Geschmirte Matzoh

I know that this is a traditional Ashkenazic Passover treat, but I will also admit that I had never heard of it or tasted it until 2006 when a group of us went to Ghana. As it happened, the first half of our trip fell during the week of Passover and I can tell you from experience that if you think it's hard to find something to eat out during Passover in NYC, you ain't seen nothing until you've been in a third world country during the holiday. But my darling Steve Bell, colleague and friend and fellow wandering Jew brought along this amazing treat on the trip and culinarily speaking, it was the highlight of the day until Passover ended. So I have finally tried to make my own and the kitchen smells so wonderful, I thought I would share.

8 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
8 sheets of matzoh
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350. Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Whip cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, vailla, and egg on high speed for several minutes until it's very smooth. Pour milk into a square cake pan. Dip each square of matzoh into the milk and then lay out on the parchment. Don't worry if the matzoh ends up in pieces--it's probably easier to deal with that way. Spread a generous layer of the cream cheese mixture on each piece of matzoh and put it back on the parchment. Mix cinnamon with remaining sugar and sprinkle generously on top of the matzoh. Dot with butter.

Bake for 12 minutes. Let set. Eat warm, chilled, or at room temperature.

Reuben a la Mama

So as I'm planning three major seders I'm catering (somebody please invite me to a second night seder so I don't have to do four), Mama is taking a brief time out to make some St. Patrick's Day treats for the Scots/Irish side of her family (of which there isn't actually one).  My first question was how to make a corned beef dish without resorting to a sit-down dinner.  So here we go, deconstructing a Reuben sandwich.

Start with slicing one of Mama's rye baguettes.  If you have to, you can buy a "cocktail rye" loaf at most supermarkets.  They are usually nowhere you would expect so ask the deli manager to find them for you.

Lay out the slices on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil.  Turn slices.  Brush again.

Bake at 350 until the slices begin to brown at the edges.

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Meanwhile, put a nice package of a pound of deli sauer kraut (canned is a good backup), drained, into a medium frying pan.

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Add a cup and a half of Mama's Russian dressing (whisk together 1 cup of mayo, 1 Tablespoon minced onion fresh or dried, 1 Tablespoon Frank's Red Hot, 1 Tablespoon Worcesteshire Sauce, 2 Tablespoons horseradish, 1 Tablespoon sweet paprika or mild chili powder) or bottled Russian or Thousand Island dressing (as you prefer).

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Simmer and stir often.

Slice thickly a pound of good quality cooked corned beef from a real deli, or make it yourself, and trim to 1 x 2 inch pieces to suit the bread slices.

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You may get company at this point, interested in your work.

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Slice similarly, a pound of Swiss cheese.

Place the corned beef, then sauer kraut, then cheese, on rye. 

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Bake for ten minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese begins to brown. Try to let them cool before you eat them, but I'll admit I had to beat back the hordes with a stick to take pictures of the final product.

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Matzoh Ball Soup

Mama has gotten countless compliments for this classic Passover soup. Her children request it any time they aren't feeling great and it does have magical penicillin powers.  Mama knows that many people think that vegetables like carrots and celery belong in their matzoh ball soup but this is how it's been made in the family for at least as long as Mama can remember so this is how it's done.  There's a lot to be said for tradition.


1 whole chicken

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 large whole yellow onion peeled

8 eggs

1 shot vodka (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2-3 cups matzoh meal

1 Tablespoon Salt

1/2 cup broth


In a stock pot, place the whole chicken including any giblets available.  If you have any left over roasted chicken carcasses, toss those in too.  Add onion, vinegar, and water to cover.  Bring to a boil and simmer for two hours or more.  Add water as needed to keep chicken well covered.  Into a bowl, scoop out all the chicken and the onion, making sure all of the bones are removed from the broth.  Cool broth and chicken separately.  Skim fat from broth (and save for making chopped liver).  Pull dark meat from the chicken and return to the broth, mashing the chicken between your fingers.  Use the white meat to make a nice chicken salad or chicken pot pie.  In a mixing bowl, mix eggs, vodka, and vegetable oil.  Add in matzoh meal and salt and stir well.  Use less meal if you like floating light matzoh balls and more if you like your matzoh balls more dense and heavy.  Mama likes them on the heavier side. Add broth from the stock pot. Stir well. Chill matzoh ball dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Bring broth to a rolling boil and salt to taste.  Form matzoh balls by scooping a soup spoon into dough and spooning into the boiling broth.  Set a timer for the matzoh balls at 20 minutes for lighter and 40 minutes for denser balls, as the last one goes in.  At no point in the process should you cover the soup.  Check for matzoh ball done-ness by cutting into a matzoh ball.  If it's a consistent pale color all the way through, it's done.

Flourless Chocolate Cake (for Passover, or really any time of year)

It doesn't matter how many passover desserts we make, how fancy the macaroons are or how beautiful the raspberry almond tart is, this one is always the favorite. It's dense and rich, and not too sweet, so only a small slice is really required.

We like to serve it with fresh whipped cream (brightened up with a sprinkle of nutmeg) and a spoonful of some deliciously ripe berries. Oh, and the quality of the chocolate really matters, so make sure you use something that's really worth it.

Doesn't that look amazing?

Doesn't that look amazing?

Flourless Chocolate Cake

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1 stick salted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp Grand Marnier or other liqueur (optional)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of waxed paper and butter paper.  Break or chop chocolate into small chunks.  In a microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter.  Microwave in 30 second bursts until butter is completely melted.  Remove from microwave and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is completely smooth, typically with a silicone spatula.  Stir sugar into chocolate mixture.  Add eggs, vanilla and liqueur and mix well.  Add cocoa powder and stir until combined.  Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust and the top of the cake doesn't jiggle when bumped (do not overbake).  Cool cake in pan for at least 10 m inutes before inverting onto a serving plate and removing waxed paper

You can also find the details on Recipixie.

Passover Kugel

Mama's great grandma brought this recipe from the old country. It's the exact same recipe we use to make our Hanukkah latkes, but it's baked into a casserole instead of fried. It's also great because it can sit in a warm oven for hours without losing any of its terrific flavor or texture, making it a perfect side dish for a lengthy seder. We like to use baby carrots for sweetness and Yukon gold potatoes for their firm texture, but feel free to experiment!

Passover Potato Kugel
8 cups shredded Yukon gold potatoes (peeling first optional)
1 Tablespoon salt
2 cups shredded or minced yellow onions
½ cup chicken fat or vegetable oil or parve margarine melted
1 Tablespoon ground pepper
6 eggs
3 cups shredded baby carrots
2 cups matzoh meal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray oil in large Pyrex baking pan (9 x 18). Wash thoroughly (and peel if you like) potatoes. Shred using food processor or by hand. Place shreds in colander and squeeze/drain potato starch from shreds. Transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients one at a time, mixing thoroughly by hand. Place in pan. Using fingers, poke indentations into kugel throughout. Bake for 1 hour or until browned nicely.