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Feeding the soul while keeping the body healthy

Feeding the soul while keeping the body healthy

Posted on 11 April 2019 by admin

Jewish Passover brisket with savory walnut breading sliced and ready to serve

By Deborah Fineblum

(JNS) Sweet gefilte fish with a dollop of eye-watering horseradish. Fluffy matzo balls floating in golden chicken soup, raisin-dotted matzo kugel, tangy stuffed cabbage, crunchy charoset, mile-high spongecake.
This time of year (Passover — or Pesach in Hebrew — begins at sundown Friday, April 19, also the start of Shabbat), you may come upon recipes faded by the years in the handwriting of beloved mothers or grandmothers tucked into old cookbooks or recorded on yellowed index cards.
These, along with the fragrance of the Passover kitchen itself — and the first taste of matzo smeared with horseradish and charoset — can transport you back to the sights, sounds and tastes of Seder nights a half-century ago.
But when the nostalgia lifts, if you’re not careful, eight days (make that seven in Israel) of these wonderful time-honored Passover foods can also widen your waistline, dull your brain in a perpetual carb-fog and slow your kishkas to a near standstill.
Fortunately, there’s an art to preparing traditional foods that retain the power to pass on to the next generation this beloved family holiday while eating smart, creating a Passover that’s healthful without losing its soul.
Joan Nathan, the Julia Child of Jewish cooking, has updated many of her family’s Passover dishes, including Passover recipes, for her latest, “King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World” (Knopf).
“Seder night is a big deal in our family,” says Nathan, who each year hosts as many as 40 guests for the big event and, the week prior, holds a “gefilte-in” for friends to come and cook together.
Beginning with the salad, Nathan adds the key ingredient of creativity to every course, with a special focus on using vegetables to keep the “HQ” (health quotient) high. And she loads her mother’s traditional brisket recipe with plenty of carrots.
Paula Shoyer, author of “The Healthy Jewish Kitchen” (Sterling Epicure, 2017) and “The New Passover Menu” (Sterling Epicure), suggests an easy formula for “lightening up” traditional recipes: Take down the sugar a notch; replace some matzo meal with other kosher-for-Passover options like a mixture of almond and coconut flour; and use coconut oil (look for extra-virgin with a reliable hechsher, kosher symbol) instead of the ever-present margarine.
“And people will find that if they cook from scratch, they’ll avoid all the unhealthy chemicals in the packaged Passover foods — and save money, too,” notes Shoyer. “It only takes a few more minutes to make brownies yourself.” Creating a salad dressing of olive oil and vinegar with spices can help you dodge some of the arguably less healthful oils (peanut and cottonseed among them) long associated with Passover cooking.
Israelis are mad about cauliflower and zucchini, and both of these are spotlighted in Steven Rothfeld’s love letter to Israeli cuisine “Israel Eats” (Gibbs Smith). Note: On Passover Israelis are split between Sephardic tradition, which allows the eating of kitnyot (most notably legumes and rice), and Ashkenazi customs, which consider these things to be not permissible for Passover. (Though in the spirit of what Rothfeld calls “Israeli fusion,” in recent years many Ashkenazim in Israel and elsewhere have opted to spend Passover eating like Sephardim.) Tip to shoppers: You’ll notice that many “Kosher for Passover” products add the word “Kitniyot” somewhere on the package as a warning to consumers whose tradition is to avoid it. (Not sure what’s kitniyot? Arlene Mathes-Scharf of kashrut.com put together this list with the late Rabbi Zuche Blech: https://askcrc.org/item/Passover/186968)
“The best advice I can give for keeping healthy on Passover is to listen to your body,” adds Rothfeld. “Just because it’s a holiday, don’t overeat, and even though it looks amazing, don’t eat it if you’re not hungry.” (Kind of the flip side to the Haggadah notation: “All who are hungry, come and eat.”)
Then there are the folks whose food sensitivities — to gluten, nuts or dairy for instance — make Passover a dietary challenge. When Marcy Goldman’s nut-allergic son longed to eat her charoset, a delicious part of the Seder that calls for nuts, she quickly went to work concocting a version he could safely enjoy. The result? “Paradise Charoset” in her “Newish Jewish Cookbook” (River Heart Press).
Goldman also makes a point of slipping healthful, colorful veggies and fruits into other traditional dishes, creating such treats as her “Three-Level Kugel.”
“You can eat smart over Passover,” she insists. “You don’t have to recycle potatoes, kugels and roast all week. And remember, it only takes one or two Passovers to make your adaptations into your family Passover traditions.”
There is also oat matzo on the market that solves the gluten-free problem (you may need to order them if they’re not available near you), as they’re kosher for making a bracha (“blessing”) over (Note: Not all gluten-free matzos are, just the oat). And those sensitive to nightshades such as white potatoes will have to be vigilant about scouring the labels due to the literally tons of potato starch used in prepared kosher-for-Passover foods.
As for the most common health complaint from Passover — the infamous constipating powers of matzo and its by-products — Nathan says her ancestors were wise enough to build relief right into their traditional holiday recipes. “Our family always serves our krimsel (matzo fritters) with plenty of stewed prunes … even way back then, they understood.”
Joan Nathan’s Favorite Brisket (Meat)
Ingredients:
One 5-pound brisket of beef, shoulder roast of beef, chuck roast, or end of steak
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 onions, peeled and diced
One 10-ounce can tomatoes, undrained
2 cups red wine
2 stalks celery with the leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped parsley
6 to 8 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place onions and garlic in a 5-quart to 6-quart casserole. Season brisket with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat and sear brisket until browned, 3-4 minutes on each side.
Place fat-side-up on top of onions. Add tomatoes and their juice, breaking them up with a fork.
Add the wine, celery, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary.
Cover casserole and bake for 3 hours, basting with pan juices every half-hour.
Paula Shoyer’s Chocolate Quinoa Cake
Ingredients for Cake:
¾ cup quinoa
1½ cups water
Nonstick cooking spray
2 tablespoons potato starch
1/3 cup orange juice (from 1 orange)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher for Passover vanilla extract
¾ cup coconut oil
1½ cups sugar
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)

