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Passover Recipes

Traditional Charoset, Texas-Style

Tina Wasserman

In America, there are many regional variations of Ashkenazi charoset for Passover. When I lived in New York, I always used walnuts and Macintosh apples. In Texas, where Macs are scarce, we tend to select from a variety of sweet apples and the nut of choice is the ubiquitous pecan. The following is an adaptation of my friend Lynn Friedlander’s Houston recipe. Lynn always makes a large quantity of this Texas-style charoset. It’s so delicious, we eat it throughout the seder meal.

8–10 sweet apples, Fuji, Gala, Honey Crisp, or Jonagold
8–10 ounces of pecans, toasted
1 Tablespoon cinnamon, or to taste
1⁄4 cup clover honey, or to taste
1 cup Concord grape wine, such as Kedem
  1. Peel, core, and cut the apples into 8 pieces.
  2. Place half of the apples in a food-processor workbowl and pulse until the pieces are about 1⁄4 inch. (Alternatively, you can use a wooden bowl and a single-blade chopper/ hand-grater.) Transfer them to a large glass bowl and repeat with the remaining apples.
  3. Toast the pecans at 350°F for 5 minutes. Cool slightly, for about 3 minutes, then add them to the workbowl. Pulse the machine on and off until the pecans are finely chopped, or hand-chop.
  4. Mix the pecans with the apples.
  5. Add the cinnamon and honey to the apple mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Add the wine and mix well.
  7. If the mixture is watery, drain off the excess liquid, adjusting the cinnamon, honey, and wine as desired.
  8. Cover and refrigerate overnight, but preferably 1–2 days. Although the charoset will taste delicious right away, time will allow the flavors to mellow and balance. 
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Always use a sweet, somewhat thick kosher wine like Concord or Malaga for this recipe. The apples and nuts will absorb some of the wine while refrigerated, and the mixture will be thicker and less watery.
  • If a seder guest can’t tolerate wine in its uncooked state, take the time to simmer the heavier red wine rather than using grape juice. The viscosity of the reduced Concord wine will enhance the consistency and flavor of your charoset; juice, in contrast, will make the mixture watery and less flavorful.
  • Because the sweetness of apples in the spring is less predictable and wine adds acidity to a dish, it’s best to use a sweet rather than dry wine in charoset.
  • Although there is no law precluding the use of white wine in charoset, the color of the finished product will not resemble mortar as much as the combination of oxidizing apples and red wine.

Apple Horseradish

Tina Wasserman

Using the apple, an iconic Rosh HaShanah ingredient, as a base, the following sauce will add a kick to your gefilte fish or roasted meats. Horseradish is a classic Czech condiment.

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon’s worth)
1⁄4 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
2 Gala or Fuji Apples
1 piece of horseradish, 1" wide and 2" long
  1. Place the lemon juice, salt, and sugar in a 1-quart bowl.
  2. Peel the apples and grate on a coarse grater directly into the bowl. Wash and peel the horseradish. Grate coarsely directly into the apple mixture. Note: The grating steps may be done in a processor, using the fine grating disk for the apple and the metal blade for the horseradish.
  3. Stir to combine, adjusting seasonings if necessary.
  4. Store in a well sealed jar.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • To make grating horseradish easier, peel the portion of the root you’ll be using incrementally and hold on for as long as possible to the non-peeled portion. Use a knife to mark the needed amount; stop grating when you get to it.
  • Grate horseradish in a well ventilated room to prevent lung irritation from its fumes.

Bubbe's Famous Brisket

Amy Kritzer

Sweet and tangy, here's my Bubbe's Famous Jewish Brisket.

3 - 4 pounds beef brisket
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups ketchup
1 cup white vinegar
2 white onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
  1. Chop onions into large pieces.
  2. Mince garlic cloves.
  3. Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Cook brisket until all sides are browned.
  4. Add in water, white vinegar, ketchup, onions, garlic, sugar and salt.
  5. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat, turning brisket every 30 minutes.
  6. Cook brisket until the sauce has congealed or about 2 1/2 – 3 hours.
  7. Once brisket cools, remove the fat and slice against the grain and refrigerate overnight.

Passover Linzer Torte

Tina Wasserman

This is my signature Passover dessert. Debby Stahl’s German mother-in-law gave the two of us this recipe over thirty years ago. Many students have told me that their families love this so much they make it year-round. Spanish Jews were the first to use ground nuts in place of some or all of the flour to make their tortes, especially for Passover, when flour was prohibited.

