Tag Archives: Passover

Simple Sides: Roasted Cauliflower

20 Feb

I’ve always liked cauliflower — even when I was really young, I always liked the vegetables that most kids don’t. I’m quite happy with simply steamed cauliflower, but I’ll take it in a soup, with sauces, in a stir-fry, a quiche or many other recipes.  But just like my crispy smashed potatoes, one of my absolutely favorites ways to prepare cauliflower is to simply roast it. (It also happens to be great for Passover.)

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Just like those crispy smashed potatoes, the ingredient list is small — only four items:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large cauliflower, washed well and broken down into small florets

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Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Mix the olive oil, garlic and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the cauliflower and mix until the oil, salt and garlic are evenly distributed.  Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Roast for 20 minutes, then toss and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the edges golden brown.  Serve immediately.

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** Any leftovers are great chopped up and added to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

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Passover Cheese Blintzes

9 Apr

Every year we turn our kosher food store into a Passover kosher food store.  For over a month, from Purim through Pesach, my days are all about Passover. We pack away all of the  chometz and get tonnes and tonnes (literally) of kosher for Passover food – it takes us days to get everything unpacked and on the shelves. We even rent a 40 foot train container and park it in our parking lot for extra storage.

As soon as that first items hit the shelves (or even before that) our days are filled with customer questions – about the products we sell, about the foods we cook and about recipes and menu ideas.  Some people love cooking for Passover — they love pulling out the recipes that are traditional in there family and/or experimenting with new recipes and ideas.  Others . . . well, others feel differently.  They fear Passover and loathe matzo.  I also hear a lot of complaints about how heavy the food is.  But it doesn’t have to be.

I am firmly in the camp that likes Passover food.  Really. I actually like matzo. I hear people say they think it tastes like cardboard all the time.  I have no problem with a piece of matzo with butter and some fruit for breakfast. In fact, I’m quite happy with it. Seder meals that include soups, starters, at least two meats, several sides, and dessert can weigh you down, but those meals don’t have to, and the rest of the week can certainly focus on other, lighter things.

One of my favourite treats, something that’s good all year round but I tend to cook rarely outside of Passover is cheese blintzes. The delicate wrapper (bletlach) filled with creamy cheese and served with strawberries and a crisp salad make a great dinner — one that I enjoyed  tonight.  They were so delicious I was questioning my decision to keep them as a Passover treat — but maybe that’s part of what makes them so special.

Blintz Wrappers / Bletlach (based on a recipe from my book, Passover – A Kosher Collection)

It may take a few tries to get the hang of making these, but once you do, they’re easy to make. Fill them with cheese, fruit, potatoes or meat.

4 large eggs

1/2 cup cool water

5 Tbsp. potato starch

1/4 tsp. salt

oil for the skillet

Whisk the eggs, water, potato starch and salt together in a large measuring cup and let it rest for a few minutes.  Whisk again, making sure you get rid of any potato starch lumps.  Heat an 8″ non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Lightly brush the pan with oil — I like grape seed.  Whisk the batter again and pour some into the pan — swirl the pan immediately so that the batter forms a thin layer and pour any excess batter back into the measuring cup.

Cook until the blettle (single bletlach) starts to bubble a little, the top is dry to the touch, the bottom just starts to brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan.  Loosen the edges and turn the blettle out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Continue with the rest of the batter, whisking before each blettle and brushing with oil after every 2 or 3 bletlach — you should get 12-15 bletlach from one batch.  Separate the layers of bletlach with parchment paper.

Cheese Filling

2 lbs. 1% pressed cottage cheese (or paper or baker’s cheese)

4 large eggs

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Assemble the blintzes by placing one wrapper on your work surface with the cooked-side up.

Place approximately 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture along the bottom edge of the wrapper and roll it up from the bottom so that the filling is covered with the blettle.  Fold the left and right sides in so that both ends are closed then continue to roll up from the bottom, using the whole blettle.  Continue with the rest of the bletlach and filling.

You can refrigerate or freeze them at this point or heat some butter in a skillet and brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve on their own or with strawberries and sour cream.

Blintz Strawberries

These strawberries are great with the blintzes or use to top your matzo brei for breakfast.

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced

3 Tbsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 tsp. potato starch

2 tsp. cool water

Place the strawberries, sugar and orange juice in a pot over medium heat and cook until the strawberries have release some juice and the liquid comes to a simmer — this should take about 5 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk the potato starch and water together.  Add to the pot and stir through.  Cook another minute, or until the juices have thickened slightly.  Remove from heat. Serve hot of chill and serve cold.

Passover Mushroom And Onion Kugel

16 Apr

According to my blog statistics, a lot of people are getting here because they are looking for a recipe for Mushroom and Onion Kugel.  I do have a recipe for said kugel on this blog, but it’s for a kugel I make for Rosh Hashana.  That one is made with egg noodles.

Since people are looking for it, I thought it would be a good idea to share my recipe for my Passover Mushroom & Onion Kugel.  It’s very similar — simple and tasty, but uses farfel (broken up matzo) rather than noodles.    Can be made ahead and freezes well.

