Passover is (finally) over and that means that…it’s time to start preparing for next Passover.
Okay, now before you kill me for saying that, I just mean that now is the time to evaluate how your food prep held up this year, so you’ll be able to ensure that you’re better prepared next year.
As you’re putting away your Passover pots and pan, or simply throwing out half-used boxes of matzah farfel, here are some questions to jot down answers to. Email the answers to yourself, or put them in a google doc, and you’ll be able to plan next year with the full knowledge that came with this year’s celebration.
What was your shopping list this year? And what were your seder menus?
This will help you get a baseline of what you were shopping for, and how much you got. If you happened to keep receipts and know how much you spent, that is also helpful to know (and I commend you for being way more organized than I was).
What did you have left over at the end of the holiday? This will help you gauge if you need to buy less of something next year. I also personally feel fine saving, say, an unopened box of matzah meal, for next year. My mother was notorious for saving Pesach spices over decades, which I don’t personally plan to do, but it’s an option.
What was the best thing you made or ate this Pesach? Perhaps it was an old classic, that you make and love every year, or maybe it was something new or recently tweaked. For me, it was this no-bake chocolate mousse cake made with avocado. It’s pareve (vegan, even) and devastatingly delicious. I made it twice over Pesach, and the second time I added a teaspoon of cinnamon, which I highly recommend.
This brings me to What adaptations did you make to recipes, and how did they turn out? Besides the cinnamon to the cake, my friend Andrea and I did some major revamping of a stuffed onion recipe, and the results were fantastic. Thankfully, Andrea wrote up what she did after the seders and emailed it to me so that we can use it to go off of next year. I also remembered to write down that while making my aunt’s frozen mousse cake, there is a part where the batter starts to seize up, and while this is terrifying while it happens, it has no negative ramifications on the way the cake actually comes out.
What did you make that’s not worth making next year? Might as well cull the menu now, when you remember how disappointing that kugel was.
What kitchen utensils, pots or pans would you like to have for next year? Since this was my first year making Passover by myself, I bought a whole set of dishes, pots, pans, and utensils. I was thrilled with everything, but wish I had thought to get a colander, a rubber spatula, and a few wooden spoons. I’ve already added them to my shopping lists for next year, and can be on the lookout for those items at sales.
What are some recipes that you didn’t get a chance to try, but would like to try for next year? Did you not get a chance to try everything on our communal seder menu? Collect recipes and links in one place so you know where to start looking next year.
With all that done, and your dishes packed away, you can leave Pesach behind―for about another 10 months, before next year’s Pesach frenzy begins.
Maror is an important part of the pre-meal seder, but there’s no reason you can’t make it a part of your Pesach feast. Some people like a little dot of maror to go with their gefilte fish, but I’m a gefilte fish hater, so I wanted to think of some other way to integrate some strong chrein into my meal. Enter: horseradish salmon. This recipe is incredibly quick and easy, and leads to an amazingly moist and sweet dish, with just a jab of chrein getting you on the finish. Do not be dissuaded by the amount of horseradish called for–it mostly cooks away leaving an amazing spicy aroma layered on a honeyed, flaky piece of fish.
2 lbs salmon1/4 cup horseradish
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl combine horseradish (use the white kind unless you want magenta salmon), honey, lemon juice, and salt. It should form a somewhat thick mixture, and it will smell incredibly strongly of the horseradish, but don't worry―most of the kick of the horseradish will cook off in the oven. Place salmon in a greased casserole dish or on a baking sheet. Pour the horseradish mixture over the fish, making sure that it gets all around the fish, and spooning some back on top of the fillet. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
I went to Jewish day school from pre-school all the way through 12th grade, and looking back, there were definitely some lessons that had a much bigger impact than others. Perhaps my most enduring lesson is one I got way back in kindergarten at Solomon Schechter: challah baking. The teachers guided us through the recipe, and eventually gave each child a small mound of dough to shape into a challah that we took home at the end of the day. We also took home a piece of paper with the recipe typed on it, and it has been my go-to challah recipe ever since.
Since kindergarten I’ve made this challah hundreds of times. I’ve made it on three continents, at four universities, and in half a dozen homes. It never disappoints. I hope it brings as much doughy goodness to your table as it has to mine. Shabbat shalom!
