Category Archives: Seder Recipes

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

ShmuelLegesse2_blog

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).

Kita_Matzah13_blog

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.)

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Still Time to Save Your Skins! (Huevos Haminados are coming.)

Eggs_Brown15_blog

AKA: Ouevos Haminados, Uevos Haminados or Güevos Haminadavos.

Two months before Passover, Deanna Marcus starts saving her onion skins (yellow, white, and red), while June Hersh remembers her mother telling the produce man to save them for her in anticipation of the holiday. Huevos means “eggs” in Spanish, and the word Haminados comes from the Hebrew word Cham meaning, “hot.” In the Sephardic world Huevos Haminados (browned whole eggs in the shell) are baked all year round, served alongside such pastries as cheese or potato borekas, or baked in the Shabbat stew known as Chamin/Hamin. When slow-cooked, the onion skins turn the whites of the eggs inside into a beautiful beige color, imparting a delicate caramel flavor. Shade and intensity of the egg’s color inside and out will depend on the quantity of the onion skins and coffee used, the variety of onions, and the length of time they cook (in the Yemenite tradition some add red wine vinegar as well). For Passover, one of the browned eggs is used for the Seder plate, while the rest are served as the first course to the dinner. The bottom line is, if you plan to prepare these delectable treats, you need a ton of onion skins. So start collecting now!

HUEVOS HAMINADOS (Browned Eggs with Onion Skins, Olive Oil & Coffee Grinds)
Yield: Serves 6 (Makes 6 Brown Eggs)

INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon coffee grinds
8 to 10 loosely packed cups onion skins (just the outermost thin brown layers)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups cold water
6 large white eggs

STEPS:
1. Combine all of the ingredients except the eggs in a medium sized mixing bowl.

2. Create a nest at the bottom of a medium sized,
heavy-bottomed pot with half of the onion skin mixture.

3. Gently place the eggs on top of the onion skins,
then cover them with the remaining half of the onion skins.

4. Bring water to a boil over high heat and boil the eggs for 5 minutes.

5. Lower heat to the lowest setting on your stove, cover with a tight-fitting lid,
and steam the eggs until the shells obtain a caramel-brown color on the outside,
about 4 to 5 hours minimum. (Note: These eggs traditionally were slow-baked in the oven overnight,
so if you have the time you can do it that way or keep cooking the eggs on the stovetop for about
10 hours total.)

6. Rinse off the eggs and cool to room temperature before serving at the seder meal.
Leftover eggs may also be refrigerated to be eaten the next day as a delicious snack or
as part of a lunch.

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

Pie_ZucchiniCheese_Amodrote_blog

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

 

Roosevelt Island: My roundtrip ticket to Istanbul.

RooseveltIslandTram_blogThis past November I bought a roundtrip ticket to Roosevelt Island to meet with Jale, a true Sefardi from Istanbul, and her daughter Olya. I had already interviewed Jale over the phone that past spring, and on this day we were planning to make a few of her special Passover dishes: Enginara (lemony steamed whole artichokes), and Almodrote (shredded zucchini pie with sheep’s milk cheese and creamy yogurt). I hadn’t been to Roosevelt Island since I was a kid in the 1970s, and I was excited about taking a mini trip away from the city. Boarding the tram felt exotic, and I half expected to be asked for my Manhattan passport. As we flew over the East River and approached land, I imagined that I was on a plane crossing the Black Sea, getting ready to debark on an island near Istanbul.

Enginara_Jale_blogAs soon as I arrived, Jale’s daughter Olya welcomed me in and took my coat. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted already shredded zucchini draining in a strainer over a plate, and I smelled something baking in the oven. “Uh oh,” I thought, “I hope that she hasn’t started cooking without me!” (This is a common anxiety I often have when going to someone’s home to learn a recipe.) When Jale came up the stairs and greeted me, she assured me that she had only started some of the simpler things to save time, and there was still plenty of work to be done. “Please sit down for a cup of Turkish coffee and a boureka,” she beckoned. Feeling a bit worn from my travels (after all, I had taken a bus, subway, and tram to get there), I accepted Jale’s hospitality and sat down at the table. The boureka was flakey and buttery, and the coffee was strong, which is just what was needed to prepare for the big cooking day ahead.

