Pesach. Ahhh. All that scrubbing, all that shopping, and most of all, all that cooking! How is it possible to keep Pesach costs to a minimum, while still maintaining a wide variety of foods that are both tasty and attractive? And how is it possible to keep Pesach cooking (relatively!) healthy, delicious, and even matzo meal and gluten free? In my newest cookbook, Pesach – Anything’s Possible! it’s entirely possible to do it all. With the advent of Pesach approaching, I’d like to share with you some outstanding recipes, some that are from my book and some that are not, to get you started making the tastiest and most satisfying Pesach you have ever had.
I’ve included a few ideas here that do contain matzo meal, for those readers who really enjoy using it, while the matzo meal free (otherwise known as ‘non Gebrochts‘) recipes, together with their photos, are all a sample from my cookbook.
This first recipe is a family favorite: my mother has been making it for over three decades. It is a bit of work, that’s true, but the results are so worth it. This can be made all year round, but in my parents’ home it was usually reserved for very special occasions, among them, Pesach.
Stuffed Veal Roast
1 veal breast with a pocket, about 7-8 lbs. - Ask for a meaty one, and since it has bones in it, this is not really that much meat
2 lbs.- (a little less than 1 kilo) ground veal
½ cup matzo meal
4 large onions
10 cloves garlic
½ cup of chopped fresh parsley
Another small bunch of fresh parsley, unchopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, stems removed
3 more sprigs fresh thyme, whole
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 bay leaves
4 celery stalks
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons paprika
4 oz. / ½ cup tomato sauce
Rinse the meat and wipe the pocket with a paper towel. Set aside.
Prepare the filling first. Start by sautéing the following in a little olive oil, for about 8-10 minutes, until clear: 1 onion diced, 4 cloves of garlic diced, 1-2 carrots diced, 2 stalks celery diced, and the red and yellow pepper. Then, add in the chopped fresh parsley, the fresh thyme, and the pepper and salt. Stir together and set this aside.
In a large bowl, mix the ground meat with ½ cup of matzo meal, the tomato sauce, and ¼ cup of the wine. Add the sautéed vegetables and mix together well using a wooden spoon. This is now your meat stuffing mixture.
A useful note is that if you can’t obtain ground veal, the stuffing is equally good using ground beef or ground chicken.
Spray a large roasting pan with Pam olive oil spray or smear a little olive oil on the bottom. Slice the remaining onion and garlic and spread it all over the bottom of the pan. Place the veal on top of the onions and fill the pocket with the meat filling. Set aside the remaining filling, which doesn’t fit, to use as a meat loaf. You do not have to sew the pocket up.
Season the top of the veal with olive oil, pepper and paprika, parsley, and a few springs of whole thyme. Place about 3-4 bay leaves around the sides of the veal. Add the remaining carrots and celery, chopped into chunks around the sides of the veal as well. Spread some onions and garlic also on the veal’s top. Add ½- to ¾ cup white wine to the bottom of the pan. Bake at 325°F / about 165°C for about 2 hours, covered.
Uncover and bake at 350°F/ 180°C to brown for about another 1-2 hours. Check to ensure that the juices do not completely evaporate. The veal is done when it tests fork tender. If the veal is still not done after this second step of baking it, or if it starts to dry out, recover it and allow it to stay covered for the remainder of the baking process.
The average cooking time is 5-6 hours total; this cooking time will render a very soft and tender roast. Less time will mean tougher meat.
If you wish to remove the bones before serving it, do so while it’s still warm. The bones are much easier to pull out this way. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before slicing, to get better slices. After it is cold, slice into nice thick slices. This freezes very well. Just reheat very thoroughly, covered, prior to serving.
To use the remainder of the ground meat mix as a meat loaf, just do the following: Spray a loaf pan with Pam or use olive oil. Shape the meat mix into a loaf. Pour some tomato sauce on the top. Add about 1/4c. wine to pan. Bake uncovered for about 1- ½ hours at 350° F and enjoy!
Here’s another fleishigs recipe that uses up those extra parts of the chicken, the little ‘fliegelach‘
Tangy Chicken Wings
1 medium onion, sliced into rings
20 chicken wings, rinsed and cleaned off as well as possible
½ cup honey
½ cup ketchup
½ cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons ginger
1 small onion, pureed
Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C.
Layer the onion rings into the bottom of a pan. Place the chicken wings on top of the onion rings.
Mix together all the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl. Smear this all over the chicken wings and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, until the chicken wings are cooked through. Alternately, if you have the extra time, make the sauce early on in the day and let the chicken wings marinate in it until you are ready to cook them. This cuts down on prep time later, as well as making them even tastier.
This also works well on a grill, although it will take less time to cook. Your kids will be licking their fingers on this one, asking for extra helpings!
