Italian Jewish culinary culture is fascinating. Not Ashkenazi, not sephardi it’s its own mashup of flavors and dishes. So it isn’t surprising that Italian Jews actually figured out a way to enjoy pasta during Passover. Like pretty much everything Italians do, their matzo is prettier than ours, often round and punched out to look like a lacy doily. However our square shaped giant crackers are perfect for constructing a “lasagna” or as my staff started calling it “mazzagna” (matzo+lasagne). I’ve heard these “pies” layered with matzo called Tortino, Mina or Scacchi. You might think that this idea is a poor substitute for the real thing, but actually it’s pretty great. The matzos which are soaked prior to layering, absorb the tomato sauce and become light and fluffy.
You can use this idea to make any kind of “tortino” whether you construct it with a meat sauce (made with groung lamb perhaps) or vegetables as I do here. At Angeli we decided that the best use of the Mazzagna/Tortino was as a vegetarian option/side dish for all. If you’re keeping kosher or doing a traditional meat meal than leave out the parmesan. If not, then go for it. Either way your guests will be happy to have something on the table that’s light(ish).
Years ago I was a personal Chef in a private home in a very swank suburb of Boston. My sister got me the interview for the job, I liked the family immediately and they liked me. My job consisted of getting to work at 10 in the morning, quite civilized, I was the last of the “staff” to arrive at the house. I would head to the kitchen to pick up my list from the madame of the house and read the pages of notes and the menu for the dinner that evening.
There was always a shopping list and at the end of the pages she would underline that they were on a very low fat diet with an exclamation mark! A big part of my job was to bake cookies every day to be ready when the two kids came home from school and they had to be “fresh out of the oven”, my choice of what kind, but they had to be piping hot.
I was given an adorable MG convertible to tool around in with my many bags of grocery and a charge account at the local high-end grocery store. I would make dinner for 6 o'clock sharp, clean up and head home for dinner at a later hour. The first day on the job my sister called to ask how was it going so far and what was the house like?
It’s tradition that you create a Seder meal the first two nights of Passover. Like most holiday’s, Passover is a time to gather with family, honor our heritage and traditional foods, and show gratitude to those that sacrificed before us. In the past, Passover was the holiday dreaded by my boys. Giving up foods, for one week, was almost as bad as shutting off the satellite for two weeks (yes, I really did that). Since giving up gluten, Passover is much less of a challenge than it has been in years past.
This year, the first night of Passover will be celebrated in our home. This is not a holiday that I generally host. But with my sister-in-law’s house under construction, I offered to create the meal. I like to plan, so cooking for 22 and not just the usual 5, is not as daunting to me as would be for others. I always make it a point to make a few new dishes. This year I plan to make my friend, Lisa’s Matzoh Kugel (deli-sh!), gefilte fish, and a feta cream spread for the patties.
I do admit to eating the Gefilte fish that comes in a jar. I know, it’s kind of gross. Making it yourself, using Ungar’s frozen loaves is my newest Passover must have and obsession. I read a bunch of chat rooms on how best to cook it and for me, simply placing it in a small dutch oven with some carrots, onions, celery, Celtic sea salt, pepper, and paprika, and covered with water was the path that I took. Baked in the oven for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours and refrigerated overnight – it’s that easy. This is one of those dishes that I could become addicted to.
Matzo (or matzoh or matzah) is the perfect crunchy, flaky base for a thin coating of buttery caramel, melted chocolate and a sprinkling of chopped nuts salt. It’s an addictive treat that’s perfect for Passover.
Matzo is unleavened bread that first appeared on the “market” when the Israelites had to flee Egypt and did not have time to let their bread rise.
It has been eaten for centuries during the Jewish holiday of Passover as a reminder of that exodus by forgoing cakes, cookies, pasta and noodles — anything made to rise with yeast, baking soda, etc.
Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
Dora's Gefilte Fish
Wolfgang Puck's Braised Short Ribs
APRIL 19, 2014 - Les Marchands 2nd Annual Santa Barbara Wine Futures Tasting
More than 50 of the hottest local wineries will gather for an exclusive tasting next door to Les Marchands at 131 Anacapa Street, which will be transformed into an indoor tasting room. Attendees have the rare opportunity to be among the first to taste and purchase special cuvees available prior to release at a 20% discount off standard retail price.
The Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting will shine a light on the emerging local wine area and allow consumers and trade to secure allocations of the most dynamic and relevant producers of the region. Notable producers Au Bon Climat, Qupe, The Ojai Vineyard, as well as recent standout projects Sandhi and Tyler Winery participated in the inaugural 2013 tasting.
Tickets for the 2014 Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant’s Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting are $70 for advance purchase on the Les Marchands website or $80 at the door. Noon-4pm.
Spinach ricotta gnudi, made with no wheat flour, are my latest recipe, just in time for Passover. Since the Israelites had to flee their oppressors quickly they didn't have time to allow bread to rise, so the story goes. To commemorate that time, during Passover Jews eat foods made with matzo meal or matzo cake meal, but not with regular flour. Most other non-wheat flours are also not allowed.
Gnudi are a little larger and plumper than gnocchi but somewhat similar. Some people think of them as "ravioli without the pasta." This recipe is very easy because you use one of those "blocks" of frozen spinach. The secret is getting as much water as possible out of the spinach. You want the dough to be very stiff.
Rolling the dumplings in potato starch also helps keep them from falling apart in the water when you boil them. Since I used potato starch instead of flour, these gnudi are also gluten free. I adapted my recipe from the Weelicious recipe for Spinach Gnocchi.