2 packages yeast (about 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup very warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
8-10 cups flour
1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
1 Tablespoon honey (optional)
2 Tablepoons maple syrup (optional)
1 Tablespoon vanilla (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 beaten egg
Poppy or Sesame seeds
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water from the tap with 1 teaspoon sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat eggs with sugar. Add oil, water and salt. If you'd like a sweeter challah, add honey or maple syrup. For a little spice in your challah, add cardamom and vanilla.
Mix yeast mixture into egg mixture, using beaters, your hands, or the dough hook on a standing mixer. Add 2 cups of flour at a time, mixing between additions (feel free to substitute whole wheat flour for up to 3 cups of regular flour). When the dough gets thick and sticky, turn it out onto a floured counter and knead the flour in by hand. Stop kneading when it seems like the dough will not accept any more flour (usually about 9 cups of flour). Put the dough back in the bowl and cover loosely with a kitchen towel. Let sit for at least 4 hours, up to 8 hours.
After the dough has risen for at least four hours, punch it down, and knead in raisins if you'd like to us them. Then divide the dough into three sections. Each section will be a loaf. Braid or shape the challot however you like. (The Shiksa has a wonderful and very comprehensive guide to braiding and shaping challah dough here.)
Once the loaves are braided or shaped, place them on cookie sheets, and cover loosely with a towel. Allow to rise at least another half hour, preferably an hour. Preheat the oven to 350F. Then, beat an egg, and brush it lightly on each challah, making sure to get the egg wash in all the crevices of the loaf. Sprinkle the tops with poppy or sesame seeds if you wish. Bake the challot for 30-40 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top, and are making your kitchen smell like heaven.
Most of the time I plan my dinner menus in the beginning of the week. I collect links for recipes I want to make, and page through cookbooks, and then make a shopping list. There aren’t many surprises later in the week, since I’ve already planned. But occasionally I get a craving for something, and veer off my plan. Last week, for reasons I can’t explain, I suddenly decided I wanted Cauliflower Curry Pie. Unfortunately, googling around I wasn’t able to find a recipe that came anywhere close to approximating what I was imagining.
Molly Katzen has a recipe for cauliflower pie in the Moosewood Cookbook, but it has a potato crust, and isn’t curried at all. I had just received a gorgeous pie plate, and was itching to use it. It had to be pie, and though I do love a potato crust in this case I wanted a classic savory pie crust.
So, I was forced to make up my own recipe, and I forced the results on my step-daughter, a semi-picky eater who, at 5, is generally skeptical of all vegetables, but is solidly pro-pie. The results were an enormous success. The crust came out perfectly, and the curry was a savory, mildly spicy vegetable medley that I think I’ll probably make again soon, even without the pie surrounding it. Though this recipe involved a bit more work than I’d typically put into a weeknight meal, it was totally worth it, and I’m definitely going to add it to my Shabbat and holiday menus. If you want to cut down on the time and/or you’re pastry phobic, you can use store bought crust.
2 sticks butter, cold, cut into cubes
7-8 Tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ¾ cups flour (I bet you could integrate some whole wheat flour, but I didn't try this time)
1 large onion (red onion works fine), chopped
2-4 Tablespoons olive oil (use your judgement)
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
2 Tablespoons mild curry
pinch garam masala (optional)
1 can coconut milk
1 can diced tomatoes
1 head cauliflower, chopped
2-3 small potatoes, diced
1 8oz box frozen spinach
salt and pepper, to taste
milk to brush on top
parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Drop the butter cubes into the flour mixture and hit the pulse button. Once all the butter is in the mixture should look like white gravel. Add 6 Tablespoons of the ice water, and run the food processor until a dough forms. If it still seems too dry, add another tablespoon or two of ice water.
Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead with a sprinkling more of flour. Divide into two hunks and shape into hockey pucks. Wrap in wax paper and stick in the fridge for at least half an hour. If making the dough more than a day before the curry, wrap in plastic wrap.