Ingredients for Glaze (Optional):
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon sunflower or safflower oil
1 teaspoon kosher-for-Passover vanilla extract

Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the quinoa and water into a small saucepan, and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and cook the quinoa for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Set the pan aside. The quinoa may be made 1 day in advance.
Use cooking spray to grease a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle the potato starch over the greased pan and then shake the pan to remove any excess starch.
Place the quinoa in the bowl of a food processor. Add the orange juice, eggs, vanilla, oil, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt, and process until the mixture is very smooth.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or place in a medium microwave-safe bowl, putting in a microwave for 45 seconds, stirring and then heating the chocolate for another 30 seconds until melted. Add the chocolate to the quinoa batter and process until well-mixed.
Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake it for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and then remove it gently from the pan. Let it cool on a wire cooling rack.
To make the glaze, melt the chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl in the microwave (see above) or over a double boiler. Add the oil and vanilla; whisk well. Let the glaze sit for 5 minutes and then whisk it again. Use a silicone spatula to spread the glaze over the cake.
Garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired.
Marcy Goldman’s Nut-Free Passover Paradise Charoset (Pareve)
Ingredients:
2 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup dried cherries
¼ cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup yellow raisins
2 cups coarsely chopped apples
½ cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ cup water or orange juice
2 tablespoons sweet red wine
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
Over low-medium heat, cook the fruit slowly until the apples soften and the cranberries pop open. Stir, ensuring mixture does not burn on bottom. You may have to lower the heat.
After mixture is cooked down and is thicker, adjust tartness to taste with more orange juice and sugar. If it seems too thick, add a touch more water or orange juice. Cool well. Refrigerate after it cools down.
Serve cold or room temperature. (Some of this is used on the Seder plate; a side dish may be offered with the main meal.)
Makes about 1¾ cups.
Best Matzo Balls (with Olive Oil) by Weekend Cook (Pareve)
From Allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
4 eggs
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup club soda
2 tablespoons club soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups matzo meal, or more as needed
4 quarts water

