There’s nothing like Passover to remind us where we come from. In many Jewish homes, Passover traditions are carried down from father to son, establishing the family’s customs and setting the standards for their Passover pantry.
Growing up, my family’s standards were quite stringent. We did not eat any processed ingredients, and we only used produce that could be peeled. My mother prepared simple syrup in place of sugar, and we seasoned our dishes minimally with kosher salt, no spices allowed. Thankfully, I married into a family whose customs were slightly more lenient. My in-laws allow a variety of fruits and vegetables, including cabbage, as well as some minimally processed foods, like tomato sauce.
When I spent Passover with my in-laws last year, I decided to pay homage to my roots by adapting my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage recipe for the holiday. While my grandmother would never have made this recipe for Passover, to me, it signifies the union of my husband’s familial customs with my Eastern European heritage. And that is precisely how we celebrate Passover.
1 head of green cabbage
1 lb ground beef
1 heaping cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 small onion, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
For the sauce:
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
Place the cabbage in the freezer overnight (about 12 hours). Remove and place in a colander in the sink to defrost. This makes the cabbage pliable for rolling and stuffing.
Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and discard. Peel the remaining large leaves, taking care not to tear the cabbage as you go. Set the whole leaves aside and chop up the remaining cabbage for later.
In a bowl, combine the ground beef, potatoes, onion, egg, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Set up a stuffing station with your whole cabbage leaves and ground beef mixture. With a paring knife, trim the thick part of the stem off the base of the leaves, taking care not to cut through the rest of the leaf. Place the leaves upright so that they are curling upward like a bowl.
Place a small handful of filling towards the base of each leaf and fold over the leaf from the left side. Roll the cabbage leaf up and using your finger, stuff the loose end of the leaf inward, pushing it into the center. Rolling the cabbage this way ensures that they hold together nicely during cooking.
Continue with remaining leaves. If you have any leftover filling, simply roll them into meatballs to place in the pot alongside the cabbage rolls.
Place the stuffed cabbage rolls in a large pot and cover with sauce ingredients. If you had any leftover cabbage or meatballs, add them to the pot as well.
Bring the sauce to a gentle boil over medium heat and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot, leaving it slightly open so that the steam does not force the cabbage rolls to open. Cook for approximately 2 - 2 1/2 hours, until cabbage is tender and sauce has thickened.
VARIATION: for unstuffed cabbage soup, shred the cabbage and roll the meat into balls. Place everything into a pot and continue as above.
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I love it when people taste my pareve desserts and say, “Wow—this is pareve!?”
It’s the same rule with Passover dishes and desserts. Which is why I am on a never-ending search for the perfect Passover desserts that are good enough to eat all year and just happen to also be Passover-friendly.In one of my searches I came across this recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies which I realized could easily be made Passover-friendly just by swapping out the peanut butter for almond butter. I adjusted a few ingredients and the result is a super tasty, chewy cookie that is good enough to enjoy all year. Your guests are sure to ask incredulously, “Are you sure these are kosher for Passover?” Truly the ultimate compliment.
1 cup almond butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
thick sea salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together almond butter, egg, brown sugar and vanilla.
Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Spoon out tablespoon-sized mounds onto ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with pinch of thick sea salt on top if desired.
Bake for 11 minutes, and then allow to cool for 5 minutes while cookies remain on the baking sheet. Transfer to baking rack to cool completely.
Though Passover can be an intimidating time to cook, (two Seders, no chametz, trying unsuccessfully to eat real food instead of just chocolate covered matzah) I love it. I thrive at updating traditions and the challenge of creating recipes so tasty, you’d actually want to eat them post-Passover.Not surprisingly, I try to go where no cook has gone before (though maybe that’s for good reason). Manischewitz Ice Cream and Deep Fried Matzo Balls are some of the twists I’ve experimented with. When it comes to mains, I like to play around too. Sephardic seasoned salmon, tangy short ribs or brisket in a hearty mushroom sauce. I’m salivating just writing this. But the most requested type of main dish that I get? Chicken. Plain, boring chicken. Sigh. I like to give the people what they want, but after tasting this version I’ll admit I was wrong! Chicken can be a wonderful dish when cooked well. This one-pot Passover meal has chicken thighs braised so tender in a white wine sauce you don’t even need a knife. Served with tomatoes, leeks and potatoes so it’s filling and healthy at the same time. That way, you can have more room for macaroons and chocolate-covered matzah.