While the dough is chilling, make the curry. Fry the chopped onion in the oil for 5-10 minutes until onions are beginning to soften. Then add the ginger, curry, and garam masala and fry for another 2-3 minutes until it becomes fragrant. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, cauliflower and potatoes and simmer. Add the frozen spinach (no need to have it defrosted, though that won't hurt) by just plopping the square of frozen spinach in the middle of the pan. Cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, at which point the potatoes and cauliflower should be tender, and cooked through. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as desired. Turn off heat.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the pie dough from the fridge, and roll one of the hockey pucks out on a floured surface. Roll it pretty thin, and then place in the bottom of a pie plate, allowing whatever extra to spill over the sides. Using a slotted spoon, fill crust with cauliflower curry. Leave leftover liquid in pan, so you're left with a moist but not runny curry. Roll out the second hockey puck, and place on top of the curry. Press together the edges of the top and bottom crust, using a fork to crimp the edges together.
Brush the top of the pie with milk, and then make vents in the crust—I like to do this by writing a secret message, and this time my step-daughter requested that the pie say I'm Hungry, so that's what I wrote.
Bake at 400F for 40 minutes, or until golden on top. Sprinkle with parmesan, if desired. The pie is amazing when fresh from the oven, but is also surprisingly good when served cold, as lunch the next day.
I have been on kind of a kugel kick lately. And by lately, I mean for the past four months, with no signs of stopping. I have made kugels with noodles, kugels with quinoa, and kugels with bulgur. I’ve made sweet kugels that should really be classified as desserts, and savory kugels that have nothing whatsoever to do with the Eastern European heritage suggested by the word kugel (which means ball, but which I also apply to my square-shaped kugels).
What I love about kugels is how versatile they are, and how comforting they are. The perfect food to get excited about when the weather is cold and wet. You can make a kugel for dinner three times a week and never feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over. It’s also a great vehicle for camouflaging vegetables if you need to shoehorn some into your children or partner’s diet.
Here at MyJewishLearning we have recipes for Potato kugel, Sweet Potato Kugel, Cheese Lockshen Kugel, Yerushalmi Kugel, Gluten-free Apple Kugel, Zucchini Kugel, Carrot Kugel, Onion Kugel, Cinnamon Noodle Kugel, Apple Pear Cranberry Kugel, Broccoli Kugel, and the Love Potion Kugel
I also highly recommend all of the kugel recipes recently printed in the New York Times as part of their “kugel challenge”: Carrot Quinoa Kugel, , Sweet Millet Kugel with Apricots and Raisins, Cabbage, Onion and Millet Kugel and finally the Sweet Potato and Apple Kugel.
What’s your favorite kugel recipe?
When I was growing up I read a series of young adult mystery books about a girl who saw ghosts and solved mysteries as a result. The girl was named Nina Tanleven (she goes by Nine) and I loved the books, though I can’t tell you much about them today, since I haven’t cracked one of them in about 15 years. One thing I do remember from them is that Nine and her father (her mom had died, I think) liked to make cookies that they called slopnuggets. Slopnuggets were basically cookies made without a recipe. You just put things in a bowl that you thought should be in cookies, and stopped when it looked like cookie dough. Bake, and enjoy. Nine said that slopnuggets always turned out differently, but were generally delicious. And I remember that in the brief author biography of writer Bruce Coville, he noted that the books were fiction, but slopnuggets are real.
Since I read the books I’ve been wanting to try my hand at slopnuggets, and this week I finally did it. When my washer broke and I needed to use a neighbor’s I decided to make her cookies as a thank you, and didn’t have time to look for a recipe, so it was time to get sloppy.
Turns out, making slopnuggets is really fun, and has generally yummy results (I say generally because in my second batch I accidentally used salt instead of sugar…and that was an unfixable error). Here are my tips for making successful slopnuggets, a perfect treat for a day when you’re cooped up inside because of a hurricane or a heat wave.
Start with dry ingredients:
You’ll probably want to use some kind of flour or oatmeal or a combination
Baking powder or soda
Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cocoa)
Sweetener of some kind (sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup, agave)
Fat and liquids of some kind (oil, butter, peanut butter, pumpkin, yogurt, eggs, milk, juice)
And extract (vanilla, mint, lemon etc, depending on your mood and what you have on hand)
Once it’s the consistency of cookie dough, taste, adjust as needed, and add chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, and/or any other add-ins you’d like. Then drop by rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at about 350F for about 15 minutes.
The con: you can’t give the recipe away when someone asks if you can share your maple walnut cookie recipe.
One of many pros: you never have to worry that you won’t have the ingredients necessary to make slopnuggets. It’s whatever you happen to have in the pantry.