Making Passover dinner takes a bit of planning, but it doesn't have to be a chore. If you're cooking for a big group, hand out assignments so you don't do all the work. If your kitchen is large enough, invite people over to help. Cooking the dinner with friends and family can be as much a part of a celebration as the meal itself.
Everyone wants to save money these days. But keeping an eye on food costs shouldn't mean cutting corners on quality and flavor. Avoid buying packaged or frozen meals and you'll be way ahead of the game. Besides saving money, you'll be eating healthier food.
On Passover, I practice what I preach by using one chicken to make three dishes. My Jewish mother would be very proud.
For me it's not Passover without matzo ball soup. But soup is only as good as the stock. Canned and packaged chicken broth are very high in salt content and, in my opinion, have an unpleasant flavor. It's much better to make your own.
We really wish someone was making this for us tonight...or perhaps their Cabernet-Braised Lamb Shanks with Root Vegetables.- The Editors
When Chef Todd Gray, who grew up Episcopalian, married his wife, Ellen Kassoff, their union brought about his initiation into the world of Jewish cooking. More than a love story about what one can do with fresh ingredients, Todd and Ellen talk about the food they grew up with, their life together, and how rewarding the sharing of two people’s traditions—and meals—can be.
In 1999, Chef Todd Gray combined his love for farm-to-table ingredients with his passion for Jewish cuisine opening the acclaimed Equinox Restaurant in Washington, D.C. The restaurant is a gathering place for Washington lawyers, deal makers, and it even welcomes Presidents and their wives who want a quiet meal alone in the real world.
Gorgeous design, appetizing full-color photographs and sidebars from Washington’s elite including: BET co-founder and president of Salamander Hospitality Sheila C. Johnson, R.W Apple Jr’s wife Betsey Pinckney Apple, Chef Jose Andres, The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes is sure to please everyone from traditional Kosher cooks to high-holiday hosts.
It's almost hard to believe that winter is gone and spring is actually here. The weather has been so unpredictable lately that if it wasn't for the blooming flowers and trees, we'd still think it were fall or winter. But it's the time to celebrate renewal and nothing says it more than the Easter holidays, which are just days away.
Easter celebrations vary from culture to culture and religion to religion. And then of course there's Passover. But what ties all these religions together is the presence of food and interestingly it's common to find lamb served at both a Seder and at an Easter dinner. It has symbolic ties to both Judaism and Christianity. So this year I'm making braised lamb shanks for the holiday, which is synonymous with Passover.
My Spanish-style recipe is both suitable for Passover and Easter. The lamb is braised in sherry vinegar and white wine, both of which add an acidic tang to balance the richness of the meat. Also included are garlic and onions and the spices cumin and paprika. The braising liquid is partially puréed to create a creamy gravy without the use of cream. I pair the lamb with creamed white beans and sautéed kale for a hearty holiday meal. Your family will love this meal whether you celebrate Passover or Easter.
If you ask my Jewish husband, he’ll tell you that, until I married him, I “didn’t know from Jewish food.” And he’s right. As a girl who was raised a Southern Baptist in Texas, my experience with Jewish cuisine was limited to toasting a bagel.
But when we had children and decided to raise them respecting the traditions of both of our religions, I really got into it. Hannukah and Christmas, Passover and Easter, we celebrated all of the holidays that honored God and Food.
Until the year he told me he craved chopped chicken liver and I was at a loss.
Thankfully, my mother-in-law gave me an amazing cookbook, The Gefilte Variations, and I realized chopped chicken liver was just a version of French pate, something that even this shiksa could understand.
In honor of Passover, we would like to share a traditional Fried Matzoh recipe courtesy of Carrington Farms, a leading organic food brand that makes delicious, good-for-you foods using coconut oil.
For those who don’t celebrate Passover, this recipe can be thought of as a creative twist on your traditional omelet—a great way to spice things up and try new foods in the kitchen!
· 2 sheets of Matzoh, broken into pieces soaked in milk
· 2 eggs, beaten
· Salt to taste
· 1 tablespoon Carrington Farms coconut oil
· Soak matzoh in milk, drain milk and add eggs and mix well.
· Melt Carrington Farms coconut oil in pan
· Add matzoh and egg mixture and fry like an omelet, turn and fry each side 5 minutes
· Garnish with Carrington Farms flax, jelly, cinnamon, etc
by Susan Salzman
I have always been a fan of macaroons; almond, hazelnut, pistachio, and especially coconut. Through the years, I have made lots of versions of this classic Passover cookie, but none as good as the one’s I found on The Michaels Restaurant Blog.
Last year, I made over 400 macaroons for the Passover Seder at our Temple. Although I enjoyed making...Read more...
by Joseph Erdos
Most everyone loves chocolate cake. It's just one of those classic desserts that no one can refuse. A good chocolate cake is moist and tender, sweet but not saccharine, and very chocolaty, of course. Melted chocolate—not cocoa powder—separates an excellent chocolate cake from a mediocre one. The best quality chocolate will always yield...Read more...
by Cathy Pollak
I know this looks like ice cream. But IT’S NOT. It’s Strawberry Mousse. And it has all the creamy mouthfeel that ice cream exudes. Best of all it’s quick and easy to put together. What could be better than that?
Oy Vey, I am not Jewish, however, the Wild Boar is. So when there is a Jewish Holiday (however it seems as though lots...Read more...
by Susie Middleton
Spring Begins at Descanso Gardens
by Lisa Dinsmore