Archive | March 29th, 2010

Haroset (Apple and Nut Salad) With Ginger

Haroset (Apple and Nut Salad) With Ginger

Haroset is spread on matzo and eaten during the service before the meal, then passed and eaten during the meal. It’s good made a day or two ahead. If it gets very watery (apple juice) add a couple of spoonfuls of matzo meal to it. It is really good eaten on matzo — so make enough to last for a few days after Seder.

As there are people of the Jewish faith from many lands, recipes for traditional foods may vary greatly both in ingredients and spellings. This is a Persian Haroset, from “The Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook” edited by Joan Schwartz Michel.

Persian Haroset

1 unpeeled pear, cored and finely chopped
1 unpeeled apple, cored and finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 cup chopped pistachio nuts
1 cup chopped, pitted dates
1 cup chopped raisins
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Sweet wine

Combine pear, apple, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, dates and raisins in a large bowl. Blend gently with hands. Add cinnamon, ginger and vinegar. Pour in wine, a little at a time, to help bind the ingredients — perhaps 3-4 tablespoons. Cover and let macerate in the refrigerator. This is fine made a day or even two ahead.

Makes 10-12 servings.

From “The Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook,” edited by Joan Schwartz Michel

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Marjorie’s Baked Chicken

Marjorie’s Baked Chicken

This is the baked chicken my mother-in-law, Marjorie Miron, made every Passover.

Marjorie’s Baked Chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chicken, cut into pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced medium-thin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons sweet (not hot) paprika
1-2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Smear oil over bottom of a baking pan large enough to hold the chicken pieces. Use the neck and giblets in the stock for soup. Spread the onion slices over the bottom of the pan. Lay chicken pieces in one layer on top of the onions.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, ginger, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix together well. Sprinkle blend over the chicken.  Cover the chicken loosely with foil and bake in the oven. (Time the baking according to the size of the bird;  I usually give it about an hour.) About 15 minutes before chicken is done (Marjorie made it very, very tender), pull the foil off and let the chicken continue to cook and brown a little. Serve with the onions (well drained) mounded up around the chicken on the platter, and pan juices in a gravy boat on the side.

Serves 4.

From Marjorie Miron/Bonnie Walker

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Passover Seders Joyous, Bittersweet and Delicious

Passover Seders Joyous, Bittersweet and Delicious

As the sun goes down this evening, the Seder plates will be assembled with bitter herbs, haroset and other symbolic foods.  The Jewish holiday, Passover, will then get underway with the first Seder, or Passover meal.

This is among the most generous of Jewish holiday repasts. It is conducted as a service, with prayer and narrations, the passing of the symbolic foods, a lavish meal, traditional songs and sometimes games before the service ends.

I was introduced to Passover, and Seder meals, the first year I was married. My father-in-law and mother-in-law, Simon and Marjorie Miron, had two Seders every Passover — the first at their home in Lake Jackson, for the family. On the second night of Passover, they’d join with others of their faith in the area and have a community Seder.

Both of them are gone, now. When we attend a Seder, it is a little bittersweet — a celebration, but also a way of remembering  David’s kind parents and the Passover meals we shared.

While Seder meals are part of the religious observance, they are not meant to be solemn, but rather a joyful celebration of the Jews’ historic flight from Egypt in biblical times. Freed from the Pharaoh, they left the land so quickly they didn’t even have time to let the bread rise. This is why the holiday is also called “The Festival of Unleavened Bread.”  The cracker-like flatbread, matzo is the symbol of this holiday.

Before Passover, or Pesach, finally begins, the observant will have their meals planned and kitchens cleared of all leavened products.

Wine is traditionally consumed as part of the service. At my in-laws’ home, this was unabashedly enjoyed. The mood would become more festive as every glass was poured — as it was meant to be.

Menus  for the meals, though, while usually having matzo ball soup, the traditional haroset and gefilte fish, for instance, can differ from family to family with recipes passed down for generations.

My mother-in-law always served chicken baked on a bed of sliced onions, doused with lots of paprika, a pinch of ginger, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In later years, when her doctor told her to cut down on salt, she used Mrs. Dash instead of salt. When he told her to cut back on fat, she took the chicken skin off before baking. Any way she made it, it was always very good.

Her matzo ball soup was delicious. She’d spend two days on the broth. She’d cook two kosher hens in chicken broth until they were falling apart, then, strain the broth and discard the meat. Then, she’d put two more chickens in that broth and cook them until they were very tender. That chicken would be used for sandwiches and more for days to come.  The ultra-rich broth would be used for simmering the fat, tender matzo balls.

She also made her own gefilte fish by purchasing three kinds of fresh white fish at the supermarket, trimming and grinding them in a hand grinder. As she got older, she’d look for good, frozen gefilte fish in the kosher markets in Houston.  One year I made the gefilte fish out of fresh salmon and chives, and we had lovely, pink salmon gefilte fish.

Making desserts with no leavening, rather than limiting the Jewish cooks, seems to only inspired them to heights of creativity. John Griffin shares a flourless cake recipe, a rich, delectable treat.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to go to a Jewish Seder, and are invited, just remember it is first and foremost, a religious observation. But it is lavish, joyous and fun, and an invitation worth accepting.

Recipe: Marjorie's Baked Chicken

Recipe: Haroset (Apple and Nut Salad)

Recipe: A Flourless Treat Perfect for Passover

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A Flourless Treat Perfect for Passover

A Flourless Treat Perfect for Passover

Looking for a flourless cake to serve this Passover? Try this rich concoction, created in Portugal for one of its dukes. “There’s no flour to give it body, only finely ground almonds, mashed potatoes and eggs,” writes Jean Anderson in “The Food of Portugal.” “The cake’s texture is very much like that of the chess pies so popular in the American South.”

Duke of Bragança Cake (Bolo Duque de Bragança)

2 1/4 cups sugar, divided use
8 tablespoons pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
10 large egg yolks
1 cup cold unseasoned mashed potatoes (measure firmly packed)
1/2 pound unblanched almonds, ground very fine
5 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt

[amazon-product]0688134157[/amazon-product]Preheat the oven to moderately slow (325 degrees). Beat together 2 cups of the sugar and the butter until light (the mixture will be crumbly because of the high proportion of sugar); then beat in the yolks, one by one. Mix in the mashed potatoes, then the ground almonds. now beat together the egg whites and salt until frothy; beat in the remaining sugar, 1 tablespoonful at a time, and continue beating to soft peaks; fold gently but thoroughly into the batter. Pour into a well-buttered 9-inch springform pan and bake 1 hour and 50 minutes until the cake pulls from the sides of the pan. The cakes’ surface will seem crisp, but will yield to the slightest pressure. Let the cake cool right-side up in the pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then loosen around the edges with a spatula; remove the springform sides, then carefully separate the cake from the pan bottom. Turn the cake over onto a dessert plate and cool thoroughly before cutting into slim wedges. Note: The cake will fall slightly as it cools, but this is as it should be.

Makes 1 (9-inch) cake.

Source: “The Food of Portugal” by Jean Anderson

Photo by Brian Lary

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