The kitchen is ready — or as ready as it’s going to be considering that I am still nursing this cold. I’ve cleaned out the refrigerator, brought up the Passover dishes and food, and we’re now in official Passover mode. No more bread, or pizza, or buffalo chicken egg rolls. Poised to celebrate this eight-day holiday that Jews alternately love and hate (matzoh does not look so good after 6 days).
Spring cleaning on steroids
It’s traditional to do a thorough spring cleaning of the house before the holiday. My close friend, Fran, is an Orthodox Jew, and where she lives, they start cleaning the day after Purim, a month before Passover. So I always feel inadequate.
The idea is to rid the house of all “chometz” — a term encompassing not just bread, or crumbs, or cookies, but all not-kosher-for-Passover food. A Sisyphus-like task, and one I never complete. My hat’s off to my more observant Jewish sisters.
I asked Mark last night what Passover meant to him. I asked because we won’t be able to celebrate the seder (a holiday ritual meal the first two nights of Passover) with friends and family this year. We’re still trying to get over our respective illnesses.
He talked about the connection he felt to history and tradition, to the beginning of the “modern” era of Judaism, when we were freed from Egypt and given the law at Mt. Sinai by G-d.
Then I asked myself the same question. “Food and family,” I said, a little surprised at my answer. Maybe it is because I am a woman. I married later in life, and now I finally have a family, and a home to make. The younger, feminist Lynne was a little taken a back, but she’s mellowed too in the last few years.
But what’s the connection to Bucks County?
I guess I’m grateful – that I live in such a place, that I’ve found something worthwhile to do, writing about food and people here.
And, grateful that I live in a country where I can practice my religion openly and without fear, even to publishing these thoughts on the internet. That’s no small thing. I won’t speak for all American Jews, but I still feel a hesitation – after centuries of persecution – being so open about my faith. But to have a freedom, one must exercise it, or else it’s no good.
And now, let’s talk about food. Last year I published my Fried Matzoh, also called Matzoh Brei, recipe. Do check it out. It’s better than it sounds!
I’m also passing along two recipes that looked interesting. It is amazing how creative Jews can get, substituting this for that, all to make it kosher for Passover.
These recipes comes from Chef Eli Kirshtein, from when he was guest executive chef at New York City’s New American Kosher restaurant Solo. Thanks to Susan S. Yeske for passing it along to me.
And to all my Jewish readers, Bucks County Taste wishes you a Zissen (sweet) Passover, and a good holiday!
Mac and Cheese
2 cups Israeli cous cous
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup fontina cheese
¼ cup mascarpone cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Cook the cous cous like pasta, chill and hold. Reduce the cream by half. Melt the mascarpone and half of the fontina cheese into the cream. Season with salt and pepper, to personal taste. Combine the cous cous with the cream and cheese mixture. Put into a casserole and cover with the remaining fontina cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven until hot and browned on top. Serve immediately.
Low-Cal Zucchini Quiche
3 medium zucchini, peeled
1 tsp. salt
½ lb. cheese **
1 dash pepper
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. basil
3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
** cheese can be swiss, mozzarella or cheddar (2 cups grated)
- Put the grater attachment on food processor. Cut the zucchini to fit the feed tube. Grate, using firm pressure. Transfer to a strainer and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Press out all liquid.
- Grate cheese and onion, using medium pressure. DO NOT EMPTY BOWL. Remove grater and insert plastic knife [or steel knife is just fine also]. Add remaining ingredients except parmesan cheese to processor bowl. Process with 3-4 quick on/off turns, just until mixed.
- Place in a greased 9 inch pie plate or ceramic quiche dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes, until set and golden brown.