When I first learned about the Moroccan (and increasingly, Israeli) post-Passover holiday of Maimouna, I was most excited about the foods—between the traditional dried fruits, dates, and crepes with honey, Maimouna is clearly a festival for the sweet-toothed. I was particularly eager to try zaban (nougat), because, well, candy.
As it turns out, the zaban made at home for Maimouna isn’t like the confection in a Snickers bar. Recipes vary, but most are either a foamy, uncooked meringue, or a honey-flavored soft caramel. Both versions I’ve included are simple to prepare and are served decorated with nuts (almonds or walnuts are traditional), and eaten with a spoon.
Zaban Version 1:
¾ of a cup or 4 egg whites (you can use pasteurized egg whites)
3 Tbsp sugar
Dash of almond extract (optional)
Almonds or walnuts
Combine the egg whites, sugar, and almond extract in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed for about 8 minutes, or until the nougat looks like heavy whipped cream.
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to serve, add the nuts.
I’ve also been closely tracking this pre-Passover plague — because I was an eyewitness to Israel’s last locust swarm.
One weekend in late 2004, I was snorkeling in the Red Sea just a short walk from the Egyptian border crossing, marveling at a small octopus, when I emerged from the water to see an enormous cloud of locusts crossing the border and charging due north.
“Thailandim eat those things,” she said, referring to the large number of Thai workers working agricultural jobs in Israel. “Yuck!”
Yum, say Israeli foodies, who are turning the pests into a délicatesse. Chef Moshe Basson of the Euclalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem, who specializes in foods of the Bible, prefers his locusts fried and smothered in risotto seasoned with coriander and chili. “First throw your live locusts into boiling vegetable stock. They will squeal like lobsters as the air shoots out of their shells,” goes his recipe, posted by The Guardian.
The head of a southern Israeli municipal council, Shmulik Reifman, has offered his own recipe for locust shish kebobs drenched in coconut milk, a dish he invented while touring the recent locust storm.
Rabbis are mixed on the question of the insects’ kosher status, but Reifman gives it a thumbs-up. “Jews in Morocco and Libya used to eat locust a lot, and it’s rich in protein,” he told the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, which printed this recipe. “You can prepare it in two ways: frying, or with vegetables and coconut milk. It’s a winning recipe, and you don’t mess with a winning recipe.”
1 kilogram locusts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 green onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 can coconut mil
1. Wash the locusts and skewer them on wooden skewers.
2. Roast them on the grill for 3 minutes each side. Alternatively, fry them in a lightly-greased skillet, and only then skewer them.
3. Heat the olive oil in a small pot. Add the onions, garlic and ginger, and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
4. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Remove from stove.
5. Arrange the shish kebobs on a plate, dribble the sauce over them and garnish with a little diced onion. Serve with white rice.
The first time I heard of “Montreal-style Deli” was a few years ago when i was still working for Edgar M. Bronfman’s foundation. We were visiting the Hillels of Montreal and I was sent on a mission: go and procure some smoked brisket for Edgar from Schwartz’s deli. It’s his favorite. Of all my assignments during my time working there, this was, without doubt, my favorite. Brisket. Done. I still have the receipt hanging at my desk.
So when Mile End Deli opened in Brooklyn in 2010, I knew Edgar would love it. And I was right. I like to think I am usually right when it comes to food.
And last night, worlds (and Bronfmans, and celebrities and rabbis) all collided at the launch party for The Bronfman Haggadah, a new Haggadah written by Edgar with gorgeous artwork by his wife, the talented Jan Aronson. While Mile End served up Passover-inspired dishes, providing the perfect accompaniment to the evening’s festivities of modern and traditional.
Mile End’s website says that it is “a Jewish delicatessen in New York City committed to breathing new life into old-world traditions.” And I can’t think of a better way to describe the Haggadah Edgar has created. For some the Haggadah will feel very foreign: entirely in English, with some different songs and the purposeful act of welcoming Elijah earlier in the Seder. But for others, for whom the Judaism of their childhood never quite fit; for those who never experienced a Judaism which fit or not; or for those just looking for something different, this Haggadah may find a new place as part of your family’s tradition.
In his remarks last night, Noah Bernamoff of Mile End explained, “Everyone knows what Jewish deli food is. We like to ask ourselves the difficult questions about Jewish food.”
If nothing else, Passover is a time for storytelling, asking questions and food. And the dishes Mile End served last night definitely fulfilled its mission of breathing new life into old-world traditions. Duck pastrami served on a matzo brei cake with green apple haroset; pickled deviled eggs; and braised brisket with green figs on spiced matzo, just to name a few. They posted their full menu from the Haggadah launch on Instagram last evening, so please, take a peak! Above all, each bite tasted like something familiar, and also something brand-new. I will give one word of critique: I didn’t love the take-home macaroons, which most closely resembled and tasted like the variety you can buy in the Supermarket. But I’ll let it slide. Mile End isn’t known for their baked goods.
