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side dish

Matzah Brie

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's newest book, Entree to Judaism for Families filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

This Passover recipe is quite easy to make with children. It is just difficult to describe! Everyone has their own family favorite. Even after looking at cookbooks from more than 100 years ago and many written in the 1930s, when European Jewish immigrants’ recipes were published, I find it hard to define matzah brie. Brie is German and means “wide.” My theory is that since the broken pieces of matzah bound together with egg create a wide or broad pancake, the dish got its name from that definition.

Some matzah brie is made without water, with dry sheets of matzah dipped in egg and then fried. Most recipes call for soaking, washing, or sprinkling the sheets of matzah with water before proceeding. Egg batter seasoned with salt and pepper and no sugar probably had its origins in Germany, Lithuania, or Russia. Those who sweetened their batter with sugar and spice probably have roots in Poland, Hungary, and other areas known in the past as Galicia. Almost everyone uses jam, cinnamon, and sugar, or syrup as a topping.

Here’s my basic recipe. (Can you tell that half of my ancestors came from Poland?)

Ingredients: 
2 sheets of plain matzah (egg matzah may be used, but it falls apart pretty fast)
1 egg
¼ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1–2 teaspoons sugar, according to taste
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Directions: 
  1. Fill a 2-quart bowl with very warm tap water. Break each matzah into roughly 4 pieces and place in the bowl. Press down so that the water covers the matzah.
  2. Mix the egg, milk, salt, sugar, and vanilla in a 1-quart mixing bowl.
  3. Drain the matzah in a colander, and gently press down on the matzah to remove the water. Add the matzah to the egg mixture, and stir carefully with a fork so that egg coats all of the matzah.
  4. Heat an 8-inch nonstick frying pan for 10 seconds. Add the butter and swirl about in the pan until melted. Add the egg/matzah, and gently press to form one large pancake.
  5. Cook until the bottom is golden, and then turn it over with a wide metal spatula or turner. (See Tina’s Tidbits below for the best technique for this.) When the bottom is crisp, remove from the pan, cut into wedges, and serve with topping of your choice.

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • It is easiest to flip the half-cooked brie by using two spatulas or flipping the pancake over onto a plate and then sliding it back into the pan uncooked side down. This second method should NOT be attempted by anyone under the age of 10 and is best demonstrated by an adult.

Kitchen Conversations

  • What are your family matzah brie traditions? Does everyone agree on the recipe? Which version is your favorite?
  • Experiment with different ingredients. Could you make this with vegetables? What about other spices, or a sweet and savory combination by adding pepper with the sugar? Create your own unique recipe. Type it up and save it to start a new family tradition.

Potato Onion Kugel

By: 
Tina Wasserman

Potato kugel did not become popular until the nineteenth century, when potatoes were grown throughout Europe and Western Russia. By the end of that century, the poor were eating potatoes two or more times a day! However, on Shabbat, even poor Jews found an extra egg, onion, and possibly some pepper to raise the lowly potato to new heights.

When Jewish immigrants came to North America, they brought the poptato recipes they knew and loved with them. Even the popular potato knish of today is a variation of the Shabbat potato kugel brought here over one hundred year ago.

Ingredients: 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rendered chicken fat or extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, diced into 1/2-inch pieces (6 cups total)
3 pounds unpeeled California long white or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 12 small)
2 1/2 cups matzah farfel
8 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
25 grindings of black pepper or to taste
Additional chicken fat or olive oil for greasing pan and top
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat a 10- or 12-inch skillet on high for 15 seconds. Add olive oil and chicken fat, and heat until the fat is melted.
  3. Add the onions and stir to coat with the fat mixture. Cover the pan and cook on medium high for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the cover and sauté the onions for 3 more minutes until just beginning to turn golden.
  5. Grate the potatoes using the fine grating disk on your food processor or a medium grater if shredding by hand, and immediately put in a colander.
  6. Run water through the potatoes to remove starch and whiten them. Press down on the potatoes and drain thoroughly. Set aside.
  7. Place the matzah farfel in a 4-quart bowl. Cover with warm water and let rest for 3 minutes or until the farfel is soft. If any water remains, drain throoughly. Add the eggs, salt, and pepper to the farfel and beat with a fork until well combined. Add the sautéed onion and mix again.
  8. Add the grated potato. Use your hand and a fork to work the potatoes into the mixture until all the ingredients are evenly mixed. The mixture might look dry at first, but soon it will appear moist and pourable.
  9. Grease a 13 x 9-inch (3-quart) glass casserole with a little chicken fat (or olive oil). Pour in the potato mixture, and lightly spread it evenly with the fork. Do not pack down the potato mixture.
  10. Put an additional tablespoon of chicken fat or oil in your hand and rub the oil evenly over the top of the potatoes in the pan.
  11. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, dull-side up. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake another 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden and the kugel is firm to the touch. If the kugel is done but hasn't browned, you may place it under the broiler until golden. 
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • California white or Yukon Gold potatoes are good to use when cooking with children. The hard flesh does not discolor as rapidly as a russet potato, and the skin is so thin that neither variety of potato requires peeling. No peeling means it's safer and more nutritious.
  • If you do not have a food processor, try to find a plastic, medium-holed grater if you are grating by hand. Children are less likely to cut their knuckles using a a hard plastic grater than a metal one.
  • Covering the pan with foil dull-side up helps the pan absorb heat faster while preventing the contents from drying out.

