Passover

 

Passover Prep – Time to Shop!

 

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It’s overwhelming – the amount of Passover goods that are available these days. If you are not careful you can end up spending more than you have budgeted for the holiday. I use a master list every year – and I have found that it really helps me keep my spending to a minimum.

Print it out, take it with you.


 

Making the Most of Natural Flavors on Passover

 

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I don’t know about you but in my family we are pretty strict on Pesach. It’s a funny thing though because when I talk to some people, they seem to think we are so lenient. Considering that Pesach standards stretch from eating rice to not using dishwashing soap (a relative of mine actually washes her dishes with kosher salt!), I guess I can see why some might consider me lenient.

So what do we, or don’t we, eat? Well thankfully, my family does not use shmaltz. We opt for nut oil instead. We don’t use spices or processed condiments like ketchup, mayo, and duck sauce. So our seasonings mostly involve kosher salt and liquid sugar (a simple syrup that is made by boiling water and sugar and pouring it through a cheesecloth). The liquid sugar really comes in handy for my mom because she loves to make everything sweet. She pours it over sweet potato cubes for perfect candied potatoes, adds it to roasts, fruit salads, and even nut-pancakes.


 

Non-Gebrokst Recipes

 

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For me Pesach is synonymous with Matzah Balls and Matzah Brei. But there are many who do not make these delicious delights on Pesach – because they only eat Non-Gebrokst. What is this? Gebrokst means Matzah that has come into contact with water or with food prepared with water. The concern is that there may have been some flour that wasn’t properly mixed with the water while preparing the matzah and is therefore susceptible to becoming leaven – a big no-no for Pesach.

This makes cooking for Passover a little more challenging, but not impossible! Here are some great recipes:


 

Sweet Endings – 6 Non Dairy Passover...

 

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Artificial and processed kosher-for-Passover ingredients simply don’t taste good. But that doesn’t mean we can’t satiate our sweet tooth on Passover with something sweet and divine. The following selection of recipes incorporate only all natural ingredients — no compromises. They are also interchangeable, complimenting each other to enable you to widen your dessert repertoire.

Serve the chocolate macaroons on their own, or sandwich them with sorbet or chocolate ganache in the middle. You can also layer the ganache with the vacherin or nut torte — or shaped it into truffles. Mix and match to suit your tastes — and enjoy sweet endings to each and every meal.


 

Passover Prep – Weekend Catch-Up

 

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It’s been a busy week and I have news for you, it’s only going to get busier next week as Passover approaches. One week left. But we are almost there. Catch up on any steps you missed this past week and it will be put you in good shape for the busiest week of the Jewish year!


 

A Very Vegetarian Passover

 

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It’s not easy being green.  Vegetarians on Passover have it pretty rough, especially Ashkenazim who can’t eat beans or tofu.   I can’t even imagine menu planning for vegans who don’t eat eggs!  I’m not sure how they make it through eight days.  I have quite a few vegetarian friends, including my sister in law who will be with me for a couple of meals.  Passover tends to be a very meaty holiday, but there are some great Passover vegetarian and vegan friendly dish ideas that even carnivores will enjoy.

Roasted Vegetables


 

7 Tips To Make the Fluffiest Matzah Balls

 

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If any of you had read my Common-App essay (the essay you use when applying to college), you would know that I have been cooking since I was in fifth grade. Among the first things I tried to create were matzah balls. Those heavenly bites of salty, schmaltzy, fluffy goodness were what I so looked forward to whenever my mom made chicken soup. However, we always used a boxed matzah ball mix. I never had any problem with this; I didn’t know any better! While Allon Beck refers to matzah balls from a mix as, “pasty, tasteless, mushy balls of evil,” I never had a problem with them. Perhaps my standards for Jewish food were too low, but gorging on leftover matzah balls from a mix is my most anticipated Passover activity. They’re salty, squishy, and carby, but in the perfect portion size to have either one or five, depending on my mood. They’re an ideal snack for me because as long as I don’t have too many, they’re not that high in fat or calories (although they have almost no nutritional benefit to them).

One problem I always had with my matzah balls was the consistency. Since everyone in my extended family always thought of me as “the cook” (and since I was the only kid who would go near the kitchen, they always felt the need to taste and applaud what I cooked), my family members would eat ANYTHING I made and throw an endless stream of compliments at me. I thought I was the perfect cook.


 

No Processed Food On Passover

 

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There are many minhagim (customs) regarding Passover. Each branch (sect) of Judaism having their own special interpretations. Among Chassidim, and in our household, we do not eat Gebrokst (allow the matzoh to get wet) for the first 7 days of Passover. On the 8th day we allow the matzoh to be eaten freely with all foods and to be wetted and especially to make knaidlach and matzoh brei. We also take on many chumrahs (restrictions) such as eating only fruits and vegetables that can be peeled. Therefore virtually all spices are prohibited. In our sect, garlic is not used. You might think, that we are left with practically nothing to eat, since we take on the additional chumrah that we don’t use any processed foods, but make everything ourselves. The only processed foods we use are Salt, Sugar (boiled and filtered before Passover, and used in liquid form), Oil, Matzoh and Wine. In recent years, as the family has grown, we now buy potato starch, since we can’t produce enough of it just from slicing and soaking potatoes. (Here is a recipe for Potato Starch “Matzo” Balls)

In truth, I love Passover, because I think it is the healthiest 8 days of the year. No food colorings, no preservatives, no junk. I used to lecture on this subject to people first learning about Jewish Law, saying that if it reads “Kosher for Passover” we don’t use it. My point was, we make everything we can ourselves.


