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Favorite Passover Recipe–Apple Matzo Kugel

Passover is less than a month away, so why should I be surprised that people are searching for Passover recipes? Probably because we just finished baking hamentashen for Purim!

My all time favorite Passover recipe is Apple Matzo Kugel. I have made this every year for the last 5 and it always is delicious and easy to prepare. Enjoy!

Apple Matzo Kugel

INGREDIENTS

-4 large apples, Granny Smith or any tart apple, cored and cut into medium dice
-½ cup light brown sugar
-1/3 cup orange juice
-7 plain matzos
-8 eggs
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 cups sugar
-½ cup butter or margarine, melted
-1 cup golden raisins
-1 cup dried apricots, medium, chopped
-5 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut into small pieces, for casserole topping

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Toss the apples with the brown sugar and orange juice and set aside in a medium bowl.

3. Break the matzo into 2-3 inch pieces and soak in 1 cup of warm water until soft, but not mushy. Set aside.

4. While the matzo soaks, in a large bowl, beat the eggs with a wire whisk until blended. Add the salt, sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, raisins and apricots.

5. Squeeze the liquid from the softened matzoh and add the matzoh to the egg mixture with the apples. Stir the kugel well and pour into a lightly greased 2 ½ quart casserole dish or a 10X14 inch pan. Dot the top of the kugel with the 4 tablespoons of butter.

6. Bake the kugel for 1 hour. Cover the top with foil if the top begins to become too brown early in the baking. Remove the kugel from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Cooks Tip: The kugel can be made 2 days ahead, cooled and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature and reheat in a 350 degree oven.

Makes 12 servings.

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Charoset–The Star of The Seder Table

Unlike the other elements of the seder plate; roasted egg, bitter herbs, shank bone, parsley and matzo, charoset is the true stand-out. This is one dish where you can let your create juices and personal taste preferences really soar.
Charoset
Most of us think of charoset, which symbolizes the brick and mortar made by Jews when they were slaves in Egypt, as a simple mixture of apples, walnuts and wine. This is indeed, the traditional Ashkenazi recipe. But given that I am half Sephardic, I have a special yearning for the recipes that include more exotic ingredients such as dates, nuts, ginger and more. In my opinion, these recipes represent a fun opportunity for some real gourmet flair on the seder plate and table.

What I truly appreciate about charoset is that this one small item can bring exciting new flavors as well as history and ethnicity to a meal that tends to be so traditional. Certainly it opens doors for other interesting recipes—and conversation!

Below are some recipes that I am considering for the first seder, this Monday. All are from the outstanding Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook. I plan to make atleast 2 of them and will double or triple recipes so that we can enjoy these healthful holiday treats all week long!

Do you have any favorite charoset recipes? Please post them as a comment to this blog so everyone can share them.

Happy Passover and let’s always remember the sweetness of freedom. We can only hope that someday, everyone will be free.

FAVORITE CHAROSET RECIPES

Yemenite Haroset
10 pitted Dates, chopped
10 Figs, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tsp ground ginger
Red Wine
Matzah Meal

Combine fruit, sesame seeds and ginger. Add red wine and matza meal to bring it to the consistency you want.

Makes about 2 ½ cups

Israeli Haroset

15 pitted dates, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
3 bananas, mashed
Juice and grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup almonds, chopped
½ cup red wine
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Sugar or honey to taste
Matzah meal, if needed

Combine fruits, nuts, wine, cinnamon and sugar or honey. Add matzo meal to get the consistency you want.

Makes about 6 cups

North African Haroset

½ cup pine nuts, chopped
1 hard-cooked egg yolk, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled and grated
½ cup sugar
½ cup ground almonds
½ cup chopped walnuts
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Ground cinnamon to taste
Ground ginger to taste
Red wine—add to your desired consistency

Mix all ingredients until mixture comes together. Refrigerate.

Makes about 2 cups

Haroset from Suriname
7 oz package unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 ½ cups raisins
1 ½ cups dried apples
1 ½ cups prunes
1 ½ cups dried apricots
1 ½ cups dried pears
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ cup cherry jam
Sweet red wine

1. Combine in saucepan all ingredients except cherry jam and wine. Add enough cold water to just cover fruit. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, and adding more water if necessary.
2. Remove from heat; stir in cherry jam. Set aside to cool.
3. Add just enough sweet red wine to be absorbed by the fruit. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Makes about 9 cups

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Happy Hanukkah–The Best Latkes are Your Very Own

A few years ago my friend Shari and I decided to pool our latke-making skills and begin what has become our neighborhood tradition of “Shari and Jane’s Latke Party.” All our friends look forward to this. Having been taught by “the master” (my mom) I thought my latkes were pretty good—potato taste with just the right amount of crisp. What I didn’t expect was that there was an aspect to what made a great latke: it’s even edges.

