Delicious Passover Memories

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“What would you like to eat on Passover?” I asked my granddaughters. “I’ll make anything you want,” opening a folder stuffed with favorite Pesach recipes.

”I like eating matzah,” 10-year-old Nicole said.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “We’ll have plenty of matzah.”

“I want the Moroccan charoset — those bite-sized balls of fruit,” 12-year-old Juliette said.

“Here is that recipe,” I said, pulling out a stained card. I’ve sprinkled some Sephardic dishes into my repertoire.

“What about the salad with oranges and strawberries?” she continued.

That’s always on my Passover menu because it’s a harbinger of spring, along with my chicken recipe, brimming with parsley.

“I love the almond cookies dipped in chocolate,” Nicole said.

I was gratified the girls requested foods I serve at Passover instead of clamoring for marshmallows and Nutella. For several years, I’ve tried to foster Passover food memories.

While my granddaughters love reciting the Four Questions, finding the afikoman and singing songs at the end of the seder, I’ve found preparing certain foods only at Passover is a meaningful way to instill attachment to Pesach. I could bake the almond cookies dipped in chocolate all year round, but when Passover rolled around, the girls wouldn’t look forward to them.

I was delighted there are foods my granddaughters crave at Passover. When they’re older, I’m hoping they’ll ask for my recipes.

Moroccan Charoset | Pareve

Yield: 25 charoset balls

  • ½ cup pitted dates
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon grape juice
  • Lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • Small squares of matzah

Place the dates into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process the dates until they are broken into tidbits the size of raisins. Add the raisins, almonds, walnuts and grape juice. Process until the nuts are finely ground and the mixture clumps together. This may take several minutes.

Remove a heaping teaspoon of the mixture at a time. Using your palms, roll the mixture into balls about an inch in diameter. If your hands get sticky, rinse them under cool water and dry them with paper towels.

Serve the charoset balls wrapped in lettuce leaves, or make matzah-charoset sandwiches by placing charoset balls between two squares of matzah.

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Colorful Spinach Salad | Pareve

Serves eight

  • 1 16-ounce box of strawberries
  • 1 5-ounce bag of baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried in paper towels or a salad spinner
  • 2 8-ounce cans mandarin oranges, drained
  • ⅔ cup cashew pieces

Rinse the strawberries under cold water well. Drain them on paper towels. Hull the strawberries and cut them into slices. Move the strawberries to a large bowl. Add the spinach leaves, oranges and cashews. The recipe can be made to this point and refrigerated for three hours before serving. Dress with citrus vinaigrette (below).

Citrus Vinaigrette | Pareve

  • Juice from 1½ lemons
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • Salt to taste
  • ⅛ cup olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a small bowl. The recipe can be made to this point a day in advance if refrigerated. Whisk the ingredients together. Drizzle on the spinach salad and toss well. Serve immediately after dressing the salad.

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Spring Chicken | Meat

Serves eight

  • 8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste
  • ⅛ cup olive oil, plus ⅛ cup
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 Italian plum tomatoes, diced fine
  • ¾ cup kosher-for Passover dry white wine (such as Borgo Reale pinot grigio or Goose Bay sauvignon blanc)
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley, plus 1 teaspoon
  • ⅛ teaspoon tarragon

Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a deep skillet, briefly heat ⅛ cup of oil over a medium flame. Using tongs, place the thighs in the skillet skin side down. Turn them when they are golden brown and sauté on the other side. Using the tongs, move the chicken to a platter. Remove the skillet from the flame and, when cool, discard the fat and oil.

In a large saucepan, briefly warm ⅛ cup oil. Sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes until a bit of sauce forms. Move the chicken to the saucepan, skin side up. Add 2 teaspoons of parsley and the tarragon. Pour on the wine and chicken broth. Stir the ingredients gently.

Cover the saucepan and simmer over a medium-low flame for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, not pink, when pierced with a knife. If the broth bubbles too quickly, reduce the flame. The recipe can be made to this point and refrigerated. Warm the chicken again before serving.

Move the chicken and sauce to a wide, low bowl. Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top and serve.

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Chocolate-Dipped Almond Macaroons | Pareve

Yield: 36 macaroons

  • 3 cups blanched, slivered almonds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon kosher-for-Passover vanilla, such as Lieber’s Imitation Vanilla Extract
  • 12 ounces kosher-for-Passover semisweet chocolate, such as Lieber’s Real Chocolate Chips

In a food processor, grind the almonds fine, until they look like coarse sand. Reserve.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the almonds, sugar and egg white in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until the ingredients are well combined and stick together. Using a teaspoon, scoop up the dough and drop it onto the parchment paper. The macaroons will be irregular in shape. Place 12 macaroons on each baking sheet.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until light brown. The macaroons will be soft when removed from the oven. Wait five minutes and move the macaroons to a large platter. They will firm up as they cool.

Meanwhile, set up a double boiler. Pour 2 inches of water in the bottom part. Place the chocolate in the top part and put on the lid. Bring the water to a fast simmering boil. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the top part of the double boiler from the bottom. Let the chocolate cool to warm with the lid on.

Dip about half of each macaroon in the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip back into the double boiler. Place the macaroons on the platter. Wait for the chocolate to harden slightly. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and refrigerate until two hours before serving.

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