Pesach

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

People sometimes laugh at me because we are a year-round matzo family, year-round matzo-brei family.

I mean -- when something is delicious, why wait for Passover?

On the other hand, when Passover comes, I like to branch out from the usual matzo-brei breakfasts -- for instance, with pancakes like these, which are rich and holiday-festive, and also substantial enough for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. 

 

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

  • 1 cup cottage cheese

  • 1 cup dairy sour cream

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel or one tablespoon grated orange peel

  • 1/2 cup matzo cake meal

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon potato starch

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • salt to taste

  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • butter for frying

In a bowl, combine the cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon peel and whisk together until well blended. In a second bowl combine the cake meal, sugar, potato starch, cinnamon and salt. Spoon the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the cake meal and whisk until the batter is smooth and uniform. Fold in raisins, if used.

Heat about a tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan or griddle over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add batter by heaping tablespoonsful and cook for 1-2 minutes or so until browned on the bottom. Turn the pancakes over and cook for a minute or so on the second side or until lightly browned. Add more butter to the pan as needed to prevent sticking.

Makes about 16

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

 

Zucchini Pancakes

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If you're looking for a good mid-week Passover meal -- here it is! I actually make these year round, but they're ideal during the holiday.

And versatile: for a dairy meal add about 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese to the mix. For more substance -- serve with sunnyside eggs. I accompany them with mashed avocado, but sometimes with dairy sour cream or plain yogurt (any of these mixed with a squirt of lemon juice).

Zucchini Pancakes

  • 2 medium zucchini (10-12 ounces each)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup matzo meal
  • vegetable oil for frying

* for a dairy meal you can add 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Shred the zucchini in a food processor (or grate by hand). Place the shreds in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, toss the shreds and let rest for 10-12 minutes. Squeeze he shreds to extract as much liquid as possible. Return the shreds to the bowl. Add the scallions and egg and mix the ingredients. Add the matzo meal and mix thoroughly. Heat about 1/8-inch vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Spoon portions of the mixture into the pan to make pancakes about 2-inches in diameter. Leave some space between each pancake. Cook for about 3 minutes per side or until crispy and golden brown. Remove to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining zucchini mixture. Serve with mashed avocado, dairy sour cream or plain yogurt (mixed with some lemon juice).

Makes about 12 pancakes

 

 

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

 

 

Hurry Hurry, Eat That Curry

I know there are differences in the traditions among observant Jews as to whether certain ingredients are permitted during Passover. Like beans, which most Ashkenazy Jews won't eat, but if your background is Sephardic, well, then beans are ok.

It's the same for curry powder, which contains cumin, which can be questionable and is generally not on the kosher for Passover list for many.

And so, if you're looking to use up your curry powder here's a goodie for dinner this week.

The other benefit? This recipe has four ingredients (not counting salt and pepper, which are optional) and is so easy that you will be thoroughly grateful for this dish during the tremendously busy time right before the holiday. And also during the year whenever you're busy and need a quick-and-easy dinner.

Also, it's really really tasty. And perfect with rice, which you might be wanting to use up as well. 

Easy 4-Ingredient Orange-Curry Chicken Breasts

  • 4 chicken breasts on the bone (or use whole legs)
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, preferably hot curry powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, mix the orange marmalade, lemon juice and curry powder together and spoon over the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the chicken in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes. Baste the chicken and turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Roast for another 25-30 minutes, basting occasionally, or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crispy.

Makes 4 servings

Salmon Latkes with Lemon-Scented Mayo on Matzo

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Half a lifetime went by before I understood the unique wonderfulness of sandwiches on matzo. As a kid I felt awkward and embarrassed bringing cream cheese and jelly or egg salad sandwiches on matzo in my school lunch.

No matter that several other kids did the same thing. I thought it was weird and I hated it.

Nevertheless, even then I had to confess, if only to myself, that those sandwiches were really really good. The crunch and crispiness of matzo was perfection against anything soft inside. So if it was anything creamy or tender, like tuna or chicken salad, well, that was good. If weird.

Roast beef? Not so much. Too hard to chew a piece while at the same time trying to keep the matzo from crumbling into a million pieces.

My Mom sometimes made salmon latkes to eat on matzo. I would never bring this to school. Much too weird I thought. Too fishy. It might smell.

Kids are embarrassed by those sorts of things.

But at home? Well, salmon latkes on matzo (with a dollop of lemon-scented mayo) is a real treat.

Try it for yourself!

SALMON LATKES WITH LEMON-SCENTED MAYO ON MATZO

  • · 2 cups mashed cooked salmon

  • · 2 large eggs

  • · 1/2 cup matzo meal

  • · 1 small grated onion, optional

  • · 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, optional

  • · salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • · vegetable oil

  • · mayonnaise

  • · lemon juice

  • · grated fresh lemon peel

  • · matzos

In a bowl, mix the salmon, eggs, matzo meal, onion, if used, dill and salt and pepper to taste until well combined. Heat about 1/8-inch vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Shape the salmon mixture into 8-10 cakes. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Eat plain or with Lemon-Mayo on Matzo.

Makes 8-10

For each portion Lemon-Mayo, mix mayonnaise (2 tablespoons) with 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel per portion. Spread on a half piece of matzo, top with one salmon latke.

Orange-Honey-Nut Tart

What to do with Macaroons   In the old days we ate macaroons straight out of the can. That was dessert.  But there are so many delicious things you can do with plain old macaroons. Like use them to make a crust for cheesecake. Or crumble them to top a fruit crisp. Or break them up into a parfait dish with ice cream and chocolate sauce.  Or make this fabulously rich tart. It’s sort of like a Chess Pie or Pecan pie. With a macaroon crust.   Make it ahead and keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days. You won’t be sorry.      Orange-Honey-Nut Tart      18-20 macaroons  2/3 cup honey  1/2 cup butter  1/3 cup sugar  3/4 teaspoon salt  1/2 cup cream (light, whipping or half and half)  2 large eggs  1 tablespoon grated fresh orange peel  1 cup medium-fine chopped almonds     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Crumble the macaroons and press them onto the bottom and sides of the greased pan. Set aside. Place the honey, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, mixing constantly. Cook for about a minute or until the sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly. In a bowl, beat the cream, eggs and orange peel together until well blended. Pour in the honey mixture and blend ingredients thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the macaroon crust. Scatter the nuts on top. Place the tart in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.  Makes 8 servings

What to do with Macaroons

In the old days we ate macaroons straight out of the can. That was dessert.

But there are so many delicious things you can do with plain old macaroons. Like use them to make a crust for cheesecake. Or crumble them to top a fruit crisp. Or break them up into a parfait dish with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Or make this fabulously rich tart. It’s sort of like a Chess Pie or Pecan pie. With a macaroon crust. 

Make it ahead and keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days. You won’t be sorry.

 

Orange-Honey-Nut Tart

 

18-20 macaroons

2/3 cup honey

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cream (light, whipping or half and half)

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon grated fresh orange peel

1 cup medium-fine chopped almonds

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Crumble the macaroons and press them onto the bottom and sides of the greased pan. Set aside. Place the honey, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, mixing constantly. Cook for about a minute or until the sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly. In a bowl, beat the cream, eggs and orange peel together until well blended. Pour in the honey mixture and blend ingredients thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the macaroon crust. Scatter the nuts on top. Place the tart in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

Makes 8 servings