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Passover Blogging at eGullet.org

19 Apr

I’m spending the week sharing my Passover cooking at http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/138251-eg-foodblog-pam-r-2011/

Stop by, see what I’m cooking — ask questions!

Chag Sameach!

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A Fresh Passover

10 Apr

I often hear people complain about heavy foods at Passover.  It’s true – with menus that include chopped liver, brisket and kugels it can weigh you down.  And while I like to serve traditional foods during the holidays, there are a lot more options that people don’t associate with Passover menus.

For meals that include these heavier dishes, I always make sure to include a fresh, crisp salad and fresh fruit for desserts.  I also make sure that the week has plenty of lighter meals – a fritatta with salad or maybe my favorite Mediterranean Black Cod served with steamed vegetables.

For a lighter, fresh Passover, here are a couple of my favorite salad recipes (from my cookbook Passover – A Kosher Collection).

Watermelon & Feta Salad

This is one of my favorite salads.  For a different version, replace the mint with basil and the lime juice with balsamic vinegar.

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL olive oil

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL black pepper

6 cups | 1.4 L watermelon, seedless, cit into 1-inch | 2.5-cm cubes

4 oz. | 115 g feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL fresh mint, finely sliced

3 oz. | 85 g red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (1/2 small)

Mix the lime juice, olive oil and black pepper together in a large mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and gently mix together.

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Can be made several hours in advance.  If you do make it ahead. pour off any excess liquid and taste, checking for seasoning before serving.

Jicima Slaw

This is a great alternative to classic coleslaw.  It’s crisp, light and flavourful.

1 1/2 lbs. | 680 g jicima, peeled and julienned (1 medium)

3 oz. | 85 g carrots, peeled and shredded (2 small)

3 oz. | 85 g yellow pepper, cored, seeded and cut into a thin julienne (1/2 medium)

3 oz. | 85 g orange pepper, cored, seeded and cut into a thin julienne (1/2 medium)

1 oz. | 28 g green onions, thinly sliced (2 large)

3 oz. | 85 g white onion, peeled and sliced paper thin (1/2 small)

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL fresh lime juice

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL grapeseed oil (or light olive oil)

1 tsp. | 5 mL salt

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL honey

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL black pepper

Put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and toss together.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend together.

Can be made 4-6 hours before serving.

It’s all about the Charoset

5 Apr

With Passover less than two weeks away, it’s time to make some serious decisions.  The most important decision, in my opinion, is what kind of charoset to make.  I love charoset.  I like that charoset being passed around the table means dinner is about to start.  I love that charoset is symbolic — it’s there to remind us of the mortar used by the Jewish slaves in Egypt to build cities.  And I really love charoset because it’s delicious.

When I was growing up, charoset was always a mixture of shredded apples, cinnamon, honey, chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans) and some sweet red wine.  Nobody in my family used a precise recipe — we just added what looked right and kept tasting and adjusting until it was perfect.

Eventually I started experimenting and came up with some different flavour combinations that I really liked.  Now I have a few charoset recipes that I love.  Here’s my recipe for date charoset.  I like it so much I make a double batch to use it on matzo throughout the week (great for breakfast!).

Date Charoset

2 oz. | 55 g walnuts (1/2 cup | 120 mL)

8 oz. | 225 g pitted dates (1 cup | 235 mL)

3 oz. | 85 g golden raisins (1/2 cup | 120 mL)

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL dried ginger

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL sweet red wine

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL fresh orange juice

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL orange zest

Toast the nuts. Preheat the oven to 350 F | 175 C.  Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 8-9 minuets, or until golden brown.  Cool.

Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the charoset reaches a texture you like.  I like to pulse it until it is mostly paste, with some small chunks remaining.  If you like it chunkier, stop pulsing before it gets too smooth.

Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 1 1/2 cups | 355 mL

* Adapted from my book, Passover – A Kosher Collection

Passover Prep #1

24 Feb

After a wonderful vacation, I arrived home to a stack of Passover price-lists from my suppliers. Lots of people are surprised to hear that I’m working on Passover orders before we even start thinking about Purim — but that’s how it works.  On the other hand, some customers have already started asking if the matzo has arrived yet!

For the last two weeks I’ve been going through the price lists.  I’ve been comparing prices and trying to find the best deals for our customers.  It’s exciting to see that there are some new products available — hopefully they won’t disappoint.

After the orders get faxed and emailed in this week and next, we’ll be working on our prepared food order form.  Each year we cook and bake for 100+ families over Passover.  Then the trucks will start rolling in with orders and right after Purim we’ll turn the store over for Pesach (all chometz gets packed up and the entire store gets stocked with KFP items).

Just thinking about this exhausts me.

Have you started thinking about Passover yet?

Latkes

29 Nov

I’ve been thinking about the latkes I’ll be frying for Chanukah this year.  I spend days and days making latkes.   As often happens, when I start thinking about a holiday food it brings back memories of the foods I enjoyed as a kid. I grew up with traditional foods prepared by my mother and grandmothers and though I will always love them, I also like throwing new twists at old favourites.