Applesauce

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's newest book, Entrée to Judaism for Families filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

The majority of Jewish immigrants who came to the United States in the last 150 years trace their roots to Germany and Eastern Europe. Apple trees grew all over this region, and Jewish cooks used apples in dishes to make them special for Shabbat, Jewish celebrations, and Jewish holidays. Harvested as one of the first fruits in early fall, when Rosh HaShanah occurred, apples were dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet and fruitful year ahead. Since they stored well, apples were eaten all through the winter and were made into applesauce.This was the original topping for potato latkes in the early 1800s, when potatoes became popular and latkes were served, first in Germany and later in Eastern Europe and Russia, at meat meals for Hanukkah. (Sorry, no sour cream!)

Cooking the apples with their peel (where the flavor cells are located) gives it a pretty pink color and provides a natural sweetness, which means you can use very little or no sweetener. This recipe should be in every home’s repertoire. It doesn’t get fresher than this, and it is so easy to make, especially if you have a food mill.

Ingredients: 
1 cup water (or enough to fill pot ½ inch)
2-inch cinnamon stick or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4–6 Fuji, Gala, or other sweet red apples
¼ cup sugar (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Using an apple corer/slicer, core the apples and cut into eighths.

  2. Cover the bottom of a 3-quart saucepan with ½ inch water. Place the cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon and the apples in the water. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes or until the apples are very tender.

  3. Remove the cinnamon stick and strain the water from the pot into a bowl. Set aside.

  4. Place the apples in the basket of a food mill. Place the food mill on top of a 2-quart bowl. Following the manufacturer’s directions, use the medium disk and turn the handle to pass the apple through the disk, leaving the skins in the basket and the applesauce in the bowl below. If the mixture looks too thick, add some of the reserved liquid and cool. Mixture will thicken when cold.

  5.  If desired, add sugar to taste. Serve warm or chilled.

Kitchen Conversations

  • Try a Fuji or Gala apple, or some other apple you have never tasted. Then taste a Red Delicious apple. These apples have been modified to withstand shipping, to have a beautiful color, and to be reasonably priced. Do they taste the same as the other apples? Discuss why you think this could be.

  • Look at the colors of the apples. Which ones would make the applesauce very pink? Which would make it yellow?

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • If you don’t have a food mill, strain the apples in a colander and save the cooking liquid. Wait for the apples to cool, then use your hands and a spoon to scrape the apple pulp into a bowl. Mash the pulp with a fork, adding a little of the reserved juice if necessary.
  • Using a cinnamon stick creates the sensation of sweetness on the tongue, even with little or no sugar added.

Pumpkin with Spiced Coconut Custard

By: 
Tina Wasserman

Although this recipe is Thai in origin, it mimics the preparation that the Pilgrim settlers first used when introduced to this native fruit. They would hollow the pumpkin and pour milk, eggs, and spices into the cavity and bake it until the pumpkin was soft and the custard set. When serving, also give some pumpkin as well as the custard to your guests.

Ingredients: 
1 four-five pound pie pumpkin
3 eggs
½ cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
Directions: 
  1. With your knife angled 45° towards the center, cut a large whole in the top of the pumpkin.
  2. Remove the seeds and all of the stringy fiber from the interior of the pumpkin as well as its lid.  Discard (unless you want the pumpkin seeds for roasting).
  3. Lightly scrape the inside of the pumpkin with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle cavity with a little salt and then rub the tablespoon of oil into the flesh of the pumpkin inside.  Set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a low-sided jelly roll pan with foil.
  5. Bake unfilled pumpkin for 40 minutes with the stem lid in place.  Remove lid and bake  15 minutes more.
  6. Whisk the eggs until well beaten, and then add the remaining ingredients. Whisk until well combined.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pumpkin and replace the top of the pumpkin.
  8. Bake for an additional 45 minutes or until pumpkin is soft and custard is set.
  9. Serve hot or warm scooping out some of the cooked pumpkin with the custard.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Serve as a side dish or serve as a dessert with any caramelized liquid that forms on the bottom of the pan.

Cranberry Pear Sauce

By: 
Daphne Price

This is not your traditional applesauce. For one, it calls for pears. And second, this fruit concoction is cooked in a good amount of honey. It takes just a few minutes to prepare. Serve it warm or cold, over latkes or as a stand-alone side dish. My kids like taking it to school for snack.

