Food is the center of many Jewish holiday homes, especially in the spring when Passover is being celebrated. It is an eight-day holiday that began Monday night.
Passover commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt with many culinary traditions. The best-known is the avoidance of leavened bread and the eating of matzo. The flat, non-leaved matzo symbolizes how quickly the Jewish people fled Egypt after the last of the 10 plagues struck the Egyptians and “passed over” the Jewish people.
The meal to celebrate Passover is known as the Seder. Seders are done on the first two nights of the holiday.
The Seder plate — the centerpiece of the table during Passover — has six items on it that remind Jewish people of the suffering of their forefathers in Egypt.
A shank bone on the plate represents the sacrificial meal the Jewish people had before they left Egypt. An egg represents the holy offering brought to the Holy Temple. Bitter herbs are symbolic of the suffering of the Jewish people. Leafy lettuce represents the bitter enslavement of Jewish forefathers in Egypt; the leaves are tender, but as lettuce grows in the ground, the stem turns hard and bitter. Charoset — a mixture of apples, wine and nuts — represents the mortar and brick made by the Jewish people as they toiled for Pharaoh.
The four cups of wine drunk throughout the Seder represent the new found freedom of the Jewish people after their escape from Egypt.
Each family has different traditions and foods they celebrate with.
GRANDMA GUSSIE’S PASSOVER ROLLS
Makes 8 extra large rolls; 16 medium.
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup oil
2 cups matzo meal
1 tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
5 extra large eggs (add last)
Heat oven to 375 degrees, spray baking pan with non-stick spray. Use ice cream scoop to measure rolls, bake about 30 minutes until brown. Rolls are best with butter or margarine and eaten the day they are made. The next day, warm in oven.
I have adapted my mushroom-onion kugel, a version of stuffing made with matzoh farfel (broken up pieces of matzo), from several other recipes to come up with my own version. If kosher, use margarine or olive oil instead of butter.
3 tbsp. butter/margarine
2 medium onions
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 pound of fresh mushrooms, sliced (I usually use the large box from the big box store)
3-1/2 cups matzo farfel
1 can vegetable broth
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp. mushroom soup mix (I use a cube of Telma mushroom soup and seasoning or Osem Mushroom Soup and Seasoning)
3 large eggs
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Grease 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
In small bowl, mix soup mix and boiling water. Heat can of vegetable broth. In large bowl, measure out farfel and combine with hot liquid and stir. In large sauté pan, heat half of the butter and cook onion and celery until translucent, then add to farfel. In same pan, heat other half of butter and cook mushrooms, then add to farfel. Season with and pepper to taste and let cool a bit. Add eggs and throughly combine. Put in dish and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes until brown.
If making in advance, bake about 35 to 40 minutes, then reheat until brown and warm through.
BUSY GIRL’S PASSOVER BRISKET
2 lbs. thin cut beef brisket
3 small celery stalks
1 8 oz. box of sliced mushrooms (white or baby portobello)
1 envelope Lipton beefy onion coup mix
2 cups of water
Pepper to taste
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
Approx. 2 tbsp. potato starch
Peel parsnip and carrots. Cut parsnip, carrots, celery and potatoes into similar size chunks; put in bottom of crockpot season with a few grinds of pepper. Brown both side brisket in oil and put in crockpot. Mix beefy onion soup mix with 2 cups of water and pour over everything in crockpot. Put mushrooms on top. Turn crock pot on low. Let cook 8 hours.
Take out meat and let rest for 10 minutes on cutting board; remove vegetables with slotted spoon. Pour liquid into pot and bring to boil on stove. Dissolve potato starch in water 1/4 cup of water; whisk into boiling gravy on stove until desired thickness.
Plate and serve. Serves 3-4.
1 14 oz. bag of shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet. Mix milk and coconut together and place firmly packed scoops on cookie sheet. Watch while baking for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
Fresh macaroons will be soft and chewy and are best eaten the day they are made.
Originally published in the Princeton Packet on April 19, 2011
Victoria Hurley-Schubert, Regional Editor Ocean County, is a true Jersey girl. Raised in Marlboro, Vikki has lived in the area her whole life. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and is happiest when feeding a houseful of friends and family. A journalist for 10 years, she now serves on the staff of the Princeton Packet. Vikki is happiest on the road, so it should be no Surprise she is a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations. Follow her on Twitter @vikkihs.