I remarked to Rae Bernamoff of Mile End that I couldn’t decide which mini dish was my favorite, but in the end I have say, the crispy gefilte fish cake stood out to me. I never ate gefilte fish growing up. My grandmother, while a wonderful (and hilarious) woman, is a terrible cook and exclusively served the gefilte fish out of a jar, which most closely resembles a ball of lint you might pull out of the dryer. It wasn’t until well into my teens that i had my first real bite of the Ashkenazi classic and fell in love. Slathered in spicy horseradish, it is now a favorite, and a staple at my seder.
But Mile End’s version was crispy, slightly sweet and tasted almost like a gourmet fish stick or mini cod cake. Served with chrein cream and pickled carrot…well. I ate two. And I ate three of the pickled deviled eggs. But I digress.
If you’re in New York, please check out one of Mile End’s two locations. And if you’re still looking for the perfect Haggadah for your family, have a look at The Bronfman Haggadah.
Wishing you and your family a Passover celebration infused with relevant traditions and delicious dishes, both new and old alike.
Holidays are meaningful for a variety of reasons, but more often than not, because they include a gathering of family. This will come as no surprise, but in my family, that gathering always features two elements: a mouthwatering feast and a dance party. Without exception, if there is music playing in the general vicinity, there will be dancing. Regardless of the amount of space we have, someone always finds room to bust a move. And depending on how much alcohol was served at dinner, the elders have been known to cut a rug, as well.
On the rare occasion when I need a little liquid courage to hit the makeshift dance floor, one of my favorite cocktails is the classic Cuban mojito. Made famous by Ernest Hemingway, this literary favorite blends the distinctly clean, fresh scent of lime and the aromatic essence of sugar-bruised mint leaves with world-class rum only found on the motherland and the nose-tickling fizz of seltzer. Topped off with a splash of bitters, it’s clear why the mojito is favored by Cubans and Americans, alike.
Since we’ll soon be gathering as a family for Passover, and rum will certainly be off-limits due to the dietary restrictions that accompany the holiday, I thought I’d transform this citrus-y cocktail into a tasty bite suitable for any seder table. By seasoning naturally bitter quinoa, a longtime Passover favorite across the board, with the most memorable elements of a mojito, hopefully, all it will take is one bite to get the more shy family members to hit the dance floor.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 Tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
2 limes, zested
In a medium pot, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, pepper, and quinoa, and toast for 1 minute.
Pour in the chicken broth, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated.
Fluff the quinoa, and stir in the almonds, mint leaves, and lime zest.
Ever since DGS Delicatessen opened its doors in Washington, DC last year, I’ve been following their reinvented Jewish dishes and praising press with interest. I was thrilled to have a chance to speak with Chef Barry Koslow this week about his inspiration and vision for the modern, Jewish deli.
Chef Barry actually started his culinary career working in upscale French restaurants, and had always dreamed about opening a French bistro. As a Jewish guy who grew up in the DC area he realized he had a strike against him: he wasn’t French.
I love that when Barry and his partners began exploring the idea of opening a deli, they wanted to do things differently, set themselves apart from the traditional North American Jewish deli that was dying off. They asked themselves: What should change about Jewish cuisine?
When you glance at DGS’ everyday menu and even their special Passover menu you can see very clearly what Barry is doing differently for Jewish cuisine: the traditional, American-Ashkenazi dishes so many of us grew up with are there, but with exciting, modern twists. For example, their lamb merguez knishes are a unique Sephardi-Ashkenazi hybrid packing a flavor punch.
The signature of DGS is their renowned Pastrami Sandwich, which starts with great rye bread. The pastrami takes 8 days to make with a signature spice blend that is ground by hand, smoked for 6 hours, steamed for 4 hours and then sliced by hand.
What’s up next for DGS? They plan to serve up a GLT this summer: gribenes, lettuce and tomato sandwich. My mouth is already watering….!
Chef Barry also explained that some people have struggled with their versions of Jewish classics, and most others are delighted by the opportunity to visit their Jewish food memories through DGS’ unique versions. Barry shared,
“…people have nostalgia for delicatessen, and we make people rethink this. What we do sparks a lot of debate, but the majority of the people love it. But I think the conversation is important – people need to talk about how it was, and look how we are doing things different.”
When food is not just food, but a connection to heritage and part of a larger conversation about Jewish community and people? Well, then they must be doing something right!
DGS Delicatessen is open 7 days a week, serves lunch, happy hour and dinner during the week, as well as brunch on the weekends. They will offer their Passover menu from March 25th – 31st.
DGS Delicatessen, 1317 Connecticut Avenue, 202.293.4400.
It’s that time of year again when we go through cabinets, fridge and freezer searching for chametz and rack our brains on how to use them up before Passover. I love this challenge each year, especially because I usually have a few bags full of leftover challah just waiting to be used in a new recipe.
