At age 31, with energy to burn and publication of a third cookbook under her apron, Miriam Pascal wants to make it easier for you to feed your family.
Mesorah Publications has just released Pascal’s “More Real Life Kosher Cooking: Delicious Recipes that Create a Lifetime of Culinary Memories,” as a follow- up to the New Jersey food writer’s bestselling 2017 “Real Life Kosher Cooking.”
“The last cookbook sold out within 10 days,” related Pascal, who lives in Lakewood, N.J.
“Within a few days, I had people sending me pictures of dishes they’d made from the book,” she said. “After all that work, to know people are using it and loving it, I was like ‘Oh my God, I need to do this again.’”
Because the last one sold so well, Pascal went straight from finishing “Real Life Kosher Cooking” to working on “More Real Life Kosher Cooking.”
For Pascal her, real-life cooking means recipes “that are going to fit into your real life.
“What I found is people are busy, they want good food but don’t have a lot of time,” she said.
As a child, Pascal began cooking with her parents, whom she described as creative cooks. Her earliest memory in the kitchen is with her mother, who used to make challah every Friday for the Sabbath.
“My mother is an amazing cook, she’s super creative,” Pascal said. “But, she’s not super methodical. She just throws things together. She takes chances that maybe I wouldn’t take.
“I’m a real perfectionist. So even when I was really young, possibly even before I was 8, my mother used to make the dough and she would let me braid it. I loved doing that.”
Before writing her first cookbook, “Something Sweet,” released in 2015, Pascal had already built a fan base offering simple but delicious kosher recipes on her website, Overtime Cook.
She’s created a Facebook group for her site, which has more than 8,000 members. There, members discuss recipes, share tips and photos of dishes they’ve made from Pascal’s repertoire.
These are “recipes that are going to fit into your real life,” Pascal said.
Pascal keeps a strict kosher diet and a kitchen. That means meat and chicken must be slaughtered in a certain way.
“I use different dishes for meat and dairy products,” she said.
She doesn’t eat pork or shellfish. Kosher also means no mixing of meat and dairy.
“So no cheeseburger or chicken Parmesan,” said Pascal. “Some of those restrictions have led me to create kosherized versions of those things. I read recipes in Bon Appétit or Food and Wine and figure out ‘how can I turn that into a kosher recipe?’”
It helps that Pascal’s hometown of Lakewood offers a plethora of kosher supermarkets, butchers, delis and restaurants.
“It’s definitely the largest Jewish community in New Jersey and on the coast,” she said.
But, the author is careful to include substitutions and alternatives for her readers who don’t have the same access to kosher products.
“I know what products are not available and I do use some of them but overall I try very hard to make recipes accessible for people who aren’t able to shop in kosher grocery stores,” she said.
Each recipe is made with accessible, easy-to-find ingredients and instructions, and includes “Plan Ahead”” and/or freezer tips.
Recipes range from Breakfast and Breads, Appetizers and Snacks, Salads and Spreads, to Soups and Stews, Meat and Poultry, Dairy and Meatless Mains, Desserts and Drinks, Sauces and Staples and Baked Goods and Pastries.
In between posting new recipes on her website and working as a freelance photographer, Pascal writes a monthly cooking column for Ami Magazine.