Paula Shoyer, “the Kosher Baker,” is the author of four previous cookbooks (The Kosher Baker, The Holiday Kosher Baker, The Healthy Jewish Kitchen and The New Passover Menu), a freelance writer for the Washington Post, Jewish Food Experience, and Hadassah Magazine, and a graduate of the Ritz Escoffier in Paris.
In her latest book The Instant Pot® Kosher Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul, Paula harnesses the power of the electric pressure cooker to make delicious and speedy versions of classics like chicken soup with herbed matzo balls, brisket, cholent and stuffed cabbage.
There’s also a section on using an Instant Pot in a kosher kitchen (Paula recommends having one for meat and one for dairy, discusses whether an IP can be toveled, and gives tips for using your Instant Pot on Shabbat).
Paula’s fans had contacted her wanting to see her write Instant Pot recipes, and that inspired her to purchase her first Instant Pot, join the Kosher Instant Pot Facebook group (which currently has over 14,000 members!) and start experimenting with dishes, not only adapting traditional Jewish recipes for the Instant Pot but creating kosher versions of other international and modern classics. Although dozens of Instant Pot cookbooks have been published in the last few years, this is the first Instant Pot-authorized kosher cookbook.
Jewish food and the Instant Pot are a perfect fit. No matter the cuisine, whether a whole Peruvian spiced chicken, cholent and tzimmes, or a hearty North African tagine, the Instant Pot excels at replicating the long, slow cooking of our ancestors. The Instant Pot uses less electricity and less water than traditional cooking methods, preserves nutrients, and keeps the kitchen cooler, making it an environmentally friendly choice as well. Add an optional crisper lid like Mealthy’s Crisplid and you’ll get the perfect crunchy topping on kugel, matzo brei and more without having to stick them under the broiler, making it truly one-pot cooking.
Paula’s suggested dishes for holidays will take the guesswork out of planning menus that will have your guests thinking you spent all day in the kitchen; there are 46 kosher-for-Passover recipes alone!
BREAKFAST AND BRUNCH
Starting with breakfast and brunch, you’ll find lox, egg and onion bites, orange shakshuka, a veggie-packed crustless quiche, and a matzo brei brulee. I love putting out a spread of small dishes packed with veggies and protein, so I absolutely loved the section on salads, dips and appetizers. I made several of the recipes, including the za’atar-spiced deviled eggs, beet and mint salad, and dolmas with beef and mint. You’ll also find several variations of hummus, Turkish eggplant dip, Swedish meatballs, and everything spice BBQ chicken wings.
There are over two dozen soups to choose from, including classic chicken soup with herbed matzo balls, borscht, French onion soup puree with shredded short ribs, harira, and even Texas chili.
Meat Mains features chicken numerous ways, with Hungarian chicken paprikash, orange chicken and coq au vin rubbing elbows with pulled chicken tacos with mole sauce, Persian lamb and herb stew, Marrakesh beef tagine with prunes and peanuts, spicy ribs with coffee and chili sauce, spinach pesto brisket, meatballs and meatloaf, and roast beef with rosemary and wine sauce.
As a longtime vegetarian, I appreciated the section on vegetarian mains (which also includes fish). The creamy, spicy tofu tikka masala and vegan zucchini rolls with cashew cheese will give your vegetarian and vegan guests protein-packed options, and recipes from other chapters (like grandma’s stuffed cabbage) can be made vegetarian by using a kosher plant-based beef substitute.
And don’t overlook the fabulous chapter on side dishes, many of which pair well with the salads, dips and appetizers. The jeweled Israeli couscous has become my new weeknight staple with its eyecatching blend of colors and textures, and you’ll find other traditional favorites like potato kugel, apple raisin noodle kugel, and tzimmis – even kasha varnishkes!
Sweet endings include a honey cake with coffee and honey glaze, sponge cake, mocha lava cakes and flourless chocolate cake, New York cheesecake with orange caramel sauce, compotes, applesauce, rice pudding and flan.
Some Instant Pots come with presets for items like Cheesecake, Cake, Soup, Rice, and Poultry, depending on the model. If you have those, you can use the appropriate preset or simply use Manual on high or low pressure as the recipe instructs.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE RECIPES I TESTED
For the purpose of this review, I tested and photographed several recipes exactly as written, including the jeweled Israeli couscous, beet and mint salad, Asian salmon, grandma’s cabbage rolls and flourless chocolate cake.
Photograph by Sarah Hodge
I’m half-Polish and spent many weekends visiting my Polish grandmother, and one of my earliest memories is of her delicious stuffed cabbage rolls, borscht, pierogi, and Polish baked goods. I rarely make stuffed cabbage rolls at home because it is so labor intensive, and was interested to see how the Instant Pot version stacked up to babcia’s. used a vegan beef substitute in place of the ground meat and was thrilled with the delicate seasonings and the delicious sauce, which includes sautéed apple, honey, and golden raisins. It also freezes and reheats really well.
Photograph by Sarah Hodge
The jeweled Israeli couscous salad is a great blend of textures and colors, with the sliced almonds adding crunch, sweet-tart notes from the barberries (I used cranberries), and beautiful color. And having spent the last five years living in Japan, the Asian salmon (in a homemade teriyaki sauce) couldn’t be easier to put together, and the moist heat of the electric pressure cooker results in a perfectly cooked salmon fillet in only two minutes.
Photograph by Sarah Hodge
I’ve previously experimented with using my Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus to make moist, picture-perfect cheesecakes, and the flourless chocolate cake was a showstopper! After chilling overnight, I served garnished with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh raspberries (a raspberry coulis would also go well).
The Instant Pot Kosher Cookbook is a must-have addition to your kosher cookbook collection whether you’re an Instant Pot maven or just starting out; Paula’s wonderful tips demystify this versatile appliance so even beginners can feel confident in putting a delicious, nutritious meal on the table in a fraction of the time.
To learn more about Paula and her cookbooks, visit www.thekosherbaker.com/ and follow her on Instagram at @kosherbaker.