Posts Tagged ‘Passover recipes’

Back with Tortilla Soup

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

I'm back!

I’m BACK!

This week I returned to cook once more with my friends at Mass Appeal. I do a lot of fun things in the winter, but I don’t cook on TV. My Hawley hill is a bit hard to negotiate in icy weather.

Ice is now a thing of the past, however (and wasn’t too much with us this past winter anyway!). The daffodils waft in the breeze, my dog Cocoa has a new spring in her step, and I’m back with co-hosts Seth Stutman and Ashley Kohl.

I straddled two holidays for my Wednesday segment. We’re still in Passover so I made my delicious matzo crunch. (I have shared the recipe before on this blog.)

The gang at Mass Appeal wanted to look ahead to Cinco de Mayo—and so did I. So I revised my previous recipe for tortilla soup. I love the way this soup came out! It’s warm enough for the cool temperatures we’re having yet spicy enough to evoke Mexico and the American southwest.

If you forget about the cheese and the tortilla crisps, it’s reasonably healthy as well.

Here is my new recipe—and below I am sharing the videos for both dishes I made.

Happy Passover. Happy Cinco de Mayo. Happy SPRING! And happy birthday to my dear friend Peter.

tsweb

Tinky’s Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

for the soup:

extra-virgin olive oil as needed for frying the vegetables
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
6 small (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin (ground or seeds)
1 quart chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (10 ounces) tomatoes with green chiles
1 chipotle in adobo (more if you like), roughly chopped
canola or grapeseed oil as needed for frying tortilla strips
2 cups cooked chicken in strips or chunks (optional but good)
2 cups cooked corn kernels (optional but good)

for garnish:

corn tortilla strips made from 3 of the tortillas
cilantro leaves (optional)
sour cream (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese or queso fresco (optional)
lime wedges to squeeze for juice

Instructions:

In a 4-quart pot or Dutch oven heat a little olive oil. Add the onions, the garlic, and the green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender (5 minutes or so).

Cut the tortillas into strips. Add the strips from 3 tortillas to the vegetable mixture (set the others aside), along with the chili powder and the cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another minute. Add the chicken stock, salt, tomatoes, and chipotle, and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the soup, almost covered, for 25 minutes.

While the soup is simmering use the remaining tortilla strips to make a garnish of fried yumminess. Let them sit on paper towels for at least 15 minutes to dry out; then fry them in oil until they are crispy. Set them aside to drain on the paper towels.

Remove the soup from the heat, and puree it with an immersion blender. (You may also use a regular blender as long as you blend carefully in batches.) Stir in the chicken and the corn, if you are using them, and return the soup to the boil. Ladle into bowls.

Garnish the soup with your homemade tortilla strips plus any other garnish of your choice. Serves 4.

And here are the videos!

 [youtube]https://youtu.be/a9T6OpaJwdg[/youtube]

Les carottes sont cuites

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

carrot seedsweb

Literally, the French expression “les carottes sont cuites” means that the carrots are cooked. Figuratively, it means that the jig is up, that whatever one is discussing is all over and can’t be changed, that one is saying “ENOUGH ALREADY!” We can hope in this case that it means that our long winter has been cooked.

The cooked carrots in the soup below are ideal for the sort of spring we have had so far in the northeast. In this chilly weather soup calls to us.

The curry powder and cumin lend an Indian tang to the mundane root vegetables, and the finished product pleases the eye and the palate.

If you don’t have a blender or immersion blender on hand (my sister-in-law Leigh and I couldn’t find one the first time we served this, although it turned up for subsequent meals!), a potato masher will render the potatoes and carrots small enough to make them sippable.

This colorful soup would make a lovely first course for an Easter dinner or a Seder (if you keep Kosher and want to use it in your Seder you might want to substitute olive oil for the butter).

By the way, Margie from Shreveport, Louisiana, won The Cast-Iron Skillet Cookbook. She seemed very pleased when I wrote to her. Thanks to all those who entered the drawing for this book! I’ll try to have another one soon.

