Seder

Dried Fig and Coconut Charoset

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Every year I make two charosets for our Seders: the family favorite (a Persian style with pistachios, dried fruit and a hint of cayenne), and also a new one.

Last year the newbie was this Dried Fig and Coconut charoset. It was a BIG HIT!

It’s easy to make, you can make it ahead and it is NUT FREE.

Dried Fig and Coconut Charoset

  • 1 cup chopped dried figs

  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries

  • 1 navel orange

  • 1 cup flaked coconut

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam

  • 1/4 cup sweet white or red Passover wine

Combine the figs, apricots and cherries in a bowl. Peel the orange and remove the outer white pith (leaving only the orange flesh). Cut the flesh into small pieces and add to the bowl. Add the coconut, ginger, cinnamon apricot jam and wine and mix ingredients. Let rest for at least one hour (preferably several hours) before serving. May be made a day ahead.

Makes about 3 cups

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff It: Matzo Stuffing

Matzo Stuffing with Apples and Portobello Mushrooms

Matzo Stuffing with Apples and Portobello Mushrooms

Almost everyone I know makes brisket for the first Seder.

But my grandma, and then my mother — for all the years that I remember — served turkey. So, so do I.

I may also make a brisket, depending on how many people are coming to celebrate with us. Or, I may make brisket for the second night. Depends.

But there’s always a turkey. And that means stuffing.

And so, the chosen stuffing for this year: crushed matzo with apples and portobello mushrooms. It’s easy and can be prepared in advance; just pop it in the oven to cook about 40 minutes before serving time. Sometimes I add thyme to this dish, sometimes I don’t, depending on the crowd. It’s delicious either way, although of course, the fresh herb gives it a bit more flavor.

Matzo Stuffing with Apples and Portobello Mushrooms

  • 6 pieces of matzo, broken up into little pieces

  • 1-1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock (or vegetable stock)

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 large stalk celery, chopped

  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps, chopped

  • 2 tart apples, peeled and chopped

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, optional

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the matzot in a bowl and pour the stock over them. Let soak for 5-6 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Set aside. While the matzot are soaking, heat the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the apples, raisins, parsley and thyme, if used, and cook for another minute. Spoon the contents of the pan into the bowl with the matzot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the eggs, mix the ingredients thoroughly. Spoon the ingredients into a baking dish. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is crispy.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

Roasted Mushrooms and Tomatoes

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My Seder menu has been more or less stable for the past few years. I change a recipe occasionally, add a new one now and then, but for the most part it's been mostly the same.

Until this year.

I changed quite a bit this Passover. I was bored with some of the old stuff.

Chicken soup with matzo balls? NEVER BORING! Of course I served that!

Also, I served turkey (like my grandma and mother before me) as well as brisket. I also made my old favorite, spinach pie with matzo crust.

But, there was a new haroset (nut-free).

And lots of new vegetable dishes. Like this one, which was incredibly easy and I set it all up in advance and just popped it into the oven minutes before it was needed.

Of course, this dish is a year 'round thing. And it was so well-loved that I know it will be on my menu throughout the year.

 

Roasted Mushrooms and Tomatoes

  • 12-14 medium-large mushrooms, cut into chunks
  • 16 grape, cherry or mini-Kumato tomatoes
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place the mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions and garlic in a bowl, pour the olive oil over the vegetables and toss to coat all the pieces. Spoon the vegetables onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning the vegetables once or twice during baking, or until tender. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings

 

Nut-Free Dried Fruit and Apple Haroset

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Passover has it's culinary challenges, it's true, but if you're like me, and have a kid with food allergies you are used to reading labels and figuring out substitutions throughout the year. I actually never minded this part. The fears of what could happen to my daughter if she ate fish or certain nuts, plus the medication and trips to the ER when it did happen were enough to motivate me.

Looked at it in a positive way, the Passover prohibitions plus the allergy no-nos are actually ways that have made my cooking more creative.

I like that.

Obviously, we do not have traditional Ashkenazi haroset at our Seders. My daughter can't even be in the same room as a walnut. She can eat pistachios and almonds, so our usual family haroset with dried fruit includes these.

