Friday, March 19, 2010

A Gluten-Free Passover

Passover is a major festival in the spring, observed and celebrated by Jews around the world, which involves abstaining from forbidden foods. It is a family holiday with different foods, the special meal of the Sedar, and dietary restrictions throughout the following week. Being GF only adds a little twist that can be overcome.

The question of what flour to use when it is generally accepted that only flour from matzoh can be used during Passover has to be answered on an individual basis. GF recipes will not include matzoh meal or matzoh flour because that is usually made from wheat. The Sephardic community considers rice and legumes as acceptable during Passover because these are the main articles of food in their geographic locations. Therefore, many of the following recipes will include these ingredients. Many of the following recipes were adapted from Classic Kosher Cooking for Sam Finkel.

On the Sedar table there is a Passover tray which has symbolic foods arranged and served during the course of the Sedar. All of these foods are GF.

The symbolic foods are:
1. Morar—bitter herbs, horseradish
2. Karpas—a vegetable (a potato, cucumber, lettuce, radish, or parsley)
3. Chazeret—a second more bitter vegetable
4. Charoset—a nut, apple wine mixture
5. Zeroa—the shankbone or neck or poultry, roasted
6. Baytza—a hard boiled egg


Vegetarian Chopped Liver
Tastes and looks exactly like chopped liver, yet far easier to digest

3 large onions, diced or thinly sliced
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 1-pound, 4-ounce can peas, drained
½-2/3 cup walnuts
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs
tomatoes and cucumbers, sliced, for garnish

Sauté onions in oil until deep brown. (It is important for the onions to become a deep brown—without burning—in order for color to be the same as chopped liver.) Drain peas, thoroughly squeezing out liquid. Grind walnuts in a food processor or grinder. Add onions and process for an additional half-minute. Add peas and remaining ingredients and process with only a few on-off bursts until combined and smooth. Do not over-process. Serve on lettuce leaves. Yields 8 appetizers.

Chicken Salad Supreme in Orange Shells
This attractive salad is a great way to use leftover chicken. Ideal as an appetizer. An especially big hit with children if you turn the orange shells into “baskets,” making handles from strips of orange peel or colored pipe cleaners.

4 oranges
2 ½ cups cooked diced chicken
¼ cup slivered almonds
2 stalks celery, diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon salt
whole blanched almonds, for garnish

Cut the orange into halves. With a grapefruit knife, hollow out fruit from peels. Chop fruit coarsely. Combine with remaining ingredients. Pile high in orange shells and garnish with almonds. Makes 8 orange “baskets.”

Combine chicken or turkey cubes with small green grapes (instead of oranges), thinly sliced celery, diced green pepper, coarsely chopped nuts, and mayonnaise. Pile high on a platter and garnish with small bunches of green and red grapes and parsley.


Gefilte Fish
Serves 8-10

Fish Stock:
Head and bones of fish
1 large onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ quarts water

Place all ingredients for fish stock into a large pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer while preparing gefilte fish.

2 lbs of ground fish (carp, whitefish, pike, or a combination)
1 large onions, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
1 tablespoon salt
4-5 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon pepper
3 eggs
2 tablespoons potato starch

Combine all of the ingredients for the fish, form into oval balls, drop into fish stock, cover and simmer over low heat for 1 ½ hours.

Serve with homemade mayonnaise or horseradish.

Homemade Mayonnaise
Why make your own mayonnaise when it’s so readily available? Because there’s nothing like the special taste of homemade mayonnaise without preservatives or additives. It transforms a simple salad into a delicacy. Refer to “Variation” of Homemade Horseradish (see following recipe) for a delicious sauce.

2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pure virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar

Mix eggs, mustard, sugar, and salt in a blender or food processor for about 4 seconds. Then, while motor is running, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture thickens. Stop motor and stir in vinegar by hand. Cover and refrigerate. Yields 2 ¾ cups.

Homemade Horseradish
Horseradish and gefilte fish are almost inseparable companions. The combination originated in Russia, but today it is savored by the Jews of many countries. Gefilte fish is served without horseradish or Rosh Hashanah, when many people avoid sharp or bitter foods and only eat sweet foods to symbolize a sweet year to come. The beets not only add color, but they make the wild root milder.

1 8-ounce horseradish root
4 medium beets, peeled and cooked
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice

Peel horseradish root. Grind horseradish and beets in a food processor or blender until fine. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into jars, cover, and refrigerate. Can be frozen (leave 1-inch space at top of jar for mixture to expand).


Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups
Sweet potatoes—also known as yams—are far more perishable than regular white potatoes. They are high in vitamin A. To keep from darkening after peeling, sprinkle with lemon juice. This is a festive way of serving sweet potatoes. It can be made the day before and heated before serving. Use the scooped-out orange pulp for fruit salad or fresh orange juice.

