Monthly Archives: March 2010

Dad’s Matzo Brie (Fried Matzo)

We heathens are introducing a new category today: “Mishpoke” or family. It turns out some of our kin wanted to write about their recipes in their own voice, and given that they dealt with us during our teenage years, we figured it was the least we could do. Today’s guest Mishpoke is none other than my father, Howard. Alternately known as How, Howie, daddio, Poppy and simply The Dad. When he offered to share his fried matzo recipe, I was thrilled as it was always a favorite of mine, whether it was being made by him or, when I was very young, by his dad, my grampa Max (always served with a side of individual servings of Smuckers jam that I now suspect had been pilfered from restaurants)… so without further ado here’s The Dad’s first post:

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Passover was always a time of mixed feelings for the Kushner “Kids” ~~ my two sisters and I. There were the interminably long and serious Seders at my Uncle Harold’s house when his dad, Uncle Louis, directed the Seder, and the subsequent less serious Seder with the emphasis on how much Manischevitz  Wine (not the watered down kind they usually gave the kids) you could sneak when Harold assumed the mantle of leadership. The first time you were asked to read the Four Questions (in Hebrew) also was a mixed bag — fear that you would mess up and pride when you performed flawlessly.
However, straightforward feelings of joy and anticipation came when my Dad came home with a five pound box of Matzos for Pesach. We knew that Fried Matzos were in the offing. Both Mom and Dad made it, but we kids always hoped Dad would make it ~~ His version was so crispy and good! His secret was a huge cast iron pan and excessive amounts of hydrogenated Crisco. Good Grief! I have tried to emulate his recipe for my kids and some of my grandkids (so far), leaving out the Crisco.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Breakfast, Holidays, Jewish, Mishpokhe, Parve, Passover

Hillel’s Kosher for Passover BLT Sandwich

Korech, Hillel’s sandwich at the Temple. It is said that when the Temple still stood in Jerusalem Hillel would combine matza, maror and the Pesach lamb into one in order to observe the mitzva of eating the sacrifice on matza and maror (Numbers 9:11). It might also be the case that he was hungry and dinner was still being organized in the kitchen.

Now, what if we still had a temple? What if we still made the sacrifice? What would a modern chef do with such a sandwich? I think the answer would be the kosher for passover BLT. I put this to the test by taking some of the lamb saddle from our butchering class and curing it with pink salt. Cured and smoked I then sliced it up and placed it on some homemade matza, with fresh parsley, horseradish mayo and of course fresh tomatoes.

Hillel would have asked for seconds.

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Filed under Jewish, Kashrut, Meat, Passover, Smoked, Snout to Tail

Passover Pomelo Bars

Think lemon bar, but not. What’s a pomelo? Wikipedia holds lots of fun facts about this Southeast Asian native fruit, but for the sake of simplicity: biggest citrus, grapefuit-esque but sweeter, DELICIOUS. I was inspired to create a Passover recipe using this pith-ful fruit because I think more people should know about the pomelo and it offers an opportunity to share a Passover tradition I implemented last year (included below). That said, this is a recipe developed by an amateur baker, so please feel free to tweak it as you see fit.

I also invite you to include the pomelo on your Passover table this year, accompanied by the following reading (that I adapted for my seder last year): Continue reading

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Charoset

Charoset

Ahh… Charoset… the glue that hold the Passover seder together. Or more figuratively, the mortar our enslaved ancestors used to hold the pyramids together and an essential item for your seder plate. I have yet to come across anyone who doesn’t love charoset. Perhaps it is the sweetness of the apples and honey, but probably it has to do with the fact that it is the first real food we get to eat during the Passover seder.  We have made it through the bulk of the haggadah, recited the kiddush, eaten the karpas, asked the four questions, spilled the wine for the plagues, eaten the maror and finally we get the hillel sandwich, which is the perfect appetizer for the meal to come.  I almost always make too much and end up eating it for snacks for days following Passover. There are many recipes for charoset, but all include some form of fruit, nuts, sugar or honey and a bit of wine. I like to make a fairly traditional Ashkenazi version with little personal touches.

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Matzah Candy

Matzah Candy

So I actually made a batch of this over a month ago for a friend and almost forgot that I had promised to post the recipe in time for Passover.  I make this delightfully simple matzah based candy every year, and it never fails to impress, but it is far from original so I’ll keep this post brief.  I originally tasted it made with saltine crackers as a kid and I, like many many other Jews, adapted the recipe using matzah. Variations on this  treat abound so get creative. I recently came across one that puts a layer of coconut in between the toffee and the cocolate, which I may try if I have some coconut left over from my soon to be made macaroons. If you want to be truly from scratch about this, you can use Gordon’s guide to making your own matzah, or you can skip that part and just buy a box.

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DIY Matzah

Three perfect maztot for your Seder

“Lo! this is the bread of our affliction.” That line comes from the Passover Seder Service or Hagadah (meaning a recitation). Now after a week of eating this stuff you may feel afflicted, but that is a result of not enough fiber (eat some prunes). Also you might feel afflicted by seeing the price of a box (or case) of Matzah. In that case I recommend that you make your own. It’s easier than you think and as an added bonus you can make it with high fiber flour, thus eliminating (if you pardon the pun) the other difficulty.

