Sunday, March 9, 2008

Passover Recipe

Watercress, Frisée, Tangerine, and Blood Orange Salad

This salad is a beautiful addition to any dinner. It is easy to prepare, full of great flavor, and makes for a visually stunning first or second course. All of the ingredients are in most stores in the Spring, but if you cannot find watercress and/or frisée, use any fresh Spring greens. If you do not have Herbes de Provence, any all-purpose herb mix can be used. The dressings and salads can be made up to six hours in advance if covered tightly. Store the salads and dressings separately, but do not add the almonds until ready to serve as they will soften.

3 bunches watercress
2 small heads baby frisée
4 tangerines
4 blood oranges
1/2 cup toasted whole almonds
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Cut the stems from the watercress and remove the elastic or rubber bands holding them in bunches. Wash the watercress and the frisée well and spin dry. Cut the heads of frisée into six even wedges apiece. Cut the base if needed from the bottom tip of each wedge. Spread each frisée wedge on a serving plate and arrange the watercress in a curve below it. Segment three tangerines and three blood oranges over a bowl to catch the juices. Arrange the segments on the salad. Top each plate with a few teaspoons of almonds. Juice the remaining tangerine and blood orange into the bowl with the other juices. Mix in the mustard, Herbes de Provence, and salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in the oil until well blended. Pour over the salads before serving.

Makes 12 servings
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Passover Popovers

A very popular and tasty substitute for dinner rolls or bread at the Passover Seder, these popovers are really delicious. They make a great accompaniment to almost any Passover dinner and are very easy to make. If you are serving a dairy meal, milk can be used in place of the water. I also like to add a few tablespoons of minced fresh dill, chervil, parsley, or chives to the dough for a mild herb flavored popover. Make sure to use matzoh cake meal and not plain matzoh meal or the popovers will be terrible.

2 large eggs 1/4 cup water 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup matzoh cake meal

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease twelve muffin cups. Beat together all of the ingredients except for the matzoh cake meal until smooth. Add the meal and mix until just blended. Pour the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes 12 popovers.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Matzoh Ball Soup

Passover just wouldn't be Passover without Matzoh Ball Soup for many families. These matzoh balls are light, fluffy, tasty, and easy to make. For more flavorful Matzoh balls, add a few tablespoons minced carrot, a minced garlic clove, minced chives, or chopped fresh parsley to taste to the matzoh ball mixture and use a flavorful stock.

3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chicken fat at room temperature
3 tablespoons hot chicken broth
3/4 cup matzoh meal
2 quarts water
9 cups homemade chicken stock or soup

Beat the yolks with the salt in a large bowl until thick and yellow colored. Mix in the chicken fat and chicken broth until well mixed. In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry peaks form. Fold the egg whites gently into the egg yolk mixture. Carefully fold in the matzoh meal. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 1 hour. Place the water on to boil and once boiling, salt generously. With wet hands, roll the matzoh mixture into small walnut sized balls and drop one by one into the boiling water. Do not make the matzoh balls too large, as they will expand generously upon cooking. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Bring the homemade chicken stock or soup to a boil, and then, using a slotted spoon, transfer the matzoh balls to the chicken soup. Simmer for 15 minutes, and then serve hot.

Makes 12 servings.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Story of Passover

Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, had made a law that every boy baby of the Hebrew race should be killed, and there was great sorrow because of it. But when Moses was born, his mother managed to hide him for three months; then she made a cradle, or little ark, and putting him into it, carried him down to a river and hid the cradle among the reeds there.

Soon after this, Pharaoh's daughter came with her maidens to the river-side, and when she saw the beautiful child, she sent one of her maidens to bring it to her.

She took the little boy to the palace and named him Moses, and he became a great man among the Egyptians; he knew, however, that he belonged to the Hebrew race, and when he saw how badly his own people were treated, he tried to help them; but at last he was obliged to leave Egypt, and became a shepherd, taking care of the flocks of a priest called Jethro. He also married Jethro's daughter.