Directions:
Whisk eggs and olive oil in a bowl until combined.
Stir both amounts of club soda and salt into egg mixture.
Mix matzo meal into wet ingredients to form a workable dough; if mixture is too wet, stir in ¼ cup more matzo meal. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Bring water to a boil in a large pot.
Wet your hands and form matzo-ball dough into walnut-size balls. Gently place matzo balls into boiling water.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer matzo balls until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
Note: For firm/hard-middle matzo balls, either reduce the seltzer or add ¼ cup matzo meal.
Stuffed Cabbage from Oratorio in Zichron Ya’acov, as published in Steven Rothfeld’s Israel Eats (Meat)
Ingredients:
1 medium green cabbage
1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, minced
21 ounces ground lamb
½ cup chopped mint leaves
2 medium tomatoes, grated
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries
1 teaspoon ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 generous cup chicken stock or broth
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, crushed

Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Freeze the cabbage for 24 hours to facilitate separating of leaves.
Defrost cabbage. Separate leaves, trying not to rip them. The more whole leaves, the better.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the rice and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the lamb and sauté until browned and no pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the blanched rice, mint, tomatoes, pine nuts, cranberries and ras el hanout. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Arrange one-fourth of the cabbage leaves in the bottom of a medium-size Dutch oven or heavy pot. Top with a third of the meat mixture. Cover with another fourth of the cabbage leaves. Top with another third of the meat mixture. Cover with another fourth of the cabbage leaves. Top with the remaining third of the meat mixture. Cover with the remaining fourth of the cabbage leaves.
Pour in the chicken stock and lemon juice. Add the garlic clove; season generously with salt and pepper.
Cover tightly and cook for 1½ hours. Remove the lid from the pot. Cover contents of the pot with a plate, then top the plate with a brick or cans as weight.
Refrigerate overnight. Bring the cabbage cake to room temperature. Cut into slices and serve.
Joan Nathan’s Salmon-Gefilte Fish Mold with Horseradish and Beet Sauce (Pareve)
Makes 15 to 20 slices
Ingredients:
2 pounds salmon fillets
1 pound cod, flounder, rockfish or whitefish
3 medium red onions, peeled and diced (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons matzo meal
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
4 tablespoons snipped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sugar parsley, for garnish
Horseradish and beet sauce (see below)