 

Passover Prep – Kids’ Toys

 

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My children are bigger now, but when they were small and we would be sorting through the toys I would find chametz everywhere. Cheerios and crushed up crackers all mixed in with the lego blocks. I felt it wasn’t enough to just sort through their toys, I wanted to make sure the chametz was totally gone.

Put away many of the toys for Pesach – sell them with the rest of the chametz – but keep out some of the favorites. Fill up the bathtub with lukewarm water and Johnson’s baby shampoo. Let the kids help you with soaking all the washable toys in the tub. Give them each a washcloth and have them scrub each toy. If you have a toy chest, take advantage of its current emptiness to clean it inside and out. Lay the toys on bath towels to dry, or have the kids dry them individually.


 

Gluten Free for Passover Plus a Coupon

 

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Gluten free has grown in popularity over the past few years and the entire food industry has followed suit.  Packaged Facts reports a 30% compound annual growth rate for the gluten-free food category from 2006 to 2010 and expects the gluten-free specialty marketplace to top $5 billion by 2015. Between celiac disease, gluten intolerance and many other issues, many people have to stay away from gluten, the protein found in wheat.  On Passover, we stay away from wheat (excluding matzo) and other grains that contain gluten, like barley and spelt.  Aside from matzo, our starches are limited to potatoes and for some, quinoa.  What is a person who has to avoid all gluten products to do?

About 20 years ago, the first gluten free matzo was made in Manchester, England.    Several Rabbis began a process of finding gluten free oats that they could harvest and turn into matzo.  Not as easy as it sounds and that first hand made production only yielded enough for 15 people.  To the surprise of everyone, hundreds came calling.  They now offer machine made shmura oat matzo in 1 lb boxes as well as handmade round shmura oat matzos that can be enjoyed at the Seder table to fulfill the commandment of matzo at the seder.  They even use any broken pieces to create a matzo meal.  To find a list of distributors around the world click here.


 

15 Minute Prep Passover Meals

 

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Enhance your Yom Tov meal without spending all day in the kitchen.

Passover is known to old-timers as a “Kitchen Yuntif,” but that doesn’t mean we must be chained to our stoves for a whole week. Slavery, my friends, is over — gone forever since the exodus! Our Festival of Freedom is no time to enslave ourselves, even if we’re scheduled to serve up 10 banquets in eight days, not to mention K for P lunches and snacks.


 

Celebrating Passover with the Kosher Butcher’...

 

 

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We start celebrating Pesach with the Seder meal where matzo makes its debut and ‘Baron de Luria’ , our own homemade vintage, takes centre stage.  Seder means ‘order’ and isn’t it ironic that on this night of freedom, we still have to follow an ordered 15-step Seder! But thank G-d it has an order, otherwise we’d still be arguing at the Red Sea: ‘You go first!’ ‘no,no, after you.’  ‘Okay I’ll go.’ ‘Why you?’

Pesach is an eight-day festival, but this is where I beg to differ (sorry, but it’s in the blood).  For me Pesach is anything but eight days.  It’s an intense five weeks of hard labor, scrubbing and cleaning like an obsessive-compulsive maniac!  When I start scrubbing those curtains and carpets, believe me, I’m one with my Matriarchs.  I must have worked in the launderette of Pharaoh’s palace!


 

Passover Prep – Set Up a Mini Kitchen

 

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Most of us are not fortunate enough to have a Passover kitchen. I dream of having one some day, but until then I have two choices. I can turn my kitchen over for Pesach five days before and start cooking like a madwoman OR I can prepare an area away from the chametz where I can slowly get certain foods done before the sprint to the finish line.

Run out to the grocery store and just buy a few basics so that you can get your cooking started. Some chicken and some vegetables, some frozen rolls of gefilte fish.


 

Nuts About Passover

 

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Pesach is a time of the year that we use lots of varieties of nuts.  Walnuts are amongst the most favorite type used. High in protein and “good” monounsaturated fat, walnuts add a satisfying crunch to many meals and snacks.  Walnuts are not only rich in flavor, but they also offer valuable health benefits.

When substituted for saturated fat in the diet, walnuts can help lower total cholesterol as well as bad (LDL) cholesterol without affecting levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. Unlike other nuts, walnuts are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat that has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and to help keep triglycerides, the bad fat associated with prediabetes, under control. Moreover, walnuts are recommended in moderation on every Phase of the South Beach Diet.


 

What is Passover?

 

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Of all the Jewish holidays that we Jews celebrate, the most impactful on our souls and if we are not careful, our bodies, is Pesach, Passover. The story takes place in Egypt where the Jewish people had lived for 210 years. As with many exiles since, at first our stay in Egypt as strangers in a strange land began wonderfully, with Joseph being the viceroy of the land, and the Jewish people having freedom to live as they wished as monotheists in the spirit of their forefathers, and foremothers.

Soon however, things changed. A new Pharaoh began to rule over Egypt. The Hebrews (as we were called then) began to suffer greatly as slaves, and the Egyptians began to mistrust this strange people who dressed, spoke and had different names to them.