1/2 cup cake meal
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup unsalted pareve kosher for Passover margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unpeeled, finely ground hazelnuts, almonds, or a combination
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup kosher for Passover raspberry jam, preferably seedless
  1. Combine the cake meal and the potato starch in a processor work bowl. 
  2. Using the cutting blade, add the margarine and pulse on and off until the mixture is well combined. 
  3. Add the sugar, hazelnuts or nut mixture, cinnamon, and egg yolks, and mix until smooth and well blended. 
  4. Take 2/3 of the dough and press it over the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Leave a 1-inch-wide rim of dough around the top. 
  5. Spread with 1/2 cup or more of raspberry jam. 
  6. Gently squeeze egg-sized balls of remaining dough between your fingertips over the top of the jam to simulate weaving ropes for the lattice top. This dough cannot easily be handled, but don't worry because the ropes don't have to be perfect, as they become smooth during baking.
  7. Fasten the dough rope to the rim of dough, and smooth it out with your fingertip, pressing lightly.
  8. Beat the egg whites slightly and brush over the top of the lattice.  As you brush, the ropes will get smoother and more uniform.
  9. Place the springform pan on a cookie sheet that has very low sides and bake at 325°F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  10. Partly cool before removing the rim of the pan.  Do not attempt to remove the base of the pan.  Serve the cake from the base.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Springform pans often leak butter during baking, so always place the filled pan on a rimmed cookie sheet to avoid burnt oil spills on the bottom of your oven.
  • When grinding nuts in a food processor, always pulse the mixture on and off rather than just turning the machine on. This will prevent nut butter from forming on the bottom of the bowl and your nuts will be more uniform in size.
  • This recipe should be made with preserves or jams, not jelly, so that its volume will remain intact after baking.
  • Nuts do not have to be pre-roasted if they are contained in pastry that is baked for over 40 minutes.
  • The recipe can be increased 1 1/2 times to cover a 13 × 9-inch pan, which can be cut into 2-inch squares.
  • If you are planning to make more than one torte and/or want to freeze it after baking, tightly line the base of the springform pan with aluminum foil. Freeze the torte in the pan, remove the cake with the foil attached, and put it back in the freezer in a freezer bag. You must place the frozen cake back on the springform base or directly on the serving plate while still frozen. This cake is delicate.

Passover Granola

Tina Wasserman

This recipe will make your Passover week! It is delicious with milk for breakfast, and a healthy snack for school or work.

3 cups matzah farfel
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sweetened or unsweetened coconut
2/3 cup pecans, broken into large pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or pareve kosher for Passover margarine
1/3 cup wildflower or clover honey
1 1/2 cups chopped dried mixed fruit of your choice including raisins or 7-ounce bag of dried fruit pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. 
  2. Combine the farfel, almonds, coconut, pecans, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a 3-quart mixing bowl. 
  3. Melt the butter and honey in a small glass bowl in a microwave for 1 minute until butter is melted and honey is more fluid. 
  4. Stir the butter mixture into the farfel mixture until all farfel is lightly coated with the butter.
  5. Spread the mixture over a large jelly roll pan with 1-inch sides and bake for 15 minutes until deep golden brown. Halfway through baking, stir to brown evenly.
  6. Remove from oven. Cool completely and toss with the dried fruit. 
  7. When totally cooled, store in a ziplock bag or airtight storage container for all eight days of Passover—if it lasts that long!
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • To prevent burning, never pre-roast nuts if they will be baked in the oven. 
  • This recipe can be made with old-fashioned oatmeal when Passover ends. 
  • Salt should always be added in a small quantity to a sweet mixture to bring out the flavors of the individual foods but not lend a salty taste to the dish.
  • If making ahead, leave out fruit until the day you want to use it so farfel doesn’t get soggy.

Kneidlach (Matzah Balls)

Tina Wasserman

This recipe is so old (from my mother) that I can’t bring myself to change the first line that calls for a rotary beater—the kind you crank with your hand while the beaters go around. I did, however, adjust the seasonings a little, because most people are used to the boxed mix. These are lighter than air and might not form a perfectly shaped ball, but that is OK. Just read the tidbits for an education in Matzah Ball 101.

4 eggs separated
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup chicken fat or peanut oil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
Large pinch of ginger
1 1/4 cup matzah meal
2 quarts water with 1 chicken bouillon cube added
  1. Beat egg whites with a rotary beater (or a whisk) until slightly fluffy. Beat or mix egg yolks with the water until foamy. Combine egg whites and yolk mixture, and beat with the rotary mixer until combined and foamy.
  2. Add fat or oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, and ginger to the egg mixture and beat well to form an emulsion. 
  3. Add the matzah meal and stir with a fork until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours before making the balls.
  4. When ready to cook matzah balls, bring water and bouillon to a boil in a 3-quart pot. Make sure the bouillon cube is dissolved. Reduce the temperature so water is at a low simmer.
  5. Lightly grease your hands with a little oil and form balls. Drop them into the simmering seasoned water. If the water is boiling too rapidly, the matzah balls will fall apart.
  6. Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes over moderate heat. Do not lift the top off the pot before the time is up.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Commercial mixes all have a leavening agent in them. This recipe doesn’t and only uses the air beaten into the egg whites to make the kneidlach light. 
  • Using garlic powder lets the seasoning evenly distribute throughout the mixture. The result is better than using freshly minced garlic, although I prefer using fresh garlic in food preparation.
  • If you prefer heavier matzah balls, add some more matzah meal to the recipe. Make sure the lid of the pot isn’t raised while the matzah balls are cooking. This way you’ll avoid matzah balls that shrink, become dense, and have a raw, translucent center.


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