Eggplant Casserole for Passover

1 large onion

3 Tablespoons oil

1 medium eggplant, peeled and then cut into cubes or thin slices

1/4 cup diced green pepper

11 oz tomato-mushroom sauce (or any jarred Kosher for Passover sauce you want)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 1/2 cups matzah farfel *

Saute onions in oil until tender. Combine onions, eggplant, green pepper, tomato-mushroom sauce, and seasoning. Cook, covered, for 15 min or until eggplant is tender. Stir in tomatoes. Alternately layer vegetable mixture and farfel, beginning and ending with the vegetable mixture in a 2 quart baking dish (9 x 13 size).

Bake at 350 uncovered for 25 min.

* Farfel is small pellet- or flake-shaped pasta used in Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine. It is made from an egg noodle dough and is frequently toasted before being cooked. It can be served in soups or as a side dish. In the United States, it can also be found pre-packaged as egg barley.

Matzah farfel is simply matzah broken into small pieces. The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Hasidic movement, ate farfel every Friday night because the word was similar to the word farfaln which means “wiped out, over and finished”.

Basic Halva

Halva is a confection made from raw tehina and sugar, sometimes stabilized with additives.  In Israel, you’ll see halva stalls with huge slabs in every imaginable flavor, from rose water to pistachio to chocolate to coffee.

2 cups sugar
½ vanilla bean, scraped
Zest of 1 lemon
1½ cups tehina
Pinch kosher salt

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Have ready another sheet of parchment paper.

Combine the sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest with ½ cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, until the mixture registers 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.

While the sugar syrup is cooking, place the tehina and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat on medium speed.

When the sugar syrup reaches 245 degrees carefully stream it into the tehina with the mixer running. Mix until the syrup is incorporated and the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Working quickly with a flexible heatproof spatula, transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Press the top of the halva flat with the sheet of parchment paper and your hands. Let cool completely to room temperature. Cut into squares and store at room temperature, well wrapped in plastic wrap.

Will keep for up to a week.

Easy Latkes

This recipe is for a classic, unadorned latkes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Russet potatoes (about 1 pound), scrubbed and cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1 large onion (8 ounces), peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt), plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Safflower or other oil, for frying

Preparation:

  1. Using a food processor with a coarse grating disc, grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer the mixture to a clean dishtowel and squeeze and wring out as much of the liquid as possible.
  2. Working quickly, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder and pepper, and mix until the flour is absorbed.
  3. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, pour in about 1/4 inch of the oil. Once the oil is hot (a drop of batter placed in the pan should sizzle), use a heaping tablespoon to drop the batter into the hot pan, cooking in batches. Use a spatula to flatten and shape the drops into discs. When the edges of the latkes are brown and crispy, about 5 minutes, flip. Cook until the second side is deeply browned, about another 5 minutes. Transfer the latkes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with salt while still warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Chicken Marbella

One of the recipes in The Silver Palate Cookbook published in 1981 was for Chicken Marbella, which was apparently the most popular dish at the Silver Palate. It ended up becoming a Shabbat dinner and Passover Seder staple throughout America.  While that may seem odd, it actually makes a good bit of sense. There’s a strong tradition of pairing fruit and meat in Jewish culinary history, and as a Jew Sheila Lukins was a part of this tradition.  Here is my riff on that recipe for a large group of people.

  • 4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), cut up
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish olives
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup of good white wine

Marinate chicken with all but last three ingredients in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange in a single layer.  Sprinkle brown sugar, pour white wine around and bake for 50-60 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a platter.  Moisten with a few tablespoons of pan juices.  Sprinkle parsley over top.  Reduce pan juices and use as a gravy.

Mexican Shakshouka

Shakshouka typically is a simple and quick North African dish of eggs poached in a spicy stew of tomatoes and peppers.  Here is a riff of the classical dish with Mexican flavors.

  • 1 1/2 pounds sausage (Turkey sausage if you keep kosher)
  • butter
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 4-6 tomatoes, diced
  • salt, pepper, sugar to taste
  • cheese, typically cheddar
  • 8 eggs

brown sausage. Add peppers, onions and salsa.  Stir in tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar to taste.  Place cheese slices on top to melt.  Break eggs over melted cheese.  Cover.

