Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Basic Passover

My family has come to love celebrating Passover as we work through this week building up to Easter. After a simplified Seder with a retelling of the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, we eat a simple meal inspired by the traditional Seder plate, to remember Jesus' Last Supper and as a gesture of unity with those yearning for freedom everywhere.

And now that daughters are away during this time of year, they've asked that I post the  basic recipes our family has come to love so we can be united even from a distance.

(For more authentic Passover menus,
please look at Epicurious)

Seder Plate
sprigs of parsley
salt water
radicchio pieces
lamb shank (which is not eaten by modern observant Jews, see more info)
3 matzah bread wrapped in a napkin

This year I think we'll try making chicken soup with matzoh balls (which is traditional) and griddled eggs (which are not) though salted hardboiled eggs are. But the following are the recipes that have lasted our several years of experimenting.

Barley and Lamb
(2 hours in oven)

Roasted lamb is not kosher for Passover
ever since the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed,
but would have been included in Jesus' historical meal.
Barley is not kosher for Passover, especially cooked wet like this,
but Passover was timed to coincide with the barley harvest.
Butter is dairy, so never kosher with meat.

We still like this.

It's nice that it can finish unattended in the oven
while we go through the lengthy
Passover festivities before the meal.

2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup barley, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 medium onions, chopped
1 pound lamb stewing meat, boneless and trimmed of fat, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups chicken stock, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ̊.
  2. Brown barley in butter. Set aside in 2-quart casserole dish.
  3. Saute garlic and onion mixture and add to barley.
  4. Generously sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.
  5. Brown lamb in olive oil then place atop barley mixture.
  6. Pour 3 cups chicken stock over the meat. Cover casserole dish and bake for approximately 1 hour.
  7. Add the last 3 cups of chicken stock, recover, and bake for 1 more hour.
  8. Dish is done when the lamb is tender with some chicken stock remaining. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Parsley, Radicchio, and Napa Cabbage Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

This was surprisingly tasty -- we loved the lemony dressing. 
Honey was my change from the original found in Gourmet 2003.

1½ Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
¼  teaspoon honey
¼  teaspoon salt
¼  teaspoon black pepper
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage (½ lb; from 1 head)
4½& cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (3 large bunches)
2 cups thinly sliced radicchio

  1. Whisk together lemon juice, zest, sugar, salt, and pepper until sugar is dissolved, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.
  2. Just before serving, toss cabbage, parsley, and radicchio in a large bowl with just enough dressing to coat, then season with salt and pepper.

Charoseth (spicy)

Also spelled haroseth, a dried fruit and nut paste 
that symbolizes the mortar Israelite slaves used 
when they labored in Egypt. 
Used as a condiment, rather like chutney, 
this very spicy version is from Yemen. 

⅔ cup dried Mission figs (6 oz)
⅔ cup dried apricots (6 oz)
⅓ cup pitted dates (4 oz)
1⅓ cups walnuts (4 oz), finely chopped, and cooled

¼ cup kosher grape juice (part can be balsamic vinegar for more zing) 
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger

  1. Chop together figs, apricots, and dates. 
  2. Mix with walnuts, juice, and vinegar.
  3. Sprinkle spices evenly over mixture and stir until combined well. 
  4. Can be made 3 days ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.

 I'm very fond of this pan-Mediterranenan Sephardic version
based on a recipe by Adeena Sussman,
Epicurious March 2006.

Charoseth (banana)

20 pitted dates (preferrably Medjool) 
3 bananas
½ cup golden raisins, chopped 
¼ cup kosher grape juice (part can be balsamic vinegar for more zing) 
3 Tablespoons date syrup (silan) or honey  
½ cup walnuts, toasted
½ cup unsalted shelled pistachios, toasted
½ cup whole almonds, toasted
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves

  1. In food processor, purée dates until smooth.
  2. Add bananas, raisins, grape juice, and honey and process to combine.
  3. Add walnuts, pistachios, almonds, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves and process until smooth.
  4. Keep covered, in refrigerator, until ready to serve.

Or if you want something more tame, try this traditional
Ashkenazi version based on a recipe by Adeena Sussman,
Epicurious March 2006. 

A pinch of salt is sometimes desirable.  

Charoseth (traditional)

3 medium Honeycrisp, Gala, or Jonathan apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced 
1½ cups walnut halves, lightly toasted, cooled,and coarsely chopped
½ cup kosher grape juice ((part can be balsamic vinegar)
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins, chopped (or more)
zest from one orange (optional but sensational)&nbsp

  1. Mix everything together.  
  2. Keep covered, in refrigerator, until ready to serve. 

In addition, we usually serve honey or vanilla yogurt 
with pomegranate mixed in, if available
Otherwise,  just the yogurt with chopped mint. 

And then, of course, dessert . . .
which we have decided over the years simply must be
  Almond Pomegranate Thumbprint Cookies.