(March 30, 2020 / JNS) This year, I’m not going overboard. I’m not even using my late mother’s dinner service for 20; instead, it’s plastic ware. Everything has changed in the era of corona, Passover included.
Yet we must celebrate (Passover begins at sundown on April 8 and ends the evening of April 16), even if you are the lone attendee. I realize people don’t seem up to it: Shopping for ingredients will be difficult, and faces normally present around our holiday tables won’t be there. But it is a festival of freedom, after all, and we need to declare that: Jewish freedom in the time of a real plague.
It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of Jews worldwide attend a Passover seder. If that’s so, this year, that number may shoot even higher with everyone stationary at home. We will read our Haggadahs and savor traditional dishes, like Bubbe’s brisket and chicken soup. Freedom must be cherished, family must be cherished, food must be cherished.
In fact, the entire eight-day celebration revolves around eating specific foods and the prohibition of leavened foods. All ingredients used during this time must be labeled kosher-for-Passover. Supermarkets typically have an enormous variety, but this year, getting what we need might be tough. Still, we can always improvise.
After the seders, why not “host” a virtual Sunday “bruncheon?” Email invitations and send the menu to family and friends ahead of time. Halve the recipes, if need be. Then, on Sunday morning, April 12, set up your mobile or other devices, and enjoy some virtual guests at the table.
For the dishes below, look through your existing supplies.
Any white wine will due for the Prosecco; it doesn’t need to be sparkling. No need for salmon; use whatever fish you have in the freezer or can purchase in the next week. Forget kumquats; try a clementine or orange, then spike the drink with a splash of orange juice. Make an uncomplicated dessert. In a pinch, a fruit salad will do; topped with a dollop of the chocolate sauce, it can be sensational.
If anything, we need to maintain our resilience, spirituality, and above all, sense of humor. After all, we Jews have been doing that for thousands of years.
Chag Pesach Sameach!
PASSOVER ‘BRUNCHEON’ MENU
Honey-Glazed Salmon With Kumquat Salsa
Jicama Mango Salad
Herb-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Fresh Pineapple Kugel
Orange Sponge Pudding With Blackberries
Blood-Orange Segments (or Other Fruit) With Simply Sinful Chocolate Sauce
Boca Bellinis (Pareve)
*Squeeze lime juice the day before.
*Turn glasses upside down, dip edges first in egg white, then in sugar.
*Use disposable champagne glasses.
1 egg white, lightly beaten
sugar to dredge
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 bottle Prosecco, chilled
Using egg white and sugar, prepare glasses as above. Chill until ready to serve.
Pour about 2 teaspoons lime juice in each glass. Top with Prosecco.
Honey-Glazed Salmon (Pareve)
*Buy salmon fillets, with skin attached. Salmon will be more moist and flavorful than skinless.
*Line baking pan with aluminum foil.
*Remove from oven before a white curd appears between flakes to risk overcooking.
¼ cup honey, warmed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
8 salmon fillets, 6 ounces each, boneless
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a cup, whisk together the honey and lemon juice. Set aside.
Arrange salmon, skin side down, about ½-inch apart, in a baking pan or rimmed cookie sheet.
Brush with olive oil, then with the honey mixture. Sprinkle with pepper.
Bake 25 minutes or until flakes are opaque when separated with a fork.
May be served at room temperature.
Kumquat (or Orange) Salsa (Pareve)
Makes about 2 cups
Kumquats are miniature citrus fruits resembling small oval oranges. No need to remove seeds. They’re soft, chewy and edible.
*Chopped ginger is available frozen in markets.
2 cups kumquats, halved
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice
¼ cup cilantro, finely snipped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger root
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Place kumquats (or oranges), sugar, vinegar and orange juice in a microwave safe bowl. Cover lightly with wax paper.
Microwave for 2 minutes on High or until kumquats are slightly softened.
Transfer to food processor. Process until coarsely chopped.
