Tag Archives: Matzah

A Matzah Mosaic Decorating Party!

The whole idea behind the Passover holiday is to get the kids involved. What better way than to have a matzah decorating party? Every year my kids enjoy decorating sheets of matzah that we give to our guests as gifts to take home with them after the Seder meal. Just melt chocolate and paint it on using pastry brushes, then stick on your favorite candies, sprinkles, or chopped up nuts and dried fruit. It’s fun for adults as well! Make sure that the chocolate has dried completely before placing into Ziploc baggies and storing in the freezer until ready to eat. You need only defrost about 20 minutes before.

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“Too Good To Passover” Cookbook Now Available!

Dear Friends,

Happy new year!

After 9 years of doing research, conducting interviews, and developing recipes, I am happy to announce that my new cookbook: Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe is finally available!

I appreciate your support by following my blog these last few years.
Please help me to make this cookbook a success by ordering a copy on Amazon,
and spreading the word to your friends, colleagues, and family.
The more books I sell, the better ranking it will have!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

For those of you outside of the U.S. you can order my book and have it shipped directly from the local Amazon in the following countries:

CANADA
FRANCE
SPAIN
ITALY
GERMANY
U.K. & IRELAND
NETHERLANDS

I am now scheduling talks and book-signing events for the winter and early spring leading up to Passover. If any of you know any journalists I could send a review copy to, or have connections with any radio shows or TV networks for me to discuss my book, please let me know.

Thank you,

JenniferAbadi_small

Jennifer

About Too Good To Passover
Too Good To Passover is the first Passover cookbook specializing in traditional Sephardic, Judeo-Arabic, and Central Asian recipes and customs (covering both pre- and post-Passover rituals) appealing to Sephardic, Mizrahic, and Ashkenazic individuals who are interested in incorporating something traditional yet new into their Seders.

A compilation of more than 200 Passover recipes from 23 Jewish communities, this cookbook-memoir provides an anthropological as well as historical context to the ways in which the Jewish communities of North Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, and Middle East observe and enjoy this beloved ancient festival.

In addition to full Seder menus, Passover-week recipes, and at least one “break-fast” dish, each chapter opens up with the reflections of a few individuals from that region or territory. Readers can learn about the person’s memories of Passover as well as the varying customs regarding pre-Passover rituals, including cleaning the home of all hametz or “leavening,” Seder customs (such as reenacting the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt), or post-Passover celebrations, such as the Moroccan Mimouneh for marking the end of the week-long “bread fast.” These customs provide a more complete sense of the cultural variations of the holiday.

Too Good To Passover is a versatile and inspiring reference cookbook, appealing to those who may want to do a different “theme” each Passover year, with possibly a Turkish Seder one year, or Moroccan one the next.

See inside my book! Sample Spreads:

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The following 3 e-booklets are
also available on Amazon
:

E-BOOKLET 1: Seder Menus and Memories from AFRICA
(Pages 1-223/Chapters 1-6:
Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia)

E-BOOKLET 2: Seder Menus and Memories from ASIA
(Pages 225-473/Chapters 7-13:
Afghanistan & Bukharia, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria & Lebanon, Turkey, Yemen)

E-BOOKLET 3: Seder Menus and Memories from EUROPE
(Pages 475-665/Chapters 14-18:
Bulgaria & Moldova, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal & Gibraltar)

Jennifer_WritingRecipe_3BW

About Jennifer Abadi
Jennifer Abadi lives in New York City and is a researcher, developer, and preserver of Sephardic and Judeo-Arabic recipes and food customs. A culinary expert in the Jewish communities of the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and North Africa, 
Jennifer teaches cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and at the Jewish Community Center Manhattan (JCC). She also offers private lessons and works for a variety of clients in the New York City area as a personal chef. In addition, Jennifer provides Jewish food and culture tours on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Her first cookbook-memoir, A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie’s Kitchen is a collection of recipe and stores from her family. Her second cookbook, Too Good To Passover is her second cookbook.

Rice and beans for Ashkenazim on Passover? You could be lucky too.

