Category Archives: Passover Week Recipes

Nargesi: A pie in love with itself.

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The name Nargesi comes from the Farsi word (Narges) for the Narcissus plant or daffodil, a sunny springtime flower (with either bright yellow petals and a deep orange center, or bright white petals with a deep yellow center) that has come to symbolize rebirth and renewal. This river bank flower is named after the Greek God Narcissus known for his extraordinary beauty, who subsequently drowned while admiring his reflection in a pool of water. Over time the term “narcissist” has come to define someone consumed with his or her own physical appearance or ego.

In my research on this dish I came across photos where instead of the eggs being scrambled with greens and herbs (as done in this recipe), the eggs were cracked open and poached directly on top of a bed of sauteed greens and onions, which visually resembles the Narges flower over leaves. I learned this unusual recipe from my friend Simona Shokrian, whose family would serve this for Passover. The resulting dish is more like a hearty frittata, mixed with herbs, spinach, and tiny meatballs, that you cut into wedges like a pie. Naima Abrishami suggests to sprinkle with lemou Omani (crushed Persian dried limes) to add a slight tangy flavor before serving.

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Nargesi (Persian Egg “Pie” with Leeks, Spinach, Turmeric, and Tiny Meatballs)

YIELD: SERVES 6 TO 8

INGREDIENTS

For Meatballs:
1 large (1/2 pound) white onion, pureed in food processor (should have about 1 cup)
1 pound ground turkey (dark meat better since it has some fat) or beef

For Nargesi:
2 tablespoons grape seed, safflower, or vegetable oil
1½ cups coarsely chopped yellow or white onions (about 1 large)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white or freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin (optional)
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
1 cup finely chopped coriander leaves or 1/3 cup tarragon leaves
½ cup finely chopped dill leaves
4 ounces coarsely baby spinach leaves (about 7 loose cups)
2 cups coarsely chopped leeks (use dark green and white parts only) rinsed in cold water and drained, or 1 cup coarsely chopped chives
¾ cup hot water
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

For Serving (optional):
2 tablespoons ground or crushed lemou Omani (dried Persian limes)
or 1 to 2 whole lemou Omani, ground in food processor

STEPS:
1. Drain the excess liquid from the puréed onions and mix with the ground meat in a medium bowl.

2. Heat a large 5- or 6- quart pot with oil over high heat for 1 minute. (Note: Your pot should be about 9 or 10 inches wide, but no more or the final pie will be too thin!) Add the chopped onions and cook until soft and transparent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the salt, pepper, turmeric, and cumin (if desired) and mix well. Cook 1 minute.

4. Reduce to a medium-low heat. Wet your hands lightly with cold water (to prevent sticking) and taking only 11/2 teaspoons of the meat mixture, form it into a small, smooth meatball the size of a large cherry. (Meat will be very soft and wet, so be gentle.) Drop the meatball into the pot and continue until all of the meat mixture has been used up. Cover pot and steam until solid and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

5. Drop in the parsley, coriander (or tarragon), dill, spinach, and leeks (or chives) and cover.
Steam until the herbs and spinach have wilted and softened, 10 minutes.

6. Pour the hot water over the top and mix gently so as not to break meatballs. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce to a medium heat, and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. (Eggs will cook too quickly if added to mixture when very hot.)

7. Once nargasi has cooled, re-warm over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually pour in the beaten eggs while gently mixing with a spoon to distribute evenly. Partially cover and steam over lowest setting until eggs have solidified but are still soft and slightly wet in the center, 35 to 40 minutes.

8. Score and scoop out large pieces of the nargasi and arrange in layers onto a serving platter or plate. Serve warm with lemou Omani on the side for individuals to sprinkle on top of each serving, as desired.

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Revisiting the Egyptian Sofrito: Test 3 is the charm.

had neither tasted nor even heard of a sofrito until one year while visiting family in France, my husband and I were invited to the home of Dinah Franco — a Sephardic Jew of Egyptian descent. Sofreír in Spanish means to sauté or “lightly fry,” and in Spanish, Portuguese, Caribbean and Latin American countries, a sofrito is a type of sauce made by cooking a lot of garlic, onions, and spices with various vegetables for a long period of time over low heat, so that it can be used as a base for cooking meat, other vegetables, beans or rice dishes.

