Saturday, March 21, 2015

Paula Shoyer -The New Passover Menu: Triple Chocolate Biscotti

Today I welcome one of my favorite cookbook authors, Paula Shoyer. Paula's Holiday Kosher Baker is one of my favorites, and it's perfect for any and all occasions! You'll love her latest cookbook, The New Passover Menu--chocolate and non-chocolate recipes alike! Scroll down to read more about the cookbook and Paula Shoyer. Thanks, Paula, for sharing your story--and recipes--at Pick up a copy of The New Passover Menu now!

Paula Shoyer:
Triple Chocolate Biscotti

It was November 2013, and I had just started my book tour for the Holiday Kosher Baker when my editor called and asked if I would write a Passover food cookbook. I was surprised as I was sitting in a hotel in San Diego about to start my book tour. As they wanted the new book out for Passover 2015, I only had six months to write the entire cookbook. The reason I was able to write the book so quickly was that most of the recipes in The New Passover Menu were in my head.

I am a very precise baker and I spend my days developing dessert recipes and writing copious notes, and varying small amounts of ingredients to achieve the results I am seeking. In the evenings, however, I open the fridge and create dinner for my family out of whatever ingredients happens to be inside. Over the years, I have developed certain recipes that I created haphazardly but make over and over again, both for Passover, Shabbat and holidays and in between. The New Passover Menu is a collection of the recipes that I finally measured out and tested.

Every Shabbat, I design interesting menus, some seasonal, some connected to holidays and others influenced by places I have traveled to. It is not unusual for the Shoyer household to host a Japanese, French, Cambodian, Hungarian, Moroccan or a Persian-themed dinner around Purim. I enjoy exposing my family and guests to tastes from around the world, all made kosher.

When it comes to the major Jewish holidays, however, I have a different approach. I want my family to associate Jewish holidays with Jewish food so I always make some traditional Ashkenazi dishes such as stuffed cabbage, noddle kugel, chicken soup, gefite fish and rugelach, apple cake or strudel. These dishes that they enjoy every year connect them to the generations of Jewish cooks before me and create lasting Jewish food memories. At the same time, I endeavor to make those dishes healthier and more interesting than they have been in the past to appeal to contemporary palates.

The New Passover Menu is divided into eight menus, has equipment lists and prep times in every recipe, all designed to make holiday planning and cooking easier. There are two Seder menus, one menu each for Shabbat and Yom Tov, and four diverse weekday menus. In addition, there is a chapter on breakfast and lunch foods and one on desserts that includes fifteen new recipes, most of which are gluten free.

Some examples of updated traditional recipes are the chicken meatballs in lieu of matzoh balls. They look just like matzoh balls but are gluten-free and healthier. Do not worry – there are recipes for flavored traditional matzoh balls as well. I combine frozen gefilte fish loaves with fresh salmon to create a lovely fish terrine. There are lots of fresh salads and recipes from Peru and Morocco, and some of the latest food trends are represented as well such as kale Caesar salad, cauliflower slabs and smashed potatoes.

The New Passover Menu may be labeled a Passover cookbook, but these are the recipes I come back to all year long. Although I do not make charoset on a regular basis, I did have to make a batch of the banana charoset one Friday morning for a photo for the book. That night we discovered that charoset tastes great shmeared on challah. Who knew??

Triple Chocolate Biscotti
As a baker, I was very excited to create new dessert recipes. One of my favorites is the triple chocolate biscotti. I combine melted Swiss bittersweet chocolate, cocoa and chocolate chips to create chewy cookie that you will want to eat all year long.

Triple-Chocolate Biscotti 
{ gluten-free }
makes 24–36 cookies

Prep time 10 minutes
Bake time 44 minutes
Advance prep May be made 5 days in advance
Equipment Measuring cups and spoons • Jelly roll pan or cookie sheet • Microwave-safe bowl or double boiler • Whisk • Silicone spatula • Knife • Cooling rack

These cookies are both chewy and crunchy at the same time; the outside is a little hard, but the center remains soft. I double this recipe because these cookies disappear so fast.

