Tag: Passover

Matzo Magic — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Holidays, March 19th, 2013

Matzo for PassoverI didn’t grow up eating matzo, but I was always intrigued by it, almost jealous in a way because it wasn’t part of my Catholic upbringing. I can see all of my Jewish friends rolling their eyes as they read this. One bite of matzo and you soon realize, on its own, there’s nothing to write home about.

What makes matzo so special is the significance it carries during the Jewish holiday of Passover, in which leavened products are forbidden (read more about why here). Matzo is made using just flour and water, resulting in a thin, very crisp cracker essentially. It became a part of my culinary world when I met my husband, Mikey, who was Jewish, 18 years ago. While he wasn’t observant, the holidays were rituals he celebrated regardless. And so, each year as Passover came around, matzo became a part of my cooking repertoire. In its most-simple form, I love eating matzo slathered with butter and a drizzle of some good honey.

Make matzo bruschetta

Crispy Zucchini and Potato Pancakes — The Weekender

by in Holidays, Recipes, March 1st, 2013

Crispy Zucchini and Potato Pancakes - The WeekenderWhen I was in high school, I went through a period where nothing I ate sat right with me. My parents took me to our family doctor, trying to figure out what was the matter. I was tested for celiac disease, IBS, Crohn’s and other illnesses that can sometimes cause digestive distress and they all came back negative. It wasn’t until a family friend who was also a naturopathic doctor suggested I take a break from eating wheat-based foods that things began to improve.

This was back in the mid-’90s, before everyone was eating wheat-free and gluten-free. The available rice pasta was terrible and the spelt bread sold at our local co-op was dry and crumbly. I ate a lot of my mom’s homemade granola and gave up a lot of the things I most liked to eat for a time.

Happily, I found that it was enough for me to take occasional breaks from wheat to keep my belly happy and so every couple months, I’d take a week or two off from bread, pasta, cookies and anything else with wheat in the ingredient list.

Over this past weekend, I realized that it was time for another such wheat-free period. I did a little meal planning and made a shopping list of things that would ease the shift (though it’s so much easier to do these days than it was nearly 20 years ago).

Before you start cooking, read these tips

Chicken Liver Mousse — The Weekender

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 6th, 2012

chicken liver mousseMy Aunt Doris made canapés the way other women garden or take tennis lessons. She was always on the hunt for a new recipe or a source for discounted Pepperidge Farms thin-sliced white bread, and was never happier than when she had eight or 10 dozen hors d’oeuvres wrapped in aluminum foil and tucked into her basement chest freezer.

She often spent Saturday afternoons practicing a recipe, lining up assembly stations all across the kitchen counters, leaving no square inch unutilized. When my mom and her cousins were young, they were often used as foot soldiers in these battles of woman versus cornichon, pimento and caper.

Aunt Doris would lay out large rounds of rye at the kitchen table, almost as if she was setting up a meal with edible plates. Each child was given a pastry bag that Aunt Doris filled with whipped and flavored cream cheese or chicken liver pâté. They would take their positions standing behind a slice of bread and with militaristic precision, would pipe a circle of cream cheese or pâté onto the bread, using the outer crust as a guide.

Before you start cooking your liver, read these tips:

Macaroons for Passover, or Anytime

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 5th, 2012

Passover Macaroons
Like most of our family gatherings, Passover in my house is all about the food. No one misses bread when you’ve got steaming bowls of matzo ball soup, homemade gefilte fish (never the slimy kind from a jar), fork-tender brisket and half a dozen sides. But come dessert time, I used to wish for the flour and leavening agents that are forbidden on Passover.

My grandmother was an excellent baker throughout the rest of the year, but her annual spread of kosher-for-Passover cakes and cookies left something (okay, a lot) to be desired. And for some reason, back when she and my grandfather hosted the Seder, the macaroons always came from a can.

This was a travesty. The flourless coconut macaroon is a staple of Passover — it might as well be on the Seder plate next to the horseradish and shank bone. But those canned cookies always smelled weird and had an odd, waxy texture.

Chocolate-Dipped Passover Macaroons

Passover, Vegetarian-Style — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Holidays, April 4th, 2012

quinoa pilaf
Recently, I was talking with a friend about Passover, which starts at sundown on April 6. I asked him how he navigated dinner since he doesn’t eat meat and brisket is the traditional main course. It turns out he’s not the only pescatarian and vegetarian in his family, but it still got me thinking about how other vegetarians handle family holiday dinners. The simple solution would be to bring a hearty side dish instead of dessert or wine, which is the usual go-to item.

Some of the classics are easy to give veggie makeovers. Matzo Ball Soup, a must-have at every Seder, is an easy fix — just use vegetable broth. Here are some more ideas for making sure everyone feels welcome at your Passover table this year.

Moroccan Carrot and Spinach Salad (I paired it with the quinoa recipe below for a filling meal)

Matzo Brei (This is a traditionally more of an appetizer, but it’s very filling and the eggs are a good protein boost, too.)

Quinoa Pilaf With Cremini Mushrooms

Read more