Beans_Kidney_BlogWhile many Ashkenazim (Germanic or Eastern European Jews) have long considered Sephardim (Spanish/Mediterranean Jews) or Mizrahim (Middle Eastern Jews) lucky for being able to consume rice on Passover, this staple grain may soon be accepted for them as well. As the American diet continues to change (where individuals can choose to be gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or vegetarian) there has also been an ongoing debate in the Ashkenazi community about whether to start accepting kitniyot into the weekly Passover diet. Kitniyot (from the Hebrew word for “little things”) is a general category for such foods as legumes, pulses, corn, soybeans, peas, poppy seeds, and even rice, that like chametz (cereal grains such as wheat, or processed foods containing cereal grains such as cake or pasta) have been forbidden by Ashkenazi rabbis for centuries. (While many in the Sephardic world do consume kitniyot, it really varies region to region, such as Moroccans who generally do not consume rice, but may have chickpeas and fresh green beans). Because of today’s stricter labeling and processing requirements, it’s difficult to defend the tradition based on the possibility that a food product could have been contaminated, and the rule against kitniyot is not written in the Torah.

While some are starting to change by embracing rice and beans during Passover, many still prefer sticking to what they were brought up with. (It’s hard to change tradition!)

Here are some interesting and recent articles about the topic,
and the changes that some rabbis in the conservative movements are making.

And another regarding the legality of quinoa.

Modern Matzah with Old Fashioned Attitude: “Would it kill you to try something new?”

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©Photo by The Matzo Project

A year ago I received an email from Kevin Rodriguez, asking me if I could teach him how to make matzah. He had read about my “Lotsa Matzah” class at the JCC, and had a particular passion for anything matzah. The other day (just one Passover later) I received an email update from Kevin with the exciting news that he and his old summer camp friend, Ashley Albert, had since embarked upon a ragtag “Matzoventure” (as he called it) and were producing their first limited batch of matzah for this upcoming Passover. (I’m hoping to taste some samples very soon…)

Under the title of, “The Matzo Project,” these “guilt-free” matzahs will become available (just Salted flavor for now) starting this Friday, April 15th in five specialty stores in New York City: Greene Grape Shelsky’s, Stinky Bklyn (Chelsea), Peck’s, and Farmigo, and when they’re gone, well, they’re gone. (Kevin told me that not even their parents are getting a box this Passover!)

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©Photo by The Matzo Project: Kevin Rodriquez and Ashley Albert

There are three flavors of matzah at the moment:
Salted, Cinnamon Sugared, and Everything (plus Two Other Things), and each box promises to bring “surprisingly delicious matzo” (without the guilt, for once, suffering optional).

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©Photo by The Matzo Project

You can also pick up a jar of their Chocolate Matzo Butter Crunch, available in 3 flavors:
Milk Chocolate Pecan, Dark Chocolate Almond, and Pecan Cinnamon Bun!

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©Photo by The Matzo Project: Matzo Butter Crunch

Oy, what are you waiting for —
would it kill you to try something — nu?

Thanksgiving and Passover: Celebrations of freedom and new beginnings

Matzah_Cranberries_Thanksgiving

Yesterday a friend asked me if I would be posting something in my blog about Thanksgiving, and my immediate response was no. (After all, it’s only about Passover.) But then I got to thinking and realized that not only could I write something that linked the two celebrations together, but that I absolutely should. (See an earlier post about creating a Thanksgiving Seder plate.)

Like Passover, the Thanksgiving festival itself takes place not in a temple of worship, but directly at the dinner table amongst family and friends. One of the nicest things about Thanksgiving is that it is a national holiday (specifically American/Canadian), celebrated by all faiths and backgrounds. While Passover may be a Jewish holiday, it is probably the only one celebrated by all levels of Jewish observance, from the most secular to the most traditional.

Each celebration coincides with the harvest — Passover in the spring, and Thanksgiving in the fall — where special foods available during each particular season are central to the meal. During Thanksgiving we go out of our way to prepare dishes that utilize foods native to the Americas, such as corn, cranberries, turkey, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and pecans, which over time have become symbols of the holiday itself. During Passover, varying Jewish communities make a special effort to prepare foods using fresh spring produce, such as a variety of greens, herbs, vegetables, and fruits, while matzah (the unleavened bread symbolic of Passover), is often incorporated into dishes as well.

