By Sybil Kaplan
Photograph by Barry Kaplan
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Meeting food writer, cookbook author, French-trained pastry chef, Paula Shoyer, in Israel, you are immediately caught up in the high-energy enthusiasm of someone who is passionate about what they do.
Paula Shoyer is that person. She came to Israel a year ago and spent every spare moment researching Israeli pastry.
“The food scene here is so developed,” she exclaimed. 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 the 51-year old. She came to Israel when she was 16; then she returned for her junior year from Brandeis University on the Hebrew University program. (Her brother has lived here since 1985.)
After graduation she was an attorney and speech writer who 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 the Washington, D.C. area where she lived. Married with four kids 21, 19 and 16-year- old twins, she now operates a pastries cooking school in Chevy Chase, Maryland; appears on radio and TV shows; freelance writes for newspapers and magazines; and develops dessert recipes for companies. 
A few years ago, she wrote an article for Hadassah Magazine on the best pastry shops in Paris. Prior to coming to Israel a year ago, she pitched a story to the magazine on the best desserts and bakeries in Israel.
During her visit a year ago, she presented a demonstration in the home of American Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, hosted by his wife, Julie Fisher, with samplings from her cookbooks, The Kosher Baker and The Holiday Kosher Baker.
She also visited bakeries and pastry shops in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; and had two book signings for her newest book then, The New Passover Menu.
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The New Passover Menu by Paula Shoyer, Sterling Epicure Publishers, $24.95 hardcover, $27.95 in Canada, 160 pp.
A “fifth” question for Passover might well be, how is this cookbook for Passover different from all other Passover cookbooks?
Paula Shoyer answers that: “The New Passover Menu features updated traditional dishes that provide the nostalgic pleasure of family favorites, 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, mouth-watering color photographs.
The menus and some recipes include: updated Ashkenazic Seder (fresh salmon gefilte fish loaf); International Seder (whole chicken with dried fruit stuffing); Shabbat (seder plate salad); Yom Tov (spaghetti squash fritters); French Dairy (seared tuna with olives ad capers); Italian Vegetarian (potato gnocchi with pink sauce); BBQ Dinner (garlic marinated steak with onion jam); Easy Chicken (crunchy quinoa with sweet potatoes and cranberries).
Among recipes in the Breakfast section are: gluten-free waffles or pancakes and crumb cake muffins; the Desserts section includes 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 recipe, which makes this a wonderful read!
Ingredients are given in American and metric systems; 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.
Check out your local bookstore or synagogue gift shop to make sure they have The New Passover Menu–whether you are making a seder and many Passover meals at home or going to someone for seder or during Passover week.
This is definitely the book to buy for yourself and as gifts. No creative kosher cook should be without one.
[Note: numbered  instructions are from reviewer not in original cookbook.]
                    Smothered Chicken with Wine and Herbs
                                        10 servings
1/2 – 1 cup potato starch or matzoh meal
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 T.
2 large whole chickens cut into 8 pieces
salt and black pepper
2 large onions, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 ribs celery, cut into 1/3-inch pieces
4 large peeled carrots cut into 1/3-inch cubes
5 roughly chopped garlic cloves
6 fresh sage leaves
6 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup white wine
leaves of 6 sprigs thyme or 1 t. dried
1, Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  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 4 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 5 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 T. oil. Add garlic and cook for 2 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 1 hour. Uncover
and bake another 10 minutes. Spoon into a serving bowl with
vegetables on top of chicken pieces.
                               
                            Orange Tea Cake Cupcakes
                                        gebrokts, nut free
                                                   14 cupcakes
1/3 cup boiling water
1 black tea bag
1 cup sugar plus 1 t. for tea
4 large separated eggs
1 1/4 t. orange zest
2 T. fresh orange juice
1/3 cup matzoh cake meal
1/3 cup potato starch
dash salt
Icing
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
4 t. tea
1. preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place paper liners in
muffin tins.
2. Measure water into mixing bowl. Add tea bag and
1 t. sugar and let steep 5 minutes.
3. In large bowl, beat egg yolks, 3 T. tea (reserving rest),
egg yolks, orange  zest and 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 yolk mixture
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 of a cupcakes 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 4 t.
tea and whisk until you have a thick icing. Scoop up
icing with a teaspoon measuring spoon and place in
the center of each cupcake.
Garnish with additional orange zest if desired.

 

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