The first dish that we prepared was the steamed whole artichokes with lemon. I must admit that when Jale first suggested that we make this dish together, I didn’t think that it would be something complex enough to learn, but I was very wrong. Without her demonstrating, I never would have understood the proper way to pick a good artichoke (for size and color), how to clean the outside stem, how to cut the top and pluck the leaves, how to scoop out the center to get to the cherished heart, and most of all, how to prevent the outsides from oxidizing and turning black before cooking. We finally got them into a saucepan to steam with freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, and a bit of sugar to round out the flavor. The results of this “simple” dish were heavenly. The tart flavor of the sauce made by the combination of fresh lemon juice, salt, oil, and a sprinkle of sugar made my Sephardic palate dance with glee. “I’ve traveled to Sefarad, I thought.

JaleTurcihin_blog

Enginara: Steamed Whole Artichoke Hearts with Lotsa Lemon
(Yield: Serves 6 to 8)

For Cleaning Artichokes:
12 medium whole artichokes
(if possible, try not to get them too big)

5 large or 6 small lemons
Large basin, pot, or bowl filled with cold water

For Cooking Artichokes:
1/4 cup pure olive oil (not virgin or extra virgin)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
(from above lemons)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Couple teaspoons sugar (to taste)
2 to 3 cups cold water

Clean the Artichokes:
1. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze out enough juice to equal 1 cup. Set juice aside and throw the lemon rind shells into a very large bowl or pot filled with cold water. (If you have a lemon half leftover give a few quick squeezes of lemon juice into the water as well.)

2. Being careful not to break off the stem, remove and discard all the darkest, thickest leaves from the artichoke by first snapping them back then ripping them off at the bend. (Stop when you get to the softer leaves that are lighter green in color.)

3. Take a sharp knife and about 1 1/2 to 2 inches up from the base of the artichoke, cut straight across the top so that it resembles a flower with a flat top.

4. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the choke or entire center of the artichoke in order to clean out all of the thin hairs and pointy white leaves (the “flower” should now be like an empty cup inside, with the heart at the bottom).

5. Using a small sharp knife or peeler, clean off the very outermost layer of the stem all around making sure not to make the stem so thin that it bends or breaks off.

6. Take a lemon half from the bowl of water and rub the inside of the shell all over the artichoke to lighten or brighten it. Drop the artichoke in the lemony bath while continuing to work on the remaining artichokes in this same manner.

Cook the Artichokes:
7. Bring oil, lemon juice, salt, and sugar to a boil over high heat in a saucepan large enough to fit all
12 artichokes snugly side by side.

8. Place each artichoke stem-side up into the liquid, then fill with enough cold (about 2to 3 cups) of water to reach halfway up the artichoke base (you should not go as high up as the beginning of the stem). Bring to a second boil over high heat, reduce to medium heat, cover, and cook until arthichokes become very tender and sauce has cooked down to about half, about 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook an additional 15 minutes to cook off more of the excess liquid.

9. Taste sauce and adjust the balance with salt and/or sugar, if necessary. Remove from heat and serve hot, warm, or cold.

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

Bukharian Egg & Matzah Soup with Sour Golden Plums

Soup_Matzah13This recipe is adapted from the one that I learned from Amnun Kimyagarov and his wife Zoya during my trip to Rego Park in late August of 2013 (see previous post from September 15, 2013). You can also find this recipe (called, “Oshi Masozgoshak“) in Amnun’s cookbook: “Classic Central Asian (Bukharian) Jewish Cuisine and Customs.”