Ingredients: 
1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
3 pears, peeled and diced
1 (12-ounce) package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Zest from 1/2 lemon
Directions: 
  1. In a medium saucepan, stir together the water and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Stir in pears, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes, then stir in cranberries, honey and cinnamon.
  3. Continue to cook until cranberries pop and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Let it cool a little bit before serving.

Corn Patties

By: 
Daphne Price

Move over potato latke - I've found my new favorite patty! This dish is so easy to make, your kids can prepare the batter for you (but it's probably safer for everyone if you do the frying!). Depending on your palate, you can serve these delicious corn patties with a side of salsa, a drizzle of maple syrup or on their own.

Ingredients: 
2 cans of corn, drained (I used 2 11-oz cans of Niblets)
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Oil for frying
Directions: 
  1. Over medium heat, heat oil in frying pan (to fully cook the patties, there should be about 1/2 inch of oil).
  2. Combine all ingredients.
  3. Place mixture by tablespoon into hot oil.
  4. Fry until golden brown (3-4 minutes on the first side). Turn over, and fry until golden brown (about 2 more minutes).

Vegan Loksen Kugel (Noodle Pudding) Just Like Mom's

By: 
Lisa Dawn Angerame

My mother's lokshen kugel is probably the best thing she made for us every year on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. It took some trial and error to successfully make it vegan, but here it is! This recipe makes a big, casserole-dish-sized kugel.

Ingredients: 
16-ounce bag egg free wide ribbon noodles
3 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water)
16-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vegan cane sugar
1 stick Earth Balance, melted
Tofu cream cheese:
1 pkg silken tofu
3 1/2 tablespoons raw cashew butter
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave
Cottage-style tofu:
1 package firm tofu
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 teaspoon agave
Directions: 
  1. To make the tofu cream cheese, place the silken tofu in a clean towel, gather the ends up and twist and squeeze as much of the water out as possible. Crumble it into the food processor with the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth. Set aside.
  2. To make the tofu cottage style, press the tofu. When it is drained, crumble it and add in the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Boil the noodles and preheat the oven to 350°. 
  4. Make the flax eggs and set aside until they are really creamy. 
  5. Melt the Earth Balance. Drain the noodles. 
  6. In a big mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients well. Turn out into a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes to crisp up the noodles on top. Let the kugel cool and then slice. Note: This kugel is even better the next day right out of the refrigerator.

Lisa Dawn Angerame is living as a vegan for her family's health, the health and welfare of the animals, and that of the planet. She blogs at LisasProjectVegan.com.

Vegan Sweet Noodle Kugel

By: 
Lisa Dawn Angerame

To celebrate a sweet Rosh HaShanah, here is a great option for a soy-free noodle kugel.

Ingredients: 
8-ounce bag of egg free wide ribbon noodles
2 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water)
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup vegan cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder
4 ounces crushed pineapple
1/2 cup golden raisins
Directions: 
  1. Boil the noodles. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. Make the flax eggs and let them sit until they are nice and creamy. 
  4. Mix all the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl.
  5. When the noodles are ready, drain and pour into the mixture. Mix well. Turn out into a baking dish and bake for an hour until the top is nice and crispy.

Lisa Dawn Angerame is living as a vegan for her family's health, the health and welfare of the animals, and that of the planet. She blogs at LisasProjectVegan.com.

Vegan Walnut Lentil Pate

By: 
Lisa Dawn Angerame

This Passover dish is simple to prepare. Serve as a hearty appetizer or use as side dish alongside the main course. Lentils are full of protein and the walnuts are full of Omega-3 fatty acids.

If lentils don't conform to your Passover minhag (custom), try using roasted, unsweetened chestnuts (not water chestnuts!), which can be found canned or frozen to create the desired consistency of this pâte.

Ingredients: 
2 large onions
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup brown lentils
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Directions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Place lentils in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the lentils are tender.
  4. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet and carmelize the onions. Take your time to do this, leave on medium heat and stir occasionally to bring out the sweetness of the onions.
  5. Combine the onions, lentils, and walnuts in the bowl of food processor. Add salt and pepper. Process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Store in refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  7. Serve with matzah and carrots for an appetizer or serve with your main course.

Lisa Dawn Angerame is living as a vegan for her family's health, the health and welfare of the animals, and that of the planet. She blogs at LisasProjectVegan.com.

Vegan Kasha Varnishkes

By: 
Lisa Dawn Angerame

Here is one of my favorite dishes from growing up It is so simple; it is just kasha (buckwheat groats), onions, farfalle, and salt and pepper.

Ingredients: 
1/2 cup kasha
1 cup water
1 onion
16 ounces farfalle
Olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: 
  1. Boil 1 cup of water and add the kasha. Cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed. Set aside.
  2. Chop the onion and sauté in olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook the farfalle pasta.
  4. Add the kasha to the onions and season again.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add to the mixture. Toss with olive oil and more salt and pepper.

Lisa Dawn Angerame is living as a vegan for her family's health, the health and welfare of the animals, and that of the planet. She blogs at LisasProjectVegan.com.

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