Review of Paula Shoyer’s The Kosher Baker

Clearly author and baker Paula Shoyer’s love for baked treats knows no bounds.  There is a world of kosher dessert selections available for the elementary baker to the professional.   The notion of kosher at first thought seems to be allocated only to those with religious dietary restrictions but Shoyer points out that the lactose intolerant can enjoy her delectable dessert and bread offerings because of the non-dairy ingredients guidelines of kosher cooking and baking.

Co-reviewer Sydrene Levy and I both were struck by the attention to detail and order Shoyer demonstrates in The Kosher Baker.  Not only did Levy fondly recall recipes of her bubba (grandma) but was impressed with extensive international options from crepes to red velvet to biscotti.  In today’s growing multi-cultural society, people are seeking more than traditional cultural recipes to prepare for guests.  For those looking for all your Jewish comfort food desserts, never fear, Shoyer has recipes such as babka cake, mandelbread, hamentaschen and more. paula265

When first acquiring this book, I strongly suggest reading what Shoyer has to say in the introductory sections.  It will help tremendously, then happy hunting through the bevy of recipes.  It is great how she separates the book by Quick & Elegant, two-step desserts, and multiple step desserts & breads. With innovative fusion style recipes, any upscale foodie would be pleased to add The Kosher Cookbook to his or her cooking library.

Shoyer allows you to get to know her.  Clearly she is a social creature with lots of stories to tell and she laces food oriented memories throughout the book.  Shoyer studied baking  at the Ritz Escoffier Ecole de Gastronomi Francaise in Paris, France.  She went on to start Paula’s Parisian Pastries Cooking School in Washington, D.C.  but is in demand for teaching classes all over the country.

Spice-O-Meter: Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Babka Cupcakes with Crumb Topping Recipe

With high holidays in mind Paula Shoyer, author of  The Kosher Baker came up with the dessert recipe for babka cupcakes. These mini Babkas can be made ahead of time when the kitchen is not so frenzied. Store them in plastic at room temperature for up to four days or freeze up to three months.

Babka:

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 ounce (2 envelopes) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) parve margarine, softened, divided, plus extra for greasing muffin pan
  • 1 large egg plus 1 white
  • ¼ cup parve unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/3 cup parve mini or regular-size chocolate chips

Crumb Topping:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

SEE DIRECTIONS

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah translates to “head of the year” or “first of the year.” This year the celebration will mark the Jewish Year 5772 and begins at sunset on September 28th, 2011 and ends at nightfall on September 30th, 2011.

Rosh Hashanah takes place on the first and second days of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar- Tishri. During the holiday no work is permitted. Common observances include dipping apples in honey to symbolize the wish for a sweet year and Tashlikh (“casting off”).  READ MORE

The Passover Seder Feast Tradition

This traditional Jewish holiday is commenced with the Passover Seder. Seder is Hebrew for order. The Passover Seder is a ritual feast often celebrated by members of the same community or family. Slavery and freedom are the themes of the Seder. Jewish people all over the world pause to commemorate the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. In performing all their rituals, special blessings, and unique Passover songs, Seder participants use the ancient text of the Haggadah.

According to the Haggadah, six symbolic foods are placed on the special Passover Seder plate:

  • Maror and chazeret — Bitter herbs, representing the bitterness of the slavery. Horseradish and/or romaine lettuce is often used for this requirement.
  • Charoset — A sugary mixture composed of chopped nuts, grated apples, cinnamon, and sweet red wine representing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt Karpas — Most often parsley, celery, or boiled potato dipped into salt water to symbolize the tears and sweat of the Hebrew slaves.
  • Z’roa — A roasted lamb or goat shank bone, chicken wing, or chicken neck. While not eaten or handled during Seder, this item symbolizes the Pesach sacrifice. This sacrifice originally consisted of a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem.
  • Beitzah — A hard-boiled egg representing the festival sacrifice that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem. The egg serves as a reminder of the mourning that followed after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
  • Three whole matzot — Also known as the “poor man’s bread,” Matza is an unleavened bread used to substitute traditional breads. The bread symbolizes the importance of being humble and never forgetting life in servitude.
  • Four cups of wine are also consumed during the Passover Seder. The cups of wine are swallowed while remembering the four promises God made to the Jewish people. The beverage is partaken in a leisurely position to celebrate the freedom of no longer being a slave.

 

The celebration of Passover doesn’t end with the Seder, traditionally Jewish people spend eight days reflecting on and celebrating the importance of freedom.

To find out more about Passover and the Passover Seder click on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_Seder

http://passover.lifetips.com/cat/63354/passover-sedar/index.html

Easy Passover Lunches

During the week of Passover, as Jews mark their ancestors’ exodus from slavery to freedom, the holiday’s added dietary restrictions might seem like shackles of a different sort — especially at lunchtime on a busy workday.

From Weight Watchers- But by turning your focus to fresh vegetables and lean protein, eight flour-free, corn-free, rice-free, bean-free days can become an opportunity to eat more healthfully. Here are some ideas for easy-to-prepare, portable and tasty lunches to help you fress without fuss. Print out this list and stick it on the fridge and you won’t have any excuse to eat matzo sandwiches all week! (CLICK TO SEE RECIPES)

Kosher Foods

Kosher food is food that meets Jewish dietary laws, or kashrut, which comes from the Hebrew word for “fit” or “proper.” Any food can be called kosher food if it adheres to Jewish law, or halacha. Conversely, foods typically labeled as “Jewish” aren’t necessarily kosher. Jewish foods are generally those dishes that are traditionally Jewish. Kreplach, cholent, kugel, latke, and kishka are all traditionally Jewish foods, but if they are not prepared in accordance with kashrut, they will not be kosher food.

* The list of Kosher foods can be rather extensive for more information visit:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-kosher-food.htm