The following recipe is one that I recreated after having tasted Dinah’s, which combines nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and turmeric, with a lot of garlic and onions. When I was first developing this dish I focused on getting the right balance of seasonings and ingredients down on paper, and when I later tested my recipe I found that the result was more like a soup than a stew. In this most recent third attempt I used a lot less liquid to braise the meat and cooked it over a lower heat for a longer period of time. The overall result was a thick, rich sauce that took on the flavor of the meat, and more of what a true sofrito should be.

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STEP 1: Gather and prep your ingredients (3 pounds beef stew pieces, 4 cups onions, parsley, 1 to 2 cups coriander leaves and/or parsley leaves, 4 to 5 tablespoons garlic, spices, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, black pepper).

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THE SPICES: 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon ginger, 2 teaspoons turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

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STEP 2: Brown the meat in a large heavy-bottomed pot with a little oil over high heat, then pour into a separate bowl along with all of its liquid.

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STEP 3: Add a few tablespoons of oil to the same pot (no need to wash) and cook onions over medium-high heat until soft and transparent, but not browned. Add the garlic and while stirring, cook for 30 seconds.

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STEP 4: Add the spices, salt, and pepper, mix, and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute.

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STEP 5: Return browned meat and all of its liquid plus about 1 cup cold water to the pot. Add the chopped herbs and mix well. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a medium-low heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook an additional 1/2 hour until sauce has reduced and meat is so soft it can be easily cut with a spoon. (Note: If you like, you can scatter a few cups of potato pieces over the top and cook it with the meat for the last 1/2 hour as well.)

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STEP 6: Dinner is served.

 

 

 

 

 

Matzah Granola. Why didn’t I think of that?

Matzah_Granola_1_blogThe kosher food industry is getting more and more creative with their Passover food products, making life during the week-long holiday almost too easy to observe. While I’m not big on promoting ready-made products, I have to say that I find the name Matzolah, a Passover-friendly snack or breakfast treat that combines broken up matzah pieces with all the best ingredients of homemade granola, very clever. Recently I was down on the Lower East Side leading a Jewish Food Tour and while at Streit’s Matzo Factory, a box of Matzah Farfel caught my eye. With plans to make my own matzah granola, I bought the box. I was a little incredulous about the taste at first, because let’s face it: matzah ALWAYS tastes like, well, matzah. But the final result was crunchy, chewy, and delicious (and I know that my kids will love it). It’s also a fun way to use up leftover matzah pieces at the end of the holiday.

Let me know what you think!

 

CHEWY MATZAH GRANOLA WITH WHOLE ALMONDS, WALNUTS,
DRIED CRANBERRIES, AND HONEY

(Yield: Serves 8 to 10 / Makes 5 Cups)

INGREDIENTS:
Dry Ingredients:
4 cups matzah farfel or finely crushed (not ground) matzah pieces (about 1/4-inch pieces)

1/3 cup whole raw almonds
1/3 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
1/3 cup walnuts
¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, or coarsely chopped cherries
1/3 cup coarsely chopped dried Turkish apricots or golden raisins

Wet Ingredients:
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

STEPS:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.; Line a large cookie or baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Combine the oil, maple syrup, and honey in a small saucepan.
Bring to a slow boil over medium heat and stir for 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and mix in vanilla extract.

4. Pour hot syrup over dry ingredients in the bowl and toss well until the
matzah pieces are evenly coated.

5. Spread the matzah mixture out on the parchment-lined cookie sheet or baking pan and place into the oven and bake 30 minutes until lightly browned, shaking or mixing every 10 minutes to make sure that all of it toasts evenly. 

6. Remove from oven and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Mix in the dried fruit, and store in an airtight container or in a Ziploc bag at room temperature up to 3 weeks. Serve with yogurt, milk, or as is like a snack.

Ethiopian Kit’ta: Matzah that’s made to order.

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Shmuel Legesse

One cold January morning, I ran down to meet with Shmuel Legesse and learn how to make Ethiopian style matzah. In Ethiopia, matzah is made just like it it had been done for the first Passover when the Jews were fleeing Egypt through the desert: By hand. And FAST. In each home, the women form an assembly line to produce each matzah one at a time, diligently following the 18-minute time limit from start to finish. After the flour, salt, and water have been mixed, the dough is quickly formed, rolled out into a pita-like size, and placed onto a flat clay pan called a Mitadt. The bread then bakes in this pan until it is crispy and browned on both sides, and brought to the table to be eaten immediately. The resulting bread is more like a thick cracker that is slightly pliable, with a taste that is nutty and earthy.

(Known as Kit’ta in Amharic,
and Kicha/Kitcha in the dialect of Tigrinya).