Matzah is intended to remind us of the Israelites who in their great haste to leave Egypt baked bread without letting it rise. Up until recently, raising bread was a matter of trying to entice the airborne yeast to settle and have kids on your dough, a time consuming process. It was slightly faster if you had a starter, but still could be 12-24 hours to get a dough frisky enough to make bread.

As a result Rabbinic instruction is that it should not take more than 18 minutes from the addition of the water to the finished matzah. If you work in small batches this turns out to be fairly easy. The resulting matzah is less like cardboard and more like what it was originally, rushed pita. For another take, check out Mark Bittman on matza.

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Gribenes

These are best enjoyed with a nice IPA

A few weeks ago Amiee and I went to learn how to butcher a lamb. It was fun and we learned a great deal about breaking down whole quadrupeds. But on a more immediate level we got to try some of Ryan Farr’s chicharrones. Now there is a Jewish version of this, gribenes. I have made them before, usually a result of using chicken thighs for something where the skins weren’t needed and I would slowly render them down and feed them to the kids (my son calls them “chicken chips”). But recently I was breaking down a whole chicken for sausages (post on the way) and I thought that I would try to remove the  skin in one go and then render that down. The results were astounding, so I am sharing the results here. By the way, its kosher for passover and you get about a half a cup of nice clean fat (schmatlz) to boot.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Deli, Meat, Snout to Tail

Corned Beef

Corned beef, cabbage and potatoes

It is that wonderful time of year where my Jewish and Irish heritages intersect in the culinary delight that is Corned Beef.  Corned beef began as a Jewish butcher/deli staple, but the original Irish dish was cabbage and bacon.  During the great period of  American immigration at the turn of the last century, Irish and Jewish immigrants tended to settle in nearby neighborhoods of major cities, like the Lower East Side of New York and the hometown of both my parents, the South Side of Chicago. The Irish immigrants found bacon in America to be expensive and discovered from their Jewish neighbors the joy of corned beef. Today corned beef and cabbage has become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day, and the grocery stores are piled high with pre-brined briskets with little spice packets included. Corned beef also remains a delight of the Jewish deli and the key ingredient for the most joyous of all Jewish sandwiches : The Reuben. I have started my own little tradition of brining a corned beef brisket to serve with cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day and then using the leftovers for Reubens. Much like anyone with with the smallest ounce of Irish blood, St. Patrick’s Day is the one time of year I fully embrace my Irish heritage. While my culinary taste run closer to the Kushner side of the family, once a year I proudly give thanks to the O’Brien side for the ability to hold my liquor and appreciate a fine whiskey, but, much like corned beef, I can thank both side for the recessive gene that gave me my red hair (and the unwavering talent for inflicting guilt).

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Filed under Deli, Fruit and Vegtables, Holidays, Meat

Kumquat Walnut Challah

Let’s get some chametz in before pesach!

Turns out, the kumquat is in season so I thought it would be fun to mix it into Amiee’s challah dough recipe. Why did I choose a seasonal fruit? Eating seasonally is something I’ve been trying to do a bit more of lately. Although our supermarkets allow us to buy foods grown virtually anywhere in the world all year round, these options are not the most sustainable. By purchasing local foods in-season, you eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles. Buying seasonal produce also provides an exciting opportunity to try new foods and to experiment with seasonal recipes.

The most common variety of kumquat is the Nagami, or oval kumquat, which grows to be about two inches long and an inch in diameter–so cute a tiny! Kumquats have a pale orange rind that’s edible; unlike other citrus, the rind is actually the sweetest part of the fruit! The inner flesh and juice are sour and contain seeds, which you shouldn’t eat, so when you make the puree make sure to take them out!

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Chocolate Orange Truffles for Passover

Chocolate Orange Truffles

This weekend I was headed to a potluck  Oscar party at my friends Penny and Bill’s house.  Penny is a wonderful cook and Bill might be even more obsessed with Cooks Illustrated than I am. Penny asked me to bring bread but I also wanted to try making something new since I would have a crowd ready to eat it. I was pursuing Chow.com’s Oscar party guide and came across their recipe for Orange Marmalade Truffles and decided to give them a try.

I have also been contemplating Passover foods since my local grocery store has started stocking the wide array of Manischewitz and Kedem kosher for Passover prepared foods.  If you thought my views on the kosher food business couldn’t get more vitriolic, you have never talked to me (or Dafna, for that matter) about kosher for Passover food. Gordon probably still has PTSD from the year Dafna and I threw temper tantrums outside his office yelling “we hate Passover” as he calmly tried to review the intricacies of the eating rules and we became more and more grossed out at the foods available. The scariest options tend to be the desserts and sweets with an odd array of candies and baked goods you would never consider edible any other time of year. In reality, I love Passover. Much like my fondness for Thanksgiving, I find holidays that revolve around meals and some table-side ritual, with little other requirements, to be the most fun.  And much like the rest of kosher food, kosher for Passover food can still be very tasty if you start with fresh ingredients and make it yourself. As I read the recipe for the truffles I realized with minor adjustments you could make these for Passover as an alternative to the  horrifying cakes and cookies made from matzo meal. I, on the other hand, enjoyed them with a little side of George Clooney in a tux.

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