Bread puddings are often sweet and served for dessert; while stuffing is usually savory and served as a side dish. But I wanted to sort of combine both these concepts and do something a bit different – a savory, dairy bread pudding perfect to serve for breakfast or brunch! And thus, my Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms was born!
Don’t like mushrooms? Use spinach or peppers instead.Serve with scrambled eggs and some fruit for a perfect, rounded breakfast.
4 cups leftover bread, preferably challah
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 ounces goat cheese
Cut or break bread into chunks. Grease a 9x9 square pan and place bread into pan.
Heat olive oil and butter in saute pan over medium heat. Add fresh thyme to pan. Saute mushrooms for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, heavy cream and eggs. Add goat cheese. It's ok if the goat cheese remains in small chunks. Add mushrooms to milk mixture, but remove the fresh thyme.
Pour milk mixture over leftover bread chunks and let sit for 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake bread pudding for 35-45 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. Can be served next day.
When I was a little girl and I would spend time with my grandparents, they would be planning dinner while we were still eating breakfast and I never understood it. In fact, it downright drove me crazy! And yet now that I am older, and perhaps even more food-obsessed than they were, I am 100% guilty of this habit as well. Purim is barely behind us, and we are already fully engaged in our Passover planning over here at The Nosher, trying out new recipes and working to put together some great menus and ideas for our readers.
I always start testing Passover recipes in February to make sure I have a few new ones in my arsenal, and this weekend I worked on my new favorite Passover dessert recipe, so stay tuned!
Once again we will be posting our Communal Seder and will have a couple of other great features including a giveaway of Aviva Kanoff’s award-winning cookbook, No Potato Passover and a special Q&A and recipe from DGS Delicatessen in Washington, DC.
In the meantime we really want to hear from YOU – are you looking for a particular kind of recipe for Passover? Need help locating kosher for Passover ingredients in your area? Have a great tip you want to share with our readers? Comment on our Facebook page and let us know!
Leah Koenig is a writer and cookbook author whose work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Saveur, CHOW, Food Arts, Tablet, Gastronomica, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. Leah writes a monthly food column for The Forward and a bimonthly column for Saveur.com called “One Ingredient, Many Ways.” She is the former Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning blog, The Jew & The Carrot, and she is a frequent contributor to MyJewishLearning.com, where her recipes are very popular, and highly praised.
Her first cookbook, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen, was published by Rizzoli in 2011. The book was named one of the “Best Books of 2011″ by Library Journal and The Kitchn called it “a big, beautiful book that is also down-to-earth and completely accessible.”
For Passover, Leah brings us a sweet and hearty side dish that looks as good as it tastes–which is to say, gobsmackingly phenomenal.
2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 medium shallots (approximately 1/2 lb), thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter or pareve margarine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
Boil sweet potatoes in a 4-quart sauce pan until tender, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain potatoes, then add them back to the pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium pan set over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until shallots soften and brown, about 10 minutes. Season with a little salt, remove from heat, and set aside.
Add approximately 1/3 of the cooked shallots to the potatoes along with butter and stock and mash until well combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve topped with remaining shallots.
This recipe comes to us from Rivka at NotDerbyPie. Rivka is a native Washingtonian, back in her home town after stints in Manhattan and Jerusalem. Food is “merely” a hobby for her — she’s a consultant during the day — but she writes and photographs food beautifully, and she’s the author of some of our favorite and most popular recipes. Here she gives us a recipe for carrot kugel, adapted from everyone’s favorite sisterhood cookbook, “Second Helpings, Please.” Theirs is a year-round recipe (who doesn’t love a little carrot kugel after a long day at work?) but Rivka only makes it on Passover, and has adapted it to be both Passover friendly and slightly more delicious.
1 cup matzah cake meal
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/4 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup melted butter or canola oil
Preheat oven to 325F and set a rack in the center of the oven.
Butter and flour an 8" square baking pan.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, combine eggs, oil, lemon juice, and carrots.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until the two are combined and no lumps of flour remain. Transfer batter into the prepared baking pan, and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake for 45 minutes; when done, kugel should spring back when touched.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Welcome to the Nosher’s Communal Seder. Pull up a chair, and we hope you came hungry, because we’ve got a full seder’s worth of recipes for you, from bitter herbs that will make your eyes tear up all the way to chocolate mousse two ways, we’re here for you. We promise not to make you say the Four Questions, but we do ask that you try everything—and we promise it’s all delicious. We tapped our favorite food bloggers and writers, and they are all ready to present you with some of their favorite Passover recipes. Starting on Monday we’ll be posting a few recipes per day, and by April 2nd (also known as t-minus four days til Seder #1) you’ll have two whole seder menus ready for you, right here. We’ll also give you some great recipes for the rest of the week of Passover, and point you towards some wines we love.
For now, sit back, relax, and get salivating. We’re kicking things off with a main course that will knock your guests right over (even if they haven’t been taking the four cups of wine really seriously).
P.S. You can see all the recipes we’ve published so far by clicking here.