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Farm Fresh Cookbook
This article by Pat Summers was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
February 17, 1999. All rights reserved.
Unlike the writer of a novel or book of ideas, a cookbook
author can be subject to double jeopardy, required to prove herself
repeatedly after the book is published. Take Kim Rizk, the Princeton
resident whose "Hay Day Country Market Cookbook" was published
last November. Beyond talking about and signing it for promotional
purposes, as most authors do, she is also expected to cook from it
— in public, with flair and delicious results.
It’s one thing to produce a good cookbook — as Rizk seems to have
done. It’s another to use it, successfully, in front of a hungry
Which, we can vouch, Kim Rizk has also done, and will do yet again
in the next few weeks. On Saturday, February 20, at noon, she appears
at Encore Books in the Princeton Shopping Center. She plans to offer
tasting samples of mushroom dip, cherry-apricot crumble bars, and
spiced cranberry-apple wine. She is also scheduled to appear at
"The Book and the Cook" Saturday, March 20.
The first thing to know about Kim Rizk is that she’s a brave woman
— dare we say Rizk-taker? Aware of all the cookbook competition
out there — one ballpark estimate is 1,000 cookbooks published
every year — Rizk still said "yes" a few years ago when
her long-time employers asked her to produce their signature cookbook.
The result is an attractive volume of close to 300 pages of cranberry
and green type inside a warm, harvest-hued cover.
"Hay Day" is named for a chain of country markets in Fairfield
County, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York. And, Rizk adds,
it also alludes to the late summer harvest celebrated since Victorian
times. The books provides both signature shop recipes for favorite
take-out foods and condiments, and others that Rizk developed using
produce and ingredients available at Hay Day Markets.
"I think it’s very important that food be interesting and
It needs to be comfortable, and comforting. So when I develop a
I usually look toward the classics, the things people have
prepared in their homes, so they can understand it."
"Great Beginnings" kicks off the book, with recipes like
Oatmeal" (the secret is the steel-cut oats) and "Plum
Cobbler." This is joined by chapters that include "The Main
Attraction" (meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetable entrees),
for All Seasons" (with "Spinach and Citrus Salad in Cranberry
Vinaigrette"), and "A Harvest of Vegetables and Grains."
Throughout the book, well-placed boxes carry information on
("Buckwheat Flour") or how-to’s ("Freezing Berries").
Occasional menu boxes, such as the "Hot Off the Grill" meal,
spark ideas. "We’ve been preparing these things for years now.
We know they’re tried and true, people-tested, and yummy," Rizk
The book reflects Hay Day’s corporate philosophy of cooking with the
seasons and using the freshest and finest produce, Rizk says. The
adherence to preservative-free, natural products is exemplified by
unbleached flour, nature-ripened fruit, and pectin-free jellies. In
truth, the book’s biggest possible bone of contention is the crisp
versus soft cookie issue. "It wasn’t a deliberate policy, but
somehow Hay Day never got onto the chewy-cookie bandwagon," she
says. Faced with a challenge, she adds, "We find that soft cookies
are not something that appeals to us. It always seems as if they’re
stale." She may smile when she says that, but for at least some
cookie monsters, "them’s fightin’ words."
The youngest of three children, Rizk was born in Manhasset, New York,
in 1963, and grew up in Bucks County, where her parents owned a bed
and breakfast. (Two years ago they sold the inn and retired to Nevis,
in the Caribbean.) Both comfortable and practiced in hospitality,
Rizk remembers Julia Child’s "Mastering the Art of French
and "The Silver Palate Cookbook" as two chief resources of
her growing-up years, along with those from the Frog/Commissary and
A George School graduate, Rizk attended the Blair
Academy (where she met her husband-to-be, Amin), then NYU and Hartwick
College in New York, where she majored in sculpture. She continued her
studies in studio art, the Italian language, and food in Italy and
France. Living in Connecticut, and running a small catering business,
she discovered Hay Day country markets. For the past 12 years, as a
shop manager and recipe-developer, her enthusiasm has only grown.
These days she telecommutes from her home office in Princeton, with
her day sometimes interrupted by delivery of fresh Hay Day produce.
Arriving for a combined interview and lunch, we note that both Rizk’s
appearance and setting are perfect to promote a "country
product. Tall and trim, with wide blue eyes and blondish hair held
back with a black velvet headband, she wears a Hay Day chambray shirt
and black pants. She’s the mother of two girls, 8 and 6; her husband
is a perfume and cosmetics executive who commutes to Manhattan.
By a time of day when many people are still wondering whether to get
out of bed, Rizk had produced a notable lunch — from her cookbook,
of course. The dining table offered appealing window views in every
direction and proximity to her efficient galley kitchen — mostly
white, accented by brightly-colored cookware and wooden utensils.
Today it features fresh fennel, at once filigreed and rooty, on the
While warming the cream of roasted fennel soup, Rizk talks about that
vegetable’s varied uses and the fine points of baking the savory ham
and cheddar scones to accompany the soup. After gathering up the
dough and pressing it on a sheet pan, she left some triangular scone
shapes joined "so you get these nice tender edges. Or, if you
pull them apart before baking, they’re crisper." Coffee and
chocolate brownies, dusted with powdered sugar, round out the meal
— and the diners, as well.
Kim Rizk can sure set a scene. Her recipe for "A Cozy Holiday
Supper" suggests an after-dinner reading of "A Christmas
The mood of "Hay Day Country Market Cookbook" is the
of the "desperate dinners" columns that working couples may
consult more often than not. The author herself admits to meals on
the fly, far from Hay Day. "Different occasions call for different
foods," she says. Accordingly, she makes no apologies for the
book’s richly caloric entries, balancing them with recipes of fresh
vegetables and grains.
Having browsed through some 250 of Rizk’s recipes, and having
enjoyed her lunch, we continue to respect Jane Brody’s views on a
healthy diet. And — forgiving Rizk’s heretical views about crisp
cookies — we will have another bite of brownie (and not the
— Pat Summers
609-252-0608. Free. Saturday, February 20, noon.
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