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Levana cooks for Passover…with Osem

Levana Kirschenbaum is the author of "Levana's Table: Kosher Cooking For Everyone"

Levana Kirschenbaum was co-owner of Levana Restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and the pioneer in Kosher upscale dining.  She gives weekly cooking demos at her classroom at Lincoln Square Synagogue and is the author of “Levana’s Table: Kosher Cooking for Everyone”, “Levana Cooks Dairy-Free!”, and a book-dvd set based on her demo series called “In Short Order.” She has also recently launched a line of spelt all-natural desserts, called, what else, “Levana.” For more information visit  www.levanacooks.com or www.levanadesserts.com.
Osem USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Osem-Nestlé Israel, is the #1 importer of kosher food products from Israel.   Buy 5 pounds of whole wheat or regular OSEM matzah, and OSEM will donate $5 from each purchase to plant trees in Israel.

Farfel is nothing more than matza cut up small and calibrated for quick cooking. I use the Osem whole wheat version, with wonderful results. You will love the robustness of the whole-grain flavor. No need to wait for Passover to make this treat!

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound mushrooms, Portobello or domestic, diced
1 pound box Osem whole wheat farfel
5 cups hot water (tap water OK)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dry thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat half the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook on a medium flame, stirring occasionally, until nice and dark. Transfer to a bowl. Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet, and sauté the mushrooms until all liquids evaporate. Transfer to another bowl. In the same skillet, stir the farfel with 2 wooden spoons for about 2 minutes on a medium flame until fragrant. Add the water and seasonings, stirring to combine. Cover and cook 5 more minutes. Stir in the reserved onions and mushrooms. Will make 8 ample servings.


This delicious and super-nutritious dish is sure to be equally at home as a side dish and as a breakfast or even dessert! Kind of a new-age Matza brei but without the eggs. I created it years ago for my then-small daughter Bella, a cereal eater who at first asked “but Mommy, Cheerios don’t RISE, so why can’t we have them on Passover?” but stopped asking after she tasted this delightful treat, and instead asked for it! This is practically no work: It’s all about combining the right flavors!

3 cups milk
3 cups water
1/4 cup butter
2 green apples, unpeeled, diced small
1 cup dark or golden raisins
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Optional: only if you like it a little sweeter: sugar or honey to taste
Salt to taste
1 pound box Osem Whole Wheat Farfel

Bring all but last ingredient to boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the flame to medium, and stir in the farfel. Cook covered about 5 minutes. If you like it thinner, thin with a little water or milk. Serve hot

Side dish: Pareve
Use all water (6 cups total) or half natural apple juice and half water, and use olive oil instead of butter. Proceed just as above.

For a more dramatic presentation: Let either of the above mixtures cool, and pour it into greased muffin molds: serve cold as muffins, or reheat and serve warm as a side dish.


The Passover version of this timeless classic is virtually identical to the year-round one: Osem Matza cake meal is that good! Secret of delicious brownies, beside of course delicious chocolate: Do not be tempted to bake a minute more or they will harden.

8 ounces best-quality dark chocolate, chopped, or 2 cups best-quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup margarine (try your best for a good natural brand)
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Osem Matza Cake Meal
3/4  cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans (12 to 15 minutes in a preheated 325 degree oven)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt the chocolate and margarine in a small saucepan over very low heat or in a microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. In a food processor or with an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture and mix. Add the matza cake meal and vanilla and mix, pulsing until just combined. Pour the batter into a greased 12-inch square pan (or any pan of a comparable size) and bake for 35 minutes until the top is barely firm. It will set completely with the residual heat sticking to the pan. Chill before cutting, so you can cut them neatly. Store refrigerated in a sealed container. Makes about 3 dozen.


We grew up eating this hearty “salade russe” as we called it. The name signals the presence of a few Russian staples: beets, dill, pickles. The authentic way includes chopped hard-boiled eggs into it, about 3 to 4 for the amounts given below: Add only if you intend to make a main course out of it, or serve them in a little bowl on the side. I love to make this dish with Osem pickles, as they are crunchy and thin. Delightful with cold fish, poultry, or meat dishes.

1 large beet
2 large Yukon or other good potatoes (avoiding potatoes? Use 1 large turnip)
2 large carrots
small red onion
3 Osem pickles
1 small bunch dill
2 ribs celery, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and dice all the vegetables 1/2 inch. Cook the beets separately (so as not to turn the whole dish an unpleasant red) in a wide-bottom pot or a large skillet, with water just to cover, until tender and the water cooks out. Cook the potatoes (or turnip) and carrots the exact same way in another pot. Transfer all the vegetables to a bowl. Cut the onion, pickle, dill, and celery in large chunks and place in the food processor. Pulse the mixture until minced. Add the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper and pulse 2 to 3 more times, until just combined. While the vegetable mixture is still warm, pour the ground mixture over them and mix thoroughly. Store refrigerated in glass jars. Makes about 8 cups. Serve at room temperature.

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