Directions:
Have your fish store grind the fillets or pulse them yourself, one at a time, in a food processor or meat grinder. If using a food processor, pulse the fish in short bursts, being careful not to purée the fish; you want some texture.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan and fill a larger pan (such as a large Pyrex dish) with 2 inches of hot water.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, sauté the diced onions in the oil for about 5 minutes, until soft and transparent but not brown. Set aside to cool.
Put the fish, onions, eggs, 2 cups water, matzo meal, carrots, 4 tablespoons dill, salt, pepper, mustard and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer equipped with a flat beater. Beat at medium speed for 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the Bundt or tube pan, and then put the pan inside the larger water-filled dish (called a bain-marie). Smooth the top with a spatula. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour or until the center is solid.
Remove the Bundt or tube pan from the water dish; allow the terrine to cool slightly for at least 20 minutes. Slide a long knife around the outer and inner edges of the Bundt or tube pan, then carefully invert the terrine onto a flat serving plate.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. If any water accumulates on the serving dish, carefully drain it away before serving.
Slice the terrine as you would a torte, garnished with parsley and dill and served with Horseradish and Beet Sauce (see recipe below).
Horseradish and Beet Sauce (Pareve)
Makes about 4 cups
Ingredients:
3 large beets (about 2 pounds, trimmed but not peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces (about 1 cup) peeled and roughly chopped fresh horseradish root
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Rub the whole beets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake the beets for about an hour or until tender in the center when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, and then peel and cut into large chunks.
In the bowl of a food processor, mix the horseradish and the vinegar. Process with the steel blade until finely chopped; do not purée. Add the beets and remaining olive oil. Pulse until the beets are coarsely chopped, but not puréed. Transfer to a bowl and add the salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Adjust the seasoning as needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least a day.
Serve as an accompaniment to the Salmon-Gefilte Fish Mold (see recipe above).
Marcy Goldman’s Three-Level Kugel (Pareve)
Makes 8-10 servings
Broccoli Layer:
1 pound broccoli, cooked, chopped fine
3 eggs
½ cup matzo meal
1½ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3/8 teaspoon pepper
Carrot-Squash Layer:
2 cups carrots, shredded
1 cup butternut squash, cooked and mashed
¼ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1½ cups matzo meal
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice
Cauliflower Layer:
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup diced onion
1 pound cauliflower, cooked, finely chopped
3 eggs
1 cup matzo meal
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper (bottom and sides). Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place pan on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Prepare first layer by cooking broccoli and then combining with rest of ingredients (for that layer) in a bowl. Spread in springform pan.
For the second layer, in a bowl, blend the carrots, with squash, sugar, egg, matzo meal, salt, cinnamon and orange juice. Gently spread over broccoli layer.
For the third layer, prepare cauliflower. In a small skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onion until lightly cooked and golden. Place with cauliflower in a large bowl and stir in the eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper. Gently spread this over carrot-squash mixture.
Bake 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

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BookFest brings rich, engaging lineup

BookFest brings rich, engaging lineup

Posted on 12 October 2017 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

The Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest brings to Dallas’ “People of the Book” authors, works of fact and fiction, prose and power.  Beginning Oct. 26 it’s a series of stories and histories.

Submitted photo This year’s BookFest begins Oct. 26.

Submitted photo
This year’s BookFest begins Oct. 26.

