Chic Made Simple – Review & Giveaway!

Written by chanie on November 28th, 2012

When I first received the Chic Made Simple cookbook, I was wowed. It’s filled with beautiful pictures, impeccable food styling, and lots of delicious recipes that are truly, made simple. Esther Deutsch’s new cookbook promises fresh, fast and fabulous kosher cuisine, and it delivers. With appetizers & sides, soups, salads, poultry, meat, fish, dairy and desserts, the cookbook lacks for nothing. Chef’s are fond of saying “We eat with our eyes first”, and no one knows that better than Esther. Her talent for plating and food styling are on full display page after page. As a wannabe food stylist (at least for my blog) this book has taught me a lot.

While styling is important, the food also has to speak for itself. The recipes in Chic are simple enough for the novice cook, yet sophisticated enough for the more experienced chef. Some of my favorite dishes include quinoa patties, pulled meat wontons, roasted chestnut pumpkin soup, sundried tomato basil capons, creole veal burgers, 60-second cajun salmon, fruit tartare, and many more.

All that being said, I do have a few small qualms about this book. As the food editor of Ami magazine, many, of the recipes appeared in the magazine at some point (46 of the recipes in the book have never been published). While it mostly reads like a cookbook, there is some confusion where the pictures don’t entirely relate to the recipe, and some magazine spreads that were stuck in the book, disrupting the flow. The pictures, having been photographed by a few photographers, don’t offer the same style, and some are so highly manipulated, they don’t look realistic. As a graphic designer, I find this very frustrating, but to the untrained eye, most people will not be disturbed by it.

Bottom line: Chic Made Simple does in fact offer chic recipes that are fairly easy. Some recipes use highly processed ingredients, but most include ingredients that you’d find in your pantry. While many will not be able to plate their dishes as impeccably as pictured, the recipes sure seem to taste as delicious as they look.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment telling me about a simple recipe that you serve in a chic way! And if you don’t already follow me on facebook, like the BIB page here. Winner will be chosen at random at 11:00 PM Wednesday, December 5th. 

1 year ago: black bean brownies
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100 Comments so far ↓

  1. Musia Baumgarten says:

    I make a simple seared tuna steak seasoned with salt, pepper, and Asian five spice. It looks gourmet when I plate it on top of a mound of guacamole above a bed of lettuce, but it only takes 20 minutes to prepare!

  2. devorah s says:

    I love serving asian spaghetti with chicken with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds on top! Makes it look so exotic :)

  3. shaindy says:

    I cut my chicken breasts, in finger strips and place it in a french fry container, or i drizzle ketchup and place the snitzel on top

  4. Amelia Schmidt says:

    I don’t really serve anything in a chic way. My life is about keeping it simple, but something I do that my kids like and my husband always says ‘how fancy’ when I do it is put raw veggies on a cake platter, with a nice bowl in the middle filled with dip. Very simple but because of the presentation it is eaten up much faster.

  5. Brina G says:

    I make blueberry cheesecake pareve or dairy in tart shells so each person gets an individual serving.

  6. rivky says:

    I believe any dinner can be “chic”, if its plated. Instead of serving shnizel and mashed potatos in serving trays, use an ice cream scooper to plate the potaotes and put salad on the rest of the plate and top the salad with shnitzel. Instant chic!

  7. Faigie Walter says:

    I am in love with my newest dessert recipe. It’s simple frozen cookie dough, but I bake them in cupcake tins. I serve them as runny chips, with vanilla ice cream, and topped with caramel or strawberry.

  8. Esti says:

    I serve chicken lo mein in puff pastry shells. So easy yet so elegant.

  9. Esti says:

    I serve chicken chow mein in puff pastry shells. So easy yet so elegant.

  10. devonshire says:

    I love making chicken stir fry. It only takes minutes to cut up some assorted veg and chicken breasts. The cook time is super short. It can be eaten on its own or with rice on the side. My family loves this dinner and it’s a quick one to prepare. Plus it looks great too.

