Ruthie’s Matzoh Lasagne

Matzoh is often used as a base to make all kinds of pies, both savory and sweet.  This recipe was given to me by my close friend Ruthie. We met at an engagement party about 6 years ago when she marched up to me, introduced herself and called me two days later to join her for dinner.  Talk about determination!  Although her permanent home is in New Jersey,  Ruthie spends several months a year in Los Angeles.  She is one of those women who lights up a room with her sparkling eyes and bright smile.  Ruthie, Chag Sameach, and hang in there kid!!  We love you!

Inside the Streit’s Matzoh Factory

Ruthie’s Matzoh Lasagna

2 lbs. sliced mozzarella cheese

3 lbs. cottage cheese

3 eggs

1 Quart Marinara sauce

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with olive oil.  Mix cottage cheese with beaten eggs, and season well with salt and cracked pepper.  Spoon marinara on the bottom of the baking dish and then cover with a layer of matzoh, a layer of mozzarella and a layer of the cottage cheese mixture.  Continue layering till all ingredients are used. Top with mozzarella. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Serves 12.

Tip: To increase the nutritional value, add a layer of sautéed spinach, or kale.  This is an easy recipe to experiment with.

Enjoy,

Irene

Coconut Macaroons and other favorite Passover recipes

It’s a busy time and cooking has taken a back seat, for now, but I am busy planning menus and hope to have some photos and recipes to share soon.  As requested, here are some links to my favorite Passover recipes.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments as I always enjoy hearing from you.  As my mother liked to say,  I wish all of you a sizn Pesach (a sweet Pesach).

 

 

Coconut Macaroons

4 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

1 Tbs cake meal

1 Tbs potato starch

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate bar (for drizzling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat whites till almost stiff and slowly add sugar and  finish beating till stiff.  Mix all dry ingredients and fold into whites.  Using a teaspoon drop on greased cookie sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes and cool completely.  Melt chocolate bar in double boiler and drizzle over macaroons.

Additional Favorites

Persian Haroset

Appetizers

Marinated Eggplant

Tomato Basil Salad

Your Soup, my Matzoh Balls

Matzoh Balls

Mains and Sides

Garlic Chicken

Mushroom Kugel

Potato Nik (Kugel)

Desserts

Brownie Meringues

Chocolate Chip Mandelbroit

Enjoy,

Irene

Vegetable Tagine

Not in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would fall in love with Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Feeling somewhat disloyal to my Bronx roots I tried to hold back, and although it wasn’t love at first sight, there is something special going on in the “other B Borough.”  The combination of old buildings and store fronts, converted into cozy bakeries and restaurants, run and patronized by hipsters (no idea what they stand for but they do have a certain look) all converge to create a sum that is better than the parts.  Brooklynites eat local and are proud of it.  Everywhere you look, there are food products that are baked, cultured, grown and created in Brooklyn and the labels clearly state that.

We started the morning with coffee and a buttery, raspberry pistachio muffin at Bakeri, a small bakery that has paid as much attention to the decor as it has to the baked goods.  You feel as if  you have been transported to another time and place, with a staff of young women looking freshly scrubbed and who enthusiastically describe every baked good in their display case.  Off to the side one employee is kneading bread dough on a large wooden board, old style, not one piece of marble in sight.   The next day we stopped at the small local farmers market.  There was an interesting combination of older immigrants (this used to be a Polish neighborhood)  and young New Yorkers, all coming out despite the cold weather to buy milk, cheese, eggs and poultry from New York State farms.  My daughter informed me that you had to ” know” that the dairy stand sold eggs, there was no sign indicating it.

The next day we had brunch at Diner, an old dining car that has not been renovated, but has been lovingly allowed to remain in its  glorious original state.

Here is what we ate.

Lemon poppy-seed scone to start.

Market salad of mustard greens, black olives, cranberry beans, croutons, creamy garlic dressing w/shaved parmesan.

Country breakfast: two scrambled eggs, biscuit w/ honey butter and grilled escarole and dandelion greens.

Omelette w/ kale and ricotta pesto and served w/ potatoes.

We forced ourselves to stop there but it wasn’t easy.

Of course, no weekend in New York would be complete without pizza so that same night we ordered in from Best Pizza. Even 40 minutes after it came out of the oven, the crust charred and crisp, the pizza thin, and the garlic knots chewy on the outside and tender on the inside.

So the next time you take a trip to NYC, do something different and take a trip to Brooklyn.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the transformation. From garden to table, this generation of “foodies” have put their stamp on fresh ingredients lovingly offered up to those who are lucky enough to visit.