As I was thinking about using sweet potato, leeks, zucchini, mushroom and maybe some blue potatoes in latkes, the blue potatoes reminded me of my Baba’s (grandmother) blue latkes. No, Baba didn’t use blue potatoes like I was planning. Her pancakes were made from red, waxy potatoes that had turned a purplish-blue as the starches oxidized after they were finely grated. Some people add white vinegar to the potatoes to stop the oxidizing but I always grate the onions first and let their juices keep the potatoes from discoloring.   Baba went au natural and we ate them as they were —  and loved them! But, if I want blue latkes I’ll use those blue potatoes.

Here are a few of my favourite latke recipes.  While I love, love, love potato latkes, it’s nice to have a few variations to have throughout the holiday. Try one or all of them.

Remember – Chanukah is a holiday that calls for eating things fried with oil. So I use oil to pan-fry all of the latkes. If you are looking for a lighter version, you can spray a non-stick frying-pan with vegetable spray – but be warned – the results will not be the same. For crisp on the outside, soft on the inside latkes use the oil. (You are commemorating a miracle!)

Some latke pointers that I shared a couple of years ago and thought it’s time to share again:

  • Use a food processor or box grater to grate vegetables and then squeeze as much liquid from the vegetables as you can. Discard liquid.
  • Use a non-stick or cast-iron frying pan for frying. Heat 1/4” – 1/2“ of canola or vegetable oil over medium heat. The oil should be hot enough for the latkes to sizzle and bubble as soon as they touch the oil, but not too hot or they will burn before they are cooked through.
  • To keep your potatoes from oxidizing grate the onions first. Toss the potatoes with the onion juices as you grate them and it will keep them from turning brown or blue.
  • Drain the cooked latkes on paper towel.
  • Fry one latke and taste it, checking the seasoning before frying the whole batch. If you like things light on salt and pepper cut back my quantities – taste one and add seasoning to suit your tastes.
  • Serve with apple sauce, sour cream, crème fraiche, Greek yogurt or or tzatziki.
  • Latkes are best served hot, right out of the pan (after draining). If you are feeding a group, place the fresh latkes on a baking sheet and keep in a 200º oven as you make them. If necessary, they can be frozen, thawed and reheated on a baking sheet at 350º degrees, uncovered, until warm (about 10-15 minutes).
Potato Latkes (adapted from Passover – a Kosher Collection)
  • 1 lb. | 454 g yellow onion, peeled and grated (2 medium)
  • 2 lbs. | 910 g red potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ oz. | 14 g cake meal (or flour) (2 Tbsp. | 30 mL)
  • 1 ½ tsp. | 7 mL salt
  • ¼ tsp. | 1 mL black pepper
  • canola  oil for frying
Grate the onion first, then grate the potato and mix them together. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the onion/potato mixture and place in a mixing bowl.
Add the eggs, cake meal, salt and pepper and mix well.
Heat ¼-inch | 5-mm of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use two spoons or an ice-cream scoop to gently place batter into the oil (use about 2 Tbsp. | 30 mL of mixture for each latke).
Fry for about 4 minutes, or until the edges start to brown, then turn over and cook another 3–5 minutes until both sides are golden brown.
Transfer to paper towel to drain.  Continue frying the rest of the latkes, adding more oil if necessary.
Enjoy on their own or with sour cream or applesauce.
Makes 12-16

Zucchini Leek Latkes (adapted from Passover – A Kosher Collection)
I’ve seen young children who maynot enjoy vegetables gobble these up. They’re a little softer than potato latkes, so be gentle when you flip them over.
  • 1 ½ lbs. | 680 g zucchini, trimmed and shredded
  • 8 oz. | 225 g red potato, peeled and shredded
  • 8 oz. | 225 g leek, washed well and thinly sliced (2 medium)
  • 1 ½ tsp. | 7 mL salt
  • ½ tsp. | 2 mL black pepper
  • 2 ½ oz. | 70 g cake meal  (½ cup | 120 mL) (or flour)
  • 1 tsp. | 5 mL paprika
  • 3 large eggs
  • canola oil for frying
Grate the zucchini and potato and squeeze out any excess liquid. Combine with the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Heat ¼-inch | 5-mm of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Use two spoons to gently place the mixture into the oil (use about 2 Tbsp. | 30 mL of mixture for each latke).
Fry for 2–3 minutes, or until the edges start to brown, then turn over and cook another 2–3 minutes, until both sides are golden brown.
Transfer to paper towel to drain and continue with the rest of the latkes, adding more oil if necessary.
Makes 16-18

Wild Rice and Mushroom Latkes

  • 3 cups button/crimini mushrooms – thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion – peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 can (425 g) cooked wild rice – rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • canola oil for frying

Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes in oil over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have released their juices and are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place the cooled mushrooms and onions in a mixing bowl and add the salt, pepper, eggs and flour. Mix well.

Heat oil in a frying pan and carefully spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture into the oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and set.

Drain and serve.