  11. Rena says:

    Great, honest review! I make french onion soup in soup crocks- either browned in the oven w bread and cheese or with a puff pastry crust on top- makes it look beautiful and homey!

  12. Rivky says:

    I love some of the ideas that are posted here in the comments! Will try some of them myself. I can’t think of anything I serve in a ‘chic’ way, maybe that is why I need this cookbook ;)

  13. Rivki Belz Schupper says:

    i love this new salad dressing i made with seasme oil it gives lettuce and extra yummy taste and crunch specially when i throw some sesame seeds in :)

  14. E.S. says:

    I tend to serve things simply,but sometimes I’ll take my basic brownies and cute them with a round cookie cutter.plate individually and garnish-with some powedered sugar,a mint leaf,a strawberry or raspberry,etc.-makes it look more impressive.

  15. bracha p says:


    sautee onions and mushroom with salt and black pepper. boil up the gnocci!!!!

  16. Mimi says:

    my new way of serving is putting food on skewers looks elegant & dosent take more work!!bonus plus the kids love it & eat supper so much nicer we call it lollypop chicken or lollypop veggies.

  17. saara says:

    I have a REALLY simple chocolate mousse pie recipe. I serve it sliced with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and maybe some sliced strawberries on the side, and get comments on the presentation all the time!

  18. shuly says:

    Mexican fleishig pizza! Its not really chic but very different

  19. maren says:

    I love making different types of salad in homemade edible tortilla/taco bowls. I’ve made mock crab salad, sushi salad, mexican taco meat salad, caesar salad, tuna salad, even ice cream with chocolate syrup and strawberries…endless posibilities and so beautiful!!

  20. Shaindy says:

    I think pretty serving dishes can make most food look nicer.

  21. Bassie says:

    I love to make all different kugels in mini muffin pans. I have a lot of different shaped ones (mini bundt, flower pots etc.) and it just gives it this slightly more sophisticated look.

  22. alyssa says:

    I’ve served chulent in individual puff pastry bowls! It made something as simple as chulent seem fancy and chic!:)

  23. sara geisinsky says:

    For parties: I put individual sushi salads in small clear oval disposable bowls. Also, juliened vegetables in shooters with some dip on the bottom of the shooter.

  24. Rivky says:

    I take my deli roll dough and braid it before baking it. I also make a lattice with pastry dough on top of a spinach kugel to add a special touch.

  25. Esther says:

    Anything in individual portions is always fun. Also, puff pasty is a nice vehicle for a variety of foods. Serving squash soup inside the squash rind/shells has always been a hit.

  26. Dana says:

    I make lettuce wraps out of everything. just use big romaine leaves and I’ve done turkey/cranberry sauce/thanksgiving leftovers, tacos, Asian chicken, tuna fish, etc. so yummy an fun!

  27. Laura says:

    Salad in edible bowls made of baked eggroll wrappers.

  28. Faigy says:

    I love making things in mini cupcake or bundt pans. Such as mini challah rolls and kugels. Looks elegant

  29. Jessica says:

    this book is really beautiful!

  30. robee61 says:

    I do kugels in muffin tins. They are always a big hit and no fighting over the corner pieces.

  31. ssilverman says:

    I LOVE using egg roll wrappers to make easy recipes look chic! I especially love using them for mini quiches-i made them for a friends brial shower and they were the hit of the party and were super easy to make!

    I also use them for something as easy as green beans/asparagus-wrap them up with spices to make a beautiful side dish!!

  32. leah says:

    i serve plain store bought ice cream on a plate drizzled with berry or chocolate sauce and garnish with a strawberry.

  33. Rachel says:

    I love to make a simple salad but then make pretty flower cups using wonton wrappers and put the salad in them to make it more “chic”

  34. Dina says:

    To get my 2 year old to eat shalosh seudos after all the junk, I use a fancy plate and cube diff. foods in diff. parts of the plate.