After having numerous vegetable dishes in New York, I was inspired to try this Vegetable Tagine.

Vegetable Tagine

1 large brown onion, diced

3 Tbs olive oil

2 small fingerling potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks

3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks

3 oz. dried cherries

1 can garbanzo beans

2 Tbs pomegranate molasses

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup water

Saute onion in olive oil till golden.  Add both sweet and white potatoes, stir and allow to cook for several more minutes.  Add drained garbanzo beans, and dried cherries to pot. Mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add water and pomegranate molasses and stir. Gently pour into Tagine and add one cinnamon stick.  Cover and place in 275 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours.

Enjoy,

Irene

Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot and Almond Biscotti

Soft, chewy cookies or hard, crisp ones?  As with many foods, over time people develop preferences. I am a firmly entrenched fan of the hard, dry, crisp variety of cookies.  I like them to have enough substance to withstand being dunked in my coffee without melting or disintegrating. In addition to density, I like texture, so I prefer that the cookie includes nuts, chocolate chips, or both. Over the years I have tried various Mandelbrot and biscotti recipes and have found that these two recipes are among my favorites. The Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot recipe is actually a Passover recipe that was given to me by a friend of a friend.  We like it so much that I now bake it all year round. The Almond Biscotti recipe was adapted from one of Judy Zeidler’s cookbooks.  It has a more traditional flavor and is reminiscent of the Mandelbrot that I grew up with.

My mother would often visit family members and end up in their kitchen cooking.  I remember her making schav borscht in Micheline’s kitchen and chopped liver in Tante Marisha’s kitchen.  She enjoyed pitching in and being helpful, and it created a feeling of togetherness.  Although I have cooked in my daughter Shira’s and my cousin Micheline’s kitchens, I sometimes end up transporting challot or cookies from my kitchen in Los Angeles.  It is an expression of my affection, a way to let someone know that I was thinking of them even before I arrived at my destination. This morning I baked both Almond Biscotti and Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot (with Norm’s help) to take to Houston, Texas, where I will be attending my future daughter-in-law’s bridal shower.  As Marcella Hazan the famous cookbook author once said, “After all, what experience of food can compare with eating something good made by someone you can hug?”  Cookies and hugs, perfect.

Almond Biscotti

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp each of baking powder and baking soda

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 ground almonds

1/2 toasted silvered almonds

2 eggs

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1 egg white

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place dry ingredients in a shallow bowl and mix. Create a well in the center and add eggs, vanilla and sugar and quickly incorporate flour.  Divide dough into two equal portions. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and, using oiled hands, form dough into two logs.  Brush with beaten egg white. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Move logs to a board and carefully slice on a diagonal. Return to cookie sheet, cut side up, and bake for an additional 10 minutes on each side.

 

Loretta’s Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot

3 sticks margarine

2 cups sugar plus an extra 4 Tbs for sprinkling

6 eggs

2 3/4 cups cake meal

3/4 potato starch

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp cinnamon

2 – 12 oz. bags of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Reserve 4 Tbs sugar and mix with 2 Tsp cinnamon and set aside. Cream sugar and margarine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Add dry ingredients.  Divide dough into 4 equal portions and with oiled hands, form 4 loaves, divided between 2 greased cookie sheets.  Sprinkle each loaf with an equal amount of the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake for about 45 minutes. Slice loaves and place Mandelbrot cut side up, sprinkling with more cinnamon sugar.  Return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes per side or till crispy.

 


Enjoy,

Irene

 


Sponge Cake


Almost there.  The kitchen is converted, not a speck of Hametz to be found.  It is only Friday afternoon and now in addition to planning for Passover, I am trying to figure out what we will eat tomorrow.  Tonight we are going to our synagogue for Shabbat dinner so one less meal to worry about.  Breakfast will be cheese and fruit but the real concern was afternoon tea.  A group of us have been getting together every Shabbat afternoon for many years but the Shabbat before Pesach is a challenge.  At first I cancelled,  but quickly reconsidered  knowing the day is long and, besides, what would  Shabbat afternoon be like without our friends gathered around.

So, last night I went to the Farmers’ Market and bought beautiful strawberries, a cherimoya, golden beets, purple kohlrabi and purple cabbage.  I came home this afternoon and made a Sponge Cake to serve with the strawberries.  I cooked a pot of quinoa to turn into a cold salad with roasted yellow beets, dried cranberries and mango.  I have no idea what I will do with the purple cabbage but I still have some time.

