Transitions are hard. Be it a new site for my Blog, or trying to get ready for Passover. My younger son has been a tremendous help and I so appreciate all of the work, effort, and hours that he has devoted to this. Thanks Mich!
It is Sunday morning and we are nine days away from the first Seder. I must say that motivation has been in short supply but yesterday my friend Fredda assured me that it will kick in. One can only hope. I am looking at cookbooks and food blogs for inspiration. I am recalling menus of past seders, trying to think of the dishes that were most successful. Right now what I have in mind is fairly traditional. Marinated eggplant, chicken soup and matzoh balls, mushroom kugel, chicken with forty cloves of garlic, tzimmis, salad, roasted artichokes and fresh asparagus. My husband likes to have lots of greens on the table, a reminder that this festival is Spring based. Desserts will include brownie meringues, chocolate chip Mandelbrot (Tali’s favorite), and a platter of fresh fruit.
Maybe during these difficult and stressful times, traditional foods are appropriate. They are connected to the past, to memories of others, to distant lands and stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Much like the story that we will retell at the Seder.
3 lbs. short ribs
20 pitted prunes
4 sweet potatoes
2 tart apples
1/2 cup honey
1 large onion
salt and pepper to taste
3/4/ cup orange juice
Cut carrots and sweet potatoes in large chunks and place in large mixing bowl. Add diced onions and apples along with remaining ingredients and mix well.
Bake covered at 350 degrees for two hours. Liquid should evaporate but dish should be moist.
The previous seven recipes were all included with Passover in mind. I hope you try them and enjoy them. After Shabbat I plan to add one more recipe each day till Erev Pesach.
Many years ago I was a volunteer on Kibbutz Usha in Northern Israel. I asked to be assigned to the dairy and was given the morning shift, working side by side with an Arab named Hasan, a kind and willing teacher. It was quite an experience for a girl from New York. For me, the year I spent on Usha was filled with new experiences, but milking 300 cows a day was one of the highlights. Another was that Norm and I got engaged that year! The kibbutznikim were warm and friendly and we still have lifelong friends that we met that year. One couple in particular, Amitai and Tovchik, became like family to us. Tovchik would marinade eggplants and keep them in a jar in her fridge, ready to serve if you ever stopped by for the typical Israeli 4 pm meal. It was a delicious snack, (although definitely not low-cal.) Sadly Tovchik passed away several years ago but it has become my tradition to make her eggplant dish every Passover. It makes me think of Tovchik and my year at Usha with love and a smile.
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
red wine vinegar
Lay sliced eggplants on a tray in a single layer and salt liberally. Let them sit for half an hour and then pat off excess moisture and salt with a paper towel. Make sure both sides are dry.
Fill a frying pan with about 2″ of oil. When oil is very hot, fry eggplant till brown, several minutes on each side.
Take a deep dish and cover with a layer of eggplant. Then slice 2-3 cloves fresh garlic and toss slices over eggplants. Lightly drizzle with red wine vinegar. Add another layer of eggplant, more garlic and more vinegar and keep repeating till all eggplant is used.
Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least 24 hours. Serve at room temperature
This is for Charlie who requested a recipe for Calves’ Foot Jelly. He is my son’s classmate and though we haven’t met, you have to admire someone who wants to make Ptcha.
Ptcha (Calves’ Foot Jelly)
2 calves’ feet
1 bay leaf
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Soak calves’ feet in cold water for about an hour and discard water. Then place feet in pot, cover with cold water and bring to boil. Skim the surface. Add a bay leaf and cook for several hours (2-3) until all meat, fat and gristle falls off the bone. You may have to skim the top several times,
While feet are cooking, mince all the garlic and place in the bottom of 9 x 13 pan along with salt and pepper.
Remove meat (and all other bits) from pot, finely chop by hand (my Mom used a hackmesser) and place in pan. Discard bay leaf and slowly add hot broth to meat mixture. Broth should be very flavorful. Add more garlic, salt and pepper as needed. Let dish cool on counter, and then cover and refrigerate overnight.
Cut into squares and serve with lemon wedges.
My mother would saute mushrooms, onions, celery and carrots and either mix them with challah for her Thanksgiving stuffing or with matzot during Passover. It is a very simple combination but if the onions are caramelized to the perfect stage and the mushrooms are flavorful, you end up with a really good kugel.
Manya’s Mushroom Kugel
1 1/2 lbs. brown mushrooms or a combination of mushrooms
2 large onions
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
Dice onions and sauté in olive oil over low flame until a rich golden color, this can take up to 30 minutes.
Dice carrots and celery and add to onions and sauté for about ten minutes until tender. Raise heat slightly, add sliced mushrooms and cook an extra 15 minutes. Allow to cool and place in large mixing bowl.
Soak Matzot in warm water until soft. Then squeeze matzot and add to mushroom mixture. Add beaten eggs, salt and pepper.
Prepare 9×13 pan by adding 2-3 Tbsp oil, make sure bottom and sides are well greased and place in 350 degree oven for several minutes. Take out and immediately pour in vegetable mixture. Brush with olive oil.
Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.