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March 22, 2012 By:
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Salmon tostada. Photo by J.A. Kemp

Tim Spinner and Brian Sirhal want you to think trilingually this Pesach. In addition to English and Hebrew, they want you to brush up on your Spanish phrases like “salmon tostada,” “red chile-matzah ball soup,” “brisket tacos” and “fresh berry pavlova.” OK, so the pavlova is actually Antipodean in origin and was created in honor of legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Regardless, the co-owners of two of the area’s most popular flavor-forward Mexican restaurants, Ft. Washington’s Cantina Feliz and the two-month-old La Calaca Feliz in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section are all about helping expand your culinary horizons during the holiday. To that end, they are putting a Passover-friendly dinner on the menu at both restaurants. And if you’re feeling the urge to get a little en fuego in your own kitchen, Spinner, who is also the executive chef at both places, has graciously provided recipes for each dish they will be serving. 

The four-course prix fixe dinner will be served nightly at both restaurants from April 6 to 13 for $30 per person. The dinners are Pesadichah-friendly but are neither kosher nor strict Pesadichah. Vegetarian options will also be available.

La Calaca Feliz: 2321 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, 215.787.9930; http://lacalacafeliz.com/

Cantina Feliz: 424 South Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, 215.646.1320; www.cantinafeliz.com

SALMON TOSTADA

2 pounds salmon fillet, medium dice

14 bunch cilantro, chopped

14 cup red onion, small diced

14 cup chives, minced

1 jalapeno, small diced

14 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed

14 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed

14 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Baby arugula for garnish 1 cara cara orange, segments

Malanga Chips (recipe below)

Salt to taste

To make the ceviche:

Add all ingredients together except for arugula and orange segments and mix together. Season with salt and let sit for 2 minutes. Spoon onto malanga chips and garnish with orange segments and arugula.

To make the malanga chips:

1 malanga

2 cups vegetable oil

Kosher salt to tate

Peel malanga. Slice very thin on mandolin (about 1 mm thick). Using a round 2-inch ring mold cut out perfect circles. Fry at 325˚F for 30-40 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

Note: malanga can be found in most supermarkets and ethnic markets. You can substitute any sturdy, starchy chip, like Terra chips for this step.

MEXICAN MATZAH BALL SOUP

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

8 plum tomatoes, charred on a grill or cast iron skillet

1 spanish onion, charred on a grill or cast iron skillet

3 cloves garlic, charred on a grill or cast iron skillet

2 ounces tomato paste

3 guajillo chiles

3 pasilla chiles

2 chipotles in adobo

1 gallon chicken stock

4 sheets of matzah

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Minced red onion for garnish

Avocado slices for garnish

To make the soup:

In a large stockpot, heat vegetable oil over medium heat until hot. Add charred tomatoes, onions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, guajillo chiles, pasilla chiles and chipotles in adobo. Cook on low for 10 minutes. Make sure to stir the pot often so the ingredients do not burn. Add the chicken stock. Bring up to a boil and turn to a low simmer. Cook for 45 minutes. Add matzah and cook for another 10 minutes until matzah is soft and tender. Puree with a stick blender on high and pass soup through a mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth. Season to taste with salt.

To make the matzah balls:

*recipe courtesy of Streit’s

4 large eggs

14 cup seltzer

14 cup vegetable oil

Kosher salt to taste

1 cup Streit’s Passover matzah meal

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Beat eggs. Add seltzer, oil and salt. Mix well. Add matzah meal and parsley and stir thoroughly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Partially fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Season with salt. Moisten palms with cold water. Form mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Drop balls in boiling water. When all the matzah balls are in the pot reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered for about 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and refrigerate for later.

To assemble soup:

Warm up broth. Add matzah balls and let simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and garnish with cilantro, diced onion and avocado.

BRISKET TACO

For the brisket:

1 brisket, 4-5 pounds

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon ancho chile powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can beef stock

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Meanwhile, mix all the spices together to make a dry rub. Rub brisket thoroughly with the mixture. Place brisket in a baking dish and cook for 1 hour. Remove brisket from oven and lower the temperature to 275˚F. Add beef stock. Cover brisket with foil and cook for 3.5 hours. Remove from oven and remove foil. Let stand for 30 minutes before slicing. Reserve broth.

For the chipotle coleslaw:

5 cups red cabbage, shredded

5 cups green cabbage, shredded

2 cups carrots, shredded

2 tablespoons chives, minced

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 cup mayonnaise

4 lemons, juiced

1 chipotle pepper in adobo (from a can of chipotles in adobo)

1 teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt to taste

Mix together red cabbage, green cabbage and carrots. Add chives and apple cider vinegar and mix thoroughly. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a blender puree mayonnaise, lemon juice, chipotle pepper and sugar. Fold mixtures together and season with salt.

To assemble the tacos:

2 heads Boston bibb lettuce

Sliced brisket

Brisket jus

Chipotle coleslaw

1 avocado, sliced

In a medium saucepan warm up brisket jus. Place sliced brisket in hot jus and warm up meat (do not boil, just warm meat through). Peel leaves off the bibb lettuce. Assemble tacos by placing 2 to 3 slices of brisket onto lettuce leaf. Top with a spoonful of coleslaw and garnish with a slice of avocado. Serve immediately.

PISTACHIO PAVLOVA WITH MIXED BERRY COMPOTE AND LIME SORBET

1 pint lime sorbet (available at supermarkets)

To make the pavlova:

4 egg whites, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vinegar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

14 cup ground pistachios

Preheat the oven to 250˚F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper or waxed paper. Draw 8 3-inch circles onto the parchment paper and turn the parchment face side down onto the sheet tray. Whip the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until frothy. Turn the mixer to a medium high speed and gradually sprinkle in the sugar. Turn the mixer off and scrape down any sugar that may have stuck to the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer back up to a medium high speed and continue mixing for about 5 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved and the meringue is very stiff and shiny. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top. Gently fold the meringue with a rubber spatula until everything is just incorporated. Do not over-mix. Scoop 8 large dollops onto the designated circles and gently spread out into each 3-inch circle, making a well in the center. Sprinkle the ground pistachios over the top of the meringue. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Let the pavlova cool completely in the oven. The pavlova will be dry on the outside and soft in the middle. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

To make the mixed berry compote

1 pint raspberries

1 pint blueberries

1 pint blackberries

12 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon lime zest

Reserve 5 to 6 of the best-looking berries from each pint. In a medium saucepot, combine the remaining berries, sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until the juice from the berries starts to run and the liquid just begins to boil. Remove from heat and stir in the lime zest and reserved berries. Pour into a heat safe container and allow to cool. This can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To make the whipped cream

1 cup heavy cream

14 cup powdered sugar

12 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip the ingredients together in the bowl of a mixer until light and fluffy. Can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead of time. Refrigerate until needed.

Assembly:

Place a baked pavlova in the center of the plate. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of whipped cream in the well and then top with the berry compote. Sprinkle with ground pistachios. Top with a scoop of lime sorbet. Serve immediately.

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