Sweet, Sweet, Vegetarian Passover (part 2)

Passover gets a bad rap for being a time of stale, dense, or tasteless desserts. With limited ingredients available to bake with and most home-chefs cooking with their ‘Passover dishes’ rather than their trusty year-round kitchen appliances, it can be difficult to make desserts that are tasty, (relatively) healthy, and satisfying. Perhaps the most well-known of Passover desserts is what’s affectionately known as ‘crack’– a toffee and chocolate encrusted piece of matzo sprinkled with nuts. But there’s so much more-don’t stop there!!! Luckily S grew up in a house where dessert was a major component to Passover and D is happily reaping the benefits of it! And with almost all family-favorite desserts being veggie-friendly, even the pickiest of eaters can have their cake and eat it too!

strawberry whip

2 egg whites turns into all of this deliciousness!

Strawberry ‘Ice Cream’ -pareve (aka dairy-free) and super easy to make

1 pint strawberries, diced and sugared (I don’t use much sugar for this part, just about a teaspoon over the top before you get started to pull out the sweetness of the berries)
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 T. lemon juice
dash of salt
2 T. Manischewitz or any sweet red wine
Beat egg whites until peaks form in a LARGE bowl (the biggest you have–trust me on this one). Add sugar slowly until mixed in. Add in strawberries, lemon juice, salt, and wine. Mix on high for 15 minutes–2 egg whites will turn into more whip than you’d expect so its important to beat for the full 15 minutes! Freeze until ready to serve, then serve like ice cream. Garnish with strawberries or fresh mint/basil.
Passover Brownies
4 squares baking chocolate
1/4 pound plus 1 TBSP butter or margarine
 4 eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup matzo meal
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
*optional: add 1/2 cup nuts*
Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Let cool. In a separate bowl beat eggs with sugar. Add in cake meal, vanilla, and salt. Slowly add in cooled chocolate mixture and mix to combine completely. If desired, mix in nuts. Bake in a greased 13×9 pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
S’s notes: The top of these brownies tend to crack and get lighter brown than typical brownies, which were actually preferred in my house growing up! These are gooey and sticky but hold together without falling apart. I hope these bring your family as much happiness as they brought mine!
Lemon Cake (recipe from Marcy Goldman)
8 eggs
1/2 cup matzo meal
1/3 cup potato starch, plus a few tablespoons for ‘flouring’ the pan
2 TBSP lemon juice
3 TBSP melted, unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP lemon zest
1 TBSP orange zest
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and ‘flour’ (using potato starch) a 9×13 pan or a 9-10 inch round pan. Set aside.
Cover all 8 eggs with very hot water and let sit for 3-4 minutes– the water should not be so hot that the eggs crack. This is key to the texture of the cake–do not omit it! While the eggs are warming,  in a small bowl, combine the matzo meal and potato starch. In a separate small bowl, mix the lemon juice with the melted butter.
When warmed, break the eggs into a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer). Add the sugar, salt, vanilla, and zests. Beat on low until just combined, then bring the speed up to high for 12 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and slowly alternate adding the matzo meal/potato starch mixture with the lemon juice/butter mixture. Go slowly, as adding too quickly will cause the eggs to deflate.
Pour batter gently into prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees then lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes until cake is firm to the touch. Remove to cool, approximately 10 minutes, and serve with fresh fruit.
S’s notes: This is a new recipe in my family but a wide success in its first year! We made it exactly as the recipe calls for, but felt it could use more lemon flavor. Feel free to play with the amount of zest in the recipe, or even make a lemon juice simple syrup to drizzle over the cake immediately after it comes out of the oven.
Mandelbreit
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups cake meal
3 TBSP potato starch
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts or chocolate chips (or mix of both)
cinnamon sugar
Beat eggs with an electric mixer- add in sugar and oil, then continue to beat until fully incorporated. In a small bowl, whisk cake meal and potato starch together then add into egg mixture. Add vanilla and nuts/chocolate until combined, but don’t overmix. Wet hands and form dough into 2 shallow loafs, approximately 6-7 inches wide and 1 inch thick (as long as needed after that!) Place loaves on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle entire loaf with cinnamon sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Score rolls into 1 inch wide pieces (see photo below). Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until pieces are firm. Take trays out of oven and flip each loaf over (usually easiest to do a few pieces at a time) and re-score pieces if needed. Sprinkle again with cinnamon sugar and bake 15 more minutes. Cool…if you can wait that long…and serve with coffee, tea, or leave on the counter for snacking!
be sure to bake these standing 'up' rather than flipping them on their sides--it will keep them more moist!

be sure to bake these standing ‘up’ rather than flipping them on their sides–it keeps them  moist!

S’s notes: Best described as Jewish biscotti, mandelbreit are labor-intensive to make but perhaps the most ‘normal’ of Passover baked goods. Multiple times this year already I’ve heard “are you SURE these are ok for Passover?” from Jewish and non-Jewish friends alike…including D! When you try these you’ll see why- it will have you rethinking what you think you know about Passover dessert.