Shari and Jane Making Latkes

When Shari (in white shirt) came to my house our first year, with her pans of latkes to stick in my large freezer, I was kind of amazed and perplexed. Her latkes definitely were much prettier then mine! I had prided myself on the funky, jagged edges of mine (maybe how I see myself with my funky curly hair? But her hair is even curlier then mine!). Whatever the reason, I took on the challenge to see if I could “clean up” my latkes and see if I could make them prettier. I have succeeded to some extent. Shari taught me that the key is to compress them onto a large spoon and glide them off the spoon into the oil then press them gently. It has definitely made a difference.

But the interesting thing about this is that I realized that we all cook our latkes differently—loose, tight, with sour cream on the side, without, with onion, without, etc. But in the end they are all yummy and do the job. To me, the most important part is that we are making them ourselves, from scratch.

Sherry and her girls

Sherry and her girls; Newly Minted Latke Mavens

Just before Thanksgiving, Sherry (Challah Connection Director of Customer Service) came to work looking forlorn. Her mother in law was visiting and had asked Sherry if she had any jobs for her while Sherry was at work. Sherry asked her if she would make 4 dozen latkes—“No” was the answer (actually—it was a tall order). When I asked Sherry why she was so upset by that, she confessed to me that she had never made latkes and was actually a bit intimidated by the process. I was fairly surprised since she and her daughters are great cooks who make lots of ambitious recipes. I offered my extra large pan and gave her a pep talk: I knew she could do it. Sure enough, Monday after Thanksgiving she came to work with a new confidence about her—her aura was different. She had conquered her latke fear and made 4 dozen perfect latkes!

Harry

Harry--His cooking specialites are eggs and latkes

Tomorrow night, we will be going to my parents’ house for a pre-Hanukkah party while my brother and his 4 kids who live in Israel will be visiting. My 17-year old, Harry, will be manning the latke pan while the rest of us admire his work and pop them in our greedy mouths. Whatever shape your latkes are, I know they will be great and you’ll be so proud that you made them yourself!
Happy frying and here is Shari’s recipe. By the way, we have a perfect apron for the occasion: our chic latke apron.

Latke Apron

Grandma Anne’s Latkes
Simple, but the best traditional latkes. She always threw in a little of this and a little of that, but when pushed for exact quantities, here’s what I got-and they are delicious!
For a crowd-serves about 12
15 big white potatoes of your choice
3 large or 4 medium brown or yellow onions
6 large eggs
1 cup flour or matzo meal
3 tbl salt
1 ½ tbl white pepper
-Peel potatoes and place in cold water to retain color
-Grate onions and potatoes in batches, squeezing out and draining excess water as you go, but don’t take out the water from the last batch
-Add the eggs and mix
-Add flour, salt and pepper and mix well
-To cook the latkes, drop large spoonfuls into a pan of ¼ inch of very hot oil. Using the spoon, quickly and gently press the potato mixture to form a flat oval shape, then loosen from the bottom if it sticks slightly. Turn once, cooking until each side is golden brown. Remove to drain on a baking sheet covered in paper towels
-Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven
-To make ahead, freeze latkes in a single layer, then place frozen pancakes in a plastic freezer bag. To reheat, place on a cookie sheet in a single layer and heat for 7 minutes at 375 degrees

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And the Winner Is….

Thanks to all who submitted recipes for our Dairy Recipe Contest! We received some truly delicious and creative recipes. The Grand Prize winner, who will receive a cheesecake, with our compliments, is R. Urist (left). While she submitted 4 great sounding recipes, she won for her Tomato and Onion Tarte. Three other winners will each receive our Jewish Proverbs Mug. Please scroll to see all of our recipe submissions. Thanks again to all who participated and look out for our next contest, for Rosh Hashana!

The Winning Recipe—-

Tomato and Onion Tarte

Ingredients

2 large onions (about 1½ pounds), sliced thin

2 tablespoons olive oil

butter pastry dough for a single crust 12 inch tart (recipe follows)

½ pound dry Jack or Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

½ pound plum tomatoes cut into ½ inch wedges

½ pound medium yellow tomatoes (about 2) or ½ pound plum tomatoes, cut into ½ inch wedges

¼ cup Niçoise olives, pitted

In a large, heavy skillet cook onions with salt to taste in oil, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden and any liquid evaporates. Remove skillet from heat to cool onions slightly.

