There are many jokes about “the four questions,” Mah Nishtanah, but a fifth question might well be, do we need another Passover cookbook and how is this cookbook for Passover different from all other Passover cookbooks?
Paula Shoyer answers that in her book The New Passover Menu which features updated traditional dishes that provide a nostalgic pleasure of family favourites, along with a raft of contemporary recipes developed to please creative cooks who do not want to compromise their taste for sophisticated recipes during the holiday.
Readers have the fun of choosing from eight menus, breakfast and desserts with 65 recipes and enjoying 73 magnificent, mouthwatering, colour photographs.
Among recipes in the breakfast chapter are: gluten-free waffles or pancakes and crumb cake muffins. The dessert chapter has triple-chocolate biscotti, orange tea cake cupcakes, cheesecake with roasted cashew and chocolate crust and Toronne candy.
Every recipe gives the number of servings, preparation time, cooking time, advanced preparation information and equipment to use. If that is not enough, this is followed by an anecdote related to the recipes, which makes this a wonderful read!
Ingredients are given in American and metric measurements; directions are paragraphed with the first word of each paragraph in capital letters.
Shaded paragraphs for many recipes include hints and tips such as cleaning leeks, toasting nuts, cubing a whole butternut squash, slivering basil, making vanilla sugar and more
This is definitely a book to buy for you and as a gift. No creative kosher cook should be without one.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the author Paula Shoyer and sitting with her in a Machaneh Yehudah shuk café in Jerusalem. Meeting this food writer, cookbook author, French-trained pastry chef, you are immediately caught up in the high-energy enthusiasm of someone who is passionate about what they do.
She came to Israel to research Israeli pastry.
“The food scene here is so developed,” she exclaimed to me. She had asked everyone she met, “where do you like to go to eat pastry? What is different? What is unique to Israel?”
Israel is no stranger to her. She came to Israel when she was 16, then she returned for her junior year from Brandeis University on the Hebrew University program. She also has a brother living in Israel since 1985.
After graduation, she became an attorney and speech writer, and she lived in Europe. While in Paris, she enrolled in a pastry course for fun. This led to operating a dessert catering business in Geneva, Switzerland for two years and teaching classes in French for Jewish organizations.
When she returned to the U.S., she began teaching classes in French pastry in Washington, D.C. where she lived. Married with four adult children, she now operates a pastry cooking school in Chevy Chase, Md.; appears on radio and TV shows; writes freelance for newspapers and magazine; and develops dessert recipes for companies.
Here are two recipes from The New Passover Menu, with instructions numbered by this author.
Smothered Chicken with Wine and Herbs
o 1/2 – 1 cup potato starch or matzoh meal
o 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tbsp.
o 2 large whole chickens, cut into 8 pieces
o salt and black pepper
o 2 large onions, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
o 3 ribs celery, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
o 4 large peeled carrots, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
o 5 roughly chopped garlic cloves
o 6 fresh sage leaves
o 6 fresh basil leaves
o 1/2 cup white wine
o leaves of 6 sprigs thyme or
o 1 tsp. dried thyme
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Place potato starch in a shallow bowl.
2. Heat oil over high heat in a large saucepan with 2-inch sides.
3. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dip into potato starch to coat, shaking off the excess. Cook in batches until golden brown, about four minutes per side, Place browned pieces in a large roasting pan, skin side up.
4. Add chopped onions, celery and carrots to the saucepan and cook five minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any chicken fat or pieces and mix in. If the pan looks dry, add another 1 or 2 tbsp. oil. Add garlic and cook for two minutes.
5. Chop sage and basil into small pieces.
6. Add wine to pan and cook until wine is almost evaporated. Add salt and pepper.
7. Pour cooked vegetables over chicken pieces, sprinkle with sage, basil and thyme.
Cover in roasting pan and bake one hour. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes. Spoon into a serving bowl with vegetables on top of chicken pieces.
Makes 10 servings.
Orange Tea Cake Cupcakes
Gebrokts, nut free
o 1/2 cup boiling water
o 1 black tea bag
o 1 cup sugar plus 1 tsp. for tea
o4 large separated eggs
o 1 1/14 tsp. orange zest
o 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
o ½ cup matzoh cake meal
o ½ cup potato starch
o dash salt
o ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
o 4 tsp. tea
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Place paper liners in muffin tins.
2. Measure water into mixing bowl Add tea and 1 tsp. sugar and let steep five minutes.
3. In large bowl, beat egg yolks, 3 tsp. tea (reserving rest), egg yolks, orange zest, orange juice and sugar with electric mixer on low speed.
4. Add cake meal and potato starch and continue until combined.
5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt on high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a silicone spatula, gentle fold the whites into the bowl with egg yolks, and then fill the muffin cups three-quarters full with the batter.
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool while you make the icing.
7. Place confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Add rest of tea and whisk until you have a thick icing. Scoop up the icing with a measuring set teaspoon and place in the center of each cupcake.
Garnish with additional orange zest if desired.