Passover

 

Happy Pesach!!!

 

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Chag kasher v’sameach – Have a happy and kosher holiday!

Pesach is the mother of all “Kitchen Yuntifs,” but stay cool and stress-nisht –we’ve got you covered with recipes, our Perfect Passover Primer, your Passover kitchen essentials, a Seder checklist and so much more! Follow our lead, and this year every dish you serve will be truly delicious, not just “pretty good for Pesach stuff.”


 

Why We Eat Whole Wheat Matzo for Passover

 

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On all other nights I eat whole wheat bread, but on Pesach I eat whole wheat matzo.  Here’s my story…

My family switched to whole wheat bread a long time ago. I don’t really remember white bread in our house. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a nice baguette or focaccia when I am at a café or restaurant, but for everyday sandwiches I always choose whole wheat. Why should Passover be any different?


 

Passover Rescue Plan

 

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I was really starting to fret as I was planning my menus a mere 4 weeks before the Seders, when I realized that I have a secret weapon for the holiday. My favorite ingredient Extra Virgin Olive Oil is kosher for Passover. I may have to give up my pastas, rices and spices, but I still have my extra virgin olive oil.

All extra virgin olive oils are kosher for Passover and year round, even with out kosher supervision. How awesome is that? We may give up our breads and cakes for eight days, but we will emerge from the holiday having feasted on foods made with delicious and healthy extra virgin olive oil. You cannot say that about Kosher for Passover oil which tends to be harsh and bitter and not healthy like extra virgin olive oil. How much cooking time and how many ingredients do you need to cover up the taste of bad oil?


 

The Last Suppers

 

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Hi Jamie,
I am a harried mom of 3 and find cooking healthy meals in the last few days before Pesach a real challenge. It’s no big deal to eat out once or twice – but the challenge is feeding everyone well while bringing minimal chometz into the house. What kind of suppers do you advise?
Thanks, Jenny in Boston

Jenny,
I am struggling with this too. For me it’s even harder because I “turn over” my kitchen to Pesachdig early on (to get a jump on the cooking) and it feels like Pesach here for 15 days, not 8.


 

Conversations at Levana’s Passover Table

 

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What is your favorite part of Pesach?

Well, when all is said and done, who could resist a spic and span house, full of gorgeous flowers, wonderful food and interesting people? Typically, many of our Seder guests are sort of “blind dates”, people who are sent by friends or by our schul, who have no idea how to make their own seder but would love to be in a good traditional home. It’s always great to see that people who you would think are  far removed from everything just love the closeness and togetherness. Many of them come back to us regularly.


 

Kosher Wine from Israel for Passover

 

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This year, I propose a slight variation on the now familiar refrain that closes each Passover Seder. Before you pour one of the four cups of wine at your Seder meal, stand up and proudly declare: “Next wine from Jerusalem!” I guarantee your guests will not be disappointed.

Two thousand years before grapevines were planted in the venerable wine regions of France and Italy, wine was being produced in the land of Israel. Visiting one of the 250 wineries scattered throughout the country is a lesson in tradition meeting technology. Winemaking in Israel is both art and science, with plenty of help from nature. Boasting dry, hot summers, a short wet winter, occasional frost and cold Negev nights, Israel has the potential to become one of the premier wine growing destinations in the world.


 

Plan for Pesach

 

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As we celebrate Passover, we are immersed in many time-honored customs. Special holiday traditions are reserved just for this time of year, such as the seder plate, the four glasses of wine, the many different foods, and the reading from the hagaddah. The four questions echo the beautiful sound of Pesach around the table while bringing family, friends and often strangers to a spiritually closer place.

The serene vision of a family table really makes for a beautiful picture. However, behind the scenes and before everyone sits down to the seder, reality produces a different picture altogether. To the shopper and the homemaker, I have one thing to say to you: You know what I’m talking about! The chaos, the cost, and the craziness in the kitchen associated with Passover can be overwhelming.


 

Meringue Magic for Passover

 

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There are certain wonderful dishes that I reserve for individual holidays, only to be served once a year.  You know, the special dishes that the whole family looks forward to throughout the year, and enjoying them during their distinctive, respective holidays makes them taste even better.  For my family, these include my famous key lime cheesecake on Shavuot, herb roasted turkey and marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving, and meringues on Passover.  Meringues, the baked beaten-egg-white-and-sugar confection, are light and versatile and make the perfect dessert for Passover:  they require only a few, readily-found ingredients, they do not use matza meal which aids in their lightness and renders them non-gebrokts, and they can be flavored in a variety of ways so that they don’t get boring throughout the week-long holiday.

A beaten egg white can foam to eight times its original volume, which is key to making successful meringues.  When combined with sugar both for sweetness and structure, this egg white mixture creates the foundation not only for meringues, but also for such varied desserts as pavlovas, soufflés and angel food cakes.


