How to eat a Passover dinner in style

Click photo to download. Caption: Chef Jamie Geller. Credit: HarperCollins Publishers.

 

By Alina Dain Sharon/JNS.org

For some of us, a certain measure of austerity is associated with the Passover holiday. Just as our people were forced to eat unleavened bread after escaping from slavery in Egypt, we forgo bread and other leavened products in favor of matzah for a week. 

At the same time, restaurant chefs, cookbook authors, and home cooks alike have been embracing the idea that cooking on Passover does not need to be inherently bland—and can even be upscale.

“The purpose of Passover is to celebrate our freedom from slavery in Egypt. Eating unleavened bread/matzah is due to the haste in which we left. But by no means is the purpose of Passover to remember the lack of normal food,” says Joy of Kosher cookbook author Jaime Geller.

“As with all celebrations, we mark this momentous, life altering, sea splitting event in our history with food, family and prayer,” she adds.

Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine and JOYofKOSHER.com staff members, and Geller herself, “stretch, and flex, and exercise, our culinary muscles each and every year coming up with new, creative, inspired, and easy recipes and menus to make this Passover the most delicious, enjoyable, memorable holiday ever,” Geller said.

The following recipes from JOYofKOSHER.com can make for a fancy kosher-for-Passover dinner that Geller believes will impress your guests.

Click photo to download. Caption: Salmon Cakes with Tropical Fruit Salsa, part of Jamie Geller's upscale Passover dinner menu. Credit: Joy of Kosher Magazine with Jaime Geller.

Appetizer: Salmon Cakes with Tropical Fruit Salsa

Croquettes are cute and elegant for your starter course. They’re also wonderfully light and refreshing. The tropical salsa is a combination of fresh pineapple, mango, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice—the perfect complement to the richness of the salmon. The balance of sweet and savory flavors instantly pleases the palate. This is a starter with zing!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ready Time: 1 hour

Servings: 10 cakes

Ingredients for cakes:

1 (2-pound) side of salmon, skin on

1/2 cup red onion, diced

2 tablespoons matzah meal

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for salsa:

1 cup diced pineapple

1/2 cup diced mango

1/2 cup diced red onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a large baking sheet. Bake salmon skin side down for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Let cool completely.

2. Once salmon is cooled, gently flake away from the skin and break into large chunks. Place in a large bowl and combine with eggs, red onion, matzah meal, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well. Scoop about 1/3 cup at a time into your hands and form into a round patty about 1/4-inch thick. Place on a sheet pan and repeat with remaining mixture until you have formed 10 cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine pineapple, mango, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry 5 cakes at a time for about 5 to 8 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel lined plate while frying remaining cakes. To serve, top each cake with a few tablespoons of salsa.

Click photo to download. Caption: Eggplant Tomato StacksCredit: Joy of Kosher Magazine with Jaime Geller.

Side Dish: Eggplant Tomato Stacks

These individual eggplant stacks are as beautiful as they are versatile—add ground beef to make them heartier.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ready Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 6 

Ingredients:

1 large, long eggplant, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup fine matzah meal or potato starch seasoned with dried parsley, salt and pepper

Vegetable, walnut or hazelnut oil for frying

3 cups marinara sauce 

Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Dip the eggplant slices in egg and then in the seasoned matzah meal.

3. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant in batches until golden on both sides; remove and drain on paper towels.

To Assemble the Eggplant Stacks:

4. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9-by-13 inch pan. Cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Place one layer of eggplant, top with sauce, top with eggplant, and top with sauce again.

5. Bake covered for 20 minutes.

6. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Dress It Up: For a quick and elegant time saver, warm sauce and pre-plate individual stacks. Alternate 2 or 3 layers of eggplant and sauce and garnish with fresh herbs.

Click photo to download. Caption: Marinara sauce. Credit: Veganbaking.net via Wikimedia Commons.

Homemade Marinara Sauce to go with the stacks:

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ready Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 3 cups

Ingredients: 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

1 onion, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

5 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 cups water

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil on a medium-high flame in a medium stock pot and then add the oregano, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Give a few good stirs to release the flavors of the spices. 

2. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook down for another 5 minutes or until they start to fall apart. Add the tomato puree and the water, and cook over a medium flame for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Click photo to download. Caption: Grilled Ribeye with Crispy Parsnips. Credit: Joy of Kosher Magazine with Jaime Geller.

Main Course: Grilled Ribeye with Crispy Parsnips

Ribeye is one of the most popular, juiciest, expensive steaks on the market. This cut is more marbled than others, which makes the steak especially tender and flavorful. Crispy parsnips are the perfect, slightly sweet alternative to French fries.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ready Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

8 medium parsnips, peeled

4 cups olive oil

6 rib eye steaks, 1-inch thick, room temperature (6-8 ounces each)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Using a peeler, peel parsnips into thin strips until you cannot peel anymore of the parsnip. 

2. Heat oil over medium high heat. Fry parsnips in batches for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all parsnips are fried. 

3. Heat grill pan over high heat. Season steaks liberally with salt and pepper and grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare doneness. Let rest 5 minutes before serving or slicing.

Click photo to download. Caption: Chocolate-Mango Ganache Truffles. Credit: Joy of Kosher Magazine with Jaime Geller.

Dessert: Chocolate-Mango Ganache Truffles

A classic ganache has cream and butter in it, but this ganache is parve and works well for cake fillings, frosting, and truffles.

Servings: 36 truffles

Ingredients:

14 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao)

1 cup mango puree (I prefer Ceres brand)

2 egg yolks

1 vanilla bean, scraped

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the mango puree, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Cool slightly.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks and vanilla bean on high speed to a ribbon stage. (When the whisk is lifted, the mixture falls back into the bowl, forming a ribbon-like pattern on the surface). Turn the mixer speed down and pour the chocolate mixture into the eggs. Scrape down the bowl and return the mixer to high speed. Whip the chocolate ganache until it has completely cooled and is fluffy (about 5 minutes). The ganache can be stored, covered with parchment or plastic on the surface, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.

3. To roll the ganache into truffles, chill overnight. Scoop a small amount of ganache with an ice cream scooper and roll between your hands gently. Roll the truffle into cocoa powder or chopped nuts, or dip it into melted chocolate. Store the truffles in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Jamie Geller is the only best-selling cookbook author who wants to get you out of the kitchen—not because she doesn’t love food—but because she has tons to do. As “The Bride Who Knew Nothing,” Jamie found her niche specializing in fast, fresh, family recipes. Now the “Queen of Kosher” (CBS) and the “Jewish Rachael Ray” (New York Times), she’s the creative force behind JoyofKosher.com and "Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller" magazine. Jamie and her hubby live in Israel with their five busy kids who give her plenty of reasons to get out of the kitchen—quickly. Check out her new book, "Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes."

All recipes except the dessert are courtesy of Jamie Geller and “Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine.” The recipe for Chocolate-Mango Ganache Truffles is courtesy of Chef Laura Frankel and “Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine.”

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Posted on January 28, 2015 and filed under Passover, Special Sections.