Last year, I turned over the Passover Seder tasting spoon to my adult daughter. My work schedule was such that I did not have the time to make a proper celebratory dinner. Instead, I put my efforts into doing the marketing (my daughter emailed me her wish list) and into setting a stunning table. I unpacked my seder plate, which I had purchased a few years back in Prague and had hand-carried across the flight miles, put out a second decorative plate with a hand-painted linen that my daughter had created about twenty years back in Hebrew School, kindergarten class, and brought out three generations of fine china, crystal and silver. Of course, Elijah’s setting was most stunning with his silver goblet.
My culinary contribution was the charoses and the remaining seder plate ingredients. My daughter did the oven-poached salmon, roasted root vegetables, and string beans. For dessert, we decided upon the classic, packaged macaroons, jellied fruit slices and chocolate candies.
At work, for the week before and during Passover, I cooked and plattered for customers — some friends, some strangers — my gefilte fish, my charoses, my tzimmes, my brisket and such dishes as matzo ball soup, honeyed carrots, green beans amandine, latkes and applesauce.
Though our seder service and our dinner were remarkable, I missed being more involved in my own food preparation. This year, I plan to be responsible for the homemade dessert. Of course, there will still be my charoses. Time permitting, I will also roast cut up chicken pieces upon a bed of thinly sliced red onions with lots of herbs and lemon wedges. First I will toss my chicken pieces in a large bowl with the onions, then season ith a generous amount of olive oil (an orange-flavored olive oil), along with slivers of fresh garlic and stems of thyme, Italian parsley and sage. To this, I will squeeze several quartered small lemons, and toss in the emons (for the skin and natural citrus oil), Kosher salt, freshly ground ppper and red pepper flakes, to taste. I will turn this mixture into an attractive oven-to-table casserole and then roast this in my convection oven, at three hundred and seventy five degrees, (no convection oven, try four hundred degrees) for about forty-five minutes to one hour, uncovered, during which time I will add a little fresh orange juice and dry white wine (or dry Vermouth), tossing. I do not want much liquid, as I want to dry-roast, not steam. The colors, the fragrance and the taste of this dish are remarkable.
And, for dessert, I plan to bake an assortment of homey, chocolatey brownies and cookies. These can all be baked a day in advance, and properly packaged separately, in tins, with layers of waxed paper. They will be much-appreciated as a motherly finale to my Passover seder.
SIMPLE COCOA BROWNIES
So easy, the color is gorgeous and the inside is so properly gooey.
One half cup cocoa
Water (approximately seven tablespoons)
Two cups sugar
One cup matzoh cake meal
One teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioner’ sugar, optional, for dusting at serving time
In a small bowl mix together cocoa with a small amount of water to make a paste; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, then stir in remaining ingredients, adding the cocoa paste. Spoon mixture into a greased eight-inch square baking pan and place in a preheated three hundred and twenty five degree oven for thirty minutes.
Cool on a wire rack, then cut into desired size brownies. At serving time, dust with confectioner’s sugar, if desired.
Yield: Approximately fourteen brownies.
CHOCOLATE-GOLDEN RAISIN-NUT COOKIES
Sweet with spices, these cookies use matzo meal and farfel.
Three fourths cup sugar
One third cup cooking oil
One cup matzo meal
One cup matzoh farfel
One half teaspoon ground cinnamon
One fourth teaspoon salt
Dash ground cloves
One half cup chopped golden raisins (or dates or dried cranberries)
One fourth cup chopped walnuts
One fourth cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Beat together the eggs and the sugar, then add the cooking oil. Stir in the matzo meal and matzoh farfel and spices. Stir in the golden raisins, nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by the tablespoonful on greased cookie sheets. Place in a three hundred and fifty degree oven for approximately twenty minutes, or until golden brown.
Yield: Approximately twenty-five cookies.
Beautiful out of the oven. There¹s no flour; there’s not even any matzoh.
One half cup sugar
Three tablespoons butter or margarine, at room temperature
One cup chopped walnuts
One half pound dates, chopped (This is a real heaping cup worth.)
One cup flaked coconut (Not the sugared variety, these are often also called coconut threads.)
One half cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a mixing bowl, beat the sugar with the butter, until well-creamed, then beat in the egg. Combine and stir in the nuts, dates, coconut and chocolate chips, mixing well. Drop by the tablespoonful onto well greased cookie sheets, allowing a few inches apart for cookies to spread. Bake in a preheated three hundred and fifty degree oven for about fifteen minutes. Allow to somewhat cool, then remove from cookie sheets and allow to cool on wire racks.
Yield: Approximately twenty-four cookies.
Thin, delicate bars; these are tasty at the end of your meal.
One fourth cup butter or margarine
One ounce semi-sweet chocolate
One half teaspoon instant coffee, dissolved in one teaspoon hot water
One half cup sugar
One fourth cup matzah cake meal
One fourth cup chopped walnuts
Melt butter and chocolate together. (I do this in my microwave oven.) Stir in dissolved coffee. Allow to cool. In a mixing bowl, beat egg and sugar together. Stir in chocolate-butter. Gradually stir in dissolved coffee. Add the salt and cake meal to the batter. Spoon mixture into a well-greased eight-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake on center shelf in a preheated three hundred and twenty five degree oven for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, or until done. Remove from oven, allow to slightly cool, then cut into bars while still warm. Allow to cool, then remove bars to rack to cool..
Yield: Approximately twelve wafer-like bars.