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YHAFESECA KIT’TA (Soft Ethiopian Passover Matzah)

Yield: Makes One 8- or 9-inch matzah

Dry Ingredients:
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 teaspoons black sesame oil (not light brown Asian kind) or sunflower oil
2 ounces cold water

For Baking in Pan:
1 tablespoon black sesame oil or sunflower oil

STEPS:
1. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.

2. Begin heating an 8- or 9-inch skillet (preferably non-stick or cast iron) over a medium-low heat.

3. Mix wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Once liquid has been fully absorbed,
gather dough into a small ball.

4. Grease your hands with a little oil and briefly pound the ball with your fist in the bowl,
then quickly press ball down with your palm into a disk about 4 inches wide.

5. Place disk into the heated skillet and being careful not to burn yourself, gently press disk down
until it fills the size and shape of the pan. Using a dinner fork, press the back of the tines all over
the surface.

6. Raise heat to a medium-high flame and continue to cook until bottom becomes flecked with very dark brown spots, about 5 minutes. Flip bread over and cook second side an additional 3 minutes until browned. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Continue to prepare additional matzahs, one at a time (or if you can keep track of time, two at a time in two separate skillets.)

Going Green for Passover: It’s all about fresh ingredients in Indian cooking

Passover is almost synonymous with spring, and in Indian Jewish cooking all herbs, vegetables and fruits used for the holiday must be fresh and not dried. Foods that are naturally green in color are especially popular as they represent the freshness of the spring season (and the overall spirit of “renewal”). During this time, fresh turmeric root (resembling ginger root) replaces the ground kind, and young, unripe green mangoes (which have a pale yellow/white flesh and are a bit sour and crunchy in texture) are plentiful and used in salads, sauces, and chutneys.

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Fresh turmeric root (left), green mango (right).

Unfortunately it was not easy to find an actual Indian green mango, so instead I used the hardest most unripe one I could find and created a salad adding fresh coriander, mint leaves, and green chili peppers for flavor as well as color. The combination of ingredients was based upon what Sharona Galsurkar described to me — a young woman whom I was most lucky to meet and interview for my cookbook while she was visiting New York City from her native Mumbai.

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Kairi Chi Koshimbir 
(Green Mango Salad with Green Chilies, Mint, Coriander, and Dates)

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 / Makes 5 cups

INGREDIENTS:
3 large unripe, firm mangoes (2 3/4 to 3 pounds total), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

(Note: If you can find the true unripe “green” mangoes in a Indian grocery,
then peel and coarsely grate instead of cubing)

1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/3 cup coarsely chopped  fresh mint leaves.
2 to 3 teaspoons finely chopped green chilies (optional: add to taste!)
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
15 regular pitted dates (not soft Medjool), sliced into strips about 1/8 thick
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons date sugar (or to taste, depending upon how sweet or sour mangoes are)

STEPS:
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Serve at room temperature in a decorative bowl or small platter.
Store in air-tight container in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Almodrote: Turkish Shredded Zucchini Pie with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Yogurt

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During my fall trip to Roosevelt Island (see post, “Roosevelt Island: My Trip To Instanbul), I visited Jale Turcihin and she taught me how to make Amodrote, which in Izmir is (apparently) known as Frittata (sounds Ladino, no?). While it does contain cheese, in Jale’s home it was the Passover tradition to serve a variety of Amodrotes (eggplant, leek, spinach) before the main dishes came out (even if they contained meat). The combination of the Kaseri — a sheep’s milk cheese — with the yogurt gives a special tartness that to me is particularly Mediterranean (and reminds me of my own Syrian Kusa b’Jibbin (Squash Cheese Pie). In Jale’s home it was served with a small glass pitcher of a sugar syrup on the side, which when drizzled on top would give a sweet and salty taste, something one often finds in Sephardic cooking. It’s a great type of dish to learn for any meal or time of year, especially when you are looking for vegetarian options. And if the “dairy-before-meat-in-the-same-meal” custom doesn’t work for you, then save it as a dish for one of those long Passover days when you simply don’t know what else to prepare for dinner! 

Almodrote: Turkish Shredded Zucchini Pie with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Yogurt
(Yield: Serves 8 to 10)

For Almodrote:
9 medium zucchini (don’t get them too big or they will be too watery!)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups coarsely grated Kasseri / Kasheri cheese, or other hard, sharp sheep’s milk cheese
(about 1 pound total for pie itself and topping together)

4 large eggs (should be 1 cup total), lightly beaten
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
¾ cup matzah meal

For Baking:
1 tablespoon pure olive oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons matzah meal
½ cup grated kasseri cheese

1. Peel the outside of each zucchini lengthwise so that you create dark green and light green ½-inch stripes, about ½ inch apart (the peeled part will be light green and the dark part will be the dark green skin, about ½ inches wide).