A couple of hours ago I made a truly wonderful batch of peanut butter molasses cookies. I’m sure I could come up with a lovely fancy name for them, but I’m just calling them slopnuggets.
It’s customary to stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of Shavuot. Though I used to pull all-nighters with relative frequency, those days are (thankfully) behind me, and a 2am study session can be a little tough. Enter the affogato, a recipe brought to us from Ariel Pollock, that combines a delicious brownie with ice cream (dairy is also customary on Shavuot) and a shot of espresso. The brownie will be something to look forward to, and the espresso will keep you going for the few more hours until sunrise.
I was in charge of loading this recipe onto MyJewishLearning yesterday, and it looked and sounded so delicious that I was distracted for the rest of the day, thinking about how I might be able to either go to a restaurant and get one, or make one myself. I didn’t get a chance to have one yesterday, but it’s the first item on my agenda tonight. No, it’s not quite Shavuot yet, but I’m just preparing myself… To see the recipe and make it yourself, click here.
Lag Ba’Omer is coming, and with it the ancient tradition of building bonfires on this strange mini-holiday. There is some debate as to why bonfires and torches are connected to Lag Ba’Omer, but the most credible story has its roots in the belief that the day might mark the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, who is credited as the author of the mystical Zohar. His students commemorate the day by converging on his grave with glowing torches. In Israel, bonfires light up the night on Lag Ba’Omer (causing something of an ecological disaster, because the fires can sometimes rage out of control, causing death and/or damage to the environment) and even those who don’t light big fires do like to light their barbecues and enjoy grilled food on this holiday.
Wherever you are this year for Lag Ba’Omer, I highly recommend using this opportunity to kick off the grilling season. Here at MyJewishLearning we have lots of great recipes for your grill, including two kinds of lamb kebabs, grilled peppers and haloumi cheese for the vegetarians, and grilled pineapple. None of those sound like your bag? How about grilled asparagus from your local farmer’s market? Plain old burgers and hotdogs are always good. I love the look of these grilled bleu cheese stuffed tomatoes and these grilled summer squash and zucchini caprese skewers. And for dessert, you can’t go wrong with ‘smores! So get your charcoal and lighter fluid ready…Lag Ba’Omer begins at sundown on Wednesday.
She’s already gotten started with her wonderful Genius Kitchen Tips, but I want to take a minute to give a formal welcome to Jessica Fisher, who’s stepping in as Acting Nosher while our Original Nosher is off resting up and laboring.
Jessica attended the joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. While finishing up her undergraduate studies, Jessica enrolled at the Natural Gourmet Institute where she became a certified Natural Foods chef. She now lives in Chicago where, as a PresenTense fellow, she is starting Dinner Around the Table, a non-profit organization aimed at teaching Jewish families how to cook and enjoy food together around the dinner table. You can find her tweeting about all things food, health, and Judaism @JessicaAFisher. You can find her personal blog at orange ideal and you can find her all month, right here on the Nosher.
Join me in giving Jessica a very warm welcome. And pull up a chair—I know she has lots of delicious things to share.
Passover is a holiday about food, and about the story of the Jewish people. But what about the story of the Jewish people’s food? We’ve written before about how Passover food can be exorbitantly expensive, and about people eating lots of processed not-so-good-for-you food on this holiday of our redemption. If this is making you think more carefully about where your food comes from–good! We have just the class for you!
In this week-long, service learning experience, participants ages 18-25 will explore the relationship between Judaism and contemporary food justice. This unique seminar will include farm work, text study and meetings with activists, community leaders, and professionals. On the farm, and through volunteer service work, students will gain hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture techniques such as planting, harvesting and soil building. In the bet midrash (study hall) at Hebrew College, students will explore a variety of Jewish texts relating to contemporary environmental and food justice issues such as food security, worker rights, and land stewardship.
When: Sunday, June 3 — Sunday, June 10, 2012
Where: Sustainable farms in the Greater Boston Area and Hebrew College, Newton, MA
Who: Students and professionals, ages 18-25; others will be considered.
How: Tuition is $1000 + transportation; generous fellowships are available.
*College credit available for interested participants*
To apply click here.
To find out more about Fellowships available contact Rabbi Or Rose, 617-559-8636
To find out more about this program visit jewishfarmschool.org or contact Rabbi Jacob Fine
Application Due: May 1st, 2012