Passover Mushroom and Onion Farfel Kugel (from Passover – A Kosher Collection)

If I had to choose (and it would be hard to decide)  I think this might be my favourite kugel.  Button and crimini mushrooms often get the short end of the stick, but I love them and this kugel shows them off.

4 Tbsp. | 60 mL olive oil

1 lb. | 454 g yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 medium)

2 tsp. | 10 mL salt

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL black pepper

1 1/2 lbs. | 680 g button or crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 cups | 355 mL water

8 oz. | 225 g farfel (4 cups | 950 mL)

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 F | 190 C.

Place a large frying pan or a pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  Add the onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 8-10 minutes or until soft and golden brown.

Add the mushrooms and cook another 6-8 minutes, or until they’ve all cooked and have shrunk by about half.  We’re not trying to brown the mushrooms at all, just cook them.

Add the water and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 1 minute.

Put the farfel in a large mixing bowl.  Pour the mushroom/onion mixture over the farfel and stir to mix.  Let rest for about half an hour or until cooled completely. and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Once cooled, add the eggs and stir to combine.  Pour the batter into a greased 8 x 11-inch | 20 x 27.5-cm pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and firm.

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?

Available for Pre-Orders on Amazon.com

25 Nov

I almost forgot the most exciting news of the day!

I went to Amazon.com to order something and as I do occasionally, I checked in to see how Soup was doing. What came up? A listing for the Passover book! It’s now available for pre-orders on Amazon – click!

This is getting exciting.

I think I’ll go work on some edits and get that book done.

Editing and Pictures

24 Nov

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent all my free time editing and working on photos. I mean all my free time — plus a lot of time at work, where I’ve been hiding out in my office trying to get stuff done.

I keep telling myself that I just have to get this one section done, then I’ll have some free time. Ha! What I meant is that I have to get this section done so I can get to the next one.

Anyway . . . I decided to take the pictures myself for this book. By myself, I mean with the help of my mother and sister. Lisa (the sister) helped by building the ‘studio’ for me. We got some lumber and a roll of backdrop paper, and ended up with this ‘photo studio’.

It worked well, and while I cooked and cooked and cooked, Mom and Lisa took turns as stylists/photographers (though I couldn’t help but take a couple of pictures of each dish myself — can we say control freak?). Every Sunday for a month or so, I’d prep 6-8 recipes and we’d snap dozens of pictures.

There will be 16 colour pages in the book (for those of you who have Soup, it will be the same) and we took over 1200 pictures. Do you know how long it takes to go through 1200 pictures? A long time. But I’ve eliminated close to 1000, and now I’m trying to choose the best out of the ones that are left.

The pictures are getting done in between editing the book. So far I’ve had three people (and me) editing and proofing. We’re on edit #4 now, and we keep finding things to change. We’re in the middle of this round, and I think it will take just one more. I hope.

Next up: formatting.

Cooking & Tasting

11 Aug

Last week I took a few days off of work so I could spend the time at home, working on recipes for the cookbook. I got a lot done, but not as much as I had planned.

I’m going through my lists of tested recipes and to-test recipes, trying to figure out what’s left to do. The problem is that I keep thinking of new ideas, so the to-test list isn’t really getting any smaller.

In the last week or so I’ve worked on:

* potato latkes (not just for Chanukah!)
* zucchini/leek latkes
* sweet potato ginger latkes
* matzo balls
* zucchini/spinach/chicken soup (needs a good name)
* brownies
* meringue cookies with toasted coconut/almonds/chocolate chips
* sautéed eggplant & roasted pepper salad
* an old-school beef flanken recipe
* blueberry coffee-cake
* sweet potato/apple side dish
* roast chicken with roasted vegetables – a little sweet, a little spicy
* matzo brei (can’t have passover without one recipe — will do at least two — one sweet, one savoury and maybe a couple of other variations)
* strawberry/blueberry conserves for the matzo brei ( it would also be good on matzo)

Some of the recipes I’ve been making for years and just needed to be written down. Some are new for me and have to be tried a few times, tweaking things here and there. Some recipes (like a brisket I cooked on Sunday) just don’t work at all and aren’t worth tweaking. Those are the most frustrating.

While I normally count on immediate family members for taste-testing (don’t worry, there are no critiques more honest — sometimes brutally honest — than those of your parents and siblings), I was lucky enough to have some extended family visiting from out-of-town.

This little 2-year-old thought the sweet potato and ginger latkes were just fine . . . and she stopped eating them after latke #4 or 5.

The 6 dozen latkes made that afternoon were gone quickly. And it was a lot of fun having the kitchen full of family, grabbing the latkes as soon as they came out of the pan. It’s true — these Chanukah treats are as good in April or August as they are in December.

So I’m moving along in the kitchen, and getting as much typing done as I can between customers. It’s almost time to start thinking about what has to happen when the cooking is all done. Just not yet.

Passover Recipes You Really Want?

6 Jul

I just realized I should have included this in the previous post. If there are any recipes you’d love to see in a Passover cookbook, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks,
Pam