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 ½ pounds), washed, dried and trimmed
2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
½ tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
4 shallots, small diced
4 small carrots, cut into ¼ inch rounds
2 large leeks or 3 medium links, cut into ¼ inch rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1 cup chicken broth
5 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with cheesecloth keep together
2 cups red potatoes, cut into quarters
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, rough chopped
Season chicken liberally with salt, pepper and smoked paprika on both sides.
In a large Dutch oven or pot with a lid, head two tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Add chicken in one layer and sauté until browned and not sticking to the pan. Flip and brown the other side, about 6-8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
Add 2 tablespoons oil to the pot, heat, and add shallots,carrots and leeks. Cook until browned, stirring regularly, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
Add wine, broth and thyme to the pot. Bring to a simmer while stirring and releasing the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Then add in chicken, potatoes and tomatoes. Bring back to a simmer, lower heat to medium low, and cover.
Braise until chicken is cooked and tender and potatoes are fork tender, about 40 minutes.
Remove chicken, potatoes and vegetables with a slotted spoon onto a platter. Cover with foil to keep hot. Remove thyme.
Bring sauce to a simmer and reduce for 7-10 minutes until the sauce coats the back of the spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste if needed.
Pour sauce over chicken or serve on the side and garnish with parsley.
Chopped liver is one of the most iconic Jewish dishes. It’s been consumed spread on top of challah and matzah for generations. But the Ashkenazi version doesn’t really do much to impress me, with only onions to add flavor, I find the taste bland.
I wanted to create something that would enhance the naturally rich flavor of liver. So I looked for inspiration from more Middle Eastern flavors. Ironically, nothing is more Israeli than Turkish coffee. And perhaps also surprising is that the bitterness of the coffee really compliments the liver and apple flavors.
The result is a classic Jewish dish with an elegant twist and a really delicious taste.
1 heaping Tbsp Turkish coffee or instant espresso
2 Tbsp honey
1 lb chicken livers
½ cup warm water
½ tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 green apples, peeled and diced
Place the Turkish coffee (or instant espresso) and honey in the bottom of a heat proof bowl. Stir in the hot water until the honey dissolves.
Add the livers and let marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Heat a small pot over a medium heat along with the cloves, vinegars and brown sugar.
Once the contents of the pot begins to simmer add the apples.
Lower the heat to medium low and cover the pot. Allow the apples to cook for half an hour.
The apples should be soft and darkened slightly when they are ready. After the apples are done cooking, use a slotted spoon and remove them from the pot leaving whatever liquid remains in the pot.
Raise the heat under the pot to medium high and drain all the liquid from the bowl except approximately 2 Tbsp worth of the marinade.
Add the liver and marinade to the pot and cook the livers until there are no more visible pink parts.
Combine the liver and cooked apples in a medium bowl and mash until desired consistency. For a smoother consistency you can use a food processor fitted with blade attachment.
A few years ago my dear friend and fellow food-enthusiast Rachel traveled to the Czech Republic to explore her father’s family roots. While there she experienced some amazing native and Jewish-inspired food including a chicken schnitzel wrapped in potato pancakes.
STOP THE PRESSES.CHICKEN WRAPPED IN POTATO PANCAKES. YUM.
When I heard about latke-crusted chicken, I was enamored. In love. I had to recreate this masterpiece.
So as I was thinking about Passover and something new to make this year, it dawned on me that this chicken dish could easily be Passover-friendly. And while I don’t normally use matzo meal or potato starch in my Passover cooking, this recipe does require small amounts of both. But it’s so delicious, it’s worth it.
