Adding elegance to seder meals — and it’s easy
By Shannon Sarna
NEW YORK (JTA) — These recipes are easy, elegant and a little different from the delicious but humdrum chicken soup, brisket and kugel. And with two nights of seders, sometimes you need something a little different to keep the seder menu interesting.
Gefilte fish is one of those dishes that is truly an acquired taste. For some people, the taste is simply never acquired. It’s hard to change traditions, but try switching out gefilte fish for bite-sized croquettes topped with salmon roe. Not a fan of caviar? Use smoked salmon instead. You can make these during the year and substitute panko bread crumbs for the matzah meal. You can also serve these for a dairy meal and add some sour cream, Greek yogurt or creme fraiche on the side.
4 large Yukon gold potatoes
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 to 2 teaspoons dried dill
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Peel potatoes and place in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, approximately 15 minutes. Drain water and immediately place potatoes into a ricer or food mill. Add oil, vegetable broth, dried dill, horseradish, salt and pepper to potatoes and mix until smooth and seasoning is even throughout. Add 1 egg and mix again. Begin forming patties by packing potatoes lightly into balls and then flattening them with palms of hand. Place on a platter and put in the refrigerator for a few hours or up to 24 hours. After patties have finished chilling, beat the other egg with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Place matzah meal in another bowl and add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix. Dip each potato patty into egg, then matzah meal. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry croquette 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Allow the croquettes to cool slightly before topping with salmon roe and fresh dill if desired.
BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH DATES AND RAISINS
4 lamb shanks
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon sumac
1 heaping teaspoon cumin
1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water 30 minutes
1/2 cup dates
Fresh parsley and cilantro (optional)
Combine the salt, pepper, sumac, cumin and paprika in a small bowl. Cover lamb shanks in dry spice rub and place on a platter covered in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Place raisins in a bowl of warm water. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear shanks on all sides until brown. Remove from pan. Add onion and garlic and saute, scraping the “good bits” from the bottom of the pan. You can deglaze with a little bit of the broth. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add tomato paste, clove, fennel seed and cinnamon; continue cooking for another few minutes. Add stock, wine, dates and drained raisins (discard water) and bring to a boil. Put the lamb shanks back in the pot and reduce heat to low, or place into a 275-degree oven. Braise for 2 1/2 hours.
Serve with fresh cilantro and parsley, if desired.
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TORTE WITH PECAN CRUST
For the crust
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
8 ozs dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup margarine or butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon instant espresso
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry jam
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
To make the crust: Melt the 1/4 cup margarine or butter in the microwave at 20 second intervals. Place the pecans, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with blade attachment and pulse until you have coarse-looking crumbs. Add melted margarine/butter and pulse 1-2 more times. Press mixture into an 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Bake 7-8 minutes. The crust may look a little funny, bubbly or like it is ruined. But this is totally fine. Set aside.
To make the filling: Place the chocolate chips and margarine in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Whisk in cocoa and espresso. Cool 10 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in large bowl on high speed until thick, about 6 minutes. Fold in chocolate mixture slowly. Then fold in raspberry jam, but don’t mix too much. Pour batter into prepared crust.
Bake torte until dry and cracked on top and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist batter attached, about 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 1 hour (center will fall). Using an offset spatula or butter knife, carefully separate torte from sides of pan. Remove outer ring of springform pan. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
Shannon Sarna is editor of The Nosher blog on MyJewishLearning.com.
From the Kitchen of Chef Steve
Steve Weinstein of Hartford isn’t a professional chef. But he could be. An expert in the kitchen, Steve offered a few recipes that add something different to the seder meal.
1 salmon filet (approx. 2 lbs.)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup imitation soy sauce
2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper puree*
1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Jalapeno pepper puree*
1/2 lb. jalapeno peppers w/ seeds
1/2 head of garlic gloves peeled (6 to 10 cloves)
1/4 cup olive oil
Slice salmon filet into four equally sized pieces. Mix orange juice, molasses, honey, soy sauce, jalapeno puree and ginger in a bowl. Pour mixture over filets and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Brush the grill with oil and preheat. Remove the salmon filets and place on a shelf above the flame or to the side of the flame for indirect grilling. Cook with the grill cover closed for 12 to 18 minutes at 350°; baste twice with the marinade. Lower temperature to 200° and continue to cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. Baste once more. Remove salmon from grill and place on a serving platter. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Jalapeno pepper puree
Preheat oven to 350°. Place both jalapeno and garlic in a baking dish in a single layer, turn and coat with oil. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn and roast for an additional 30 minutes or until both peppers and garlic are soft. Transfer to a food processor and puree. Unused portion of this recipe can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for several months.
