Thursday, April 3, 2008

Preparing for Pesach with some essential websites and recipes!


Pesach is way too close. I can't believe that, in less than two weeks, I have got to start cooking for Pesach!

My son came home from school and said, "My school rabbi said that a husband is not supposed to utter the word 'Pesach' to his wife because it will remind her of work."

I told my son, "Go back to your rabbi and tell him he is a very wise man!"

OK, with full knowledge of the craziness of this season for me and all the members of my gender, I am making this post. I wanted to share the websites that I find essential for this auspicious time, and a few of my very favorite recipes as well.

Now, I hope you understand that I am proudly and completely Sephardic--which means that my recipes might have to be adapted for my dear Ashkenazi friends (mostly substituting Pesach Powdered Sugar for Regular, etc.). Some, of course, can't be adapted at all, and some don't need any adaption (like my lasagna recipe).

Without further ado . . .


Machon Shilo--This is the website where you will find the P'sk that Ashkenazim in Israel may eat Qitniyoth. (Just in case you want to use my recipes without adaptation!)

The forum--This is the place where you can ask whether something is Kosher for Pesach. This is an essential site for Sephardim, who need to know what we can eat independent of the Kashrut organizations and their Ashkenazi Pesach Heschers. Rabbi Abadi used to be the Posek of Lakewood, so I think you can rely upon his rulings. The site also offers an essential list of Pesach items--with specifications for Ashkenazim, Sephardim, or Both--which is completely downloadable for the cost of a small donation to their Kollel. (Please don't cheat and share it with others. Rabbi Abadi and his Kollel do a lot of work on this list every year, and they really do need the money for the Kollel. If you are planning to download a list and share it with two other people, please pay the $5 fee X 3. It is worth the fee, it is a very minimal amount of money, and anything less is theft.)

Passover Guide: I am linking the Chabad Passover Guide rather than the OU passover guide because the Chabad Passover guide acknowledges that Sephardim and Ashkenazim have different customs--which I think is a lot more sensitive. The best thing is to make sure you check with your Local Orthodox Rabbi (LOR) for the specifics of your case. Please remember that Pessach cleaning is NOT Spring Cleaning (my husband constantly reminds me of this), and you shouldn't go overboard. For example, many rabbis say it is acceptable to spray areas you can't easily reach with windex or another form of cleaning product in order to nullify any chametz that would be there, etc. Also, you don't need to make your house look like a tin-foil temple--there are some ways around this if you just ask!! (Yes, that IS what our rabbis are for!!)

Finally, as promised, some Pesach Recipes (If you forward them, I would love some attribution. I worked hard on these!):

Chocolate Mousse Cake (Dairy)


In a large bowl beat 5 egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks, beat in 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue to beat the meringue until it holds very stiff peaks. Fold in 1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar sifted with 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa. Using an inverted 8 inch square cake pan as a guide trace 3 squares onto sheets of parchment paper set on baking sheets, divide the meringue among the squares, spreading it evenly to the edges, and bake the meringues in a preheated oven 300 degrees alternating the baking sheets if necessary for even baking for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Transfer the meringues to racks and let them cool.

Chocolate Mousse

In a double boiler set over hot water melt 13 ounces of semisweet chocolate and let it cool until lukewarm. In a large bowl beat 7 egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar until they hold stiff peaks. In another bowl beat 3 cups heavy cream, well chilled, with 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla until it holds stiff peaks. fold the chocolate carefully into the egg whites and fold in the cream.. Makes about 9 cups.

Assemble Cake

Put 1 meringue layer on a cake stand and spread it thickly with the chocolate mousse. Top the mousse with a second meringue layer, spread it thickly with chocolate mousse and top the mousse with the remaining layer. Transfer the remaining mousse to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip, decorate the top of the cake with rows of overlapping figure 8s. chill for 4 hours or up to 48 hours. (It is amazing frozen too!!) Cut it with a VERY SHARP knife.

Matza Lasagna (Dairy)

6 pieces Matzo

2 small cans tomato paste
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp hot ground chili pepper
1 tsp. Minced garlic
2 TBS. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. pepper

4 eggs
1 large carton ricotta cheese
2 TBS Italian seasoning
1 lb shredded mozzarella

In a small bowl, stir tomato paste with 2 1/2 cans water, olive oil, chili pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning and salt until smooth (a whisk works very well).

In a larger bowl, mix large carton ricotta cheese, 4 eggs, and Italian seasoning.

Oil a Lasagna pan. Cover the bottom of a lasagna pan with 1/3 of the sauce, place matzo over sauce. Sprinkle matzo lightly with water (just a little bit will do it). Cover with half of ricotta cheese, then about 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese. Put another layer of matzo, sprinkle with water, put layer of sauce, then the rest of the ricotta cheese. Now place the last layer of matzo, cover with the remaining sauce, and cover the top liberally with the rest of the cheese.

Cover tightly with a layer of oiled foil, and cook in a pre-heated 350F oven for 1 hour.

Brownie Cookies for Pesach (Parve)

2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 tsp. Vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup melted and cooled chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Parchment paper

Whip together egg whites with cream of tartar until soft-peaks form. Slowly whip in sugar, one tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla and cocoa. Fold in cooled melted chocolate and walnuts.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment, and spray lightly with non-stick spray. Drop cookies on parchment paper. Cook in a slow oven (325F) for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Peel parchment from cookies and set on tray. Makes about 1 dozen.

Pesach Frittata (Parve)
3 matzos, crushed with rolling pin
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

2 green onions washed well and sliced in 1/4 inch lengths
2 TBS Fresh finely chopped parsley

4 TBS Olive Oil
1 stalk celery
1 bell pepper
1 JalapeƱo Pepper
1 tomato
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tsp. Hot chili powder

1 tsp. Fresh ground black pepper
3/4 tsp salt
5 eggs, lightly beaten

Place crushed matzos in a pile in the bottom of deep-dish pie pan, mix in melted butter, and press into the bottom and up the sides of pan as best you can (if it doesn’t go up the sides, don’t worry). Place uncooked green onion and parsley on top of matzo. Refrigerate.

Cook vegetables in olive oil over medium heat until tender, stirring often.

Mix salt and pepper into eggs. Place cooked vegetables on top of matzo crust. Pour eggs over filling. Cook in 350F oven for 40-50 minutes, or until center is set when pan is shaken and top is slightly golden.

Fruit Sorbet (Parve)

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 lemon juice (or other juice)
1 1/2 cup peeled and pureed fruit
2 egg whites

Use ice cream freezer or set refrigerator for fast freezing.

Dissolve sugar in water. Add corn syrup, juice, pureed fruit.

In Ice cream freezer: mix fruit mixture and stiffly beaten egg whites together and place in ice-cream freezer. Process until frozen.

In refrigerator freezer: Freeze fruit mixture until firm around edges. Beat egg whites until stiff. Turn partially frozen mixture into chilled bowl and whip until smooth but not melted. Quickly fold in egg whites and freeze until firm.

Makes one quart.

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