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Archive for March, 2010

There isn’t much to do with 2-day old wilted, over cooked, cold and slimy asparagus, so I transformed it into an elegant cream of asparagus soup.

Saute up some onions with mushrooms, and after they’re soft put them in the blender along with the asparagus. Thin with some chicken stock and a little white wine if you have it. I made a cream sauce tonight using Matzo Cake Meal instead of flour. Whisk the white sauce into the asparagus puree, heat very gently and serve. Top with a little sour cream if you want to be fancy.

We had this with our Matzo Lasagna.

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This matzo lasagna is melt-in-your mouth delicious. Prepared essentially the same way as a traditional lasagna, you might not realize that there is matzo in this instead of noodles. It’s very light and holds its shape really well when you cut it.

For this version I mixed a large carton of small curd cottage cheese with three eggs and some Parmesan cheese. I placed a mixture of muenster and mozzarella on top of that blended cheese. Layer it as you would a regular lasagna. For the matzo layers, briefly run the full-sized pieces of matzo under warm tap water before layering. I threw in some wilted fresh spinach on one of the layers. Bake it for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

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A Big Tzimmes

I was raised by the china queen. My mother had more sets of china than I can remember. Many of those now reside inside the two china cabinets in my dining room. I inherited my grandmother’s small mahogany china cabinet, along with the weathered breakfront from my childhood home, which has my name scrawled into the side with a ball point pen (I was four). We now own the floral service for 18 which I only saw every couple of years when my grandmother would unlock her big china cabinet and show me my inheritance; the blue and gold set which my grandmother bought in the 1920’s from a woman whose mother had owned them during the civil war; some Haviland china which I don’t ever remember my mother using because it was just too delicate — the light shines through the cups when you hold them up; and my husband’s grandmother’s white with gold-rimmed Noritake stamped with “Made in occupied Japan,” which she never used and were still in the original box along with the receipt when we inherited them.

Passover Seder is the night when everything comes out of the china cabinet. The beauty of the ceremony of the Seder meal is matched by the beauty of the table. Our family and friends join us as we read from the Haggadah, with just the right balance of solemnity and fun. We eat the strangest combination of foods which we religiously prepare according to our mother’s recipes — recipes which for the most part have not been written down.

This year’s event was spectacular, but not because of the place-settings. It was spectacular in the process:

— My sister, Maralee, came down a day early so that we could cook together. We made the family’s traditional tzimmes topped with potato kugel. It’s an eye-popping mammoth dish which we make year after year but have come to realize that no one particularly cares for it. It’s a bad habit. We think that my dad likes it and that’s why we made it this year. But we’re considering the possibility that he also finds it bland and is just being polite.

— We made horseradish by blending together pieces of raw horseradish root with apple cider vinegar, sugar, canned beets and a pinch of salt. You know you’re alive when you survive this experience. It makes peeling onions feel like a walk in the park.

— My friend Jennie had exquisite center pieces made and dropped them by the house in the afternoon so we could put them on the table in advance. How thoughtful to think to tell the florist that she wanted to be able to see over the tops of them!

— Our friends down the street walked the pot of kosher chicken soup to our house, and the day before they dropped by the extra cooked chicken in case any of our house-guests wanted some kosher chicken salad.

— My cousin Sheri took over the duty of making the fruit platters which were alive with color of berries and melons, and her husband Mike, the gourmet, made chocolate cake so good that I’ve hidden the two extra pieces in the back of the refrigerator. I’m posting this late so that I can get to the cake before my kids read my blog entry.

— Kate was assigned a matzo farfel kugel, had never made one before, and brought a mushroom kugel so delicious that Max had seconds even though he hates mushrooms.

— Leo drove the Weber grill down from Woodstock and made a smoked turkey out back that made the entire neighborhood smell wonderful.

— My new niece Nicole flew here from San Fransisco with her husband, my old nephew Ari, just to come for Seder. Nicole made a recipe from her family, charoset that we’d never had before with dates, figs, apricots, almonds, honey and wine. I think next year we’ll be adding this to our regular line-up and  scratching tzimmes from the menu.

Our house was spectacularly alive with 22 friends and family. That’s a lot for a table to live up to, and I think we did alright.