Preheat oven to 370 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll dough into a 14 inch round (about 1/8 thick). Fold round in half and transfer to a 12-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim or a 12 inch quiche dish. Unfold dough, easing to fit, and trim overhang to 3/4 inch. Fold overhang toward center and press against side of pan or dish. Spread onion mixture over dough and top with cheese. Arrange tomato wedges and olives in concentric circles over cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Bake tart in middle of oven 1 hour, or until pastry is golden, and cool on a rack. Remove rim of pan if necessary.

Serve tart warm or at room temperature. Serves 12 to 16 as part of buffet.

BUTTER PASTRY DOUGH

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 ½ sticks (¾ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

6 to 7 tablespoons ice water.

Throw first three ingredients into food processor and mix. While mixing, add water slowly, till ingredients form a ball of dough. (It might not all adhere in a single ball; don’t overdo it, or you’ll break your machine.) Wrap dough in slastic wrap and chill 1 hour. Pastry dough may be made 1 week ahead and chilled. Makes enough dough for a single crust 12 inch tart.

Notes:

1. I find that this pastry dough recipe always makes enough for more than one 12 inch tart.

2. If you cover roll out the dough with a layer of plastic wrap between the dough and the rolling pin, nothing sticks, and the whole thing makes the expression “easy as pie” meaningful. (Other wise “easy as pie” is a cruelly sadistic culinary seduction to all young brides. Pie crusts can be frustrating and difficult!!)
3. You can mix and match the cheeses. No need to stick with these stipulations. A mixture of Gruyere and Jack or Mozzarella is also good.

4. Various kinds of olives work with this. I like pungent black (Greek) olives on this tart, even though I’m not so fond of them plain.

5. This tart comes out better if the shell is baked first, separately, before filling it. That way, the shell stays wonderfully crisp and yummy. To bake an unfilled tart shell, roll out the dough, lay it out in the tart pan, then line dough with tin foil, then fill the foil covering with weights (no need for real weights; a bag of beans will do, and you can save these beans and use them over and over again as weights for future tart shells), then bake at 425 for ten minutes. Then, remove the weights and the foil carefully, and bake the uncovered shell another 3 to 5 minutes, till dry and golden. Don’t let it burn!!

(Do you wonder about the weights? Here’s why you need them. If the dough gets cooked unweighted, it’ll bubble up, and you lose your tart shape. You’ll end up with a roller-coaster shaped piece of useless pastry.)

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Dairy Recipe: Grandma Rose’s Noodle Pudding

Submitted for our Dairy Recipe Contest by E. Comerford

Ingredients

1 bag of wide egg noodles cooked and drained
3 eggs beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1 lb pot style cottage cheese
1/2 to 3/4 cup of raisins
8 oz. can of crushed pineapple
2 apples, grated
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon (more if desired)
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick of butter

Preparation

Mix drained noodles with cottage cheese, eggs, sugar, salt, raisins, vanilla, spices, pineapple, and apple.

Melt butter in 10×15 baking pan in oven at low temperature. Place noodle mixture in baking pan. Cover and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for an additional 1/2 hour.
Tastes best at room temperature or chilled.

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Dairy Recipe: Blintz Casserole

Submitted for our Dairy Recipe Contest by M. Saxl

Ingredients

2 pkgs. frozen blintz
1 stick butter or margarine
4 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter/margarine in a lasagna-size pan in the oven. When the butter is melted arrange frozen blintzes in a single layer in the pan. Beat the eggs, sour cream and sugar together until light and fluffy. Pour mixture over blintzes. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand, cooling slightly. Cut into squares and serve. Yield 6-8 servings. Suggest 6 cheese and 6 blueberry blintzes.

