“There is no better time to engage a child in Jewish culinary traditions than at Passover,” says Tina Wasserman, author of Entrée to Judaism For Families. “Passover involves children in so many ways.” There’s the theatrics of searching for chametz (leavened foods) with a candle and a feather; decorating the table with holiday symbols, such as little toy frogs or insects for some of the 10 plagues; the reciting of the Four Questions; and searching for the afikoman — a piece of matzah wrapped in a napkin.
“Children are much more excited about Passover when they are included in the preparations,” says Wasserman. She suggests bringing children on shopping excursions for Passover foods and letting them help with the cooking. They are so much more connected to the holiday when they participate in advance.
“Children usually see food after it’s prepared,” says Wasserman. “They have more pride if they participate in the cooking.”
Many of the recipes in her cookbook appeal to children. Persian Cauliflower and Raisin Kuku is an omelet-like pancake cut into squares. Wasserman suggests serving the squares as a snack during the seder. When they’re pierced with small skewers with froggies on top, children are delighted.
Wasserman’s recipe for Passover Granola is not only a yummy breakfast or snack, but with the addition of chocolate becomes a Passover chunky bar. Her recipe for Double Coconut Chocolate Macaroons is a real crowd-pleaser for children of all ages.
“Passover connects us to our heritage and culinary history,” says Wasserman. “Passover connects children to their parents through family traditions and the foods we eat year after year.”
The following recipes are from Tina Wasserman’s Entrée to Judaism for Families.
Place the dates, apricots and raisins in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the water and simmer until the fruit is soft and the liquid is almost all absorbed, leaving a little syrup behind.
Place the contents of the pan into a food processor work bowl and pulse the machine on and off until coarsely chopped.
Add the nuts, honey, brown sugar, zest and cinnamon, and process the mixture until it becomes a paste.
Add the orange blossom water and 2 tablespoons of the wine to the paste, and pulse the machine on and off until combined. If necessary, add more wine to achieve the desired consistency. Store in the refrigerator overnight or longer to let the fruit and spice flavors blend.
To serve, place in a bowl and sprinkle some additional cinnamon on top.
Makes 12-plus servings.
Defrost and drain cauliflower in a colander. Cut onions in half top to bottom and then thinly slice. You should have about 4 cups.
Heat a large frying pan on high for 15 seconds. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and heat for 10 seconds more. Lower the heat to medium. Add the cauliflower, onions and salt to the pan, stir to combine, cover the pan and then cook for 3 minutes.
Uncover the pan and sauté until the cauliflower is soft and the onions are light golden brown. Add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Do not burn the garlic.
Transfer the cauliflower/onion mixture to a large mixing bowl, and mash with a potato masher until the cauliflower becomes a coarse puree. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350˚. Grease a 1 and 1⁄2-quart casserole or a 10-inch glass pie plate with the additional 2 tablespoons of oil.
Using a fork, combine the eggs, pepper, turmeric, cumin and raisins in a 1-quart bowl with the cauliflower and mix to thoroughly combine.
Pour the egg mixture into the greased casserole or pie plate, and bake on the center shelf of the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the eggs are cooked in the center.
Serve immediately or at room temperature. Cut the cooled kuku into 1-inch squares and place on a plate with toothpicks or small skewers.
Makes 8 or more for appetizers. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.
Preheat oven to 325˚.
Mix the farfel, almonds, coconut, pecans, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a 3-quart mixing bowl.
Melt the butter and honey in a small glass bowl in a microwave for 1 minute, until the butter is melted and the honey is more fluid.
Using a rubber spatula, stir the butter mixture into the farfel mixture until all the farfel is lightly coated with the butter.
Spread the mixture in a large jellyroll pan with 1-inch sides, and bake for 15 minutes. Halfway through baking, quickly remove the pan from the oven, stir so the mixture browns evenly, and then return the pan to the oven for another 8 minutes, until the farfel is golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven. Cool to room temperature and then toss with the dried fruit.
Store in a ziplock bag or airtight storage container.
Makes approximately 6 and 1⁄3 cups.
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave or over a pot of hot, but not boiling water. Using a rubber spatula, mix the melted chocolate with the granola. Stir to coat well. Drop by the teaspoonful onto parchment paper, and allow the mounds to firm up before you devour them!
Place the almonds in a processor work bowl, and pulse the machine on and off until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the sugar and coconut, and pulse once or twice to combine.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute at 80 percent power and then 45 seconds at 50 percent. (This time is approximate and will vary based on your microwave oven. It might take less time. Watch carefully and stir the chocolate after the first 45 seconds to check on the melting time.)
In a 1-cup glass measuring cup, combine the egg whites, coconut milk and almond extract. Set aside.
Add the melted chocolate to the nut mixture in the processor work bowl.
With the motor running, pour the egg white mixture into the work bowl and process until the dough comes together and is well combined. Place the dough in the freezer for 5 minutes or until firm enough to handle.
Preheat oven to 350˚.
Wet your hands as the dough is very sticky.
Scoop up 1 tablespoon of the dough, and shape into a ball the size of a small walnut. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake the macaroons for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not over-bake, as the cookie will harden more when the chocolate solidifies at room temperature.
Cool completely and then store at room temperature in an airtight container or freeze until needed.
Makes 5 dozen macaroons.
Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. Email her at: email@example.com .