In a bowl, mix together the kumquats and remaining ingredients.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Jicama and Mango Salad (Pareve)
Jicama is a large, bulbous, thin-skinned root vegetable. Eaten raw, it adds a sweet, crunchiness to salads.
*Substitute dried cranberries for raisins; they add some color.
*Substitute a very small pinch of cayenne pepper for serrano pepper.
*Cut mango into ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes.
4 cups peeled, diced jicama
3 cups peeled, diced mango
1 cup golden raisins
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup orange juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ serrano pepper, seeded
Gently toss the jicama, mango and raisins in a large bowl. Set aside.
In the blender, whirl the juices, oil and pepper until pepper is thoroughly blended.
Pour over the jicama mixture and toss. Serve chilled.
Herb-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes (Pareve)
*Use dried rosemary and thyme instead of fresh: 1 teaspoon dried to 1 tablespoon fresh.
*Lemon juice drizzled over cooked potatoes intensifies herb flavors.
*If using fresh rosemary leaves, discard woody stems.
*May need to use two baking sheets.
*Use latex gloves to toss potatoes.
*Potatoes are ready when a pointed knife slips out easily.
2½-3 pounds fingerling potatoes, washed
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons finely snipped thyme
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Thinly coat baking sheet with olive oil. Cut potatoes in 1-inch to 1½-inch chunks and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, rosemary, thyme and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Toss to thoroughly coat.
Spread potatoes in one layer. Cover with aluminum foil.
Roast for 20 minutes in preheated oven. Remove foil, toss potatoes and continue roasting for 15 to 30 minutes longer, or until potatoes are tender.
Serve hot or warm.
Note: Make an hour or so ahead of time. Transfer to ovenproof serving dish, cover with aluminum foil. Warm in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Fresh Pineapple Kugel (Dairy)
Serves 8 to 10
Delicious, hot, cold or at room temperature.
*Coarsely chop fresh pineapple chunks in food processor.
*To prevent stickiness in kosher-for-Passover cooked noodles, run cold water through them and drain thoroughly.
⅔ cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon, divided
5 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup peanut oil, plus oil for coating dish
½ cup sour cream
2 cups fresh pineapple, coarsely chopped
1 (16 oz.) jar chunky applesauce
8 oz. noodles, cooked according to package directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Coat a 9 x 12 inch baking dish with peanut oil.
In a cup, mix 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add ¼ cup peanut oil, sour cream, pineapple, applesauce, ⅔ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir in noodles and mix well.
Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake in preheated oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until firm in center when touched lightly with fingers. Cut into squares while warm.
May be frozen.
Orange Sponge Pudding With Fresh Blackberries (Dairy)
Recipe may be doubled for this rich dessert.
3 eggs, divided
½ cup milk
½ cup honey, warmed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup matzah cake meal
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons frozen thawed orange juice concentrate
1 cup fresh blackberries to garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 6 custard cups with nonstick vegetable spray. Place cups in a 9-inch square baking dish. Set aside.
Separate the egg yolks and egg whites, and place in separate bowls. Whisk the egg whites until they peak softly. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and milk. Add the honey, butter, cake meal, salt and orange-juice concentrate. Mix well to blend.
Gently fold in the egg whites, leaving some lumps.
Divide equally between the prepared custard cups. Carefully pour hot water into the baking dish to come about halfway up the sides of the cups.
Bake in preheated oven 35 minutes, or until top is golden-brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
To serve: Place on a pretty dessert plate with blackberries on the side. Serve at room temperature.
Easy Sinful Chocolate Sauce (Dairy)
Makes about 2 cups
*May make a week ahead and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
*Chop chocolate in food processor.
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon orange extract
In a saucepan over low heat, melt the cream and butter, stirring often.
Raise heat to medium, and add the chocolate and cinnamon. Stir until melted and smooth.
Stir in the orange extract. Remove from heat.
Ethel G. Hofman is a widely syndicated American Jewish food and travel columnist, author and culinary consultant.
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