Grilled Tomato & Onion Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing & Basil
4 tomatoes cut in half and grilled for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on size)
2 medium yellow onions cut in half and grilled (olive oil on top) 10 minutes
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 cups olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup of fresh basil
Combine tomatoes, onions and basil with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette.
For Passover, a clergy couple’s vegetarian seder
By Marshall Weiss
(The Dayton Jewish Observer/JTA) – Vegetarian food brought Cantor Jenna Greenberg and Rabbi Josh Ginsberg together. The two met as students at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, when a classmate organized a singles dinner at a kosher vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown.
Greenberg had become a vegetarian in her teens, Ginsberg in his 20s.
Now married, the two settled in Dayton, Ohio, two years ago. Ginsberg is the rabbi at Beth Abraham Synagogue, Dayton’s only Conservative congregation, while Greenberg leads the music program at Hillel Academy, the city’s Jewish day school, and teaches high school Judaic classes at the Miami Valley School, a nondenominational private prep school.
At home, they turn out creative vegetarian meals for their boys – ages 7, 5, and eight months. Here, they offer kosher-for-Passover seder dishes that suit their fast-paced, vegetarian lifestyle – and keep their children happy:
Roman Soup with Passover Dumplings
(Developed by the couple’s friend Susan K. Finston, author of Dining in the Garden of Eden)
A tasty spring alternative to the traditional matzah ball soup.
3 – 4 tbs of extra-virgin olive oil or other
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, small dice
1 celery stalk, chopped
6 cups chopped mixed greens: Swiss chard, spinach, kale, butter lettuce, Savoy cabbage or other seasonally available greens
6 cups vegetable broth or water
salt and pepper to taste
Sauté chopped onion in oil until translucent over medium-low heat. Add carrot and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in 6 cups of mixed chopped greens (described above). When vegetables are wilted, add soup stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons Passover dumplings per serving. Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Passover soup dumplings
2 cups mashed potatoes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Passover cake meal
Optional: 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or basil
Reserve: 1 -2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Mix all ingredients, adding additional cake meal to form a dough that is pliable and not too sticky. Bring water to a boil in a 2 – 3 quart pot. Form small balls out of the dough and carefully slide them into the water to bring them to a boil.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the dumplings from the pot as they rise to the top and transfer to a container, adding 1-2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
2 pounds potatoes
1 1/2 cups potato starch
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound cooked, finely chopped spinach (frozen or fresh)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Optional: 1 cup ricotta cheese for richer gnocchi
Reserve: 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Peel, boil and mash potatoes. Add remaining ingredients to create the gnocchi dough, adding additional potato starch in case the dough is too sticky. Fill a 4 – 6 quart pot with cold water and bring water to a boil. While the water is heating, form small patties out of the gnocchi and then carefully slide them one at a time into the boiling water. When the gnocchi rise to the top of the pot, they are ready – use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot and place them in an oiled baking dish. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes to melt the cheese.
Tomato Sauce for Gnocchi
2 – 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or other cooking oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 – 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup of parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
26-oz. jar of crushed or stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
Heat oil in saute pan, add onion and garlic and cook on low heat until translucent. Add parsley, bay leaf, tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a low boil and then turn heat down and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.
Scrambled Egg Potato Muffins for a Kid-Friendly Passover Breakfast
By Shannon Sarna
Passover is bad enough without having to feed your kids too. And breakfast during Passover can be pretty tricky: no toast, no oatmeal, no (palatable) cereal, and no traditional syrup-drenched pancakes. Aside from making matzah brei every day, the options are somewhat limited for American kids.
A few years ago we started making egg in hash brown nests from The Pioneer Woman, one of my favorite bloggers and TV personalities, and so I adapted the recipe to include scrambled eggs and even a little color in the form of a vegetable. If your kids don’t like peppers, you could also try spinach, broccoli, or even sweet potato. Or just leave out a veggie altogether.
These little muffins are portable and can be re-heated, so you can make a big batch to help ease the Passover cooking just a little.
Yields 12 potato-egg muffins
2 medium-large Yukon gold potatoes
3 large eggs
1 ½ tablespoon milk
½ cup chopped bell pepper (or other veggie)
¼ cup cheese (cheddar, goat, or feta recommended)
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole potatoes in the oven and roast until almost totally cooked, but not quite edible – around 25 minutes. Cut potatoes open and allow to cool. Peel off skin (it should come off pretty easily). This step can also be done the night before to save time. Grate potatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Grease a standard size muffin tin. Push shredded potatoes into the bottom and sides of each cup. Pour about 2 tbsp of egg mix into each cup and top with diced red pepper. Don’t allow them to sit too long — pop them quickly into the oven. Bake 12-14 minutes until the eggs are golden and baked, and the sides of the potatoes are starting to brown. Using a small spatula or butter knife, loosen sides of egg-potato muffins and remove. Serve warm.
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