Monday, April 28, 2008


About halfway through Passover I started craving granola which, being made of oats, is definitely on the forbidden list for the week. I tortured myself looking at recipes I couldn't make until Passover ended and finally purchased the needed ingredients yesterday. I still haven't switched my dishes, but by 9 o'clock last night I had a big batch of granola cooling on top of the stove.

I've made granola plenty of times and yet I 'm always delighted at how a good mix of ingredients and only the slightest effort produces something so much tastier than can be bought. I tried the recipe from Nigella Lawson's Feast which has gotten rave reviews all over the place and I wasn't disappointed. Yes, I know, there's an awful lot of Nigella around here what can I say? She 's never let me down.

Her granola recipe includes applesauce which seemed a little weird to me but I think it helps everything stick together without a frightful amount of oil and also softens the texture just enough that you don't fear cracking your teeth.
This batch was made with sliced almonds, cashews, pepitas, dried cherries and dried apricots. Yum. Surely you want to make some yourself. The recipe is here. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Matzoh Crack

We used to call it toffee matzoh around here, but the description from Smitten Kitchen seems to have taken hold this year and for good reason. This stuff is delicious and, yes, downright addictive. In fact, it's what gets us through the long, tedious, post seder days of Passover.

It takes all of 10 minutes to make and the only hard part is waiting for it to cool. Heat a stick of butter and a half cup of brown sugar in a saucepan and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Add a pinch of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Set aside to cool. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil and cover completely with matzoh, breaking the sheets as necessary to fill in gaps. Spread the melted sauce evenly over the matzoh and pop into a 350 degree oven until caramel starts to bubble. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Wait 5 minutes or so, until the chocolate is soft, and spread evenly over matzohs. You can top the melted chocolate with chopped nuts if you like. Put trays in the refrigerator to cool. Then eat. Not all at once if you can help it.

I probably should have brought this up before the end of Passover, but the good news is you should be able to find marked down matzoh in stores now.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Iraqi Macaroons

The seder meal is rarely terribly innovative at my house, especially when I am serving to my older relatives. We start with gefilte fish and matzo ball soup and then move on to some kind of vegetarian main dish alongside brisket or chicken, allowing me and the kids who are concerned about such things to keep vegetarian while the meat eaters are satisfied, too. There's asparagus, tzimmes, and fruit salad as well along with charoset and horseradish.

Even dessert is pretty standard. Unless the holiday falls super early in the year and edible berries have yet to arrive on our supermarket shelves, I make a flourless sponge cake rolled around whipped cream and strawberries which, I'm sorry to say, does not photograph well. This year's berries were not so good, especially after the exuberantly fragrant ones we ate last month in San Jose, but liberal additions of sugar and vanilla brought them to life. Plus, when surrounded by clouds of whipped cream, what's not to like?

It was feeling a bit too formulaic for me this year and I started looking around for something to spice things up. While re-reading the Passover chapter in Nigella Lawson's Feast, I came across her recipe for Iraqi Macaroons which looked more or less like the standard homemade variety with the addition of freshly ground cardamom and rosewater. Freshly ground cardamom? I'm there!

Aren't they cute? So plump and nutty, and vaguely exotic. And they were the surprise hit of our seder. I thought they'd be politely declined (more for me!) but everyone requested a few in their take-home packages.

Do give these a try as they are quite delightful. Being quite sturdy I imagine they would likely travel well. Also, as I'm finding more and more folks eschewing wheat, I like having a few wheat free options for sharing. The recipe is here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Walnut Pate

It's that time of year again and the massive cooking extravaganza has begun. Today I started the stock for the matzoh ball soup. I also made tzimmes and lemon curd, as well as a large batch of walnut pate. A week without bread, pasta, and tortillas leaves us wanting lots of different spreads to perk up all that matzoh. That first taste at the seder is wonderful but as the week rolls on, a change of pace is appreciated. That's how lemon curd and walnut pate became staples for us this time of year.

In all my frenzied list-making I almost forgot about walnut pate. The Dark Lord reminded me yesterday and it's a good keeper so I made up a big batch today. This recipe is often called (rather sadly in my opinion) mock chopped liver. That makes sit sound like it's not quite something else when what it is is delicious. So we are making a concerted effort to rename this tasty, high protein Passover standby (though it could easily be made any time of year). It's simple enough: onions, eggs, and walnuts--but these few things work magic together once the onions have browned deeply and the walnuts are lightly toasted. It doesn't make a spectacular food photo, but as a spread on matzoh (or bread) it can't be beat. Think of this when you need something a little different for your next picnic or sack lunch. You'll find the recipe here.