But -- why take any chances? Because it's possible that one nut allergy could be a warning against all others, my daughter doesn't eat any nuts, in haroset or anything else. On Passover I always serve a second version that's nut-free.

Here is this year's:

Nut-Free Dried Fruit and Apple Haroset

  • 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 4-5 tablespoons sweet red Passover wine
  • pinch of cayenne pepper 

Combine the figs, dates, apricots, raisins and apple in a bowl. Add the nutmeg, preserves, wine and cayenne pepper and mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Let the mixture stand for at least one hour before serving. 

 Makes about 2-1/2 cups

 

 

Zucchini Bayildi

Every year, at every Passover Seder, I serve a side dish called Imam Bayildi, which is basically stewed eggplant, leeks and tomatoes, though sometimes I've made it with onions instead of leeks.

Somehow the occasion wouldn't seem right without this traditional dish.

And yet, last year my kids said that maybe it was getting a little boring. One of them doesn't care for eggplant, so -- there was no Imam Bayildi this year. 

But during the week I will serve a kind of "bayildi" (which means "fainted" -- because it tastes so good that the Imam who first tasted it fainted).

This new dish is colorful and chock full of vegetables. It's spring-like and refreshing, so it is perfect for Passover's sometimes heavy meals. But it's also an all-year round dish that goes with any meat, poultry or fish you might serve. Or serve it as part of a vegetarian dinner.

It also takes much less time than the original recipe.

ZUCCHINI “BAYILDI”

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped (or 10-12 campari tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, sugar, salt, lemon juice and water. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until all the vegetables are tender. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

 

 

Tagged: vegetablesvegetarianside dishPassoverPesachzucchini bayildibayildiSeder

Zucchini Bayildi

Every year, at every Passover Seder, I serve a side dish called Imam Bayildi, which is basically stewed eggplant, leeks and tomatoes, though sometimes I've made it with onions instead of leeks.

Somehow the occasion wouldn't seem right without this traditional dish.

And yet, last year my kids said that maybe it was getting a little boring. One of them doesn't care for eggplant, so -- there was no Imam Bayildi this year. 

But during the week I will serve a kind of "bayildi" (which means "fainted" -- because it tastes so good that the Imam who first tasted it fainted).

This new dish is colorful and chock full of vegetables. It's spring-like and refreshing, so it is perfect for Passover's sometimes heavy meals. But it's also an all-year round dish that goes with any meat, poultry or fish you might serve. Or serve it as part of a vegetarian dinner.

It also takes much less time than the original recipe.

Zucchini “BayIldi”

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped (or 10-12 campari tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, sugar, salt, lemon juice and water. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until all the vegetables are tender. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

 

Passover Spinach Pie

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I can't imagine Passover without this dish. Spinach pie which, during the year I top with buttered phyllo sheets and sometimes with puff pastry, depending on the occasion.

On Passover it gets a matzo crust -- like this one, ready for the oven.

It's a versatile dish too. You can make it plain or add mushrooms or make it with cheese. You can also switch to kale or other greens if you prefer.

Nice for a meatless dinner too.

 

SPINACH PIE with MATZO CRUST

  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups cut up mushrooms, optional
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled, optional
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets matzo

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the mushrooms, if used, and cook, stirring often, for another 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms are softened. Stir in the spinach and mix well. Remove the pan from the heat. For dairy, add the feta and Parmesan cheeses and mix them in. Add 3 of the eggs, the dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and place in a baking dish. Soak the matzo in cold water to cover for 1-2 minutes or until softened but not mushy. Shake off excess water. Place the matzo on top of the spinach mixture. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the top of the matzot. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 4-8 servings (as main course or side dish)

Passover Butter Cookies

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As far as I know, my father's Aunt Fanny didn't have any child named after her, but, in keeping with our Ashkenazi tradition, she does have something that bears her name: the family recipe for butter cookies.

We call them Fannies, because these butter cookies were her creation and somehow calling them Fanny's just didn't seem right to anyone but the English majors in our lives.

I have made these cookies so often I can mix the dough and shape them without even looking at what I'm doing. My kids make them. My grandkids even make them. 

Fannies are the ultimate butter cookie. You need look no further to find a better one.

But of course, not during Passover.

