Seder

Nut-Free Dried Fruit and Apple Haroset

fullsizeoutput_88ef.jpeg

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 Butter Cookies

fullsizeoutput_8136.jpeg

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 

Breast of Veal for Passover

_DSC9020.jpg

In my world, Passover is not usually the brisket fest that is typical for so many of the other families I know.

Our usual is turkey. Second night veal.

That's because, growing up, when the Seders were at my grandma's house, and the crowd could be as many as 24 people, she always served a big turkey the first night. The second night, when we were a much smaller group, she would cook a batch of veal cutlets with a crunchy matzo meal crust.

Frankly, I don't feel like frying up a whole mess of cutlets, so my Passover veal dinner will likely be breast of veal, one of my favorites meats to eat. I realize a lot of people think breast of veal is too down home for a festive occasion such as Passover.

I don't agree. Look how beautiful this roast is! Golden brown skin, meaty bones, moist meat, savory vegetables to accompany. Looks impressive to me! And also quite good to eat, for Passover or otherwise.

Roast Breast of Veal with Mushrooms, Onions and White Wine

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 10 ounces fresh mushrooms
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 breast of veal, about 3-4 pounds
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, to soften slightly. Add the mushrooms, garlic and parsley, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the vegetables into a roasting pan. Place the veal breast on top. Brush the top surface of the meat with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes. Pour the wine over the meat. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Roast for another 45-50 minutes, basting occasionally, or until the surface is crispy.

Makes 4 servings

Quickie Ratatouille

Classic ratatouille is time consuming and labor intensive. Also fabulously delicious.

Unfortunately, I don't have the time or patience to cook the authentic recipe these days. Especially not for Passover.

So, whereas a cartoon rat might win raves for his ratatouille, and my version might not be quite so beautiful as the one in the Disney movie (Ratatouille), here are the benefits to my recipe:

it's easy: about 30 minutes prep time

it's quick (less than 30 minutes to cook)

it's a perfect dish for Seders, vegetarian meals or side dishes, any old dinner

it's fabulously delicious

So here's the recipe:

Quickie Ratatouille

 

  • 1/3 cup olive oil, approximately
  • 8 thick scallions, chopped
  • 6 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium fresh chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 cups diced eggplant
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 8 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 6-8 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground red pepper to taste

 

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallion, garlic and chili pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for one minute. Add the eggplant and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Pour in the remaining olive oil and add the zucchini (add more olive oil if the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of the pan). Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook, stirring frequently, for 12-15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and there is little liquid left in the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Makes 8 servings

 

 

 

Passover Chocolate Clusters

_DSC6704.JPG

Matzo Farfel Clusters

I have been experimenting with new recipes using matzo farfel. That's because I always buy too much of it and then it gets stale and I throw it out.

It can be difficult to find fresh matzo farfel in my neck of the woods (when it isn't Passover). But matzo farfel doesn't last, it gets stale quickly, so I have to use it up while it's fresh.

Here's a good way: candy!

Don't let the cayenne pepper put you off. That tiny bit of heat brings out the best in the chocolate.

Matzo Farfel Clusters

  • 2 cups matzo farfel
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel
  • pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the matzo farfel on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, tossing the farfel around once. Remove the pan from the oven and let the farfel cool. Melt the chocolate. Add the farfel, almonds, cranberries, coconut, orange peel and cayenne pepper to the chocolate and mix to distribute the ingredients evenly. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture into clusters on parchment paper or aluminum foil. Let set.

 

Makes about 3 dozen clusters

 

 

Another Seder, Another Haroset

Please see the Note below:

 

Although I usually like to cook new foods and experiment with recipes, when it comes to the Jewish holidays I more or less prepare the same things my mother and grandmother served in their day. For the first night of Passover that means chicken soup with matzo balls, roasted turkey, chremslich and macaroons. And several side dishes, such as braised leeks and tomatoes, roasted carrots, some quinoa dish or other -- and so on.

But I can't help myself, even for this very traditional meal -- I always add a new dish or two or three.

Sometimes it's a side dish, sometimes a dessert.

Sometimes I'll add an additional haroset to my usual one.

That's it for this year. Here's the one: Dried Fruit Haroset with Ginger and Coriander.

NOTE: I understand that not everyone eats sesame seeds during Passover (sesame seeds are kitnyiot). Please follow according to your tradition. The haroset is delicious even without the seeds. If you prefer, scatter the top with chopped toasted almonds.

Dried Fruit Haroset with Ginger and Coriander

 

  • 1 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (nutmeg, cinnamon)
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 4-5 tablespoons sweet red Passover wine
  • 1 tablespoon lightly toasted sesame seeds

Combine the figs, dates, apricots and raisins in a bowl. Add the ginger, coriander, preserves and wine and mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Let the mixture stand for at least one hour before serving.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

 Makes about 2-1/2 cups

Sweet and Fruity Matzo Brei

For kids, finding the afikomen is the most thrilling part of the Passover Seder. I can remember running through my grandma’s house searching for that half of a matzo. My cousin Leslie and I would look together. (We did everything together.) And when we found the matzo we screamed with joy and then when my Uncle Irving fit it together with the other half, we shared the prize (which I think was a piece of candy).

I remember my daughters yelling and jumping up and down with delight when it was their turn to find the afikomen.

This is the way it’s supposed to be. When the children find the half that some grownup has hidden they all shriek and shout, as you can see by the expression of utter joy shown by my grandson Zev in the first photo.

But the two pieces of matzo have to fit together. (It always does! But somehow the kids have that tiniest bit of doubt, which makes it so much fun for the grownups to watch.)

The fitting together part is my husband Ed’s task and you can see (in the other photos) that he’s pretty much thrilled with it and jokes about it with the kids. Sometimes he purposely gets out the wrong half so the afikomen won’t fit. Sometimes he pretends he’s eaten the other half. Or tries to fit it together sideways.

And so on.

Of course Passover, beyond the tradition of finding the afikomen, is all about matzo. Which suits me just fine because I think it is one of life’s most delicious foods. Fresh matzo. Crispy, toasty. Just plain, smeared with butter or cream cheese. Or topped with leftover chicken or chopped liver. Or strawberry jam. 

During Passover I use a matzo to make a crust on top of spinach pie (the same recipe I use year round with a phyllo dough crust). 

I even make toasted cheese sandwiches with matzo (place slices of cheese on top of the matzo and cook in a toaster oven). 

But the family favorite is matzo brei. For breakfast, brunch and an occasional dinner. Is there anyone who doesn’t like matzo brei?

Ed and I still argue over whether matzo brei is better soft (me) or crunchy (him). 

I think this is a common theme among matzo brei enthusiasts.

Although we usually eat plain old matzo brei, I tinker with the recipe. Of course. That’s what I do.

And although we come back to the original time after time, sometimes it’s nice to have a new version. So here is one that we liked. 

 

Sweet and Fruity Matzo Brei

4 matzos

boiling water

4 large eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 cup chopped apple

3 tablespoons raisins

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

 

Break the matzos into pieces into a bowl. Cover with boiling water for about 5-6 minutes or until soft. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible. Return the matzos to the bowl. Add the eggs, salt, apple, raisins, vanilla extract and lemon peel and mix thoroughly. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, pour the batter into the saute pan. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Turn and fry for another 2-3 minutes. NOTE: you can fry smaller portions instead of one large pancake. Makes 3-4 servings