The original recipe uses unripe green apricots, but dried yellow or golden plums are substituted here in the U.S. The trick is to add a slight tart flavor to the soup. Dried apricots can be used if you cannot find the dried yellow or golden plums in a Russian, Eastern European, or Asian grocery store, but keep in mind that the flavor should be more tart than sweet. Zoya used imported dried Olucha which are dried yellow plums that resemble giant golden raisins. According to Amnun’s Bukharian/Russian/English dictionary this translated to “Cornelian Cherry” and looked like this (see below):

YellowPlums_DriedWhen I went looking in a Russian grocery in Queens (right after my visit with Amnun and Zoya) I couldn’t find the same dried yellow plums that they had used, so instead I got a box of something that looked similar called Uzbek Apricot Kondak, which on the container were translated as “Small Size Apricots with Pits” (photo below). The Apricot Kondak were much more sweet than the Olucha that Zoya had used but looked pretty in the soup (make sure to warn guests about the big pits!). Perhaps the next time I would try to use a more sour apricot like the California variety. After emailing Amnun about this he told me that the taste of the soup should have a slightly sour flavor, so if you cannot find the dried sour plums you should add a few tablespoons of lemon juice instead.

Apricot_Kondak1Oshi Masozgoshak
(Yield: Serves 8 to 10
/Makes about 15 cups)

For Soup:
3 tablespoons vegetable, safflower, or canola oil

2 cups coarsely chopped onions (about 1 large)

1¼ pounds veal stew, beef stew, or chicken thighs cut into ¼-inch pieces

12 cups homemade plain veal, beef, or chicken broth or water

Meat bone (can be 2 reserved bones from chicken thighs, or 1 from veal or beef)

2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 to 4 generous grindings of fresh black pepper
¾ pound carrots, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups cubed)
¾ pound white potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups cubed)
1½ cups dried golden or yellow plums, or Persian dried sour plums*
2 cups finely chopped sorrel leaves or loosely packed coriander leaves (stems discarded)

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

*If you cannot find these from an Asian, Persian, Central Asian/Russian, or Middle Eastern
specialty grocery store then substitute with dried California apricots and several tablespoons of
freshly squeezed lemon juice until you have reached desired tartness.

For Serving:
4 squares matzah, broken into 2-inch pieces

STEPS:
1. Pour oil into a large 4- to 6-quart pot or saucepan and warm over high heat for 1 minute.

Reduce to a medium-high heat and mix in onions. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until very soft
but not browned.

2. Add meat and mix well. Cook meat, stirring often, until it becomes a greyish-brown color,
about 5 minutes.

3. Pour in broth (or water), and add bone(s), salt, and pepper and bring to boil over high heat.
Reduce to a medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

4. Add the whole dried plums or apricots, mix well, and continue to simmer an additional
15 minutes uncovered.

5. Add the carrot and potato pieces, and chopped sorrel (or coriander leaves) and mix well.
Cook 10 minutes over medium heat, just until potatoes become soft but not mushy.

6. Slowly add the beaten eggs while stirring until eggs become long strands like egg drop soup,
about 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately into individual soup bowls with
about ½ a square matzah broken up into each bowl.

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

Iraqi Meatballs with Apricots and Tomatoes: Not Just For Passover

Stew_Meatballs_Apricots_Iraqi_BlogEven though this may be a dish served for an Iraqi Passover Seder meal, it is not something that is reserved solely for this holiday alone. Iraqis may prepare this for most any special occasion, including Rosh Hashanah as well as Shabbat. The sweet and savory combination of beef and/or lamb cooked with dried apricots is distinctly Middle Eastern, and has carried over into the Sephardic palate.

Iraqi Meatballs with Apricots & Tomatoes
(Yield: Serves 4 to 6 (Makes About 5 Cups / About 1½ Dozen Meatballs Plus Sauce)

For the Sauce:
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup pitted prunes
¼ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoon canola, vegetable, or olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions (about 1 medium)
One 6-ounce can (about ½ cup) tomato paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/8 to ½ teaspoon kosher salt (depending upon how salty your tomato paste is)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground coriander

For the Meatballs:
½ pound ground lamb
½ pound ground beef
¼ cup cold water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
3/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 to 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (for greasing your hands and browning meatballs)

PREPARE THE SAUCE:
1. Soak the dried apricots, prunes, and raisins in a small bowl with 3 cups hot water. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the onions, stirring, until soft and golden but not brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a large mixing bowl, keeping the saucepan for frying the meatballs (do not wash!).