2. Coarsely grate each zucchini by hand or in the food processor and pour into a large colander. Lightly toss with ½ teaspoon of kosher salt with your hands, place colander in a baking pan or the sink, and drain for at least two hours in order to extract excess liquid.

3. Working one handful at a time, scoop out and squeeze the zucchini even further to discard any excess liquid before placing it into a separate mixing bowl  (you should have about 6 cups of grated zucchini once liquid has been drained and squeezed). Discard all drained liquid.

4.  Add 2 cups of the grated cheese (reserving remaining ½ cup for top), eggs, yogurt, and ¾ cup of the matzah meal to the zucchini, and squeeze mixture together with your hands until soft and fully blended.

5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.; coat just the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch x 13-inch baking pan with the 1 tablespoon of oil, then sprinkle the bottom evenly with the 2 tablespoons of matzah meal.

6. Pour the zucchini-cheese mixture into the pan and spread out evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle top with the remaining ½ cup of grated cheese and place on middle rack of the pre-heated oven to bake until top become a dark brown color, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (pie should be soft but solid enough that when you gently shake pan it doesn’t appear too watery in center).

7. Remove from oven and cool about 20 to 30 minutes to set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

©Jennifer Felicia Abadi:  www.TooGoodToPassover.com / jabadi@FistfulofLentils.com

 

What about PASSGIVUKKAH?

SweetPotatoesThe last time that Thanksgiving and Chanukah collided it was about 125 years ago, and next week Jews from all over the United States will have a chance to celebrate what has been officially coined ThanksgivUkkah.My friends Lori and Joshua Plaut have written extensively on their blog, “A Kosher Christmas” about this phenomenon, and have even become experts on the topic. Perhaps you are all thinking: “Chanukah on Thanksgiving? I’ve heard of Chanukah being early, but this is ridiculous!” This got me to thinking. What if in another century or more Passover somehow “passed over” Thanksgiving AND Chanukah? How would we cope with this holy trinity, and more importantly, what would we serve? Well I have found the perfect recipe that embodies a little bit from each holiday:
A sweet & spicy sweet potato latke with cumin, curry, and cayenne, that is served with cranberry sauce and/or apple butter! Yes! Here is how it works for all you skeptics out there:

• Fried pancake (oil and therefore fried foods, symbolic of Chanukah)
• Sweet potatoes (traditional food for Thanksgiving)

• Cranberry sauce or relish (traditional food for Thanksgiving, while sweet-and-sour flavor also
represents bitterness of slavery with sweetness of freedom in Passover)

• Apple sauce or apple butter (resembles sweetness/mortar of Charoset for Passover)
• Cayenne, curry, and cumin (the spiciness or bitterness of slavery in Passover)

SWEET POTATO CUMIN-CURRY-CAYENNE LATKES WITH CRANBERRY RELISH
(Yield: Serves 8 to 10 / Makes About 3 ½ Dozen Three-inch Latkes)

INGREDIENTS:
For Latkes:
1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
½ cup all-purpose flour or matzah cake flour
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash cayenne pepper
2½ teaspoons curry powder
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water

For Frying:
½ to ¾ cup canola, coconut, or grape seed oil (for frying)

For Serving:
Cranberry sauce or relish
Apple sauce or apple butter
Greek yogurt, Middle Eastern labne, or all-American sour cream (optional)
Ground cinnamon

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour (or matzah cake flour), sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, salt and black pepper.

2. Add three eggs and water to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Add the potatoes and mix
(the batter should be moist but not runny; if too stiff, add a little more water and an extra egg.)

3. Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet for about 1 to 2 minutes. Drop 1 tablespoon of the batter into the hot skillet (if the mixture does not sizzle immediately then allow the oil to get a little hotter before adding more). Continue in this manner so that you are frying 4 to 6 latkes at a time (depending upon the size of your skillet). Continue to cook over medium-high heat for several minutes until all of the latkes are a dark brown on each side. Place fried latke onto a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

4. Serve hot sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon and your choice(s) of topping on the side.

©Jennifer Felicia Abadi:  www.TooGoodToPassover.com / jabadi@FistfulofLentils.com

HAPPY PASS-GIV-UKKAH!

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