Two Jewish brothers have the right recipe for newbie chefs

The Sussman brothers are really cute. And they can cook! I’ve never met them personally, but Jewish brothers Max and Eli appear on the cover of their new cookbook, “Freshman in the Kitchen: From Clueless Cook to Creative Chef” (176 pages, Huron River Press, $17.95). It was the subtitle that was the hook for me — I wanted to know how two young men from Michigan went from clueless to creative in 176 pages with over 100 recipes.

Life at the stove began in childhood in the Sussman family kitchen. “We remember two distinct kitchens from our childhood. There was everyone else’ s and then there was ours,” the brothers write. That meant no store-bought salad dressings, chicken nuggets or complete meals in plastic trays — just a mom who used fresh ingredients that produced, from scratch, innovative, healthy and delicious food.

This philosophy obviously rubbed off on these culinary brothers, as is evident in their cooking style. Their aim is to inspire a young crowd while holding their hands in discovering the joy of cooking.

This spiral-bound book begins with easy recipes involving no “real cooking” (salads, dips and spreads) and gradually presents more challenging dishes (note that not all recipes are kosher). Wisely included are tips on saving money, shopping and kitchen skills. The book is light, comical, youthful and just plain fun. It would be a perfect gift for someone who is moving into their own apartment, a college student or any youngish person who wants to feel more confident in the kitchen. Here are some recipes from the book.

PB and J Breakfast Smoothie

Serves 2

2 cups vanilla soy milk or whole milk

1⁄3 cup blueberry or other fruit jam

2 bananas, peeled and frozen

1⁄3 cup peanut butter

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix on high for 1-2 minutes until it reaches the consistency of a milkshake and all fruit is blended.

Breaded Fish with Herb Butter

Serves 2

2 eggs

2 six-oz. white fish fillets, such as tilapia, sole, snapper

1 cup Italian style bread crumbs

2 Tbs. herb butter (recipe below)

1 tsp. mayonnaise

1 Tbs. lemon juice

3 Tbs. oil

Lightly beat the eggs and place in shallow dish. Dip fish fillets in egg and then in breadcrumbs.

Melt the herb butter in a small skillet or microwave. Let cool slightly, then mix in mayonnaise and lemon juice and set aside. The lemon juice may not dissolve into the butter — that’s OK.

Heat a non-stick skillet and add oil. Gently place fish in the pan and fry until golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on the other side until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve with lemon–herb butter–mayonnaise mixture.

Herb Butter

Makes 1/2 cup

1 stick (1⁄2 cup) salted butter

1⁄2 tsp. chopped chives

1⁄2 tsp. chopped oregano

1⁄2 tsp. chopped thyme

1⁄2 tsp. chopped rosemary

Let butter soften at room temperature for 1 hour. When butter is soft, add the herbs. Blend until herbs are fully mixed.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Gabi Moskowitz. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].