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
1 small yellow onion
¼ cup matzo meal (or flour)
2 tsp sea salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ cup potato starch (or flour)
2 eggs, beaten
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Oil for frying
Using a food processor fitted with the shredding disk or a hand-grater, shred potatoes and onion. Place in a large bowl. Add egg, matzo meal, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Stir until combined. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Squeeze excess liquid out of potato latke mixture.
In a large pan, heat oil on medium-high heat.
Coat each chicken breast in potato starch, then beaten egg. Place thin layer of potato latke mixture on one side of chicken and place potato-side down in frying pan. Add additional layer of potato mixture on top of chicken while the first side is cooking.
Cook for around 4 minutes, or until potato side is golden brown and starting to crisp. Carefully flip to other side and cook another 3-4 minutes.
When both sides are golden brown, place pan into oven or place chicken onto a baking sheet and cook in oven 15 minutes or until cooked-through. This may vary depending on thickness of chicken.
While looking at cooked spaghetti squash one day and noticing its remarkable likeness to its namesake, spaghetti, I was inspired to experiment with a noodle kugel. I researched classic recipes for a “yerushalmi kugel” calling for caramelized sugar using 2 cups of oil and two cups of sugar, in addition to eggs. At first I attempted it, but seeing all that oil and sugar in the pan, I couldn’t bare to expose my beautiful and healthful squash to such a fatty fate and decided to experiment starting with just a teaspoon of sugar and a few tablespoons of oil. To my surprise and delight, the kugel came out light, fluffy and delicious.
To cook the spaghetti squash, follow these directions which I love. I hope you enjoy this healthy alternative!
3 cups shredded spaghetti squash
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp sugar
¼ cup matzah meal
¼ cup canola oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients except for the oil.
Pour oil into a 9x12 pan and place in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
Pour squash mixture into hot oil and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove kugel from oven and pour off excess oil.
If the kugel is still too watery, bake out some of the moisture before serving.
Some things don’t require a lengthy intro, and these hamantaschen are precisely that. I made them last year and was determined to recreate them this year in time for Purim. With only a few days until Purim, I got to work late last night and I am happy to share that they are as delicious as I remember!
The filling is creamy, with a hint of coconut inside, and the perfect amount of toasted coconut on top. Tip: note in the directions to chill the assembled cookies before baking them. This will ensure your filling doesn’t leak out and the cookie remains intact.
For the dough:
½ cup butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup shredded coconut
3 Tbsp sugar
extra shredded coconut
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, milk, and vanilla until mixed thoroughly.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixture until incorporated.
Note: if the dough is too soft, increase flour amount by ½ cupfuls until firm.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
To make the filling, combine cream cheese, vanilla, heavy cream or coconut milk, shredded coconut and sugar until smooth.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dust surface with powdered sugar or flour to keep from sticking. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick.
Using a round cookie cutter, cut out and place onto cookie sheet. To keep the dough from sticking to your cutter, dip in powdered sugar before each cut!
Fill each round with the coconut cream cheese filling, and using your favorite method, pinch corners together tightly. Add extra shredded coconut on top.
Place in fridge for 10 minutes before baking.
Bake for 7-9 minutes.
Ah, Manischewitz, The classic, sweet Jewish wine at the butt of so many jokes about Jews.
I am not really a fan of drinking it by itself, except of course for that time I drank it straight from the bottle with a straw. But otherwise. I think it makes a good base for sangria in a pinch. And I like to use it in my Tuscan-style chopped liver. But straight up in a glass? Probably not.
But recently I was asked to teach a cocktails-making session at Limmud, a conference dedicated to Jewish learning “without limts.” I wanted to bring some uniquely Jewish flavors to cocktails, and so I immediately began to think of how I could include Manischewitz as part of the fun.
While it may sound from the ingredients that this is a very sweet cocktail, its actually quite subtle. You can add more or less syrup according to your tastes so try it a few ways until you find the right balance for your taste buds.