After a time, God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush, and told him that he must go and rescue his people from the cruel Egyptians. Moses thought he could not do this; but God promised to help him, and to show him what he would be able to do with that help, God turned the rod which Moses carried into a serpent. Then God told Moses to pick the serpent up by the tail, and as he did so, it became a rod again. He showed him another sign, also; but Moses was still afraid, because he could not talk well and thought that Pharaoh would not listen to him. So God told him to take his brother Aaron for a spokesman.

Moses and Aaron, therefore, went into Egypt, where they called together the chief men among their own people, the Hebrews, or Israelites, and told them what God had commanded. Moses also did the miracles which God had given him power to do, and the people believed that God had sent him.

After this Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and told him that it was the Lord's command that he should let the Israelites go. Pharaoh knew nothing about God, and became very angry, saying that Moses and Aaron kept the people from their work by telling them such things; and he treated the poor Israelites worse than before.

But Moses had faith in God; so he was able to perform before the king the wonderful things that he had done before his own people; still, Pharaoh would not let the children of Israel go.

Then Moses turned the waters of the rivers into blood; and after that he caused large numbers of frogs to run over the land and through the houses, doing great harm. He also brought locusts and other insects to be a pest to the people, and caused many of the useful animals which belonged to the Egyptians to grow sick and die, doing all these wonders with the rod which God had given him. But Pharaoh would not listen to him.

Then God commanded Moses again, and he brought other plagues upon the Egyptians; but Pharaoh would not give up.

At last, however, God sent a still more terrible trouble; for the first-born of every Egyptian family, and even the first-born among their flocks, died; although the Israelites, who were constantly praying to the Lord and making sacrifices, were spared, as they had been all the time.

Then Pharaoh was frightened into obeying God, and he let the Israelites go; so they started at once for the land of Canaan, and the Lord guided them by a cloud, which at night looked like a pillar of fire.

When the Israelites had reached the Red Sea, they found that Pharaoh was pursuing them with a large army. But God commanded Moses to stretch forth his rod over the sea; he did so, and the waters parted, making a high wall upon either side, so that the children of Israel passed through and reached the other side in safety. Pharaoh and his hosts followed and were all drowned.

When the children of Israel saw that they were safe, they sang a beautiful song of praise to God, and then they went on their way again.

After they had traveled for some time, they were in need of bread and meat, and they complained about Moses because he had brought them to a land where they had not enough to eat. But God sent them plenty of quails and also a substance which they could use for bread. Later, when they wanted water, the Lord commanded Moses, and he struck a rock with his rod, and pure water poured out of it, so that the thirsty people and their animals had all that they wanted.

In this way God took care of them as they journeyed through the new and strange country toward the promised land, and Moses became the law-giver of the Israelites, receiving his commandments from God.

the First Day of Passover

Passover is an eight day celebration observed each year by the Jewish religion. It commemorates the freedom of Jewish slaves from Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II.

Families celebrate Passover by having a seder. With special foods, songs, and customs, the Seder is the focal point of the Passover celebration. Seder means order, and the passover story is read in order from a book called a haggadah.

Fearing that Jews were becoming too strong, a Pharaoh decreed that all male Jewish babies were to be killed. Jocheved and Amran, a Jewish couple, wanted to save their infant son - so they put him in a basket that floated him down the river. The infant was rescued by the Pharaoh's daughter and she raised him as her own son. She named the baby Moses, which means " take from the water."

When Moses grew up, he empathized with the Jewish slaves and tried to get the Pharaoh to free them. The Pharaoh refused - so there were 10 plagues sent down to Egypt: Blood, Frogs, Lice, Beasts, Cattle Disease, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, and Slaying of the Firstborn. The name Passover comes from the Plague of Slaying the Firstborn. The Angel of Death passed over the homes of the Jews who had put lambs blood on their doors.

After the 10th plague, Pharaoh agreed to let the Jewish slaves go. They gathered up their belongings quickly, and didn't have time for their bread to rise, so they had to bake it and take it the way it was. This is why the Jewish people eat matzah during Passover.

As the Jews were fleeing, Pharaoh changed his mind, and sent his army after the people to bring them back. Moses parted the Red Sea for the Jews to cross, and as soon as they were safely to the other side, the waters closed on the soldiers, drowning them all. The Jewish people were free.