“It’s both exciting and meaningful to be part of a program that focuses on Jewish books and authors that educates and entertains our community,” said JCC BookFest Chair Liz Liener, in her fifth year as lay leader.  “Named for Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer, of blessed memory, a wonderful woman who was beloved and respected by her family, friends, and community for the exemplary life she led and her love of life throughout, the BookFest shares books, and authors, who carry her spirit.”
Partnering with the JCC this year are Baylor Scott & White Health, Congregation Anshai Torah, Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance, Dallas Jewish Historical Society, the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the J’s Lieberman Family Wellness Center and Tycher Library, the Women of Reform Judaism at Temple Emanu-El, and the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.
“We’re honored to have so many community partners on board allowing us to engage audiences with fun and laughter as well as some very serious topics,” said JCC’s Director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living, Rachelle Weiss Crane.  “Our program has a wonderful reputation and it’s very exciting to, in addition to our extensive review and search each year, to have the industry reaching out to us wanting to come to Dallas.”
A week of meeting with or listening to more than 250 authors presenting their books through the Jewish Book Council in New York, resulted in the culling of the year’s catalogue. Liener, Weiss Crane, and a team of dedicated volunteers read many titles, their combined efforts narrowing the tally to 10.
Nicole Krauss’ Forest Dark opens the series at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26.  Krauss weaves a tale about personal transformation interweaving the stories of an older lawyer and a young novelist — whose transcendental search leads them to the same Israeli desert.
The Tycher Library Community Read, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, will be at 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 30. Based on the true story, Mark Sullivan’s best-seller, which will be made into a feature film is based on the life of Pino Lella, an Italian teenager who during WWII is forced by his parents to enlist as a German soldier which they believe will keep him out of combat.  After he is injured, he’s recruited to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, simultaneously spying for the Allies inside the German High Command, ultimately helping to save the lives of many Jews.
At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Temple Emanu-El, author Maggie Anton will speak about her famed Rashi’s Daughter’s series, Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprentice, Enchantress, and the recently released What the First Rabbis had to say About You Know What.
I Wrote That One, Too…: A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney is featured at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 13, with Congregation Anshai Torah a capella Kol Rina choir members Bruce Katz and Rusty Cooper moderating author Steve Dorff’s musical and book-sharing visit. Dorff chronicles his 40-plus years as the writer of numerous Top 10 hits for artists including Celine Dion, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston as well as television scores and his forthcoming Broadway musical Josephine
Martha Hall Kelly and her debut novel Lilac Girls are scheduled at 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 4,.  In her debut novel, the author brings to life New York socialite Caroline Ferriday who has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon; Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager who senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement; and German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, who is hired for a government medical position finding herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The new year brings The Widow of Wall Street author Randy Susan Meyers to a free event at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11, at Congregation Anshai Torah.  Community member and Great Thoughts website book reviewer Andrea Peskind Katz will lead the discussion with the bestselling author about her story of the seemingly blind love of a wife for her husband as he conquers Wall Street and her extraordinary, perhaps foolish, loyalty during his precipitous fall.
Ten Dollars to Hate author Patricia H. Bernstein comes to BookFest at 7 p.m. , Thursday, Feb. 1, bringing the story of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, the most “successful” incarnation since its inception in the ashes of the Civil War, and the first prosecutor in the nation to successfully convict and jail Klan members.
Paula Shoyer’s The Healthy Jewish Kitchen has all the ingredients of a great night beginning at 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 26.  Shoyer dispels the notion that healthy can’t be delicious connections to our ancestor’s kitchens, using only natural ingredients, offering a fresh, nutrient-dense spin on cooking, offering more than 60 Ashkenazy and Sephardy classic recipes.
Israel’s 70th anniversary is celebrated early through the presentation of Angels in the Sky at 7p.m., Wednesday, March 7. The gripping story is of fewer than 150 volunteer airmen from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, and South Africa arrived — many WWII veterans, one-third of whom were not Jewish — who flew, fought, died, and, against all odds, helping defeat five Arab nations, during Israel’s war of independence protecting the fledgling Jewish state.
The BookFest closes with a chapter of history that began in Dallas as Alexandra Zapruder arrives at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 12, with her Twenty-Six Seconds.  Fifty–five years after her grandfather Abraham Zapruder captured the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the author tells the story of the film, and its journey, demonstrating how one man’s unwitting moment in the spotlight shifted the way politics, culture, and media intersect.
Events are at the Aaron Family JCC unless otherwise noted and tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at thedoor except for the  Oct. 30 Beneath the Scarlet Sky and the Dec. 4 Lilac Girls events which are free of charge.  For more details or to order tickets, visit jccdallas.org/main/bookfest/

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‘New Passover Menu’ strives for liberation from perceived culinary slavery

‘New Passover Menu’ strives for liberation from perceived culinary slavery

Posted on 26 March 2015 by admin

By Robert Gluck/JNS.org

For those who feel that Passover cooking can be as restrictive as their ancestors’ enslavement in Egypt, pastry chef and author Paula Shoyer says her new book “has arrived to set you free.”

A former practicing attorney, Shoyer has appeared on the Food Network and Martha Stewart Living Radio and works as a consultant to kosher bakeries. Her latest undertaking is “The New Passover Menu,” a book released on Feb. 3.

The cover of “The New Passover Menu,” by Paula Shoyer. Credit: The New Passover Menu.

“Jews who host the holiday often feel that preparing the house and food for Passover makes them feel a little too much like the Israelite slaves,” Shoyer writes in the book’s introduction.

The recipes offered in the book, Shoyer hopes, will change that feeling. Bread, rice, corn, oats, rye, spelt, barley, legumes and pasta all fall under the category of chametz — foods that are forbidden on Passover. But rather than dwelling on prohibited items, Shoyer suggests focusing on what you can eat on Passover.