Which got me to thinking that -- this recipe is so good, why not try a Passover version?

After a few tries -- voila!

Thank you Aunt Fanny. I named them after you too.

 

aunt fanny's Passover Butter Cookies -- Passover Fannies

  • 1 cup matzo cake meal
  • 1/2 cup ground toasted almonds
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into chunks
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • chocolate chips (about 50) (or use lekvar)

Place the matzo cake meal, ground almonds, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low speed for about a minute until the ingredients are evenly combined. Add the butter and mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes. The mixture will be crumbly. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix for another minute or so until a soft, uniform dough forms. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes or until somewhat chilled and slightly firmer. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take small chunks of dough and shape into balls about one-inch in diameter. Flatten the balls in the palm of your hands into disks that are about 1/4-inch thick. Place the flattened balls on ungreased cookie sheets, leaving some space between each cookie (they will spread slightly). Place a chocolate chip in the center of each dough disk (they hold better if you place the chips upside down). Bake for 10-2 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 50.

Note: if you use lekvar, make a thumbprint in the center of each cookie and fill the hollow with a small amount of apricot or prune lekvar 

Roasted Cod with Tomatoes, Raisins and Pine Nuts

Although I love to cook and don't mind fussing, chopping, washing veggies and so on, sometimes I get lazy or tired and prefer to take the easy way out. I don't mean order-in (although I do understand that). I mean, make food that's easy.

In fact, I find that I like quick-and-easy more and more often.

Like this roasted cod dish. I had been looking at loads of recipes that include tomatoes, raisins and pine nuts with fish. Most of the recipes involve searing and/or roasting the fish and making the sauce separately. But I didn't feel up to doing all that. And I certainly didn't want an extra pan to clean.

So I put all the ingredients together in a roasting pan and placed the fish on top, thinking the sauce would become sauce all by itself, moistened by the natural juices leeching from the fish.

And voila! I was right. There it was. Crispy topped fish and lovely, savory sauce. So good. So easy. Cleanup almost free.

I scattered some bread crumbs on top to give it a lightly crispy surface. (During Passover you could use matzo meal.)

Roasted Cod with Tomatoes, Raisins and Pine Nuts

  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2-3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 pounds fresh cod
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs (or matzo meal)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tomatoes, raisins, pine nuts and garlic in a roasting pan and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Place the fish on top of the tomato mixture. Brush the fish with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter the bread crumbs over the top. Roast for 18-20 minutes or until top is lightly crispy and the fish is cooked through.

Makes 4 servings

Passover Orange Almond Cake

A few weeks ago I was going through my Passover recipes file and came across a recipe for Italian Almond Cake with Poached Fruit from the Jerusalem Post. Unfortunately, it didn't say whose recipe it was. Also I didn't have the second page of instructions.

I made some changes and figured out how to proceed based on similar cakes I've baked.

 First, I converted all the metric measurements. 

I figured out how much, in cups, came from 3/4 cup whole almonds.

I didn't use blanched almonds, figuring that almonds with skin were just as good.

I switched to coconut oil because I don't like margarine. 

I deleted the liquor and used orange juice instead, and added some freshly grated orange peel. 

I separated the eggs and whipped the whites with sugar to provide a lighter texture than I thought the cake would have without fluffed whites.

I didn't serve it with poached fruit (I used fresh oranges and sorbet).

Some would say that with all these changes the recipe is now mine, and I understand that.

Still, the cake was delicious and I would have preferred to give credit!

Btw, it's gluten free!

Here's my version of Passover Orange-Almond Cake.

Passover Orange Almond Cake

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 6 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange peel
  • 1/4 cup potato starch

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a small amount of the coconut oil, lightly grease an 8-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper. Set aside. Melt the remaining coconut oil and set aside to cool. Place the almonds and 6 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and stir at low speed for a minute until the ingredients are well distributed. Add the egg yolks, orange juice and orange peel and beat them in at medium speed for about one minute. Stir in the potato starch. Stir in the cooled coconut oil. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites for 1-2 minutes, going from low to high speed, or until the whites stand in soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar and beat until the mixture stands in stiff peaks. Fold them into the almond mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes 6-8 servings