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Passover, the Jewish spring festival commemorating the liberation of the Jews from Egyptian slavery, begins this year on March 30 and ends April 7th and the foods eaten—and not eaten--during this holiday represent long-held traditions.

“Passover and bread don’t go in the same sentence,” my friend Carrie Bachman when I ask if she has some Passover recipes to share. “Do you mean matzah?”

Indeed, the foods to be avoided during the holiday include any leavened product using raising agents such as pasta, bread, cereal and wheat crackers but matzah, an unleavened bread, is often part of the meal

Food has meaning and the foods representing Passover include Charoset — often a mixture of chopped nuts, grated apples and cinnamon mixed with sweet red wine which represents the mortar and brick Hebrew slaves used to erect the storehouses and pyramids of Egypt, Beitzah or hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water as a sign of mourning for the destruction of their temple, Karpas, a green springtime vegetable and Maror and Chazeret — bitter herbs such as freshly grated horseradish, endive and romaine lettuces.

For Passover recipes go to nwi.com/blogs and read the rest of this blog. 

Whether we’re Jewish or not, it’s always fun to explore a culinary culture and these recipes that Carrie shared do just that.

Smoked Trout, Beet, & Radish Matzo Tartines

(From Just Cook It!: 145 Built-to-Be-Easy Recipes That Are Totally Delicious by Justin Chapple. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.)

Serves: 4

½ cup mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, plus snipped chives for sprinkling

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh horseradish or drained prepared horseradish

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 pieces of matzo

1 (8-ounce) package smoked trout, skin and bones discarded, flesh flaked

4 small steamed beets (from one 6- to 8-ounce package), thinly sliced

4 radishes, thinly sliced

Directions: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, and horseradish. Season the mayonnaise with salt and pepper.

Spread the mayonnaise on the matzo and arrange the trout, beets, and radishes on top. Sprinkle with snipped chives and season with salt and pepper. Break the matzo into pieces and serve.

Variation: Instead of smoked trout, use a can of tuna or sardines in olive oil. Just drain off the oil and break the fish into chunks.

The following recipes are courtesy of Once Upon a Chef, The Cookbook: 100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes by Jenn Segal (Chronicle, April 2018).

Curried Roasted Carrots

Serves: 4 to 6

2 pounds medium carrots, peeled and cut into thirds on the diagonal

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon honey, or to taste

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a 13-by-18‑inch baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil for easy cleanup.

Directly on the prepared baking sheet, toss the carrots with the oil, curry powder, and salt until evenly coated. Roast, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula a few times to prevent sticking and burning, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Drizzle the honey over the carrots and stir to coat evenly. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Transfer the carrots to a platter and serve.

Moroccan-Style Brisket with Dried Fruit & Capers

One (4- to 6-lb) flat-cut brisket

1 heaping tablespoon kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (okay to substitute matzo cake meal)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 medium yellow onions, cut into slices 1/2 in thick

2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons paprika

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1-1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

6 carrots, peeled and quartered on the diagonal

14 dried apricots

12 pitted prunes

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.

Season the brisket on both sides with the salt and pepper. Lightly dust with the flour, turning to coat both sides evenly.

In a heavy flameproof roasting pan or ovenproof enameled cast-iron pot just large enough to hold the brisket, carrots, and dried fruits snugly, heat the oil over medium‑high heat. Add the brisket to the pan, fatty-side down, and sear until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a pair of tongs and a large fork, flip the brisket over and sear the other side in the same manner.

Transfer the brisket to a platter, and then add the onions to the pan. (If the pan seems dry, add a few tablespoons of water.) Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the onions are softened and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the brown sugar, paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne to the onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute more. Add 1 cup water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat and place the brisket, fatty‑side up, and any accumulated juices from the platter on top of the onions. Spread the tomato paste evenly over the brisket, and then scatter the garlic around it. Cover the pan very tightly with heavy‑duty aluminum foil or a lid, transfer to the oven, and cook for 1½ hours.

Carefully transfer the brisket to a cutting board (leave the oven on). Using an electric or very sharp knife, cut the meat across the grain on a diagonal into thin slices (aim for 1⁄8 to 1/4 in thick). Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice. The end result should resemble the original unsliced brisket leaning slightly backward. Scatter the carrots, apricots, prunes, and capers around the edges of the pot and baste with the sauce; cover tightly with the foil or lid and return to the oven.

Lower the heat to 325°F and cook the brisket until it is fork‑tender, 1¾ to 2½ hours. Transfer the brisket to a serving platter, and then sprinkle with parsley. If you’re not planning to serve the brisket right away, let it cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: If the sauce seems greasy, transfer the meat and vegetables to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce into a bowl and let sit until the fat rises to the top. Using a small ladle, spoon out the fat. Pour the skimmed gravy back over the meat.

Make ahead: The brisket can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerated. Reheat the brisket in a 300°F oven until hot, about 45 minutes. Brisket also freezes well for up to 2 months; just be sure to defrost in the refrigerator 2 days ahead of time.

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