Ear­li­er, Efrat Libfroind wrote about being a moth­er and a full-time pas­try chef and the only kosher cook­ing stu­dent in class. Her new cook­book, Kosher Ele­gance, is now available.

Part of my busi­ness is pro­vid­ing con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion cours­es to Israeli pub­lic school teach­ers. In Israel, these cours­es have a bit more of a sab­bat­i­cal year” feel to them, so fun top­ics like cook­ing and pas­try bak­ing are accept­able choic­es. I love teach­ing these courses.Teaching cook­ing and bak­ing to large num­bers of women over the years has been very enlight­en­ing. It has become clear to me that while teach­ing these cours­es, I am a psy­chol­o­gist as well as a chef and baker.

The groups I click with the most are the women who are upbeat and hap­py. They come to each class with high hopes and expec­ta­tions and they drink it all in. They obe­di­ent­ly take notes of every word I utter and the have a dig­i­tal cam­era going non-stop in order to record every move I make. It is always fun when I put togeth­er the var­i­ous parts of a recipe. There are wows’ from all over the room and cam­eras click­ing so furi­ous­ly from every pos­si­ble angle that I feel like I am at a press con­fer­ence with the Prime Min­is­ter.

Anoth­er type of stu­dent is the more….aggressive type. I have got­ten used to this type of stu­dent over the years. They come to the course all ready to fail. When this type of stu­dent tries a recipe, if it doesn’t look exact­ly like what I modeled….she attacks. She doesn’t throw eggs, but it is a flood of com­plaints and frus­tra­tion. I have learned how to calm­ly coach this sort of stu­dent out of the black hole of recipe fail­ure. It is an art, believe me.

There are stu­dents who are so excit­ed about their cook­ing efforts out­side the class­room that they bring in pic­tures as part of an adult ver­sion of show and tell.” Often, what they made looks noth­ing like what I taught them…but they are thrilled and proud. Noth­ing stops them. I love when this hap­pens and I just keep encour­ag­ing them.

I often teach women who have a strong desire to achieve and express them­selves. I find that the cook­ing or bak­ing skills they learn become tools in these efforts. They may not find such expres­sion in their jobs and maybe even at home. Often, it seems that their entry into the world of more cre­ative cook­ing and bak­ing allows these women to grow in life gen­er­al­ly. Who knew? Bak­ing for self esteem! Cook­ing for over­all well being! This could be the new yoga.

Over the years I have devel­oped a sense for iden­ti­fy­ing these women and I real­ly try to give them spe­cial atten­tion and encour­age them to exper­i­ment and to cre­ate and…to take pic­tures every step of the way! This way they can show oth­ers and always refer to the great things they have done and (hope­ful­ly) con­tin­ue to do. It real­ly gives me a lot of per­son­al sat­is­fac­tion work­ing with these women – espe­cial­ly when I see the look in their eyes…..I real­ize we’ve done a lot more than learned to cook together.

Stuffed Chick­en Wedges

Tzip­py is a close friend and an accom­plished chef in her own right. Before every event she hosts, she calls me and we go over every detail of the menu from A to Z. When she called before her most recent par­ty, she told me we would only dis­cuss the details of the main course and on — she’d already planned the first course. She sound­ed a lit­tle secre­tive, but since I was attend­ing the event in ques­tion, I didn’t pres­sure her to reveal her secret. This recipe was that sur­prise dish. It won rave reviews, and I received per­mis­sion from Tzip­py to share it with you.

Makes 1 9‑inch round pan

9 chick­en breasts, pound­ed thin

Fill­ing
5 table­spoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 small leek, cut into strips
2 cloves gar­lic, chopped
15 sun-dried toma­to halves, diced (to make your own, see page 74)
1/2 cup toast­ed wal­nuts, coarse­ly chopped
1/4 tea­spoon salt
1 bunch chives, chopped

Coat­ing
2 table­spoons olive oil
1 tea­spoon paprika

Fill­ing: Sauté onion and leek in olive oil for 10 min­utes. Add sun-dried toma­toes. Add remain­ing ingre­di­ents and sauté for about 5 more min­utes. Arrange 3 of the chick­en breast slices on the bot­tom of a 9‑inch round pan so that the entire base of the pan is cov­ered. Spread half of the fill­ing over the chick­en and cov­er with anoth­er lay­er of chick­en. Spread the remain­ing half of the fill­ing on the chick­en and top with the last three chick­en breasts.

Mix olive oil and papri­ka and brush the top lay­er of chick­en with the mix­ture. Bake uncov­ered for 40 min­utes at 350°F. Cool slight­ly and sprin­kle with chopped chives. Cut into wedges and serve.

Tip: For a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion, bake indi­vid­ual serv­ings in 2‑inch food rings.

Efrat Libfroind is the author of Kosher Ele­gance. She will be post­ing all week for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.