Matzo Kugel ~ ElephantEats.com

For those of you who are unaware, next Monday starts the beginning of Passover- the week long Jewish holiday that commemorates the Exodus of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  When Pharaoh freed the Israelites, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise. In commemoration, for the duration of Passover no leavened bread is eaten. Matzo(flat unleavened bread) is the primary symbol of the holiday.

I spoke a little bit about this last year when I shared what is, in my opinion, the most delicious Passover dessert you will ever find, a Chocolate Apricot Torte. An amazing dessert for any day, not just Passover.

Matzo Kugel ~ ElephantEats.com

Anyway you can’t eat anything leavened (or flour or a few other things), but you can substitute flour with matzo meal or matzo flour. It doesn’t have quite the same properties, so you have to be a little creative.

There are three main types of recipes for Passover:

First there are that don’t involve leavening agents at all, like meat/fish/poutry/veggie based dishes.

Second are dishes in which you would usually use such a small amount of flour (like under 1/4 cup) that you can easily substitute matzo meal without affecting the texture/taste, etc.

Finally, a large part of Passover recipes are those that highlight matzo rather than trying to hide it.

Matzo Kugel ~ ElephantEats.com

This recipe I’m about to share is one in which matzo is the star. I’ve shared my Aunt Rita’s Noodle Kugel with you before. Hers is my favorite noodle kugel around, but a more traditional kugel (pudding) involves eggs, dried and fresh fruit, along with noodles and sometimes cottage cheese. This kugel is similar except that it uses matzo in place of the noodles.

When soaked in water and then baked, matzo takes on a chewy consistency that, although not like noodles, is actually pleasant. I had never made this particular recipe, but there are many similar ones, and I’m sure every Jewish family has their favorite. They do make Passover “noodles” but in my opinion you should stay away, as the consistency is vile.

Matzo Kugel ~ ElephantEats.com

I’d definitely make this kugel again. It was very sweet, almost like dessert, so I think to serve it as a side dish I’d cut back on the dried apricots. Other than that, it was delicious!

 *Note that in order to make this dessert pareve (neither meat nor dairy), I used margerine, but you could easily use butter instead.

Apple-Matzo Kugel

Very slightly adapted from Epicurious 

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makes 12 servings

4 large apples, Granny Smith or any tart apple, cored and cut into medium dice
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
7 plain matzohs
1 cup warm water
8 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried apricots, medium, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Toss the apples with the brown sugar and orange juice, set aside in a medium bowl.

Break the matzoh into 2- to 3-inch pieces and soak in 1 cup of warm water until soft but not mushy. Set aside.

While the matzoh soaks, beat the eggs with a wire whisk in a large bowl until blended. Add the salt, sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, raisins, and apricots.

Squeeze the liquid from the softened matzoh and add the matzoh to the egg mixture with the apples. Stir the kugel well and pour into a lightly greased 2 1/2-quart casserole dish or a 10×14-inch pan (i think 9×13 will work fine).

Bake the kugel for 60-80 min. Cover the top with foil if the top begins to become too brown early in the baking. It will look firm but you may see some liquid- it’s just the melted butter. It will firm up soon after coming out of the oven.

Remove the kugel from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Tip:
The kugel can be made 2 days ahead, cooled, and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature and reheat in a 350°F oven.

Call me crazy, but I love cold weather. The first brisk day in autumn when I get to wear a sweater makes me the happiest girl. Sure, when the temps dip into the teens come winter, I try to avoid being outside for extended periods of time, but something about the frigid air is so refreshing.

But by mid-january, I’m kinda over all the layering. I’m over having to remember to take my scarf, hat, and gloves out the door every day (and freezing my face off on the days when I forget).  So when the weather hit the 50s the other day, I got a little giddy. I guess maybe I like spring more than I’d let on.

With the milder temperature days slowing creeping in, and the holidays approaching, I’ve been trying to come up with a recipe that just screams spring. I knew that in order to encompass this season completely, it had to be bright, fresh, warm, refreshing, light and airy. I wanted something that could be served at any spring holiday meal.

I was going to make something with squash but my mom told me that’s too wintry and suggested carrots. I knew right when she said it that I’d have to make some sort of carrot pudding/souffle.

The orange color is so bright it reminds me of all the beautiful flowers that start popping up at this time of year. I added a touch of orange zest and juice to give it a citrusy and fresh aroma.  The orange/carrot combo is a delicious one.

