Archive: Jewish Holidays

A Vote for Matzoh Lasagna

Although skeptical of the outcome, I was determined to find out how a lasagna made with matzoh instead of noodles would translate at the table. If I could pull this off, I thought, my days of annoying lasagna noodles that never seem to cook evenly would be a thing of the past. Plus, it just might work as a meatless Passover main -- and think of the unleavened lunch leftovers. Matzo lasagna with an arugula-ricotta filling. (Kim O'Donnel) The source of my matzoh-ed inspiration is Miami chef Allen Susser, whose online recipe includes eggplant and zucchini. Ultimately, I decided to forego Susser's choice of summertime produce for something more seasonally appropriate and chose cool-weather crop arugula instead. (Spinach would be equally lovely, as would a ragout of spring mushrooms.) In fact, I was so taken by last month's arugula pesto I thought it would do my lasagna proud. The short...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 15, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (30)

Not the Same Old Flourless Chocolate Cake

While in pursuit of a new twist on a Passover-possible dessert, I stumbled upon something really cool: a chocolate loaf cake made with amaranth and quinoa flours. Quinoa (KEEN-WAH), a leafy plant (chenopodium quinoa) that is native to Andes mountainous regions in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, has become very trendy in U.S. culinary circles as a versatile, gluten-free, high- protein "grain" which isn't a grain at all. In fact, the seeds are more like a cereal, which can be boiled in water like rice and dried and ground into flour. Not only is it high in protein, it's a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. For celiacs, quinoa flour is a gluten-free dream come true, and in the course of my research, have learned that it's considered acceptable Kosher for Passover fare. Chocolate-quinoa-amaranth cake. (Kim O'Donnel) The very savvy Bea Peltre, the blog mistress at La Tartine...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 14, 2008; 11:46 AM ET | Comments (13)

Bring on the Brisket

When it came time to research Passover dishes this year, I called up Jeff, my cooking buddy in New York. Jeff and I met last year in New Orleans as volunteer chefs with CulinaryCorps, and we've been trading recipes and cooking stories ever since. Uncle Jeff's brisket just out of the oven. (Kim O'Donnel) Last fall, around Yom Kippur, Jeff passed on his late Aunt Rita's recipe for marble cake, and I kept hearing from our mutual friends about his to-die-for brisket. His recipe, below, calls for relatively few ingredients and about four hours of cooking time. I love how the onions caramelize and become part of the gravy, a heady elixir with a tang, thanks to the Worcestershire sauce. Jeff strongly recommends that you dare not slice the meat while warm and insists that the brisket is better the next day (please weigh in on this matter in the...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 11, 2008; 07:40 AM ET | Comments (35)

The Hamantaschen Project

The Jewish holiday of Purim is in progress as I type these words, and last night, after sunset, when festivities kicked off, I was making dough for hamantaschen, the quintessential Purim sweet. As an O'Donnel growing up in a largely Jewish community outside of Philadelphia, hamantaschen (hah-mahn-tash-en) became part of my cultural vernacular like corned beef and egg creams. One of the best parts about my weekly ballet class was a visit to the adjoining Jewish bakery on Haverford Avenue, where I'd pick out the best-looking cherry-filled hamantaschen on display, leaving the traditional poppy seed or prune varieties for the old folks. Sour cherry jam-filled hamantaschen.(Kim O'Donnel) If you've never had the pleasure, hamantaschen are triangular-shaped cookies, made from a sweet soft dough, and filled with fruit, poppy seeds, cheese or chocolate (which is considered untraditional). But what I love most of all about these hand-held treats is the story....

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 21, 2008; 11:36 AM ET | Comments (14)

Get Your Hanukkah Fry On

Menorah candles around the world will burn brightly tomorrow night, kicking off Hanukkah, the Jewish eight-day festival of lights. In this hemisphere, we need all the light we can get as we inch closer to the darkest, shortest day of the year, aka the winter solstice (Dec. 22). If there's wind and other wintry conditions contributing to the atmosphere (which has been the case over the past few days in various parts of the country), frying up a storm seems like the right thing to do, whether or not you celebrate Hanukkah. A pan-sized latke, cut into fourths and ready for applesauce. (Kim O'Donnel) I'm not suggesting that we hop aboard the deep-fried fatty train, but a little fried fun is quite okay every once in a while, particularly when done in small batches at home. For many, Hanukkah wouldn't be the same without a plate of potato latkes, cute...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 3, 2007; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Breaking the Fast With Aunt Rita's Cake

