What do you miss most from your pre-kosher days?
I really miss the perfect French onion soup. I’ve never been able to order one in a restaurant that’s just right, they either forget the cheese or just dump it on top – no golden brown crispy topping. That’s why I developed a recipe for it my first book.
11 What was your most memorable cooking moment?
That would be when I actually turned on the oven for the first time, and every day since. It just doesn’t get old and the novelty hasn’t worn off. I remember the first time I made a home cooked meal for my new husband, his favorite recipe to this day – Duck Sauce Chicken – and guess what almost 7 years and 2 cookbooks later he’ll be eating it this Shabbos.
12 What do you have planned next?
I have a super top-secret plan next. You’ll find out soon enough! For now, I’m focusing on my blog (blog.kosher.com). While on tour for my first book I’ve had the honor and pleasure of meeting so many people and really connecting with them. And now with the launch of my new blog in November, I’ll have the opportunity to connect with everyone I’ve met and so many more on a daily basis so check it out!
I’m also hoping that we can do fun things with Joy of Kosher now that I’m a member, and I will let you in on my super-duper surprise when I’m ready to share!
Thank you to Jamie for sharing some delicious, seasonal recipes: