Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kitchen Holiday

Yes it's taken me a while to emerge from the matzah rubble that was Passover, as well as the assortment of minor crises and dramas that the past few weeks have been sprinkled with. But I'm baaaack.
One of the slight setbacks experienced was the cancellation of my Kiddie Cooking Classes spring edition. Turns out it's a blessing in disguise, as most of these reversals tend to be. I think my very astute friend Donz made the correct analysis when she said that now the weather has a taken a turn for the temperate, after-school activities are going to center around the outdoors. This vacancy in my schedule allows me more time for my own outdoor activity, and that has contributed to a sense of much needed balance.
I think I'll prolong my self-proclaimed Kitchen Holiday a few days more. Allow myself the luxury of take-out, veggie burgers, and breakfast-for-dinner fare, and then it's back to business.... A family cookbook with the aforementioned Donz. The ideas are bouncing around my head like an overjuiced pinball machine. Ideas are easy, making them real is hard. I'm up for it- next week.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Matzah Munching Blues/Seder Review

I'm at the matzah overload point that I usually find myself at mid-point Passover. I call it the matzah munching blues. The seders went well and for the most part were quite tasty. I devised a charoset sampler to begin with. I made a Lime-in-the-coconut charoset which was comprised of finely diced pineapple, shredded coconut, chopped macadamia nuts, and lime juice. Then there was the Nor'easter charoset: diced apples, dried cranberries, chopped pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon. Girlette's fave was the Chococherry which had chopped cherries, mini chocolate chips, and slivered almonds.

For the first seder we started with a traditional matzah ball soup made by my FIL (father-in-law). Then we went on to chicken wings in a herb and spice rub to commemorate the zeroa on the seder plate- which symbolizes the salvation of the Israelites by God's outstretched arm. For the main course we had my FIL's roast and a big platter of my roasted chicken which is a year-round standard. The sides were lemon garlic brussell sprouts with matzah crumbs and herbaceous cauliflower. For dessert I made a pear almond crumble with a macaroon crust- which has potential but needs a few improvements. Maybe next time I'll quarter macaroons and mix them in with the sliced pears and slivered almonds for more substance.

Another highlight was the roasted veggie - meat lasagne. I made a batch of tomato sauce which I mixed ground beef into. I then roasted a baking sheet of red peppers, shallots, mushrooms. And alternated layers of meat sauce, matzah, and roasted veggies. Definitely a keeper. Also noteworthy was a casserole of crepes filled with mediterannean salsa (diced tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, black olives, red peppers, onions) and crumbled feta. The chocolate cheesecake took care of any sweet tooth yearnings. Next time I'll try a walnut crust as it's base. My dairy matzah lasagne is a constantly evolving work-in-progress. I'll probably make it again before this holiday reaches it's end.
Last night I made a batch of maple walnut matzah "granola" for this morning's breakfast. Pretty decent, nice crunch. But right now, I am sick of matzah, tired of trying to come up with ingenious ways of cooking/baking the stuff- it's the Matzah Munching Blues. Happens without fail every Passover.
Maple Walnut Matzah "Granola"
Line baking sheet with parchment paper, preheat oven to 375F- set aside. In saucepan over medium heat melt 1/4c. butter and mix in 1/2 c. maple syrup. Place 6 c. matzah farfel, 1/2 c. chopped pecans, 1/2 c. dried cranberries, and 1 tsp. cinnamon in large bowl. Pour butter-maple syrup mixture over matzah farfel and mix well- so that all is coated. Spread out over a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 mins, mixing every 8-10 mins. Serve with milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese.