Let’s talk about Passover

Passover seems to have consumed my life for the past two weeks. Not only did we work on an entire segment at the Daily Planet, but I spent two days cooking with the lovely R.L. for our Friday night seder, had a seder on Saturday with some lovely friends, and made an Easter brunch for my roommates which of course featured Matzo Brei. I have also made it my goal to see how many delicious meals I can make with matzo this week. Monday I made Matzo Pizza, and tonight I’m aiming for Matzo nachos.

I have to say that the seder with R.L. took the cake. Here’s what the menu looked like:

Kale Salad with squash (the one I posted a few weeks ago)

Charoset from LA Times

Matzo Ball Soup from LA Times

Crispy potato Roast from Smitten Kitchen

Tangy Spiced Brisket, sub bbq sauce for chili sauce, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Stuffed Lamb Leg (not quite a Kosher recipe, but you can omit the feta)

Coconut Macaroons

Matzo Bark from Smitten Kitchen

Chocolate Cake Roll

Chocolate-glazed nut torte with Sephardic Syrup, from LA Times

  • 2/3 cup (90 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) hazelnuts
  • 1 cup almonds (5.3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup matzo cake meal (1 ounce)
  • 1 cup sugar (7.2 ounces), divided
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil such as grapeseed or safflower oil, divided
  • About 2 cups Sephardi syrup (recipe follows)
  • 8 strawberries (about 5½ ounces)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan in the oven until the skins begin to split, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a strainer.

2. Rub the hot hazelnuts energetically with a towel against a strainer to remove some of the skins. Cool the nuts completely. Reserve 2 tablespoons nuts for garnish.

3. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. If you would like to turn the cake out instead of leaving it on the springform pan’s base, line the base with a round of foil and grease the foil.

4. Grind the hazelnuts with the almonds, cake meal and one-fourth cup sugar in a food processor, stopping to scrape down a few times, until very fine.

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks with one-half cup sugar until the mixture is pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in the orange zest.

 

Sephardi Syrup

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 pinches of ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1. Bring to a boil all but the last two ingredients.

2. Add the orange juice and lower to a simmer. Cook for two minutes.

3. Add the zest and let cool. Pour into a bowl and transfer to refrigerator allowing to sit at least 2 hours before using.

Fresh Garbanzo Beans

Fresh Garbanzo Beans

After having these at a restaurant over a year ago I have been dying to try making them myself. Lucky for me I came across a Mexican grocery store that always has them in stock. Fresh garbanzo beans have a similar taste and texture to peas. After doing a little research I found recipes for fresh garbanzo bean hummus, garbanzo bean guacamole, garbanzo bean salad, but my favorite still to date is just simply pan roasted. Look for this recipe on the LA Times Blog, coming soon.

Simply Pan Roasted Garbanzo Beans

  • 2 cups fresh garbanzo beans, unshelled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder or to taste
  • a few squeezes of lime juice

Procedure

1. Rinse the fresh garbanzo beans and pat dry with a paper towel. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Toss with oil and salt.

3. Heat a saute pan over medium high. Once hot add the garbanzo beans.

4. Roast beans until dark brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes. Make sure to move them occasionally to make sure they are not burning.

5. Remove to a bowl, toss with chili pepper and a sprinkle of lime and enjoy*!

*Fresh garbanzo beans are eaten like edamame, squeeze them open and eat the pea inside, not the shell.

Kale Salad with winter squash

Kale Salad with winter squash

It seems like every other recipe request I see at work is for kale salad so this week we experimented with a few. Above is a photo of the kale salad with winter squash. The butternut squash can stand alone but is still a positive addition to this kale recipe. Recipe published here. The key to a good kale salad is massage. No, really. I had no idea that just massaging the kale with a little salt and oil breaks it down to a soft and silky consistency. There is no need for cooking and this tough and bitter vegetable becomes a great base for a salad.

 

The LA Times Kale Salad with Butternut Squash:

For the squash:

1 pound section of butternut squash, unpeeled (preferably the thinner neck)

Olive oil

2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Salt

1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about ¼ cup loosely packed)

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For the salad:

1 pound kale

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise into quarters, then seed and remove any of the stringy center. Cut the pieces crosswise into slices a little thicker than one-fourth inch. Place the squash in a large mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, the thyme and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat well. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss again.

2. Line a jellyroll pan with metal foil and arrange the squash wedges in a single layer. Roast until the squash is tender, fragrant and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

3. Remove and discard the stems from the kale. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Grab the leaves by the handfuls and massage them roughly. Don’t be timid. After a minute or two, the coarse, stiff leaves will turn soft and silky. You’ll have about half the volume of kale you started with. Add the sherry vinegar and toss well. Season to taste with more salt and vinegar if necessary.

4. Arrange the greens in a low mound on individual serving plates or on a platter. Scatter the cooled squash pieces over the top. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and serve.