Passover Slow Cooked Brisket with Red Wine and Mustard

In honor of Passover I am offering the delectable version of brisket. To all of those of the Jewish faith Happy beginning of Passover. Of course this dish can be prepared anytime of year.  This version takes some time so plan ahead, it’s worth it.

  • Brisket (about 6 pounds)
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 carrots sliced into 3 chunks each
  • 4 large quartered onions
  • 6 ribs celery with the greens in 2-inch chunks
  • 5 cloves smashed and peeled garlic
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons grated horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • Mushrooms (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Season the brisket with salt and pepper, don’t skimp on seasonings. Add a few tablespoons of the olive oil to a braising pan. Warm the pan over medium heat, then sear the brisket on all sides, this takes some time.  When the brisket is mostly browned on all sides, remove it from the pan and set aside. Searing the brisket is really optional, but it is traditional.

There should be enough fat rendered in the pan, but if not add a few more tablespoons of oil. Add 3 of the carrots, the onions, celery, and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, stirring and sprinkling with more salt and pepper.

Stir together the wine vinegar, wine, honey, grated horseradish, and mustard in a bowl, then pour the liquid into the pan and deglaze, gently scraping up any stuck bits with a spoon (preferably wooden). Simmer for about3 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced.

Return the brisket to the pot and add enough beef broth to just cover the brisket. Add the bay leaves, thyme, and parsley and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and put in the oven for about 4 hours. At the end of the fourth hour, add the remaining carrots, and return to the oven for one more hour.

Remove from the oven and let sit until the brisket reaches room temperature.  Cut the brisket against the grain into slices about an quarter of an inch thick.

When ready to serve, remove the fat that has accumulated on top of the brisket. Heat the liquid in the pan and reduce by half, then strain out the vegetables if you want. Return the cut brisket to the pan, heat, ladle the carrots on top, pour the sauce over, and serve.

Noodle Kugel

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-12 ounce package of wide or extra wide egg noodles
  • 2 Tbsp jarred garlic
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • paprika

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add 3 heaping Tbsp of olive oil to baking dish and place pan in oven for the oil to heat. This will make for a crispier kugel.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook noodles as directed on package, around 7-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While noodles are cooking, whisk together eggs, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Add cooked noodles to egg mixture and mix gently until completely coated. Remove baking dish with hot oil from the oven and add noodles to the dish. It will sizzle slightly.

Sprinkle top with paprika. Bake for 40 minutes uncovered or until noodles are desired crispiness. Serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!

Israeli Salad

Israeli Salad is really a misnomer as it’s Arab, but extremely popular in Israel.  A simple salad that is served at pretty much every meal.

  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cups chopped cucumbers
  • Chopped onion optional to taste (traditionally no onion)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well to combine and serve.

Israeli Style Hummus

** Tehina is the Israeli word for the Greek word tahini.  **

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 teaspoons baking soda
1½ cups Tehina Sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Paprika
Chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil, for drizzling

Tehina Sauce:

¾ cup lemon juice
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 generous cups tehina
½ teaspoon ground cumin

Add the tehina to the lemon juice in the bowl, along with the cumin and 1 teaspoon of the salt.  Whisk the mixture together until smooth adding water slowly to thin it out. Whish until you have a perfectly smooth, creamy, thick sauce.  Add more cumin and salt to taste.

Hummus Directions:

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak the chickpeas overnight at room temperature. Drain the chickpeas and rinse.

Place the chickpeas in a large pot with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and add cold water to cover by at least a few inches. Bring the chickpeas to a boil over high heat, skimming off any impurities  that rises to the surface. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and simmer for about 1 hour, until they are a bit overcooked and a little mushy.  Drain.

Combine the chickpeas, tehina sauce, salt, and cumin in a food processor. Puree the hummus for several minutes, until it is smooth and  creamy.

Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil, cumin and fresh parsley to taste.