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Ingberlach

When I look at this fragile recipe card I can practically smell my grandmother Mollye’s home: honey and Fannie May chocolates, mixed with the subtle aroma of her mahogany furniture. This recipe, like most in her card box, is short on directions. Only because I was her helper during her later years, do I have any sense of what to do. What is omitted here is that she used to go to my grandfather’s bar and take out his bottle of whiskey. Using her hands, she’d pat down the wooden board with some of the alcohol, and would do the same to the top of the burning hot mixture. Nana claimed that the alcohol would act as a coolant. So now when I make the Passover ingberlach I open up that same bar, which I have inherited, and am met with the aroma of mahogany while I look for some of my husband’s whiskey.

I waited for a dry day, just like Nana noted on the back side of the recipe card:

This is the finished product. You need strong teeth to bite into this candy. After it cools, tear off little pieces and coat them with a mixture of sugar and ginger.

If you’d enjoy the complete recipe—and an excellent how-to video of the process—please visit the Apple iTunes store to download my app, iNosh. Here’s the link for that:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/inosh/id777362589?ls=1&mt=8

I’m donating half of the proceeds to Mazon, A Jewish Response to Hunger.

And here’s a preview of some of the content on the app. For now, it’s only available for iPad users.

iNosh blog ad v2

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With Passover beginning in three days, I continued with my preparations today by visiting several grocery stores, calling my sister every 20 minutes to ask was she bringing the horseradish? kosher wine? cucumbers? and cooking up some eingie. My grandmother, Mollye, made eingie for the entire family every year. She made it for us and also shipped it to California to her son’s family. Later my mother, Ruth, took over the eingie duty, making it ahead and shipping it to her kids. Now I make the eingie.

Eingie is short for eingemacht, which is Yiddish for preserve. In this case it is an apricot-pineapple jam, something like a marmalade in consistency. In our family we spoon it liberally on top of fried matzo and on matzo meal pancakes. Other families eat their Passover breakfast matzo plain, but to me these dishes just don’t taste right without a large spoonful of eingie.

While I was running around town today I found myself close to my mother’s nursing home. She has dementia, and visiting her always makes me sad, so I don’t go to see her very often. Today I felt the need to see her, to make that connection to the women who came before me, to hold her hand and let her know that I am making the eingie this year.

Our traditional eingie is on the left. On the right is a batch made with dried cherries — something new that I think my brother-in-law Leo will especially enjoy.

If you’d enjoy the recipe, please visit the Apple iTunes store to download my app, iNosh. Here’s the link for that:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/inosh/id777362589?ls=1&mt=8

I’m donating half of the proceeds to Mazon, A Jewish Response to Hunger.

And here’s a preview of some of the content on the app. For now, it’s only available for iPad users.

iNosh blog ad v2

 

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A simple, rainy-day supper. My mom’s vegetable soup is all vegies. Just cut up some onions, carrots, celery and potatoes. Add a couple cans of chopped tomatoes, frozen peas and beans, some chopped parsley if you have it, a handful of rice and a handful of oats (to thicken). I throw in a handful of black beans. Cover it all with some water and let it cook for 3 or 4 hours. Add salt, basil, garlic and pepper.

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Polka dotted pasta with ribbons of zucchini and chard

Tonight is pasta night. The trick was to look for something fresh for a vegetable, and today the chard and zucchini looked lovely. Cutting the zucchini and chard into long ribbons makes it easy to fork them up together with the pasta. Even Joe, who doesn’t much care for either of these vegetables, got some mixed in with the noodles and thought that they added a lot of flavor.

I decided on teeny-tiny meatballs, little polka dots to dot the dish, dredged in fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. It took some patience, but I was determined to keep them very small, and it only took 15 minutes to make the little marble-sized balls. I used ground turkey, mixed with some garlic, bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Baking them on some of that non-stick foil (I really like that product), made them really low fat. Just use your favorite marinara sauce to keep things simple.

I thought of this dinner last night while I was going to sleep. I love the contrast in shapes, the variety of color, the nutritional value of the dark green vegetables, and the whimsical name. Every one was happy to give it a try.

Make marble-sized meatballs. Turn on the radio, be patient, and this should only take you 15 minutes. It's well worth the effort. Roll the little balls around in a bowl of finely chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. They only take about 10 minutes to bake in a 375 degree oven.

Vegie ribbons

Cut the zucchini and chard into skinny ribbons. Saute in olive oil with some fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Do this while the meatballs are in the oven.

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