  35. gm says:

    I cook wonton wraps in muffin tins and then fill them with whipped creamed topped with berries and a caramel or chocolate drizzle!! always looks so pretty

  36. Rivka L says:

    I make this meat pizza with a WW dough and top it with tomato sauce, tons of spinach, carmelized onions with mushrooms and group beef on top!
    I slice it up and serve with homemade fries and salad. YUMM!

  37. Hedy says:

    Roll your favorite Challa dough recipe to about 18″X9″, 1/4″ thick rectangle.
    Process and spread Parsley/Basil, garlic,green onions, and very little olive oil to a chuncky paste over dough all the way to the edges. Roll up from long side. Slice into rounds. Place on pizza pan spiral up.Cover & let rise 30-40 minutes. Brush with egg wash little salt..Optional Sesame seeds. Bake 40 minutes or until browned.
    Viola….PESTO pull a-part-CHALLA
    Makes about 10-12 rolls

  38. Faleen says:

    I have learned over the years that a brunch buffet is a really easy way to entertain and yet be able to sit down and enjoy your guests. Aside from the quiches, bagels, spreads, fish dishes, desserts, etc. I like to dip dried fruits i.e. pineapple, apricot, orange flavored prunes(yes they call them dried plums these days) in dark chocolate and serve them on a highly polished silver platter…it really looks quite elegant and is so easy to prepare. Thank you so much for the opportunity to win such a lovely cookbook. I would love to win this for my son and daughter in law who have housefuls of Shabbat dinner guests and ‘drop ins’ each Shabbat afternoon. They would be as thrilled as I.

  39. Aliza says:

    I like making different easy desserts in mini ramekin dishes , like when im in a rush will take frozen cookie dough and bake in ramakins, serve with parve vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries, looks so elegent, but so easy!Can also be used for any kind of crumble like cranberry apple or cherry.

  40. lisa says:

    I serve coleslaw in raddichio leaves! I really appreciate your honest review of the book! I would love to own it.

  41. Ilana says:

    I make different colored mini kugels and plate them over purple cabbage.such pretty colors

  42. Blima says:

    I plate smoked salmon on small round crackers and capers with drizzle of olive oil and cracked pepper/coarse salt.

  43. dena says:

    I serve chocolate pudding in mini-phyllo cups. Easy-peasy (can’t believe I said that).

  44. That looks scumptious! Can you deliver some to my house?

  45. sar says:

    when i serve gefilte fish i add a scooped out, thick slice of cucumber and put chrain in it on the side of each plate of fish. looks fancy but so easy.

  46. Victoria says:

    I’ve been so interested in this cookbook! Fantastic review, thanks! Also love the recipe you included! My favorite recipe to make chic but keep simple would be mushroom puff pastry pockets, with a little sauce and a garnish! Quick, simple and elegant!

  47. Chocolate ganache is super easy to make, but roll it up into truffles and roll them on cocoa powder or chopped nuts and you you have a fancy dessert.

  48. shani says:

    I like to serve my salads in a trifle bowl. It makes the salad look really nice no matter how simple it is.

  49. devorah says:

    i love making chicken Marsala when i have last minute shabbos guests! i just coat strips of chicken breast in some flour, salt, and pepper- fry for abt 4 min on ec side. then cook some mushrooms in white wine- then add chicken and viola! chicken Marsala restaurant style in min. ( my mom-in-law recipe- thanks mom!)

  50. Leah e says:

    I am a serious entertainer! I live to have guests of all kinds and experiment with new recipes! So fun and exciting

  51. RochieO says:

    When im serving simple dips like chumus matbucha egg salad ect i take them out of the store bought containers and serve them in glass ice cream cups..

  52. Dinie P says:

    I bake puff pastry squares, then slice in half – separating the top & bottom halves, so i have 2 pieces. Then i just layer puff pastry, whipped cream, fresh fruit (strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, etc), puff pastry, whip & fruit, puff pastry & sprinkle confectioners sugar! So easy, simple, elegant & delish!