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Dairy Recipe: Challah Bread Pudding

Submitted for our Dairy Recipe Contest by M. Bilyeu

Ingredients

3 large eggs
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1.25-ounce packet raspberry-flavored hot cocoa mix
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
8 slices day-old challah, torn into 2″ pieces
3 ounces white chocolate chips
3 ounces milk chocolate chips
whipped cream or ice cream, optional

Preparation

In a large bowl, combine eggs, confectioners’ sugar, brown sugar and cocoa mix; whisk in half-and-half. Stir in bread pieces, and mix to combine thoroughly; let bread soak in custard for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8″x8″ baking pan. Stir all of the chocolate chips into the bread mixture, and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let pudding rest for 10 minutes; cut in half, then cut each half into 4 portions. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

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Dairy Recipe: “Fried” Ice Cream Torah Scrolls

Submitted for our Dairy Recipe Contest by M. Bilyeu

Ingredients

1 pint coffee ice cream
1 cup Nilla wafers, ground fine
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
chocolate sauce, for drizzling
whipped cream, optional

Preparation

Divide ice cream into 4 1/3-cup scoops; form each into a 4″ log, place onto a Silpat-lined tray and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm. Combine the ground wafers, sugar and cinnamon on a plate; roll each ice cream log in the mixture until well-coated, place onto a tray and freeze for 30 minutes until firm. Re-roll the ice cream logs in remaining crumbs, and re-freeze until ready to serve. Take out 2 dessert plates and place 2 logs onto each plate; drizzle with chocolate sauce and top with whipped cream, if desired. Serves 2, but the recipe doubles or triples easily. (If you really want to go for the gusto, place frilled toothpicks into each end of the ice cream logs to complete the look of Torah scrolls!)

Click for details on our Dairy Recipe Contest

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Dairy Recipe: Reuven Mina

Submitted for our Dairy Recipe Contest by M. Bilyeu

Ingredients

2 tablespoons oil
3 egg & onion matzahs
3 large eggs
12 square slices Swiss cheese
1-1/2 cups sauerkraut, well-drained
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing (or Kraft sandwich spread)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400F. Use the oil to grease an 8″-square baking dish.

Place the matzahs into another 8″-square baking dish; cover with water and soak for 2 minutes. Drain the water, reserving the baking dish. Carefully pat the matzahs dry with paper towels.

Beat the eggs, and place them into the drained baking dish. Carefully take one matzah and dip both sides into the egg, letting excess egg drip off; then place the matzah into the oiled baking dish. Lay 4 slices of cheese over the matzah. Combine the sauerkraut, caraway seed and dressing; spread half of the mixture over the cheese. Coat another matzah with egg, and place it over the sauerkraut. Lay 4 more slices of cheese, then spread the remaining sauerkraut mixture over the top. Coat the remaining matzah with egg, and place it on top. Lay the last 4 slices of cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, until mina is browned and bubbly. Let rest 5 minutes, then cut into squares and serve hot. Serves 4-6.

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Dairy Recipe: Strawberry Tarte

Submitted for our Dairy Recipe Contest by R. Urist

Making The Shell

Make a rich pastry crust. Here, more or less, are the ingredients. (I say more or less, because sometimes I use the yolk, sometimes not.)

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk

1/3 cup butter

the grated zest (outer rind) of half a lemon

Mix above ingredients in a cuisinart. Then add enough cold water to hold the mixture together. Try a few drops at a time. Chill the dough, then roll it out as thinly as possible, and line a tart pan with it.

Smooth tin foil over the dough. Fill with rice (or beans, or lentils, or whatever you like) to weigh down the dough, and bake in a hot oven (425) for about fifteen minutes, or until the tart shell is delicately browned. (Usually you need to uncover the dough after 10 – 15 minutes, and cook it uncovered for a couple of minutes – no more – till the dough is golden.

Making the Filling

In a saucepan beat two egg yolks and three tablespoons each of sugar and flour until the mixture is light and fluffy. Soften two teaspoons kosher gelatin in 1 tablespoon of cold water and dissolve it in 3/4 cup hot milk. Add the milk to the egg mixture and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the cream is hot and thick, but be careful not to let it boil. Stir the cream over cracked ice to cool it quickly. Once cooled, fold in two stiffly beaten egg whites, ½ cup whipped, heavy cream, and 2 tablespoons liquer. (I like using Grand Marnier.) Turn the pastry cream into the baked tart shell. Chill. Once it’s completely set, arrange large, ripe strawberries on top. ( I like to cut the strawberries in half and place them cut side down in concentric circles on the cream.) Glaze the strawberries with three tablespoons red current jelly, melted and thinned with 1 tablespoon boiling water.

Notes:

1. This is delicious with kiwi instead of strawberries. Or, make telescoping, concentric circles of strawberries and kiwi. It’s pretty. I like to glaze the fruit with melted, pureed apricot jam. Mmmm.

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