Vegetarian Passover (part 1)

It’s been quite a spring, and between being wildly over scheduled (my fault) and having log-in issues to WordPress (I’ll blame someone else for that) my blogging took a Spring Break. That’s not to say we haven’t been eating some fabulous and ethically-friendly meals (my lentil ‘meatballs’ served double duty when we broke them up into marina sauce and had ‘meat sauce’ over pasta) but it was admittedly nice to take a breather from writing for a few weeks.

But we’re back now and with a topic so big it could fill 8 posts! Passover is the 8 day Jewish spring festival that commemorates the Jewish people’s escape from slavery in Egypt. If you’ve seen Prince of Egypt, you get the gist.

mrs_moses

What that means for us is 8 days without leavened items…although in 2014 quite a few steps have been taken through chemicals, food engineering, and creativity to allow for recipes that attempt to satisfy Jewish American’s standards while adhering to the religious rules and restrictions of the holiday. You can now find Kosher for Passover brownie mixes, cake mix, boxes of cereal, and pretty much anything you’d want to ‘survive’ the 8 days. While that’s all well and good for those who wish to spend hundreds on a week’s worth of groceries, have food labels with a font impossibly small to accommodate all of the unusual ingredients, and pump their bodies with unnecessary chemicals, we use this as a week to eat cleanly and kick start our bodies for the warmer months.

We first decided to become vegetarian during Passover 3 years ago. As such, this is only our 2nd year being vegetarian during Passover, and we love the challenge. The sum of it is that as an Ashkenazic Jew, you’re not able to eat any wheat, barley, corn, rice, beans, soy, or any products derived from those products. For a CliffNotes version, check out this BuzzFeed article for everything that’s prohibited and most typically craved! In recent years quinoa has been approved by even the most strict of rabbis, so quinoa and eggs are our primary source of protein for the week with potatoes fulfilling my starch cravings! In the coming days I’ll go into more depth about what we eat, including snacks and dessert (yes, you CAN eat dessert on Passover and it doesn’t have to taste like sawdust!)

The seder is the traditional festival meal that occurs on the first 2 nights of the holiday. It involves the telling of the story of the Exodus, the eating of certain foods that are reflective of our history (parsley dipped in salt water to remind us of the tears of slavery, haroset (a mixture of chopped apples and nuts) to remind us of the mortar used to build pyramids, and horseradish indicative of the way the Israelites’ lives were embittered by the Egyptians, to name a few), and a festive meal celebrated between family and friends. While we couldn’t take pictures due to the religious nature of the meal, here’s what we had on our table:

  • Thai Butternut Squash soup (we increased the amount of curry paste just a bit to give it more of a kick!)
  • Matzo Balls (S’s mom was nice enough to keep a few separate from the chicken soup so we could have them!)
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
    Combine 5 cooked sweet potatoes with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 3 TBSP orange juice. Put in a baking dish and top with whole pecans, then place a few thin butter pats on top and lightly sprinkle with brown sugar. Cook until warmed throughout and browned on top-the butter should be melted.
  • Kale and Quinoa Salad
    Mix the juice of 1 orange with 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle in approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil and either whisk to combine or shake in a tight-fitting lidded container until emulsified. In a large bowl, combine kale (destemmed, washed, and cut into small pieces) with 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Add in a handful of dried blueberries and a handful of pine nuts. Top with vinaigrette and toss to coat– let sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb all flavors.
  • Criss Cross Potatoes
    Cut baking potatoes in half lengthwise so that you have two shallow ‘boat’ shaped pieces per potato. Slice 1/4 inch deep into the flesh of the potato making 4-5 parallel slits going in the same direction, then make 4-5 more slits in the opposite direction so that you create a diamond pattern. In a small bowl, mix garlic powder and paprika into melted margarine/butter–amounts will vary depending on how many potatoes you’re making. Brush or spoon butter mixture onto cross-hatched potatoes and bake cut-side DOWN at 350 degrees until potatoes are cooked throughout.
  • Green Beans Almondine
    Saute slivered almonds in margarine (or butter, if you’re not keeping kosher) until toasted and set aside in a serving bowl. Steam green beans (preferably haricot verte) until tender but still crisp, then add to same serving bowl as almonds. Toss to coat and serve
  • Zippy Zucchini (we used the recipe from this page)
  • Mushroom Farfalle Kugel (made by a family friend, recipe unknown but DELICIOUS!)

There was chicken soup, turkey, brisket, and fish as well (for those who haven’t gone completely veggie yet), but otherwise the entire meal was vegetarian/vegan and everyone was full and happy. Dessert will come in another post (you won’t want to miss that!) but even before we moved on to sweets, the consensus around the table was one of extreme satisfaction. The best way to truly experience Passover is to enjoy what you’re eating and putting in your body- not feel like you’re suffering though the holiday. Once our people were slaves, but now we are free and most importantly, have the freedom of choice regarding our diets.

Chag Sameach and Shavua Tov!

Note: Due to our geographical limitations and personal religious/dietary priorities, we keep strictly Kosher for Passover in terms of the ingredients we eat and cook with. We do not require a Kosher for Passover hecsure on each product during Passover, only require that the ingredients themselves are kosher to eat during Passover. We did have seder at S’s mom’s house, and she keeps completely Kosher, so for the purposes of these recipes everything was pareve.