Meanwhile, happy Easter, happy Passover, and happy spring! Warmer weather WILL come….

carrot soupweb

Curried Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

1 stick butter (you may certainly use less butter if you like; this makes a very rich soup!)
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, roughly diced (2 large potatoes make a heartier soup)
2 pounds carrots, roughly diced (between 5 and 6 cups)
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt (and/or to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 generous tablespoon curry powder
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions:

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven melt the butter. Sauté the onions and garlic; then stir in the potatoes and carrots. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, and then add the stock and the salt.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the soup, and reduce the heat. Simmer until the vegetables are tender (about 1/2 hour).

Puree the soup, either in batches in a blender or in its pot using an immersion blender. Stir in the spices, and heat the soup again briefly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Just before serving add the lemon juice.

Serves 6 to 8.

If you don’t use all your soup at the first serving, you may certainly refrigerate the leftovers for another meal. When you reheat the soup it tends to become very thick and erupt. Feel free to add a bit more stock to settle it down. You may also want to add more spices as their flavor tends to dissipate over time.

soupinpotweb

Matzo Mania

Monday, March 29th, 2010

 
Passover begins tonight. This eight-day holiday means many things to many people: the survival of the Jewish people in the book of Exodus, the overall history of Judaism, and even the last supper of Jesus.
 
For me, it’s a time to remember my Jewish relatives–particularly my grandparents, whom we always joined for Passover when I was a child.
 
As a food writer, I appreciate the way the whole holiday is structured around food. Each thing eaten at the Seder has its own meaning. In addition, the practice of eating no bread other than unleavened matzo during Passover commemorates the departure of the Jews from Egypt. Their bread didn’t have time to rise.
 
It is also a sort of penance. Eating matzo, pretty much the plainest of breads imaginable, reminds Jews of the trials of their forebears.
 
My grandmother served matzo without much adornment during Passover, occasionally sprucing it up with a little whipped cream cheese for breakfast or lunch.
 
Despite this tradition, I’m always tickled by the idea of getting a little fancier with matzo.
 
This year I have made two simple “matzo plus” dishes I’d like to share with you.
 
The first is Matzo Pizza. I got this idea from the website Kosher.com. Kosher.com’s resident chef, Jamie Geller, created a tasty standard pizza with her matzo—vegetables, cheese, tomato sauce.
 
I’m not such a fan of tomato-based pizza that I can’t wait eight days to have it. I do love asparagus, however. I’m a sucker for the asparagus pizza served in spring at the Green Emporium in Colrain, Massachusetts.
 
That pizza inspired this one. Matzo will never replace yeast crusts in my kitchen year round, but during Passover (or when one is in a hurry) it makes an acceptable, crispy platform for cheese and vegetables.
 
My second recipe today is a treat I’ve enjoyed for years when made by other people, Matzo Crunch. (Beware: many call it Matzo Crack because of its highly addictive properties!)
 
Marcy Goldman of BetterBaking.com invented this confection, which I have adapted a little. I have seen it covered with nuts (pressed into the chocolate when you sprinkle the optional salt). My friend Lark Fleury even makes it during other times of year with saltine crackers.
 
Marcy maintains that you can make the crunch with margarine if you keep kosher and want to eat it with meat. I think the butter adds so much flavor that I would advise you NOT to try the margarine. Just don’t eat the crunch with a meat meal!
 
Whenever and however you make it, I advise you to make sure that you have lots of people to whom you can give the crunch. It really is addictive—and very, very rich. I love to make it—and I love to get it out of the house FAST.
 
Happy Passover……
 
 

Springtime Matzo Pizza

 
Ingredients:
 
10 thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
a splash of extra-virgin olive oil
3 basil leaves, torn into pieces
a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, cut into small rings
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1-1/2 matzos (the whole matzo should be halved for easier serving so that you have three halves)
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly oil the foil.
 
Sauté the asparagus in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
 
Stir in the basil, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest; then toss in the ripe olives and feta.
 
