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Blogger Spotlight: Sina Mizrahi (The Kosher Spoon)

corn flake chicken crispy

Tell us about your blog and how you got started:
I fell obsessively into photography as a hobby around the time my daughter turned one. Take it from experience, it's not a practical time to start learning and practicing with an infant turned wild toddler. She would not glance at the camera without trying to pull the lens out. So I gave in (a little) and gave her a break. A while later, I somehow found myself reading "top 100 mom blogs" on, and felt an instant connection to the food blog format. I love cooking, I love photographing, and in my imagination I'm a witty, sharp writer (clearly very far from the truth). It seemed the perfect medium for me to express my creativity. Soon thereafter The Kosher Spoon was born, connecting me to my fellow talented Jewish women and giving me the opportunity to shoot things that sit still and look pretty.

What is your earliest cooking memory?
Growing up, my mother's kitchen was the place the family (and neighbors and friends) would congregate to eat, drink, talk, laugh. But it was exactly that, my mother's kitchen. None of us even considered cooking or baking, the kitchen was perpetually off limits. Until one time when I was about eight years old, I convinced my mother to let me bake a chocolate cake from one of those boxed mixes. I even promised to clean up after myself. She reluctantly agreed and and with much excitement I put together the three ingredients and poured the batter into a pan. The minutes passed, and I occupied myself with other things. My mom took the cake out of the oven and as it was cooling I knew I didn't want to be the first one to taste it. I convinced my brother to take just one bite. Poor thing, he couldn't even swallow it. He spat it out with such an exaggerated gag that it sealed my decision to never step foot in the kitchen. That resolve held up well for 14 years (save for a few necessary stints) until I got married.

What is your favorite kitchen implement / utensil / gadget?
I think every kitchen needs a sharp set of knives. After trying out many brands (from wusthof to cutco), I seriously think that the pure komachi 2s are impressively better than the higher end brands. I reach for my pk2 santoku knife with great excitement as I chop and dice onions. Really try them, they're only like $8!
I also really love my oxo salad spinner but you said only one thing, right? Because it really is handy when you're koshering greens. Just saying.

What's your favorite kosher dish to cook?
I love making (and eating) Moroccan fish. This dish bursts with my favorite flavors: garlic, paprika, and cilantro. I never get tired of making (and eating) it and I can't go through a Shabbat without it. It's almost like Shabbat without challah. Yes, this dish holds a significant place in my heart. And I have yet to blog about it. Stay tuned!

Who is your cooking inspiration?
My mother continues to be my cooking inspiration and resource in so many ways. She has taught me so much of what I know (long distance, nonetheless) and I love sharing ideas with her. I just have to make sure to quarter the amount of oil in her recipes. She's a true "it's-tasteless-unless-it's-bathing-in-cups-of-oil" Sephardic woman.
But for a more holistic approach to food, I can't stop reading Avivah's blog, Oceans of Joy. I love her healthy yet down to earth approach to nutrition and education. I wish I can implement all her practices, but i'm working on it. Slowly, really slowly. She is also just a great source of inspiration.

Please share a favorite cooking tip or trick with our readers:
One of the first times I made challah, it didn't rise. My husband's aunt, a prolific challah baker who can make world peace with her sweet creations, suggested I place a whole garlic on top of the dough while it rises. Of course, I didn't listen, that was absurd. Until one Friday afternoon the challah dough didn't rise again. I had nothing to lose so I put garlic on my dough. I kid you not, it rose significantly. It's my favorite kitchen trick!

Which recipes are you sharing with us today?
I made an Asparagus tart for the RCCS cookbook that has given me the most hits on my blog, so I had to share.

I'm also sharing my Crunchy Corn Chicken Fingers that my whole family loves, especially since they feel that they are schnitzel-deprived.

And my Red Lentil tacos that were a fun experimental project.

Sina Mizrahi is a wife and full time mommy living in California who is passionate about Torah and motherhood, and loves all things creative and beautiful. Her goal is to present simple, nourishing recipes your appetite can savor and your eyes can relish, along with some inspiration sprinkled in (somehow) on her blog The Kosher Spoon.