Truth be told the sponge cake looked beautiful when it came out of the oven (see photo).  It was high and golden and I inverted it and allowed it to cool and guess what? As it does every year, it fell.  I will slice it up and serve it with the strawberries on top and nobody will care. Here is the recipe I used which is pretty simple and I know that others have made with success!!!

Sponge Cake

7 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 Tbs Meyer lemon juice

3/4 cup potato starch

dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat yolks till they are light and fluffy and turn a creamy yellow color. Slowly add sugar and lemon juice and beat till blended. Add potato starch and mix well.

Beat whites with salt till stiff peaks form. Fold into egg mixture and bake in ungreased tube pan. Invert and allow to cool.

Serve with strawberries.

Enjoy,

Irene

Essia’s Apple Cake

I wrote this last night in a state of exhaustion but I was determined to post a  recipe. I don’t know Essia very well but I wanted to add that I have reliable sources who say she is a very good cook.  Essia, thank you so much for sharing this recipe with me. I am definitely going to make it but I might take the liberty of using strawberries and rhubarb as the filling, for color contrast and because I love rhubarb!

A recipe from a member of Temple Beth Am’s Library Minyan.

Essia’s Passover Apple Cake

Batter

6 large eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups cake meal

2 Tbs potato starch

Combine ingredients in food processor for several minutes.

Apple Filling

4 large apples (Granny Smith)

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tsp cinnamon

Peel and thinly slice apples,  toss with other ingredients. Allow to sit for several minutes.

In a 9 x 11 pan, alternate  batter and apples,  beginning with a layer of batter and ending with a layer of apples.

Topping

Combine 2 Tsp cinnamon with 1 Tsp sugar and 1/2 cup ground almonds or walnuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  NOTE:  Essia sent me an e-mail saying she used a springform pan which worked beautifully.

Enjoy,

Irene


Matzoh Balls

When my sister and I get together and reminisce, it is hard to believe that we grew up in the same house with the same parents.  We not only have different memories of the same events, they are sometimes so different that it is even hard for us to believe that we had the same mother.  We can spend hours arguing and laughing over how MY mother prepared a dish in comparison to how HER mother prepared it.  So, it is not surprising that our taste in Matzoh Balls also differs.  My sister prefers small hard matzoh balls, and I prefer the large, soft, fluffy variety.  She may be my older sister, and  l love her, but here is MY version of Knaidlach, which is what my mother called them.

Fluffy Matzoh Balls

4 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 cup matzoh meal

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

Process all of the ingredients for about 10 seconds. Place in fridge for about an hour. Shape into balls and add to a large pot of salted, boiling water . Cook covered for about 45 minutes.

Makes 12 matzoh balls.

Enjoy,

Irene

Imberlach

This is a Saiger family recipe for a Passover confection called Imberlach.  The recipe was handed down to my mother-in-law from her mother-in-law, Manya Saiger, my children’s great-grandmother.  My mother-in-law once described Imberlach for a Passover cookbook “watch your cavities or fillings, the imberlach are jawbreakers, but oh so good.”

Imberlach
1 1/2 lbs. honey
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 lb. matzoh farfel
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
1 cup chopped walnuts

Bring honey and sugar to a boil, lower heat and cook for five minutes, stirring constantly.  Add farfel slowly and cook an additional five minutes.  Make sure there is still a little liquid in the bottom of the pot.  Add ginger and walnuts and stir for ten minutes until mixture is brown.  Wet a wooden board with cold water and pour mixture on, carefully spreading with a wet knife. Allow to set for several hours and cut to form diamond shapes. Candy is sticky.

Enjoy,
Irene

Mushroom Kugel

 

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
6 Matzot
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.

Enjoy,
Irene

Bubelach (Passover Pancakes)

As a young girl I always thought that “bubela” was a term of endearment.  I am not sure how old I was when I found out that it was also a pancake.  This is a recipe that my Mom made every Passover.  Our friends, the Androns, lived across the alley from my parents and when their kids would run over to visit, my Mom would serve them bubelach.  We always ate it with sugar on top and a cup of hot tea but it is equally good with jam or a fresh fruit topping.

Bubelach
4 eggs, separated
5 Tbsp. matzoh meal
dash salt
3-4 Tbsp. oil

Beat egg whites till stiff. Gently fold in yolks, matzoh meal and salt. Heat oil in large, deep, frying pan till hot. Gently pour mixture into pan and lower heat. When bottom of pancake is golden, slide carefully on to a plate, and invert back into pan. Cook for about five more minutes. Insert a toothpick to make sure center is dry. Cut and serve hot. Serves 2-3

Enjoy,
Irene