Place the three halves of matzo on the prepared cookie sheet, making sure that they fit together as well as possible. Sprinkle most of the mozzarella cheese on top of the matzo.
 
Spread the asparagus mixture over the cheese, and top with a little more mozzarella. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts nicely.
 

Serves 1 for dinner or 2 to 3 for lunch.

 

 
Ingredients:
 
6 pieces matzo, broken into several strips each
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet, white, or some of each—even milk if you like, and I like)
coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional but yummy)
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil, and place parchment paper or silicone mats over the foil. Place the pieces of matzo on top.
 
In a medium saucepan combine the butter and brown sugar. Bring them to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
 
Spoon the sugar mixture over the matzo, spreading it with a spatula to cover the matzo as well as you can. Bake for 15 minutes.
 
Remove the matzo from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. After 5 minutes, spread the chocolate with a knife. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top if you wish for additional crunch and flavor.
 

Allow the crunch to cool; then break it into more pieces. Makes about 40 small pieces. Don’t forget to give most of them away!

 

 

 

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Nana’s Matzo Ball Soup

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

matzo-ball-soupweb

Food makes memory concrete in a way nothing else can–except perhaps music. When we make or taste a dish we forge a physical, sensory link to the person who inspired or gave us the recipe. We can almost reach out and touch the dead, nourished by their love.

Laura at the blog The Spiced Life understands this connection. She is hosting a blogging event in which she asks food bloggers to write about their grandmothers’ culinary accomplishments. I went to my paternal grandmother’s house every spring for Passover so I tend to think of her a lot at this time of year.

The Logo for Laura's Blogging Event

The Logo for Laura’s Blogging Event

My father’s mother wasn’t what I’d call kitchen oriented. As a young woman she lived a busy life outside the home instead of cooking. We were told she had been a spy in her youth (or at least a smuggler—the tales were all a little murky).

Sarah Hiller Weisblat came to this country from Poland in 1920 with her husband and three small children. Her brothers had already immigrated and set up a business in New York City; they gave my grandfather a job so that he could support the family.

My grandmother had many skills. She and her mother, who also immigrated (although she refused to learn English), ran their family and eventually their new neighborhood.

My grandmother radiated competence. I recently learned from my father’s cousin Herb that she delivered him. I don’t know whether a midwife or doctor was unavailable or whether this was something my Nana did on a semi-regular basis!

She was also diplomatic (perhaps a hangover from her days as a spy). When my Jewish father fell in love with my Christian mother, neither set of parents was thrilled. It wasn’t a time when a lot of intermarriage took place. Nevertheless, my grandmother welcomed my mother to the family and defended her against any criticism. She recognized a fellow smart, able woman when she saw one.

As I noted above, my grandmother didn’t do a lot in the kitchen, at least not by the time I met her. Perhaps her mother was the family cook. My father used to recall seeing a carp swimming in the bathtub in his childhood just before it was time to make gefilte fish. In my youth the gefilte fish came out of a jar.

(Although I’m a fan of fresh foods, I think in retrospect this was probably just as well; I would have yelled bloody murder at bath time if I’d seen a fish in the porcelain before me, no matter how thoroughly the tub had been scrubbed!)

I do remember two things that my grandmother made well and on a regular basis—pot roast and matzo-ball soup. The matzo ball soup was particularly visible at Passover since the most prominent food on the Passover table is matzo, unleavened bread. When the Jews were finally allowed to leave Egypt in the Exodus story, they were in such a hurry that they baked their bread without letting it rise. In commemoration of this event their descendants eat no bread except matzo during Passover, which lasts for eight days. Matzo meal (ground matzo) is a staple of Passover cooking.

For the non-cognoscenti, matzo-ball soup is a bit like chicken-noodle soup. The balls resemble dumplings in chicken broth. The best matzo-ball soup—the kind everyone’s grandmother (including mine) used to make—is created with homemade chicken or turkey stock. You may use a high-quality broth from the store, however.