 

Free Yourself With 2 Perfect Passover Menus

 

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On Passover, Jewish families all over the word gather together for a Seder.  Although our customs and traditions may vary across time zones and continents, we share our love of food and family.  Many people won’t serve roasted meat or poultry at their Seder, to avoid the appearance that they are replacing the paschal lamb, which was roasted over an open fire.  Some serve an egg at the beginning of the meal to symbolize life and Spring.  Karpas is usually represented by any number of leafy greens, but depending on your particular geography or family history can even be a potato or onion.

Here are a couple inspired menu ideas for Passover that just may start a new food tradition for your family.


 

Delicious Passover Desserts

 

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There is something to be said for tradition. I find it comforting that every year as Passover approaches I know with pretty good certainty what we are going to be serving at the seder. Sure we might swap a kugel here or a green vegetable there, but the majority of the menu stays constant from year to year. I am all in favor of experimenting with new twists on the classics, but for the seders I like to keep things traditional. The one exception is dessert. Every year the dessert is different. Dessert is where I can express my creativity without anyone being upset that we went against tradition. For our family a different dessert each year is the tradition.

In our house the biggest insult a person can give a dessert is to say “it tastes like Pesach”. That is not saying that all Passover desserts are bad, but they certainly are not all good either. In my opinion there should be no reason to sacrifice good taste when it comes to dessert, even on Passover. If it isn’t good enough to serve year round I don’t want to serve it on Passover either. While there are the classic go to standards, like flourless cakes and chocolate mousse, I like to mix things up a bit and serve desserts that are a bit more unusual.


 

10 Essentials for my Passover Kitchen. Win our...

 

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There’s nothing that annoys me more than not having the right tools for the task at hand. There are enough stresses and headaches cooking for Passover that I make sure my kitchen is equipped with everything I need. Here is a list of the tools I must have in my kitchen. To some they may be superfluous but for me each item is very important. The one thing I haven’t listed here that is probably the most important thing to have in your kitchen is a good set of knives. Without good, well-sharpened knives it’s hard to do anything.

1. Potato Ricer
If you haven’t used or seen one, a potato ricer is like a giant garlic press – you just place cooked (boiled or baked) potatoes into the ‘bowl’ of the potato ricer and press the handle down, squeezing the potato through the small holes that line the bottom of the press. Out comes smooth, lump-free potato. It’s perfect for mashed potatoes, making filling for potato blintzes or topping Shepherd’s Pie or Chicken Pot Pie – two of my favourite meals for Chol Hamoed.


 

The 4 Questions for a Frugal Passover

 

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The first night of Passover is in a couple of weeks. Are you ready?

Let me ask you another question: How will you make this Pesach different from all other Passovers?


 

Jamie Geller’s Quick & Kosher Recipe...

 

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Are you a Jamie Geller fan? Do you have her cookbooks?

In order to help you be more organized in your kitchen there is now a user-friendly Recipe Guide listing all the recipes in both Quick & Kosher cookbooks, organized by course, with all Passover recipes clearly indicated.


 

Sensational Seder Side Dishes

 

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There may be no meal as important, or as stressful, as a Passover Seder. The planning, cleaning, preparation, buying kosher for Passover – and let’s not forget we still have to make the food taste good! In spite of these restrictions, it is possible to create a delicious and memorable Passover meal. Maybe the best parts of that meal (and a leading cause of Seder Stress) are the Seder Side Dishes.

Everyone I know comes around this time of year asking for my advice on how to spice up their Seder Side Dishes. And who could blame them? Some of these dishes have been around for thousands of years! They’re tired of the same old things – the tzimmis, the kugel, the soggy salads – they crave something new, something interesting.


 

Gluten Free Isn’t a Walk in the Desert Anymore

 

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Matzo shmeared with deliciously fluffy cream cheese and some sweet preserves or jam is what Passover food means to me. That, and, of course, matzo pizza delicately baked and devoured within minutes. I haven’t been observing Passover long enough to really loathe the classic Passover treats, so I tend to find a sort of misplaced joy in these once-a-year concoctions. All of that changed, however, last year after I spent the entire week of Passover sick with stomach cramps and aches. No matter how much or how little matzo or matzo by-products I ate, I felt rotten. For the first time in several years, I really learned to suffer through Passover.

After a test, some advice, attempting to give up other foods (like dairy and coffee), and a huge decision, I decided that a gluten-free diet was the best way to feel better. In the simplest terms possible, that means the five grains that Jews so cherish — barley, oats, rye, spelt, and wheat — became off limits to me. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, spelt, barley, rye, and, according to some, oats. (I haven’t had problems with oats, so I purchase gluten-free oats, which are sold by Bob’s Red Mill.) Many of those who hold to a gluten-free diet have Celiac Disease, but there also are individuals who have found relief from IBS and other gastrointestinal woes. Although I took the gluten-free plunge before finding out if I officially have Celiac Disease, I haven’t looked back and over the past year have been feeling better and better. And no matter what anyone tells you — it is not as bad as it sounds. Believe me, you can live without challah, not to mention barley in your cholent (rice makes a great substitute, as does quinoa).