3 Tbsp Manischewitz syrup (see directions below)
2 tsp lemon juice
3 oz (1 ½ shots) good-quality gin such as Hendricks or Bombay Saphire
Cava or prosecco sparkling wine
lemon slice for garnish
Special equipment: Cocktail shaker
To make the Manischewitz Syrup:
Place 2 cups of Manischewitz wine in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then continue to reduce 15-20 minutes until it is thick, syrupy and about half its original size. Allow to cool and place in fridge for one hour.
To assembly the drink:
Place about 1 cup ice in a cocktail shaker. Add Manischewitz syrup, gin and fresh lemon juice.
Shake vigorously up and down until white and frothy on top.
Strain into serving glass. Top with approximately 1/2 cup prosecco or cava. Garnish with fresh lemon slice.
When I first tasted the delicious, and later ubiquitous, butternut squash kugel, I thought I was eating something healthy. However, there is a reason it tasted like cake: It was cake.
My Shabbat host readily admitted that that kugel was full of flour, sugar and oil. That was many years ago. Since then, some version of a squash kugel (whether made from sweet potatoes, butternut squash or pumpkin), has graced most Shabbat tables at which I have had the pleasure of eating, including my own. I never could bring myself to make the classic cake-like recipe. Instead, for years I used a Hungry Girl recipe that called for egg beaters and artificial sweetener. As I no longer eat animal products or artificial sweeteners, I had to come up with my own healthy alternative.
I don’t think you’ll find an easier recipe that can be made so quickly and for a crowd. Plus, you can practice your inner Martha Stewart and decorate individual ceramic crocks, as I’ve done here, or one large serving dish.
Cooking tip: if you want to play with the servings, figure that you will use 1 small sweet potato per person or 1 large sweet potato for every two people. In addition, you will want 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup per large sweet potato.
4 large sweet potatoes, cooked until completely soft
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup-1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
½ cup-1 cup pecans
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the well-cooked sweet potatoes. If they were cooked earlier, re-heat them for 2 minutes in the microwave in a glass or ceramic dish.
Using a food processor, whip the sweet potatoes and the maple syrup until light and fluffy. You can also use an immersion blender for this step.
Place the mixture into individual ceramic crocks or 1 large serving dish and smooth out the
top. Decorate with dried cherries and pecans.
Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.
Hamantaschen are the traditional treat of the holiday of Purim. These delicious cookies remind us of our sweet victory over Haman, a villain with a triangular shaped hat who attempted to kill the Jews of Persia. Hamantaschen cookies are usually filled with poppy seeds or jam, but when I found out that Purim fell over St Patrick’s Day Weekend this year, I knew a recipe mash-up was a must!
I toyed with the idea of dying the hamantaschen dough green or picking a green filling — lime curd or Andes mint chocolate both sounded like delicious options. However, in the end I settled on incorporating the flavor of Irish creme liqueur. These Irish hamantschen have a crisp chocolate cookie crust that gives way to a rich and creamy spiked center. My take on the traditional Purim cookie is easy to make and pairs wonderfully with a cup of coffee
Having trouble folding your cookies? Try this tutorial if you’re having trouble!
For the dough:
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup vegetable shortening
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup irish crème liqueur
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling:
16 oz cream cheese (2 8oz packages)
½ cup sugar
1/4 cup Irish crème liqueur
For the topping:
1 egg + 1 Tbsp water, beaten
In a medium bowl, mix cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the shortening, butter and sugar. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Add liqueur and vanilla.
Fold in dry ingredient mixture until a dough forms. Do not overmix. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and form a large ball. Divide in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
While dough is chilling, prepare cheesecake filling. Blend cream cheese and sugar. Add Irish crème and the eggs one at a time, blending thoroughly after each egg.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk remaining egg and 1 tbsp water together to create an egg glaze.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until thin, around ¼ inch. Cut 3 ½ inch rounds with a cup or cookie cutter and brush round with beaten egg glaze. Fill each round with a teaspoon of Irish crème filling. Pinch corners together to create a triangular shape. Brush pastries again with the egg glaze.
Bake until golden brown (17 to 21 minutes).
Reprinted courtesy of www.thebigfatjewishwedding.