The trick to this soup is not to make the matzo balls too big; if you do, they swell up and overwhelm your soup! You may of course jazz up the soup by adding chopped vegetables and/or a little ginger to the matzo balls. As a sodium freak I actually like to add a drop of soy sauce to my stock. My grandmother made basic matzo-ball soup, however, so basic matzo-ball soup this is.

When I make or taste it I am transported back to the home at which we visited my grandparents in Long Beach, New York. This tiny house always seemed to expand to accommodate the many relatives and friends who came to visit, particularly at Passover. My grandmother’s Seder table there was a symbol of her hospitality, of her generous personality, and of the ties that brought family and friends together at holidays. It was never without matzo-ball soup.

The Weisblat Family a few months before coming from Poland to the United States. From left to right: Sarah, Selma, Benny, Baby Abe (my dad!), and William (then known as Wolf)

The Weisblat Family a few months before coming from Poland to the United States. From left to right: Sarah, Selma, Benny, Baby Abe (my father!), and William (then known as Wolf)

Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
a small amount of finely chopped onion (optional)
2 tablespoons soda water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or melted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup matzo meal
6 cups chicken stock

Instructions:

In a small bowl, beat the eggs.With a balloon whisk, whisk in the parsley, dill, onion (if using), soda water, oil, salt, and pepper.Then stir in the matzo meal.Cover the mixture, and refrigerate it for at least an hour but not more than 6 hours.

Oil your hands, and shape the dough into small balls (about 1/2 inch across). Pop the balls CAREFULLY into salted boiling water.

Boil the balls, covered, for 25 minutes over medium-low heat.Do not peek at the balls while they are cooking. Drain the matzo balls.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil, covered, and put the balls in it. Boil, covered, for at least 15 minutes. Serves 4 to 5.

My Grandparents Later in Life (perhaps the 1940s?)

My Grandparents Later in Life (perhaps the 1940s?)

Aunt Fox’s Hawley Haroseth

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

hawley-harosethweb

 

We’re so used to artificial light that we forget how many traditional holidays are based on the cycles of the sun. Easter and Passover (and just about every spring holiday there is) are examples. Both holidays are tied to the vernal equinox. On that welcome day we finally achieve parity between dark and light and start lurching toward the golden days and gentle evenings of summer.

 

Like the vernal equinox itself, Passover and Easter mix dark and light. That mixture is key to the two festivals. The Jews’ flight from Egypt more than 3000 years ago is meaningless unless one understands the harsh slavery under which the Jewish people served the Pharaohs. The joy of Easter is possible because of the sorrow of Good Friday.

 

As a food writer and food lover I appreciate the centrality of food to both of these holidays, particularly Passover. Passover illustrates the connection we all feel but too seldom articulate between food and memory. Food is used at Passover to symbolize the history the holiday commemorates and to bring people together to remember this shared history.

 

The centerpiece of the holiday is the meal known as the Seder, in which families gather to retell the story of the departure from Egypt. Much of the Seder’s menu is prescribed by tradition, and during the meal the symbolism of each item on the table is explained.

 

A bitter herb (usually horseradish) symbolizes the hardship of the slaves’ life, for example. My personal favorite symbol, Haroseth (also spelled “charoset” and a variety of other ways), is a paste of fruits and nuts. It represents the mortar the Jews used to construct buildings—most famously the pyramids.

 

Many years ago my honorary Aunt Carolyn Fox brought this haroseth to a Seder at our home in Hawley, Massachusetts. Growing up I ate haroseth moistened with wine. As a lover of sweets I was thrilled with her use of grape juice instead. The last time I made it I used crangrape juice, adding a little New England tang to this Passover staple. Next time I’m thinking of using straight cranberry juice…….

 

 

The Haroseth

 

Ingredients:

 

2 tart apples, peeled and cored

1/2 cup pecans

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon grape (or crangrape or maybe cranberry) juice

 

Instructions:

 

Finely chop the apples and pecans separately; then chop them together to make even smaller pieces. Stir in the cinnamon, honey, and juice.

 

Spoon a bit of haroseth on a piece of matzo for each guest.

Makes 12 small servings.