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out when it was in the oven, but as soon as I took it out I knew it was exactly what I wanted. Fluffy and delicious, it was everything I’d hoped.

I made this recipe with matzo meal instead of flour, and margarine instead of butter to be sure that it could translate well for Passover (not all recipes do), but obviously using flour and butter would work equally well, if not better and could be served for Easter brunch/dinner.


Carrot Orange Pudding Souffle

Recipe by Me

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serves 6-8

1 3/4 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1/2 cup margarine/butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange (about 1 Tbsp)
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp matzo meal/flour
Powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add carrots and cook til tender, about 30 min. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Add orange juice and mix. Cool to room temp.

Using an electric mixer, beat margarine/butter til creamy. Beat in sugar and zest til blended. Add eggs and beat til blended and slightly more voluminous. Mixture may look curdled but that’s ok.

Add carrots to egg mixture and blend.

In a small bowl, combine salt, baking powder and matzo meal/flour. Stir completely to blend. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish.

Bake 1 hr 15 min or until top is golden brown. Best served at room temperature or cold. Dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

*Note, I double checked and baking powder IS kosher for Passover :)

 

A lot of people dread the week-long holiday of Passover because of its slightly restrictive dietary rules. In all honesty, it’s really not all that bad. Sure, if you eat a lot of matzo all week long, you may end up being so bloated you resemble a matzo ball. But in reality there are many foods that you’re still able to eat during the holiday, not involving the dreaded matzo.

The key is to find recipes that you make during the year that happen to involve all ingredients allowed on Passover. The fewer Passover substitutions, the better. For example, potatoes are fine, as are eggs, meat, fruits and veggies..or your favorite flourless chocolate cake recipe 😉 If you have a recipe that involves a scant amount of flour, replacing it with matzo flour (see below for description) or potato starch is fine. Obviously trying to bake a regular cake wouldn’t work, as flour is a primary ingredient. Catch my drift?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the holiday, Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.  When Pharaoh freed the Israelites, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise. In commemoration, for the duration of Passover no leavened bread is eaten. Matzo (flat unleavened bread) is the primary symbol of the holiday.

Thus, many passover foods revolve around this dry (and not very tasty) cracker. Although you can’t use flour during the holiday, the way of getting around this is to use something called Matzo Flour/Matzo Meal which is simply ground-up matzo in a powdered/coarsely ground form. Again, this is only recommended in recipes in which there is not a HUGE amount of flour, but for the most part, it should work.

Which brings me to one of my favorite recipes ever: Apricot Chocolate Torte. This recipe actually calls for regular flour and is not a passover recipe at all, but when the simple matzo flour substitution is made, it tastes identical to real thing. This is one of my all time favorite desserts and I often find myself making it at Thanksgiving as well. My mom has been making this for years and I had no idea where it came from (and I’m not sure if she did either) but when I googled the title, it turns out she must have found it on the back of the apricot box :)


Apricot Chocolate Torte

Recipe adapted from the back of the apricot box!

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Ingredients:

Filling

11 oz. dried apricots, chopped
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons matzo CAKE meal-not matzo meal (or regular flour)*
Juice from ½ fresh lemon

Crust
3 oz. Unsweetened chocolate
2 cups whole walnuts
1.5 cups matzo CAKE meal (or regular flour)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine, chilled, cut into pieces **
2 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 oz. shaved semi-sweet chocolate for garnish

Directions:

Filling
Combine all ingredients in heavy saucepan. Bring slowly to a boil over low heat. Reduce heat & simmer, stirring frequently and mashing any large pieces of apricot, until mixture resembles thick jam – about 25 minutes.

Crust
Preheat oven 350°F

Place chocolate in bowl of processor and chop roughly. Add nut and chop coarsely. Add flour, sugar & salt then blend. (Bits of chocolate and walnut should be clearly visible). Add butter & process to blend. Add water and vanilla then mix, pulsing the on/off button of your food process until mixture is crumbly.

In an 8 or 9 inch Springform pan, pat 2/3 of dough into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides. Add filling. Crumble additional dough over the top to cover. Bake 40 minutes. Let cool.

Decorate top with shaved chocolate if desired.

*Feel free to use regular flour in place of the matzo flour and use this recipe all year long!
**Use butter in place of margarine when not making for Passover.