Are you headed to a Seder dinner for Passover and don’t want to show up empty handed? Below, are some delicious suggestions that are sure to dazzle your friends and family.
1. Potato Pancakes (above) Preparation: In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add potatoes, onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper; mix well. Stir in 2 tablespoons matzo meal, and let stand about 30 seconds to absorb moisture in batter. If necessary, add more matzo to make a thick, wet batter. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add oil. When oil is hot, working in batches, add 2 tablespoons batter, flattening gently to make thick pancakes. Cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; season with salt. Repeat process until all the batter has been used. Serve immediately with applesauce and sour cream. Serves 4 [
Place half the potatoes in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Transfer potatoes to a strainer set over a medium bowl; let drain. Repeat process with remaining potatoes. Measure out 3 cups chopped potatoes and discard any remaining potatoes.
In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add potatoes, onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper; mix well. Stir in 2 tablespoons matzo meal, and let stand about 30 seconds to absorb moisture in batter. If necessary, add more matzo to make a thick, wet batter.
Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add oil. When oil is hot, working in batches, add 2 tablespoons batter, flattening gently to make thick pancakes. Cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; season with salt. Repeat process until all the batter has been used. Serve immediately with applesauce and sour cream.
2. Apple-Nut Haroset
- 6 peeled apples, coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup chopped almonds
- 3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons sweet red wine
Combine all, mixing thoroughly. Add wine as needed. Blend to desired texture; some like it coarse and crunchy, others prefer it ground to a paste. Chill.
3. Shmura Matzo Pizza
Preheat oven to 350F. Place 1 matzo on a baking sheet.Use a basting brush and smear 1 side of matzo with a thin coating of olive oil, about 1 teaspoon.
Smear 1/4 cup of tomato sauce on the matzo, spread evenly from end to end.Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, 1/8 teaspoon each of oregano, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper.Cover matzo with 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.Place second matzo on top of first layer.
Repeat steps starting with the olive oil and ending with the remaining mozzarella cheese.Bake for 10 minutes and then broil for 2 to 3 minutes depending on how brown you like your cheese.
4. Matzo Ball Soup
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chicken fat or vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- Pinch ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup matzo meal
- 1 recipe Chicken Broth (below)
Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form and set aside. Whisk the yolks, chicken fat, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl until smooth. Fold the yolks into the whites using a rubber spatula. Fold in the matzo meal, 2 tablespoons at a time, until fully incorporated. Cover the mixture tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Bring the broth to a simmer in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Following the photo, use wet hands to roll 2 tablespoons of the matzo mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls, then drop them immediately into the simmering broth. Cover the pot and simmer until the matzo balls have doubled in size, 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Quick Homemade Chicken Broth
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped in medium chunks
- 4 pounds whole chicken legs or backs and wingtips, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 quarts water (boiling)
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 2 bay leaves
Heat oil in large stockpot over medium-high heat until simmering; add onion and cook until slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer onion to large bowl. Brown chicken in two batches, cooking on each side until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to bowl with onions. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with onion. Return onion and chicken to pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and sweat until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to high; add boiling water, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and simmer slowly until stock is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes, skimming foam off surface, if desired.
Strain broth and discard solids. Before using, defat stock. After stock has been refrigerated, the fat hardens on the surface and is very easy to remove with a spoon. To defat hot stock, we recommend using a ladle or fat separator.
6. Onion-Braised Brisket
- 1 beef brisket, 4 to 5 pounds, flat cut preferred
- Vegetable oil
- 3 large onions (about 2 1/2 pounds), halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons potato starch
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar (to season sauce before serving)
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 13 by 9-inch baking dish with two 24-inch-long sheets of 18-inch-wide heavy-duty foil, positioning sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing excess foil to extend beyond edges of pan. Pat brisket dry with paper towels. Place brisket fat side up on cutting board; using dinner fork, poke holes in meat through fat layer about 1 inch apart. Season both sides of brisket liberally with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until oil just begins to smoke. Place brisket fat side up in skillet (brisket may climb up sides of skillet); weight brisket with heavy Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet and cook until well browned, about 7 minutes. Remove Dutch oven; using tongs, flip brisket and cook on second side without weight until well browned, about 7 minutes longer. Transfer brisket to platter.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan (or, if brisket was lean, add enough oil to fat in skillet to equal 1 tablespoon); stir in onions, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute; add tomato paste and cook, stirring to combine, until paste darkens, about 2 minutes. Add paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle potato starch over onions and cook, stirring constantly, until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add broth, wine, bay, and thyme, stirring to scrape up browned bits from pan; bring to simmer and simmer about 5 minutes to fully thicken.
Pour sauce and onions into foil-lined baking dish. Nestle brisket, fat side up, in sauce and onions. Fold foil extensions over and seal (do not tightly crimp foil because foil must later be opened to test for doneness). Place in oven and cook until fork can be inserted into and removed from center of brisket with no resistance, 3 1/2 to 4 hours (when testing for doneness, open foil with caution as contents will be steaming). Carefully open foil and let brisket cool at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
Transfer brisket to large bowl; set mesh strainer over bowl and strain sauce over brisket. Discard bay and thyme from onions and transfer onions to small bowl. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap, cut vents in plastic with paring knife, and refrigerate overnight.
About 45 minutes before serving, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. While oven heats, transfer cold brisket to cutting board. Scrape off and discard any congealed fat from sauce, then transfer sauce to medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until warm, skimming any fat on surface with wide shallow spoon (you should have about 2 cups sauce without onions; if necessary, simmer sauce over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 cups). While sauce heats, use chef’s or carving knife to slice brisket against grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices, trimming and discarding any excess fat, if desired; place slices in 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Stir reserved onions and vinegar into warmed sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over brisket slices, cover baking dish with foil, and bake until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
If you would like to make and serve the brisket on the same day, after removing the brisket from the oven, reseal the foil and let the brisket stand at room temperature for an hour. Then transfer the brisket to a cutting board and continue with the recipe to strain, defat, and reheat the sauce and slice the meat; because the brisket will still be hot, there will be no need to put it back into the oven once the reheated sauce is poured over it.
7. Green Beans with Sauteed Shallots and Vermouth
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 pound green beans, stem ends snapped off
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 large shallots, sliced thin (about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons dry vermouth
Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to boil in large saucepan over high heat; add salt and green beans, return to boil, and cook until beans are bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, fill large bowl with ice water. Drain beans in colander and transfer beans immediately to ice water. When beans no longer feel warm to touch, drain in colander again and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium heat until foaming; add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, fragrant, and just crisp around the edges, about 10 minutes. Set skillet aside.
Heat 1/4 cup water and beans in 12-inch skillet over high heat; cook, tossing frequently, until beans are warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and arrange neatly on warm serving platter.
Meanwhile, return skillet with shallots to high heat, stir in vermouth, and bring to simmer. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time; season with salt and pepper to taste. Top beans with shallots and sauce and serve immediately.
8. Almond Macaroons
- 3 cups blanched slivered almonds (12 ounces), measured without packing or shaking the cup
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup large egg whites, plus 1 tablespoon, from about 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
Set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle levels of oven and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Turn almonds into food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade; process 1 minute. Add sugar; process 15 seconds longer. Add whites and extract; process until the paste wads around blade. Scrape sides and corners of workbowl with spatula; process until stiff but cohesive, malleable paste (similar in consistency to marzipan or pasta dough) forms, about 5 seconds longer. If mixture is crumbly or dry, turn machine back on and add water by drops through feeder tube until proper consistency is reached.
Allowing scant 2 tablespoons of paste for each macaroon, form a dozen cookies upon each paper-lined sheet, spacing the cookies 1 1/2 inches apart. You can drop the paste from a spoon or for a neater look, roll it into 1-inch balls between your palms. (Rinse and dry your hands if they become too sticky.) To make fancy macaroons, pipe the paste using a large pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch open star tip.
Bake macaroons, switching cookie sheet positions midway through baking, until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. If overbaked, macaroons will dry out rather quickly when stored. Leave macaroons on papers until completely cooled or else they may tear. (Can be stored in an airtight container for at least 4 days or frozen up to 1 month.)
9. Homemade Toffee-Chocolate Matzo
- 4 sheets unsalted non-egg matzo
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
- 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
- Coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place matzo in an even layer on baking sheet and set aside.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and immediately reduce temperature to low. Cook, stirring, adjusting heat as necessary, until sugar has completely dissolved and begins to bubble. Drizzle toffee over matzo and spread to cover using a spatula.
Transfer toffee-covered matzo to oven and bake until toffee has a rich, shiny sheen, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Tent matzo with aluminum foil and let stand 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove foil tent and spread melted chocolate over matzo to cover; sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer matzo to refrigerator and let chill at least 2 hours.
Break chilled matzo into pieces. Matzo will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature.
Makes 4 sheets.