4 ounces (115g) bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons (40g)
vanilla sugar (see cookbook)
1/2 cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 1/2 cups (180g) ground almonds (see cookbook)
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup (170g) semi-sweet chocolate chips


PREHEAT oven to 350°F (180°C).

LINE a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

MELT the chocolate using one of the methods described in the box below. Remove the chocolate from the heat source, add the sugar and oil, and whisk well. Add the eggs and mix. Add the vanilla sugar, cocoa, potato starch, ground almonds, and salt and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and mix to distribute them.

DIVIDE the dough in half and shape into two loaves, each about 9 x 3 inches (23 x 7.5cm). Place both loaves on the lined jelly roll pan and bake for 30 minutes. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes (do not turn off the oven). Cut each loaf crosswise into 3/4- to 1-inch-thick (2- to 2.5- cm) slices. Place the cookies, cut side up, on a parchment-covered cookie sheet (or the jelly roll pan again). Bake for another 14 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch on the outside but still feel soft on the inside. Check them after 10 to 12 minutes so that you don’t overbake the cookies. LET COOL for 5 minutes on the pan and then slide the parchment and cookies onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Melting Chocolate 
To melt chocolate, you can use the top part of a double boiler or a microwave oven. A double boiler is a specially designed saucepan that has a top bowl that fits snugly over a saucepan. For either method, first break or chop the chocolate into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. To melt the chocolate over a double boiler, you place water in the bottom of the saucepan and the chopped chocolate in the insert. When you bring the water to a simmer, it gently melts the chocolate in the insert. You can create your own double boiler by placing 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) of water in a medium saucepan and resting a medium-size metal bowl containing the chopped chocolate on top. Stir the chocolate occasionally, until all of it has melted. To melt chocolate in a microwave oven, place the chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe bowl, such as a large glass bowl. Heat the chocolate for 1 minute at high power. Remove the bowl from the microwave oven and give the chocolate a good stir, mixing the melted pieces into the unmelted ones, for 30 seconds. Heat for another 45 seconds and stir well again. If the chocolate is not completely melted, heat it for another 30 seconds and stir. Repeat this process for another 15 seconds if necessary. Do not heat the chocolate in the microwave oven for several minutes straight or it will burn.

Paula Shoyer, THE kosher expert and best-selling author, celebrates Passover by sharing creative and tasty recipes that combine the nostalgic pleasures of family favorites with contemporary creations. THE NEW PASSOVER MENU (Sterling/January 2014; Hardcover; $35.00) takes a fresh look at a holiday known for heavy, tasteless food. The book is organized by menus to make the holiday super easy and includes gorgeous table settings to provide hosts ideas to make their tables as inviting as the food. 

Implored by fans for years to write a food book, Paula says “I have always loved to cook and after days of meticulous measuring to develop desserts, I come into the kitchen to cook dinner and create gourmet meals out of whatever I have around. These recipes have been inside my head for years. As a book of 65 recipes, it offers not every possible Passover recipe but rather the best possible versions of food and desserts adapted for the Passover holiday.” 

The New Passover Menu is a modern recipe book with dishes you might see at the hip restaurant down the street, but with others that traditional cooks would embrace. There are enough familiar recipes to remind people of their childhoods, but here they are updated, lighter and more flavorful. 

Included are inventive menus for the two Seders, elegant Shabbat and Yom Tov menu as well as four diverse menus for the weekdays during the long eight-day holiday. Paula’s fabulous baked goods are found in the Breakfast and Dessert chapters. The book includes features that make planning and preparing for Passover cooking easy such as equipment lists for every recipe as well as prep and cook times. As with all of Paula’s cookbooks, recipes are beautifully photographed and include helpful tips and techniques.

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