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.
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Bacon-less Brunch

One of the most frequent exclamations we hear in the South about being vegetarian is “oh, I could NEVER give up bacon!” or “don’t you miss bacon?”  While there is a tendency to add bacon to just about….everything…in southern cuisine, I think we’ve figured out enough techniques to get the same smoky, meaty, and complex flavors that most dishes with ham or bacon contain– without the meat. But how do you replace bacon, the actual ‘entree’, without turning to over-processed soy products?

You don’t! Who says brunch has to contain meat in any form?  Since many of our friends work in education, we did a fun Monday morning brunch this week to celebrate winter break, bringing together good friends, good food, and plenty of holiday-inspired drinks! We made a brunch so filling, so varied, and full of so many flavors that no one missed the meat!

Baked Oatmeal Casserole
Blueberries and banana come together with a touch of honey and cinnamon to make a delicious and EASY oatmeal! No stirring, no mess- just pure goodness that’s healthy but also sweet enough to satisfy the taste buds of your biggest sweet tooth!

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Whole Wheat Waffles and Mini Quiches

This is my absolute favorite waffle recipe- with coconut oil, whole wheat flour, and a touch of honey, they’re healthy but don’t taste like ‘health food’. You could easily add wheat germ or flax seed to the batter for some additional health benefits, but I like them the way they are- and no one even knows they are whole wheat! The quiches we made with onions, baby portobellos and broccoli, which we roasted then added to a mini-muffin pan with Monterrey jack cheese and  a sprinkle of cheddar. Yum!

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Banana Bread with chocolate chips and Andes mint chips

Two of our friends experimented with the normal banana bread recipe, and our favorite by far was the one with Andes chips. The combination of banana and mint (plus chocolate!) was a fun twist, especially around the holidays, and this decadent bread was a great brunch dessert!

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White Chocolate and Raspberry Scones
A rare item in our house is a box or pre-packaged mix, but D found this at World Market and we figured we’d give it a try. These were tart, sweet, and surprisingly moist– they were also really easy to make, which makes them perfect for any morning!

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We capped off our brunch with a bar stocked with cold brewed coffee (we love our Toddy!), hot apple cider, lemongrass tea, and cinnamon spice Kahlua and Irish cream. There’s nothing better than brunch with good friends on a beautiful, sunny, winter day, celebrating not being at work! Happy holidays to all!