  53. Sarah says:

    We have a really elegant tea set which includes little cups, little saucers and a tray. We also have a beautiful teapot. We serve tea with dessert to our guests and everyone always loves it! It’s an easy way to add a chic and elegant touch to a meal.

  54. Etti Mermelstein says:

    I bake brownies from a box, sprinkle in some cinnamon and vanilla extract before baking, and when almost done, I sprinkle the top with mini chocolate chips and people always think they are amazing. One of my sons says his friends all think my brownies are the best in the whole class !! ;)

  55. Fashion-isha says:

    Forget about that giveaway I want that torte! But..ok, I’ll enter anyway ;)
    I love your honest review!

  56. aviva says:

    I make deli roll with fried onions and barbecue sauce to change things up!

  57. I make a simple grilled salmon, but I place it on a cedar plank and serve it with a homemade garlic mayo in a ramekin that looks really beautiful.

  58. CM says:

    Would love to win. I always like trying new recipes.

  59. Ruchie says:

    I like making desserts in individual servings. Makes it looks so elegant.

  60. Abi Cohen says:

    Simplest dessert that looks super fancy! I make a simple chocolate cake batter, in mini individual bundt pan. Serve with a scoop of ice cream, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Finish with a strawberry. Individual desserts are so classy, and this one is so easy to do!

  61. Dina says:

    When I want to look gourmet, I like to make Asparagus stuffed chicken. :)

  62. Devorie says:

    I make my steaks simple. The meat is sprinkled with s&p and then seared. I put in the oven for 3 minutes to finish it off.

  63. Naomi says:

    I like to start out a shabbos meal with a salad appetizer. We put them in martini glasses, layer the salad in it and drizzle the dressing over the top. Everyone is always wowed when they sit at the table.

  64. Shoshana says:

    I make chicken wontons. Put around 4 to 5 on a plate. Scoop out cut cucumbers and put dipping sauce in cucumbers!! Looks Chic!!

  65. chanie says:

    any time i want to dress up a dish all i do is plate it nicely and add fruit or veggie garnishes and voila! it looks great!

  66. yosefa says:

    I serve dips in pretty bowls and add garnishes on top!

  67. Sheva says:

    Guac baby! It’s so easy to make and I do mine authentic with fresh tomatoes and chopped cilantro. I serve it in a clear bowls or mini individual servings cups with a chip and a sprig of cilantro to garnish.

  68. Rachel says:

    People are always wowed with my fruit soup but frozen fruit and a blender really make it the easiest soup ever!

  69. Rochel S says:

    I have a really quick and easy recipe for the mini franks wrapped in pastrami! It looks good and tastes good!
    Follow on Facebook!

  70. esther marciano says:

    sushi gefilte fish sooo chic defrost gefilte fish and divide in 5. press down on nori sheets and put shredded carrots at one end roll up and bake at 350 for half hour. slice and serve like sushi with a dipping spoon of spicy mayo and edamames impressive shabbos appetizer and with chopsticks of course . would love to win the cookbook

  71. Sara says:

    I absolutely love spending time in the kitchen! I know this sounds a bit crazy but I plate my gefilte fish ultra chic! I own a vividly colored platter in the shape of a big fish, and i plate the loaves of fish with bright orange carrot slices and luscious lemon swirls. I plate my two dipping chreins in sleek white square cups and voila – chic G.Fish!

  72. Chavie says:

    I make stuffed chicken breast with premade kishke. I use rosemary on top the a chic look. Also, roasted asparagus served with a julienned carrot across, looks like a bundle.

  73. suri says:

    ice cream served in choc chip cookie bowls

  74. suri says:

    anything plated in single serve portions… martini cups make anything look festive… from fruit to salad to skewered fish or meat & especially dessert…

  75. Daniella B says:

    Chocolate syrup drizzled under any dessert makes it look elegant and like you spent way more time prepare the dish than you really did!!

  76. Becca says:

    I bought these ice-cream glasses and serve all sorts of different things in them for simple chic! Salads, Fruits, Dessert etc. I love your blog and all your ideas!!!

