"My world revolves around recipes"
the leading author of Kosher cookbooks in Canada. Her books include:
Low Iodine Diet Cookbook
PCOS Diet Cookbook
Frequent Fiber Cookbook
(originally published as
New Food Processor Bible
Second Helpings, Please!
Pleasures of Your Food
is a food consultant,
food writer and
cooking teacher and
lecturer. She specializes in
makeovers for food-related websites, magazines, newspapers, cookbooks and the food service industry.
She is also a culinary spokesperson.
Join my Facebook Group:
Share recipes, tips, cooking questions, food memories…!
analysis of recipes for cookbooks, food manufacturers and restaurants.
believes in people helping people. She puts her philosophy into practice by using her cooking demonstrations, lectures and cookbooks as
fund-raising tools for many charitable organizations.
Norene is a Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) with the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She is a member of Cuisine Canada, Women's Culinary Network of Toronto and Canadian Booksellers Association.
She is listed in Canadian Who's Who.
has been appointed to the Advisory Council for KosherWorld,
an international kosher tradeshow for expanding kosher markets.
Norene grew up in Winnipeg and raised her family in Montreal. She now makes her home in Toronto,
Canada. She is a mother of three and has two
grand-daughters and three grandsons.
Norene is a member of ACT to End Violence Against Women and
Check Norene's coming
appearances at a kitchen near you.
You can’t imagine how often people ask me cooking questions. If I tried to answer everyone who asked, I'd never have time to write new books! I can’t answer every question, but will try to get back to everyone - eventually!
and where did you start to cook?
was your first culinary discovery?
you have professional culinary training?
you cook from other people's cookbooks?
do you create your recipes?
do you write cookbooks?
do you work so closely with fundraising groups?
do you cook at home?
kinds of food do you like to eat?
your kitchen like?
are some of your favourite gadgets and appliances?
kinds of restaurants do you like?
any of your children cook?
do you like to teach cooking?
are some of your favourite techniques for low fat cooking?
do you tell people who are interested in a food career or writing a cookbook?
you plan to have a cooking program on TV?
people afraid to cook for you?
When and where did you start to
I began my culinary training
in my late mother's kitchen, at the age of three. I can still remember watching my
mom make stretch dough for strudel and knishes. It was amazing how a small piece
of dough could be stretched so thin that you could read the newspaper through
My mother and my grandmothers
always mixed and kneaded their yeast dough by hand (before food processors were
invented)! They prepared my favorite foods: cinnamon twist cookies, chopped
herring in a wooden bowl with a hackmesser (chopping blade), kasha & bow
ties, chicken schmaltz with gribenehs (cracklings) to shmear on fresh Challah
bread . . . mmm! I can still remember the wonderful smells and tastes from their
My mother, Belle
an excellent cook and has always been my role model in the kitchen. She
made home-made noodles, breads, bagels, cinnamon buns, cottage cheese, kreplach,
potato knishes, kugels, chopped herring... oy, the joy of Jewish cooking! Her
motto was "If you can read, you can cook!"
What was your first culinary
I was 9 or 10 years old, I mixed up some brownies, put them in the oven and
started to clean up. Then I discovered the eggs still sitting on the counter! My
brownies turned out very crunchy and caramelized, like candy. Wow, I invented my
first recipe! I've never looked back.
Did you have professional
Not in the beginning. I went to university and took general courses for a few
years. Then I became a secretary to earn some money. I moved from Winnipeg to
Montreal when I was 19. I worked, got married and started a family.
I joined Bnai Brith Women (now Jewish Women International) and our chapter
members decided to write a cookbook as a fund-raising project. We asked our
families and friends to share their recipes. We wanted to know their culinary
secrets so that we could duplicate the dishes that were family favorites. I
became the editor of Second Helpings Please! when I accidentally discovered that
the bean and barley soup had no beans and the tomato rice soup didn't include
rice! This project, which we thought would take 3 months, took us over 3 years!
It was a wonderful learning experience and "whetted my appetite" for a
When I first started to cook, I used to read other authors' cookbooks from cover
to cover, learning everything I could about food and cooking. I often called my
mother long distance (and still do!) with my cooking questions. Friends and
relatives also shared their favorite recipes and culinary secrets with me.
When I opened a cooking school in Montreal in 1980, I finally decided it was
time to take professional classes. My first cooking course was with Jacques
Pepin. I was so excited! I thought it would be important to prepare everything
exactly as it was written in his recipes. Jacques set us straight very quickly.
