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Gourmet Deli

Food and prop styling by Shiri Feldman
Food prep and styling by Chef Suzie Gornish
Photography by Felicia Perretti


WHO: Mr. Leiby Fisher

WHAT: Air-fried takeout

WHERE: Monsey, NY

WHEN: Always!

WHY: To promote healthy, clean eating

Takeout food that’s not deep-fried? This I wanted to see — I mean, taste! I went on quite a hunt for this Like a Local article. After finally tracking down and interviewing Mr. Leiby Fisher of Wesley Kosher Deli, I knew I had discovered a wonderful gem that I wanted to share with our readers.

Mr. Fisher, a food aficionado, shared the new method he uses which everyone is excited about. He explained, “Everyone is into eating lighter these days. Out with the grease and the preservatives that detract from the flavor and freshness of your ingredients! In today’s day and age, people want food that’s pure, air-fried, and made with fresh herbs and minimally processed ingredients.”

If you step into the takeout section at Wesley Kosher, you’ll see that his actions speak louder than his words. The takeout is changing their cooking methods. They got rid of many of their fryers, and instead, they use high-quality, commercial convection ovens. This allows them to air-fry many of their recipes, as the heat and air rotation in the ovens is extremely powerful. The food comes out fresh and crispy, and it’s a great alternative to fried food. The air-fried delicacies he serves up are just as tasty, if not more so, than typical takeout food. This is in addition, of course, to the obvious health benefits.

Take the classic schnitzel that most takeouts carry. Many drip with oil, causing that heartburn-y feeling and thoughts to the tune of, “Oh no, I ate too much of this, and I’m going to regret it!” The air-fried schnitzel offered at Wesley Kosher is as crispy and crunchy as ever, moist and flavorful, but with none of those oily, greasy aftereffects. And the same with his line of dips, sides, and many other foods. Mr. Fisher has been experimenting with different air-frying methods for eggplant recently, using the results in his specialty sabich, eggplant salads, matbucha,  and other delicious dips.

Said Mr. Fisher, “I want to offer food that I would choose to make in my own kitchen. I believe in good food, and I believe in sharing the best of what I create with others.”

Mr. Fisher supplied me with a veritable smorgasbord of dishes; I even liked the foods I usually don’t touch! For the purpose of this article, I was offered a breaded, air-fried cauliflower to taste and see for myself. Though at first I was a bit skeptical on how oven-baked food could taste air-fried and how air-fried could taste fried, I was pleasantly surprised to see that everything he’d said was true! Crispy and fresh, these cauliflower nuggets tasted remarkably like their deep-fried cousins, but with none of the greasy side effects.

Mr. Fisher explained that the benefit of using convection baking is that the air and heat pull out the extra moisture from the food and give it an authentic fried texture and feel. Those who don’t have this type of oven can achieve this effect by baking your food on an oven-safe rack, allowing the air to circulate the food. If the food lies directly on a baking pan, the bottom will stay wet. Try out this incredibly easy breaded cauliflower recipe he shared with me and be introduced to the fantastic benefits of oven air-fried cooking!

Crispy Breaded Cauliflower

SERVES 10-12

  • 1 32-oz (910-g) bag frozen cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 cup crispy fried onions
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup flour (or cornstarch, for a gluten-free version)
  • 3 cups panko crumbs (or gluten-free crumbs), for coating

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Place mayonnaise, onions, and spices in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Place cauliflower in a large mixing bowl or ziplock bag with flour or cornstarch and mix to coat. Add blended mayo-spice mixture and toss well to coat.

Place the panko crumbs in another bowl. Working with small batches at a time, add cauliflower and toss lightly to coat with crumbs.

If you’re using a convection oven, place cauliflower in a single layer onto a parchment paper-lined baking pan, spray generously with cooking spray, and bake for 12–15 minutes, turning once in middle. For a standard oven, place the cauliflower on a metal cooling rack (such as one used for cookies) and place cooling rack over a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Spray with cooking spray and bake for 20–30 minutes, turning once in the middle and checking for doneness at 20 minutes.

Remove cauliflower from the oven and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve immediately.

Tip: If you want to cut down the calorie count, swap out the mayo and crispy fried onions for onions you’ve sautéed yourself! Just dice and sauté 3 large Spanish onions in some oil, allowing them to become deeply caramelized and shrink into tiny pieces. Blend the onions with the liquid it’s in and use that instead of mayonnaise and store-bought fried onions. The flavor will be just as delicious, if not more so.

Note: You can use this recipe and process for chicken or other proteins to yield delicious results as well!


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 879)

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