Known for her desserts, Shoyer’s book includes triple-chocolate biscotti, pistachio and strawberry roll, and meringue fruit tarts. “The New Passover Menu” also features an updated Ashkenazic seder menu (with items like fresh salmon gefilte fish loaf with arugula; brisket osso buco; and asparagus, zucchini, and leek kugel), an international seder menu (including Middle Eastern charoset, whole chicken with dried fruit stuffing, and Moroccan spiced short ribs), a Shabbat menu, a Yom Tov menu, a French dairy menu, and more desserts.

Shoyer has traveled globally and spent significant time in Switzerland and Paris, where she graduated from the Ritz Escoffier pastry program in 1996. Fittingly, her book has an international flair.

“In my travels I would meet people who told me they loved my desserts, but that I should write a food cookbook,” Shoyer told JNS.org. “Everywhere I went, people asked me about savory food, but specifically Passover foods. They mentioned how hard it is, the food is terrible, the desserts are terrible. They made it sound like it was such a misery to cook for Passover. For me it is not. I realized I needed to write a cookbook and focus on what you can eat, instead of what you cannot eat.”

Shoyer teaches classes on French pastry-making and Jewish cooking in the Washington, DC, area, and holds demonstrations around the world. Her goal is to make traditional Jewish desserts more contemporary, more interesting, and healthier. Many of her desserts are dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan.

On March 25 at New York City’s 92nd Street Y, Shoyer will give a presentation on her updates to traditional dishes, contemporary Passover recipes, and her personal journey as part of the Y’s Kitchen Arts and Letters series. Referencing Shoyer’s previous books—2010’s “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and 2013’s “The Holiday Kosher Baker: Traditional & Contemporary Holiday Desserts”—Christine Chen, the 92nd Street Y’s director of adult programs, said Shoyer “literally wrote the book on kosher baking.”

Paula Shoyer, pictured here holding challah, is the author of a new book that includes anything but challah—“The New Passover Menu.” Credit: The New Passover Menu.

The Y is looking forward to hearing “some tales from [Shoyer’s] unusual career journey and even some tidbits from her experience competing on the Food Network’s ‘Sweet Genius’ [program],” Chen told JNS.org.

Shoyer is planning to write more books, including one on Shabbat cooking and another on desserts, and she also intends to introduce a new frozen Jewish dessert. But for now, her focus is on “The New Passover Menu,” with three book events coming up in Chicago in March on top of the 92nd Street Y program. Recently, when visiting Israel to attend a family bar mitzvah, Shoyer held what she called a “food tour” that kicked off at U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro’s residence in Herzliya Pituach. Eighty attended the event, at which Shoyer demonstrated desserts from her three books.

In Israel, Shoyer said she was also researching a forthcoming article about the best bakeries in the Jewish state. Asked to divulge a few of those bakeries, she told JNS.org that her top three are the Pe’er bakery and Ness Patisserie in Jerusalem, as well as Tel Aviv’s Careme.

Besides offering contemporary recipes, Shoyer’s book includes personal anecdotes such as one titled “Italian Vegetarian Menu,” which is dedicated to her father, Reuben Marcus, who served in the U.S. Army in Italy during World War II.

“In 1945, just prior to Passover, the Rochester Jewish Welfare Board shipped a massive amount of Passover essentials—matzah, wine, gefilte fish—to the base where he was stationed in northern Italy,” Shoyer writes. “My father and his Jewish buddies decided to organize two seders, but they needed more supplies, and most importantly, a large enough venue to host them. The Jewish chaplain convinced the quartermaster to supply the required items. Searching the area, they found an old abandoned farm building. They cleaned it out and convened a seder for three to four hundred Jewish soldiers. My father says this story proves that with a little bit of dedication and moxie, you can turn nothing into something, and that it is truly possible to hold a Passover seder anywhere.”

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