Here’s a beautiful salad to make any greens-loving eater happy. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and makes a sensational presentation
Sweet and Tangy Spinach Grapefruit Salad
1 box or container (about 4-5 cups of sliced leaves) fresh spinach leaves, cut up
1 firm English cucumber, cubed
20 cherry tomatoes
1 small red Spanish onion, sliced into half rings
½ of a white grapefruit, completely peeled, white part removed, and chunked
½ of a red/ pink grapefruit, completely peeled, white part removed, and chunked
⅓ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup pine nuts, optional
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
In a small blender, blend together the dressing ingredients until very well combined. Set aside until it’s ready to use.
Directly before serving, arrange the salad as follows: In a large, pretty glass bowl, place all the sliced spinach leaves. Sprinkle the diced cucumbers on top of that, and then cherry tomatoes.
Arrange the sliced onion rings all over the top. Place the grapefruit pieces over all. Toss very slightly with your fingers.
Sprinkle the almonds and pine nuts over the salad. Drizzle the dressing over all and serve.
Now we will complete this meal with a few ideas for desserts, from fruits to baked goods.
Crunchy Coated Baked Apples
Each apple is one serving, but most people will want more than one serving of this one!
6-8 medium green apples, peeled and cored
1½ cup crushed walnuts or almonds, or a mix of both
¼ cup sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar
oil, as needed
white raisins, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Peel and core each apple.
In a bowl, mix together the crushed nuts, sugar, and vanilla sugar. Brush each apple gently with a bit of oil. Roll each apple into the nut mixture. Line a small baking pan with baking paper. Stand up the coated apples in the pan. When they are all ready, spoon a bit of the nut mixture into the center hole of each apple. You may choose to add several golden raisins to each apple’s center as well. Place the pan into the oven and bake for about 45-55 minutes, checking them after the first 45 minutes. They are done when they are soft. These serve well warm or cold.
This recipe is from my sister Bracha’s childhood friend, Chava Steingroot. It does contain matzo meal, but it is such a favorite among my matzo meal-eating relatives that I decided to include it for your pleasure.
8 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
2 cups matzo meal
6 cups matzo farfel
1-½ cups oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup orange juice
1 packet vanilla sugar -or – 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract
8 egg whites
½ cup chopped nuts
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Cream together the 8 egg yolks with the 2 cups of sugar. Add in the matzo meal and the matzo farfel and mix together. Add in the oil, cinnamon, orange juice, vanilla sugar or 2 teaspoons vanilla, and the orange extract. Mix together and set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites slowly and add ½ cup of sugar to them while they are beating. Turn off the beaters when they are stiffened and white. Fold in the chopped nuts by hand.
Fold the white mixture into the yolk mixture. Let this stand 1-2 hours, but cover the bowl. The longer this stands, the crunchier the cookie.
Line a few cookie sheets with baking parchment paper. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of batter down on the sheets for each cookie. Bake them for 10-12 minutes, until the cookie crinkles and spreads. As soon as they are light brown on the bottom, remove them from the oven. Allow them to harden on the cookie tray for about 10 minutes, and then remove them to a clean sheet of parchment paper to cool completely. I have no idea how many cookies this makes since they get eaten far too quickly!
Here’s one last recipe I couldn’t resist including – straight from my book, and there is definitely no matzo meal is this one!
Double Layer “Shehakol” Cake
This recipe is from the mother of my graphic artist Zippy, Mrs. Esther Strom, of Golders Green, London
13 eggs, separated
1½ cups sugar
1 lb. / 500 grams ground hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Separate the eggs, setting the yolks aside for the top. Beat the whites until they are just beginning to turn white. Add in the sugar gradually and finish beating. Lower the mixing speed and add in the hazelnuts slowly. When it’s all incorporated, turn off the mixer. Spread this out on a parchment paper-lined oven-baking tray, about 10×15 inch, and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven.
½ lb. / 450 grams chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee, dissolved in a drop of hot water
1 cup oil
egg yolks set aside from the base recipe
water for the double boiler
Beat the yolks until they are thick and fluffy. Melt together the chocolate, sugar, coffee, and oil in a double boiler over a medium flame. Add this to the egg mixture and mix until incorporated. Spread this on top of the baked cake base and place it back into the oven to bake for another half-hour. The cake will still be quite moist and will start to “crack” a bit on top when it is ready. Remove from the oven promptly and cut into bite-sized squares when cooled. Serve it as “minis” in individual cupcake holders.
In the photo shown here we tried another way of serving it. There was very little left when the photo was finished
Enjoy your Pesach!
Some of the above recipes were excerpted from Tamar Ansh’s newest Pesach cookbook that is completely non-Gebrochts and gluten-free, A Taste of Tradition, PESACH- Anything’s Possible! (Targum Press www.targum.com), on sale now in Jewish bookstores everywhere, and online. Pesach never tasted so good! Tamar Ansh is an author, freelance recipe developer, and food columnist. She also has several other published books: Splitting the Sea (Targum Press); Let’s Say Amen! (Feldheim); and her best selling challah book, A Taste of Challah (Feldheim). Visit www.TasteofChallah.com to see all her books online.