  77. Rachel says:

    I wrap thin slices of smoked salmon around asparagus spears. Always looks elegant, and with fresh baguettes, a plate of good cheeses and a bottle of wine, makes for an easy and elegant dinner that takes 5 minutes to throw together.

  78. CS Spalter says:

    I made chicken pot pie with leftover chicken in cupcake holders with a puff pastry as the dough. Easy, yum and cute. Fun to eat!

  79. Hana says:

    I have my butcher remove the center bones of a whole chicken so i can stuff it and serve it without having to carve it. The chicken looks beautiful on the serving plate and also in individual portions when it’s served.

  80. Malkie says:

    I love serving salads with complementing colors. It tastes great and looks pretty too.

  81. Meira Pacht says:

    Nothing I serve is incredibly fancy, but it all tastes good. We love BBQing and roasting onions, veggies and potatoes to go along side it. The fanciest I get is when I make knishes for Yom Tov with a tuna mixture inside and a cucumber dill sauce on top.

  82. estee says:

    instead of serving plain cut up fruit on shabbos afternoon, I prepare the fruit on skewers, so everyone can take without a mess

  83. Jody says:

    My 9 year old daughter likes to serve the hummus or horseradish in a cucumber cup on Shabbos to make it a little more special. That is probably all the chic I can manage, although I would love to try more ideas.

  84. Chagit Shmargad says:

    I make a delicious dairy White Chocolate Bread Pudding with a Raspberry Sauce that is simply too good for words. The sauce drizzled gives it a chic look. And the taste blows people away.

  85. Michael Wall says:

    One way that I try to make the simple into something chic is the addition of a vegetable that will add not only taste, but color. For example, when I set up a platter of hummus for guests, I will often make a plain/standard hummus, but also one with carrot, or beet, or roasted red pepper, and then a spinach. (This variation is great for matzo balls, too!)

  86. Juli says:

    Lemons curd over Brie with crackers makes are great simple appetizer! Pick me pick me! ;)

  87. Leah says:

    Salad in wonton wrapper bowls

    Or pie on a lollipop stick!

  88. Frayda Brown says:

    I dress up salmon by cutting it into squares, spreading a bit of pesto on a mini square of puff pastry & folding each corner into the middle. Then bake. Looks so fancy, gets great reviews from my guests & is so easy!

  89. Dini says:

    If I make egg salad or tuna for shabbos day, I serve them as appetizers together with the first course in bite size mini FILO dough shells with a garnish on top (scallions, olives, paprika…)

  90. sherr ackerman says:

    hi i like to make filet mingnon for dinner with italian roasted potatoes! elegant and delicious!!!

  91. sherr ackerman says:

    i luv making filet mignon and roasted italian potatoes!!

  92. Dvora says:

    I dress up simple ice cream and cake by drizzling either chocolate syrup or any fruit syrup on the plate. Once, I angled 2 biscotti in the ice cream scoop and sprinkled cookie crumbs over the syrup. It took no time and everyone thought it looked fancy. It’s all about presentation.

  93. Rishi says:

    my new favorite salad recipe: arugula/mixed greens/spinach, grilled and sliced eggplant, sweet potato & portobella mushrooms, sliced beets, toasted pine nuts. dressing: salt, garlic, brown sugar, mustard, balsamic vinegar, mayo, olive oil.

  94. Rivkie Borenstein says:

    I have made a simple couscous salad and put it inside a fig that I scooped out the inside of. A plate full of them as an appetizer at rosh hashanah table

  95. Dini says:

    I got some great ideas from everyone’s comments.

  96. malka says:

    i make a simple brownie recipe and add chopped oreo cookies to the recipe. and bake it and pesto! delish and the little cookie chunks look great when the brownie is cut

  97. malka says:

    ice cream pie- 2 whips and one row of oreo cookies, mix with spoon. pour into perpared pie crust and freeze! simple, chic and delish!

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