Makes 16-18

Sufganiyot for Chanukah

22 Nov

It’s hard to believe that Chanukah is just around the corner — but it will be here next week. Around here, we usually celebrate Chanukah in the depths of winter and thankfully we’ve had a few solid days of snow so we’re all set for this year.

The most common food for Chanukah is probably the potato latke. Crisp potato and onion pancakes fried in oil and served with sour cream or apple sauce. There is nothing wrong with a good potato latke, and I am sure I’ll be frying up hundreds, but that’s not your only option.

First of all, you can do all sorts of interesting latke recipes and I’ll be sharing a few of my favourites here, before the holiday starts. But you know, I think any good, fried food could be considered a good Chanukah dish.

In Winnipeg, as in Israel, sufganiot or jambusters or jelly-doughnuts are a treat often served for Chanukah. Or at least they have been for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, boxes of sufganiot were always brought into school at Chanukah and my mother would always picked some up for us at the bakery.

The typical jelly doughnut around here is usually filled with a fruit filling, but you can go crazy and fill them with all sorts of things. In Israel they do go crazy and you can find many interesting fillings. How about caramel? Maybe a chocolate or mocha filling. Green tea? Sure.

If you’d like to try making some yourself, a few years ago I put up a step-by-step how-to demonstration at eGullet.org. The demo includes pictures so you can see how easy the process is — and make them yourself!

Click here for the demo.


Shana Tova! (really belated)

15 Oct

I’d like to wish everybody a happy, healthy and sweet new year. Shana Tova!

Life continues to be hectic, and I don’t find myself with the time to post here.  I’m working on another cookbook, and I’ll post about it when I have some information.  In the meantime, as it’s getting much cooler in Winnipeg, I find myself leafing through the Soup book and planning on making big batches to keep us going through the winter.

I hope the year has started off well for everybody.

Take care,

Pam

Two Weeks Until Passover

19 Mar

That’s it.  2 weeks.  Over 20,000 lbs. have food has come in and it’s flying out.  More on the way.  We. Are. So. Busy.

Lots of new products.  Some interesting.  Some strange.  I’ve never tried Passover cereal – will keep a box and try them this year.  Have heard bad things.

Happy prepping to you all.

Passover countdown . . .

22 Feb

Since I’m totally submerged in Passover – I thought I’d keep you updated on what it’s like to work in the kosher biz during the busiest time of the year.

The kosher biz.  By this, I mean that I (along with my parents) own and operate a store in Winnipeg that sells only kosher products (and gifts!).  We also prepare food, though not under any kosher supervision (all of the ingredients are kosher, and we follow the laws, but are not officially kosher).

First of all, the planning started the first week in January.  Tentative product lists started arriving from various suppliers in Eastern Canada.   I’d already been thinking about my orders since September – so I was ready to go through the lists.

For a few weeks, most of the workday and evenings at home were spent going through the lists to see what was new and what wasn’t being offered this year.  I spent hours and hours guessing at numbers and typing up orders. Phone-calls to various suppliers to check on things.  Questioning customers about what they wanted.  All orders have now been sent in except for the final dairy order and some of the meats.

About a week and a half ago, the first of the Passover products started trickling in.  We have chocolates and olives everywhere!  The big orders will start arriving in a week or so. 

For those of you uninitiated, my little food store (I carry approximately 1200 items) is completely turned over for Passover.  Right now I’m trying to sell out items and let stock go down – because anything not kosher for Passover has to be sold or boxed up and put away in the next couple of weeks.  For Passover we’ll be stocking approximately 900 items – that’s 900 different items than the ones I carry the rest of the year.

Last week we started panicking.  Where were we going to put 3000 lbs. of matzo when it comes in next week?  Do you have any idea how much space 3000 lbs. of matzo takes up?  In a moment of brilliance, I called a storage company.  On Monday we’ll be received a 40′ X 8′ storage container that we’ll keep in the parking lot for a month.  So all the dry stuff (matzo, matzo meal, cake meal, potato starch, farfel, chips, etc.) can go in there.  If it would just stop snowing, it’ll be much easier to get things from the parking lot to the store.

I’ve also spent the last two days organizing the storage room.  When we moved our business 2 years ago, boxes never got emptied.  I’ve been able to clear out a lot of room.  Thankfully we’re busy – and everything is selling.  Lots of stuff will go in the next week for shalach manos (for Purim) – and more space will be available.  Do you have any idea how many packages of Bissli I sell each week? 😉

To add to the craziness – I’m waiting on the arrival of a new, programmable cash register system.  So every item in the store will need to be programmed into the system before it can be put on the shelves.

I’ll try to bring my camera to work and show you the progress over the next few weeks.

It’s going to be a crazy month!

Happy New Year!

1 Jan

I just wanted to take a moment to wish everybody a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

My plans for the new year were delayed due to a foot of snow that fell the night before New Year’s Eve.  I was looking forward to sharing my evening of Hot Pot / Steamboat with you – if we do it in the next week or two, I will post.  It’s a great thing to do with friends or family.  We go for casual NY’s evenings – and enjoyed this last year.  Everybody participates in the prep. and it’s a lovely leisurely meal.  I’ll let you know when it happens 😉 .