3. Add the tomato paste and lemon juice and mix until the tomato paste is smooth and blended into the onions.

4. Add the salt, ginger, and ground coriander and mix well.

5. Add the dried fruit with all of its soaking water and mix well to combine. Set aside to prepare the meatballs.

PREPARE THE MEATBALLS:
6. Combine all the meatball ingredients (except for the oil) in a medium-size bowl squeezing it together with your hands until well blended and the meat is very soft.

7. Wash and dry your hands, then coat them lightly with extra canola or vegetable oil. Taking 1½  tablespoons of meat, roll it into a smooth meatball. Place the meatball onto a large platter or plate and continue to roll until all of the meat is used, oiling your hands if necessary.

8. Pour 1 tablespoon of canola oil into the same large saucepan that cooked the onions and reheat over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Place the meatballs into the saucepan and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total.

FINISH THE STEW & SERVE:
9. Pour the sauce mixture over the browned meatballs and mix gently, taking care not to break the meatballs. Bring to a boil over high heat, uncovered, then lower to a medium heat and slow boil until sauce has thickened and reduced slightly and fruit is very soft or almost mushy in texture, about 1 hour.

10. Serve hot over white rice or as is alongside cooked vegetables or potatoes.

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

Koula’s Greek Matzah Meal Spinach and Dill Pie

KoulaKofinas_SpinPie_BlogSeveral years ago I was invited down to a Passover demo at Kehila Kedosha Janina, a Romaniote synagogue (built in 1927 by Jews from Janina, Greece) on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I was warmly greeted by Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos (the synagogue’s museum director) who introduced me to the community. I was touched by how welcoming the members were, and through this event I gathered many contacts (who I later interviewed) for my Passover cookbook research.

Below is a recipe that was demonstrated by Koula, and adapted by me later on. It is not only delicious, but a dish that is great to serve with either a meat or dairy meal because it is parve.

Koula’s Greek Matzah Meal Spinach and Dill Pie
(Yield: Serves 6 to 8 / Makes Nine 3-Inch Squares)

For Filling:
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1½ cups coarsely chopped yellow onions
Three 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach leaves, defrosted and well drained
½ to ¾ cup finely chopped fresh dill leaves
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
1 to 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons matzah meal

For Dough:
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
1½ to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups matzah meal

Prepare the Filling:
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Add the chopped onions and mix well.
Cook until soft and transparent, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the defrosted spinach leaves and mix well to coat with the oil and onions. Cover with a lid and cook, over medium heat, until the spinach becomes very soft and the water has cooked off or been absorbed, about 30 minutes.

3. Throw in the chopped dill, parsley, salt, and pepper and mix well, and remove from heat.
Pour spinach mixture into a large mixing bowl and cool until slightly warm or to room temperature.

4. Mix in the beaten eggs and matzah meal. Set aside to prepare the dough.

Prepare the Dough:
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.; Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with oil.

6. In separate large mixing bowl, pour in the oil, water, and salt and mix briefly. Slowly pour in the matzah meal and mix until a soft dough is formed. Using your hands, scoop up the dough and pat into
a smooth ball. Divide dough into two even balls.

Assemble the Pie:
7. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, flatten one ball of dough evenly along the bottom f the pan, making sure to reach all of the corners (do not press dough up along the sides).

8. Pour the spinach filling over the bottom layer of dough and spread out evenly with a butter knife
or rubber spatula.

9. To cover the filling with the remaining dough, sprinkle the dough evenly over the top like you would
a fruit crumble, then dip your palms briefly in cold water and gently press down to make the top
more compact.

10. Pierce the surface of the dough 5 or 6 times in several places with a fork or small knife to create air holes. Bake on middle rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown on top and along the sides. Cool to room temperature before cutting into 6 rectangles or 9 squares for serving. (You can also try to flip the pie completely out of the pan by placing a large square platter over the top of the pan and carefully and quickly flipping it over so that the bottom crust becomes the top.)

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

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