He asked us which recipe we had on our recipe sheet. When we replied that it was
Duck a l'Orange and read him the ingredients, he said, "That's a very nice
recipe. You can make it that way one day. But today, I feel like doing it
That class shaped my teaching style in a major way. I learned it was important
to be flexible, spontaneous and creative, to have the ability to improvise, and
to be responsive to my students' needs.
still take cooking classes and attend professional conferences whenever possible
to keep up to date on current food trends. There's so much to learn - food is a
Do you cook from other people's
have an eclectic collection of cookbooks (over 1500 and growing!) on all sorts
of topics. I read them for inspiration, information and pleasure. But when I do
decide to cook, I don't bother opening up a cookbook (unless it's one that I've
written)! I just open the pantry door and the refrigerator, cooking with the
ingredients I have on hand, according to my mood. I cook until I run out of
ingredients, time or energy, whichever comes first!
How do you create your recipes?
I become inspired in many ways. Sometimes I've tasted a dish at a restaurant or
a dinner party, which I modify to fit my personal tastes and guidelines. At
other times, a trip to the supermarket inspires me to combine a variety of
ingredients in a certain way. I may see a picture in a food magazine, cookbook
or TV commercial that sparks an idea. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the
night with a concept for a dish. Also, people love to share their recipes and
ideas with me, so this "feedback" often becomes the springboard for a
usually like to create recipes which use ingredients that are on hand in my
kitchen. I hate using difficult-to-find ingredients! Also, the recipes I create
must be quick to prepare or require minimal attention during cooking. I also
like to develop recipes that can be prepared in advance and refrigerated or
frozen until needed. I have limited time to spend in the kitchen, so it's
frustrating to spend two or three hours preparing a dish that disappears in two
or three minutes!
Why do you write cookbooks?
It makes it easier for me to find the information or recipes that I need! When I
gather recipes together to create a cookbook, then I don't have to depend on my
memory for every detail, or have to sift through a million scraps of paper!
I also love to collect recipes from other people. When I capture a recipe and
put it in print, that person becomes immortalized. Their memory will live on
long after they're gone, and future generations will be able to enjoy the
very gratifying to know that so many people use and enjoy my cookbooks. I am
delighted when people tell me that they learned to cook from my books. I'm often
told they can hear my "voice" - they say it's like having a good
friend beside them in the kitchen while they're cooking!
Why do you work so closely with
I believe in people helping people - it makes me feel good! Charity (Tzedakah)
is a very important part of Jewish tradition. Although I market my cookbooks
through traditional bookstores, I really love to work with charitable groups.
gives me great pleasure when my books and/or cooking classes are used as a means
of generating revenues for charitable projects. Many organizations have been
successful using my books as ongoing fund-raisers. It's very gratifying to help
raise money for so many worthwhile causes. An added bonus is the many friends
I've made along the way, all over the world!
do you cook at home?
I'm testing recipes for a book or food article, we eat the evidence! There are
other times when my fridge is quite empty because I'm very busy working on
various projects. Then I'm very happy to go out for dinner. Sometimes, friends
or family take pity and invite us over for a meal! For everyday meals at home, I
usually cook chicken, pasta or fish of some kind. (I love salmon and sea bass!)
I adore old-fashioned hamburgers with lots of onions and mashed potatoes, but
only indulge once in a while. I also enjoy vegetarian dishes such as Tofu in BBQ
Sauce or Vegetarian Chili with brown rice. These dishes make me feel very
What kinds of food do you like
Actually, my life is a 4-letter word - FOOD! I like almost everything, but I
really love comfort foods. A bowl of chicken soup with noodles or matzo balls
soothes the soul. I enjoy a simple salad, grilled veggies, starchy foods like rice, pasta, potatoes, bow ties
& kasha. There's nothing like my mother's potato knishes, and her chopped
herring is the best!
I can always find room for pizza (vegetarian with sun-dried tomatoes, peppers,
onions and garlic). I really love good quality bread, and I never refuse ice
I struggle to control my weight, I eat healthy, low-fat foods (chicken, fish,
soups, salads, vegetarian dishes) most of the time, aiming for as much variety
and color as possible. I'm always fighting the battle of the bulge because my
world revolves around food so much. When I'm very tired, I reach for an orange,
some crunchy veggies or a smoothie, although I can be "a cookie
monster" on occasion!