Finally (and most significantly) each of these two holidays is an opportunity for us to teach our children (and remind ourselves) about important moments in our history when people were persecuted for their differences and forced to flee for a better, more open life. For the Pilgrims it meant traveling for two treacherous months by sea from Europe, to an unknown life in the New World, for the chance to to worship freely and live life in a new way. And for the Israelites the Bible tells of how enslavement in Egypt forced them to wander through the “wilderness” or desert for forty years just to escape the wrath of the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, in hopes of rebuilding their lives in the Promised Land.

In summary, Thanksgiving as well as Passover represents the will to free oneself from an oppressed life, as well as the strength to start anew, despite the many obstacles and difficulties that might be encountered along the way. During this holiday season when we think about what we are thankful for, let us remember not only those in the past who have succeeded in finding and building a freer life,
but for those today who who have only started their journey.

Fall Grapes for a Spring Wine: It’s never too early to prepare for Passover!

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For most Jews the Passover holiday is the last thing on anyone’s mind in October and November, but for some individuals this is exactly the time to start preparing for the holiday. Late fall is when wheat grains will be milled into flour meant for matzah, and in one of my first posts to this blog, I noted how the legendary Streit’s matzah factory on the Lower East Side would begin their methodical cleaning of the factory at this period of time in order to start producing Passover matzahs for the spring. In many countries around the world, grapes are now being harvested for bottles of wine that will be sitting at our tables months from now as well. In the following account, one young woman reminisces about a childhood tradition while growing up in her home country of Georgia:

“In the fall season preceding Passover, my father would make the wine. We had a cellar where he would keep a giant wooden vat and fill with kilos upon kilos of grapes. My brother, sister, and I would put on these special very tall boots and stomp up and down on the grapes to make the juice for the wine. Then my father would turn this handle on the side that would separate the skins somehow, and empty the juice into a bucket. He would pour this juice into huge glass containers shaped similar to bottles and ferment it into wine specifically for Passover in the spring. I love those memories, and I can still hear our giggling.”

— Irina Kazhiloti

Passover and the spring season may be months away in time, but the matzah and wine for your Seder are already underway.

Four Generations Come Together for Algerian Boulettes with Green Peas

David Rak's grandmother Ginette (seated left), clockwise: David' mom X, David's Dad X, David's wife Jennifer, David (center), and his youngest daughter Léa

David Rak’s grandmother Ginette (seated left), David’s parents Nicole and Robert Rak (standing in back),                 David and Jennifer Rak (center and right), and their youngest daughter Léa (on David’s lap 🙂 )

Each spring, Ginette Cohen would pack her suitcase with quatre épices and a box of Spigol spice packets, and fly from France to New York City to visit her grandson David Rak for his birthday. In his tiny Harlem kitchen, she would prepare the dish that he most longed for: Les Boulettes, and a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to catch her on a visit and learn her secrets. Ginette explained to me that for other occasions, these meat patties would be coated in semolina and served over couscous, but during Passover they were instead dusted with matzah meal and served over steamed crushed matzah. Proudly served on all occasions, Boulettes gives delicious new meaning to Algerian-Jewish comfort food.

The following is a visual recipe for Boulettes:

Boulettes_Step1_blog

Step 1: Combine ground lamb and beef, eggs, broken up matzah, almond flour, onions, garlic salt, pepper, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, saffron, mint, coriander, and parsley in a large bowl.

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Step 2: Roll meat into large balls and roll lightly in the semolina or matzah meal.

Step 3: Place all coated meatballs onto a cutting board or tray and flatten slightly into patties.

Step 3: Place all coated meatballs onto a cutting board or tray and flatten slightly into patties.

Step 4: Dip patties into beaten eggs.

Step 4: Coat patties into beaten eggs.

Step 5: Gently place patties into a pan with very hot oil to fry until dark golden-brown on both sides.

Step 5: Gently place into a pan with very hot oil and fry until dark golden-brown on both sides.

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Step 6: Simmer boulettes with peas in a broth made of water, onions, salt, turmeric, and saffron for 1 hour.

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Step 7: Serve!

 

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