Passover

Strawberry Shortcake (Without the cake)

fullsizeoutput_8989.jpeg

The strawberries are fabulous right now -- the local ones anyway. They're sweet, juicy and fragrant. They're small to medium rather than gigantic -- like the year-round supermarket staples, which are dry, tasteless and smell like plastic. The strawberries you can buy now are the kind I remember strawberries from long ago, (especially the ones I picked right off the plants in my parents' garden).

If you are lucky enough to get good, seasonal strawberries, try this recipe. I call it Strawberry Shortcake without Cake because the whipped cream mixture, which is made with mascarpone cheese, is thick, almost like a really moist cake, and yet it is sort of like whipped cream.

So easy too!

Remember this recipe next Passover. Or Valentine's Day. Or July 4th for that matter!

Make the cream part ahead and top it with berries just before you serve it. Lovely with coffee or tea and also an after dinner drink (brandy and so on).

Strawberry Shortcake without Cake

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese (or use whipped cream cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Wash and dry the berries and remove the hulls. Make incisions into each berry as if to cut slices but do not slice through. Set aside. Whip the cream and mascarpone cheese with the sugar and orange peel until the mixture is thick. Fold in the Balsamic vinegar. Spoon equal amounts of the cheese mixture onto 4-6 dessert plates. Place sliced strawberries on top, gently moving the “almost” slices to fan them slightly.

Makes 4-6 servings

 

 

Roasted Mushrooms and Tomatoes

fullsizeoutput_88ba.jpeg

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

fullsizeoutput_898b.jpeg

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

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

 

 

Brussels Sprouts, Kumquat and Avocado Salad

fullsizeoutput_8873.jpeg

My daughter Gillian recently gave me a box of kumquats and I was really tempted to candy them, but candied kumquats are the kind of thing I can't stop eating once I taste the first one, so, no. Not now. Maybe when I lose a few pounds.

I looked around to see what else I had in my fridge and cupboards that I could use with the kumquats: a few Brussels Sprouts, a couple of avocados, some cheese, and came up with this salad (I made half with cheese, half without.) 

Perfect -- plus healthy and low-cal -- use for kumquats.

Perfect for Passover as a symbolic dish of "bitter herbs/greens."

I usually don't save salad overnight because it becomes soggy. But this was so good that I kept it and even with its discolored avocado chunks it made a most delicious lunch item.

Brussels Sprouts, Kumquat and Avocado Salad

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 18 kumquats
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion or 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts, optional

Shred the Brussels sprouts in a food processor and place in a bowl. Cut the kumquats in half, remove and seeds and chop the fruit coarsely. Add to the Brussels sprouts. Add the onion. Peel the avocado, cut it into bite size chunks and add to the salad. Add the cheese, if desired, and toss gently to distribute the ingredients evenly. Mix the olive oil, white wine vinegar and maple syrup and pour over the salad. Toss to coat all the ingredients. Add the crushed red pepper and nuts, if desired, toss. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. 

Makes 4 servings

Eggplant, Mashed Potato and Portobello Gratin

Whenever I need a meatless or dairy meal -- for a meatless Monday (or any other day of the week when I am not in the mood for meat), or for during the Nine Days, or a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast, or during Passover -- this is one of the recipes I turn to. It's filling enough for dinner (served with a salad) yet not heavy.

Another benefit? Set it up ahead and bake just before you need it.

I change the recipe occasionally, because -- why not! This dish is versatile. Sometimes I use zucchini instead of or together with eggplant. Sometimes I add feta cheese or a layer of cooked kale or spinach or some cooked carrots. But basically this is it.

 

Eggplant, Mashed Potato and Portobello gratin

  • 2 large Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium eggplant (or 2 medium zucchini)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and cook them in simmering water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash them in the pot. Stir in 1/2 cup of Swiss cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and the eggs. Season lightly with salt and pepper. While the potatoes are cooking, trim the ends from the eggplant. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Brush both sides with the olive oil. Broil or grill the eggplant for 2-3 minutes per side or until softened and lightly browned. Place half the eggplant slices in a rectangular baking dish. Cover with the mashed potatoes. Layer the remaining eggplant on top. Slice the mushroom caps about 1/4-inch thick and place them on top of the eggplant. Slice the tomatoes and place them over the mushrooms. Scatter the basil and parsley on top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 45 minutes or until crispy and lightly browned on top.

Makes 8-10 servings

 

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

_DSC8890 2.jpg

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

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