What's your kitchen like?
actually have two kitchens! The main kitchen is average in size, functional and
busy. I also have a teaching/test kitchen, which holds up to 20 students for my cooking
classes. I've been collecting "stuff" for over 40 years. I have a
dishwasher (thank goodness), 3 fridges, 3 microwaves, several top-quality food
processors, both Cuisinart and KitchenAid, a heavy-duty mixer and a bread
machine. I have a conventional electric stove, but the oven has a tendency to
burn things if I'm not careful. I have lots of good knives (especially small
utility knives), several cutting boards, lots of baking pans and dishes in all
sorts of shapes and sizes. I have measuring equipment in several sizes, 2 garlic
presses, 3 potato peelers, lots of rubber and metal spatulas, mixing bowls,
several strainers....the list goes on and on. My freezer is usually (but not
always) filled with a yummy assortment of low-fat baked goods for my book
What are some of your
favourite gadgets and appliances?
love my food processor and microwave oven. "Machine cuisine" has
inspired me to write a book on each of these appliances - they're such terrific
time- savers! I'm always using my "Good Grips" potato peeler and
Zyliss garlic press. I adore all kinds of spatulas. (I have rubber and metal
ones in various sizes and shapes.) A bread machine is pretty handy to mix up
bread dough in just minutes, but I usually bake my yeast breads in the oven
instead of in the bread machine. I prefer the final results. My grill pan,
non-stick skillet and wok are also favorites. I enjoy grilling appetizers, main
dishes, vegetables, even desserts, on my Weber gas grill for family, friends and
the students who attend my cooking classes. And I love my Kitchen Grips
extra-long grilling mitts (www.kitchengrips.com) which help protect me from
burns - they're fantastic!. They come in red and blue, which is helpful for
people who keep Kosher.
What kinds of restaurants do you
fancy ones, unless I'm on vacation. That's because I hate to dress up! When I'm
too tired to cook, I love to be served in a restaurant. My tastes are actually
quite eclectic. I love Italian, Chinese, French, Middle-Eastern, Jewish,
vegetarian and continental foods. (That doesn't exclude much, does it?) I
usually try to check what other people are eating when I pass by their tables
(although it embarrasses my family!) to see if something tempts me. I also love
to read restaurant menus because it inspires me to create new recipes for future
Do any of your children cook?
children and their spouses all cook very well, each talented in their own way.
(As my late grandmother used to say "All my children are wonderful, and I
love them all the same!") I never criticize them when they cook something.
I'm so happy to be served! My son Douglas, who has a flare for food, is an
excellent cook. I know he will be extremely successful in his culinary career.
Why do you like to teach
I teach, I feel energized. It's a wonderful feeling to inspire my students. If
you cook a meal for someone, you feed them for a day. When you teach them HOW to
cook, you feed them for a lifetime! And sometimes I'm even lucky enough to get
an invitation for dinner from a grateful student!
What are some of your favourite techniques for low-fat cooking?
sauté my vegetables in a heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet or wok, using just a
bit of oil to promote browning and add flavor. I "oven-fry"
vegetables, fish and poultry by roasting them uncovered at a high temperature. I
also grill foods on my non-stick grill pan and find that the microwave is
helpful for quick, fat-free cooking of soups, sauces, fish, vegetables and fruit
Marinating foods before cooking helps add flavor and tenderness. I usually
remove the skin from poultry before cooking, then cook it covered to prevent it
from drying out. I try to cook it in advance, then refrigerate it overnight so
that I can discard the congealed fat from the surface. I also use this technique
for soups, sauces and many meat dishes.
baking traditional recipes, I replace part of the fat with fruit purees such as
applesauce, prune puree or non-fat yogurt. I also replace some, but not all, of
the eggs in recipes, using two egg whites for each egg.
What do you tell people who are
interested in a food career or writing a cookbook?
Learn the basics, because once you know the rules, you'll know which ones can be
broken! Read lots of cookbooks. Watch your grandmother, mother, or other family
members and friends when they're cooking. (And don't forget about the men in
your life who love to cook!) Offer to help. That's how I learned.
Experiment in the kitchen. Baking is more precise, whereas cooking is usually
more creative once you master the basics. Watch cooking programs on TV or
cooking videos. Take some cooking classes. Don't be afraid to ask questions. The
internet has become an excellent resource for recipes and information. Don't
limit yourself to the food section in your local newspaper - it's easy to access
the food section of newspapers from all over the world when you go online!
Get a job working in a restaurant kitchen, even if it's just prepping or washing
dishes. I've trained many chefs who started out working as dishwashers!
a culinary association. (I belong to several, including the International
Association of Culinary Professionals and the Toronto Women's Culinary Network.)
Hang out in food markets. Plant a garden of some sort, even if it's just a few
herbs. The best foods come from nature, not from a package!
you plan to have a cooking program on TV?
the price is right! Actually, my schedule is extremely busy at the moment, and a
TV cooking show takes a lot of time to do properly. However, it is an option for
the future. I find it fun to do TV interviews - and you never know who's
Are people afraid to cook for
not! I love when people invite me over for a meal. I tell them to keep it
simple, because the focus is on enjoying each other's company, not impressing me
with food that's so fancy that I can't relax and enjoy it. I'm very happy with a
sandwich or salad and a cup of tea, just catching up on what's happening with
the special people in my life who care enough to give me a break from the