Efrat Libfroind is the author of “Kosher Elegance: The Art of Cooking With Style.” Her blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
Being a full-time mom and also a full time professional chef and pastry chef is well… extraordinary. I have six kids and I have built an active business which focuses on teaching cooking, baking and now, a cookbook.
I am, of course, the mom who makes the fancy cakes for all my kids’ school and birthday parties. And when my daughters have a party with some friends I always find myself “volunteered” to make the desert. Sometimes they leave it up to me what to make but always say “Mom, choose what you want to make, just as long as it has at least four layers…”
I find it very adorable when my kids’ friends come over to our house to play. Somehow, they often seem to find their way to the kitchen and watch me doing my thing with big eyes. My kids show off a bit and then always find a way to share the goodies. In Israeli Orthodox circles (and some American ones as well) my name has become “known” since I often write in magazines and hundreds of women have taken my courses. I think my older kids enjoy this. When people ask their names, they increasingly get the “are you the child of….?” treatment. Then the next question is always “So how come are you so thin?”
My kids always seem to know more about food than anyone else their age. Recently my daughter in nursery school jumped into a class discussion on chocolate saying that her favorite is Ganache with chocolate liqueur. When the teacher asked her to elaborate my daughter told her “just call my Mom, she is good at it.” Of course, my kids know all the cuts of meat and the names of the latest & hippest fish that everyone is eating now. I must smile since I couldn’t even make an omelet when I got married.
Shabbat and holiday meals are really a highlight for my family. My family are my guinea pigs and they know (and love) it. This is when I try out everything, all my culinary experiments. So I roll out all the new recipes and decorations I am trying. It is always a big celebration. It is nice to have guests during these meals, because they usually love it as well, and I think it makes my kids feel great to see the reactions. The only problem is that we don’t get invited out all that often. Some have told me that having me eat their food makes them feel pressured or judged since I am a chef. They have obviously not heard the pearl of wisdom that “everything tastes great when made by someone else.”
So my career is important — no question about it. I teach, I write, I cook non-stop, but my family and husband come first. If I can combine the two that is a real plus. So considering how involved my family is with my food, I may be succeeding.
Makes approximately 2 cups
Ganache is a fundamental ingredient in many petits fours, miniatures, and desserts. It can be used as a liquid or solid. When preparing ganache it will first be liquid, and after cooling at room temperature (not in the fridge!) it will solidify. Liquid ganache is used to fill silicone molds to form components of petits fours. Solid ganache is used for decorating desserts and as a glue to connect various parts.
My professional secret for making perfect ganache is to add margarine to chocolate in a 1 to 10 ratio. The margarine makes the ganache glossier as well as easier to work with.
10 1/2 ounces pareve bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons margarine
1 8-ounce container Rich’s Whip
3 tablespoons high-quality liqueur
Makes 20 shells
1 recipe ganache
2 tablespoons rolled fondant (available at specialty baking stores)
Basic ganache: Melt chocolate and margarine in microwave. Add RichWhip and beat with a hand held whisk until a smooth, shiny cream forms. Add liqueur. If ganache hardens while you’re working with it, return it to microwave to remelt it.
Ganache seashells: Use Pavoni-brand molds, model xp006. Fill molds while ganache is still liquid. Freeze for 1 hour and release from molds. Shape fondant into pearl-sized balls. Connect the back edges of two seashells with a drop of ganache and place a fondant pearl inside the opening of the double shell.
Tip: If you want an especially firm ganache that will hold up for a few hours out of the fridge, increase the chocolate in the recipe by 20 percent.
Come back all week to read stories and recipes by Efrat Libfroind. Her new book, “Kosher Elegance,” is now available.
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