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Luscious Legacies: Kosher Cookbook With a Twist

Chef Idalee Cathcart, who combines recipes with food for thought, hopes her book will bring families together. 

“Luscious Legacies Cookbook: L’Dor V’Dor: From Generation to Generation” is designed to inspire, as well as nourish. Chef Idalee Cathcart, who combines recipes with food for thought, hopes her book will bring families together. 

“The COVID 19 pandemic … basically brought us back to the table,” Chef Cathcart told the Journal. 

Cathcart and her husband keep a kosher home, and are active members of Tiferet Israel in Dallas, home of the annual Kosher Chili Cookoff.

The author, who is Ashkenazi, was raised Conservadox on Long Island. “I loved going to services,” she recalled. “I remember walking home [from shul]. It was family time.”

Although Cathcart “fell off the wagon” religion-wise in her college years, she eventually found her way back. 

“I know that Hashem wanted me to get back to my roots because, one time when I had gone off the deep end, I had gone out to dinner with some people and they ordered me seafood,” she said. “I tried it and wound up in the hospital with anaphylaxis.”

She continued, “That was an eye-opener. I got [the] message from above and it brought me back to kosher. This was around 2007.”

Cathcart had built a business in Houston in the 1980s selling her signature truffles, The Idalee’s of Texas. The truffles were a combination of marshmallows and caramel and a blend of chocolates and crushed pecans. 

After years of working 16-hour days, seven days a week, she sold off part of her business, went to the Culinary Institute of America and got her degree in Baking & Pastry Arts in the early 1990s.

“I loved it,” she said. “I was like a sponge. The chefs would even stay after to coach me because they saw the potential in me.” 

After culinary school, Cathcart worked for other people for a while before starting another business. She was about to start distributing her signature sauce made with her mother’s recipe when COVID hit and the endeavor stalled. 

“The good thing about what’s happened with COVID is that it gave me the time to sit down and put down thoughts that I had been wanting to put into print for a long, long time,” she said. “My book is a recipe-type book, but there’s also some psychology to it.”

The first chapter is called, “The Meat of the Matter,” which, according to Cathcart, relates to your quality of life and your relationships. 

“The greatest relationship you can have is with yourself,” she said. “Knowing who you are allows you to [develop] productive relationships with other people without compromising your integrity.”

Following each chapter’s introduction are recipes from Cathcart, as well as those handed down to her from previous generations and from family, friends and master chefs.

Throughout the kosher book, each recipe is noted as “meat,” “dairy” or “parve.” However, Cathcart sees her cookbook as mainstream.

“[Readers] can tweak the recipe however they want,” she said. “If I give them a recipe for meat, and they want to put cheese in it with meat, that’s their choice.”

As for the title? 

When Cathcart started making desserts, people would say to her, “‘This is delicious. This is luscious,’” she said. Photos of two of her desserts, carrot cake and chocolate mousse torte, as well as a fruit plate adorn the cover.

“When I thought about honoring the memory of those that shared a piece of their life with me through their recipe, I thought luscious and legacies would be really good.”

“I love the word [luscious],” she said. “So I kept [it] in my heart. And when I thought about honoring the memory of those that shared a piece of their life with me through their recipe, I thought luscious and legacies would be really good.”

She added, “One of my taglines is, ‘Bringing back life to those who gave us life.’ So, it’s quite an honor to do that.”

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