After an early, pre-sunset dinner this Friday, Sept. 21, Jews will begin to observe Yom Kippur, the day of atonement that may include reflection, prayer and a 24-hour fast. By Saturday night, everyone is ready to chow and break the fast among family and friends, a repast that's usually heavy on the dairy and eggs. Aunt Rita's marble cake. (Kim O'Donnel) Over the past week, I've surveyed a bunch of friends about breaking the fast, and many of the menus looked the same - a carb-o-licious spread of bagels, cream cheese, smoked fish, noodle kugel and cake for dessert. But I liked the way my pal "Mister MG" describes the meal that he shares with his family every year: "It's a giant spread of bagels, cheeses, smoked fishes, noodle kugel and more. A great, fresh bagel, with smoked whitefish or sable, a slice of red onion, tomato and some sweet...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 18, 2007; 10:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

Weekend Macarooning

In yesterday's vegetarian chat, I promised to offer up a foolish dessert today, just in time for April Fool's Day, which is this Sunday. Alas, I was unable to find rhubarb, a key component of my fool, so stay tuned in the coming weeks when it parades its lovely fuchsia stalks at market. Instead of a fool, I offer you macaroons, a rather unfoolish treat that resonates for many during Passover as well as Easter. Coconut macaroons studded with chocolate. (Kim O'Donnel) In "The World of Jewish Desserts," Gil Marks writes that the word macaroon comes from the Italian word, maccarone, which means paste, and that Italian Jews were the ones responsible for introducing this flourless cookie to Ashkenazi Jews in other parts of Europe. A combination of ground nuts, sugar and egg whites is the formula for a macaroon, with almonds usually representing the nutty quotient. I am still...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 30, 2007; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (16)

A Passover Cake That Works

The Jewish holiday of Pesach (aka Passover) begins at sundown this coming Monday, April 2. The home cooks I've talked to over the years brag about their passed-down recipes for brisket, tzimmes or their own version of charoset, but it is rare to hear a veteran Seder chef boast about dessert. Not just for Passover: An apple-flavored almond cake. (Kim O'Donnel) The key to pulling off a successful Seder is the omission of chametz -- any food that's leavened and/or allowed to ferment or rise. That means the obvious like no yeast, baking soda or powder, but also stuff made of wheat, spelt, oats, rye and barley, such as pasta, cereal and beer (unless, of course, it's matzoh), and lots of other foodstuffs we take for granted in our daily lives. Translated in the dessert world, that means lots of eggs to overcompensate for the lack of leavening and the...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 27, 2007; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Yom Kippur Make-Ahead Tricks

The Jewish High Holidays resume this weekend (last weekend, it was Rosh Hashanah), with the observation of Yom Kippur, the Jewish "Day of Atonement." A major component of Yom Kippur is a fast that lasts 24 hours; this year, the fast begins at sunset on Sun., Oct. 1, ending Monday evening, with a ritual meal. Considered a Sabbath day, no work is to be done on Yom Kippur, which can translate into several hours in temple on Monday as well as no cooking for Monday night's meal. To avoid rushing home Monday evening after a day of services to prepare a late-night repast when you're likely to be extremely hungry, you may want to consider making some stuff in advance, no later than Sunday afternoon. Below, a handful of break-the-fast ideas that will keep well for at least 24 hours. Cold stuff that keeps well Baba ghanouj, using late-summer eggplant,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 29, 2006; 12:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Rosh Hashanah Sweets and Savories

Tomorrow at sundown marks the beginning of year 5767 in the Jewish calendar and the beginning of the High Holidays (Yom Kippur follows 10 days later on Oct. 1). As is the case with several other Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah is rich with food symbolism. Challah, the egg-based dough that's typically braided for weekly Sabbath dinners, "is coiled into rounds of a higher symbolic order" for the auspicious occasion, explains Post Food section's Bonnie Benwick. Apples and honey also play a central role, representing hopes for a sweet and joyous year ahead. Variations on the theme include an apple cake with honey sauce, a cozy apple coffee cake or, if you're in need of something gluten free, an apple cake made with almond meal, a Passover classic equally good at this time of year. In his cookbook "Olive Trees and Honey," Gil Marks includes several savory ideas using winter squash,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 21, 2006; 12:22 PM ET | Comments (5)

 

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