6 medium sweet potatoes, cooked
3 tablespoons margarine
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1 7 ½-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
6 oranges, cut into halves

Peel and mash sweet potatoes with margarine, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar. Stir in raisins and pineapple. Prepare orange cups by scooping out orange pulp or pressing out with the juicer, being careful to leave the shells intact. Pile hot mixture high in the orange shells. Place on a greased cookie sheet and heat in a preheated 350˚ oven for 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 12 orange cups.

Potato Shells
This is an attractive way of serving vegetables. It can be made ahead of time, then filled with cooked or creamed vegetables and heated just before serving. Lends a professional touch to your table.

2 ½ pounds potatoes, cooked, drained, and mashed
2 tablespoons margarine
salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs, beaten

Combine all ingredients. Fill a pastry bag with mixture and squeeze to form 8-10 flat solid circles on a well-greased baking sheet. Pipe an additional circle on the edge of each circle to form a shell. Bake in a 375˚ oven for 15-20 minutes. Fill baked shells with hot seasoned vegetables—cooked peas, string beans, carrots, or as desired. Yields 8-10 2 ½-inch shells.

To form shells without using a pastry bag, place a small mound of mashed potatoes on a well-greased baking sheet. Hollow out center and smooth edges to form a shell. Bake as directed above. Fill with steamed or creamed vegetables.

Braised Brussels in Mustard Sauce
You can use any kind of prepared mustard in this recipe, from Dijon to good old French’s yellow. Serves four.

1 pound brussel sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
1/3 cup water, divide
¼ cup mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut off the base of a sprout with a sharp knife. Slice a piece from one side of the sprout. Slice a piece from one side of the sprout. Place it cut side down and cut it crosswise into about 5 slices. Repeat with all the sprouts. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium for 1 minute. Add olive oil and swirl to coat skillet. Add shallots; sauté for 2 minutes. Sir in sprouts, salt (if using), and 3 tablespoons water; spread everything evenly across the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine mustard, brown sugar, and remaining water in a small bowl, stir until blended. Once sprouts have cooked for 5 minutes, pour mustard mixture over them and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover, cook for 3 minutes, then stir. Remove from heat or, if you prefer, cook for 5 minutes more—the sprouts will get browner and more intensely flavored. Serve hot or warm with black pepper.

Roasted Potato Medley
Serves six.

2 sweet potatoes
4 Yukon Gold potatoes
8 new potatoes
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes. Scrub the new potatoes and cut into cubes. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan. Add enough lightly salted water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for potatoes for 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on a large nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with tarragon, salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes until browned and crisp, about 25 minutes.


Pesach Coconut Cake
A chocolate cake with a thick layer or coconut. A real favorite for Pesach.

6 eggs, separated
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 ¼ cups shredded coconut
3 tablespoons oil
½ cup potato flour, sifted
¼ cup sweet red wine
1/3 cup cocoa

Beat egg whites until frothy, gradually adding ¾ cup of the sugar. Beat until they hold stiff peaks. Divide beaten egg whites into 2 equal parts. Fold coconut into 1 of the parts. Beat egg yolks with remaining sugar until light and thick. Stir in oil, potato flour, wine, and cocoa. Fold in the portion of the egg whites without coconut. To create a sandwich effect, pour ½ of the cocoa mixture into a 10-inch springform, or tube pan. Pour egg white-coconut mixture on top, spreading evenly. Spread remainder of cocoa batter evenly over coconut mixture. Bake in a preheated 350˚ oven for 45-50 minutes. Let cool, and frost with Continental Chocolate Icing. Serves 10-12.

Continental Chocolate Icing

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons margarine, softened
2 tablespoons Sabra liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate and margarine over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in Sabra liqueur and vanilla extract. Spread while warm.

Pesach Chocolate Nut Torte
A rich, delicious torte, made without matzo meal.

10 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt

Beat egg yolks until light and thick, adding sugar gradually. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. To egg yolk mixture, stir in melted chocolate, nuts, and salt. Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and old carefully into yolk mixture. Pour into a 10-inch tube pan, greased on bottom only, and bake in a preheated 350˚ oven for 1 hour. Invert to cool.

Chocolate Flake Potato Flour Sponge Cake
A sponge cake for those who don’t eat matzo meal on Pesach.

7-8 large eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon or orange
¾ cup potato flour
1 packet vanilla sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, grated

Beat egg whites until frothy. Gradually add half of the sugar, and beat until they can hold stiff peaks. Set aside. In another bowl, without washing beaters, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar until light and thick. Stir in remaining ingredients except chocolate. Gently fold beaten egg whites into yolk mixture. Fold in grated chocolate. Pour into a greased, 10-inch tube pan. Bake in a preheated 350˚ oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and invert over neck of a bottle. When cool, spread with Orange Icing.

Orange Icing

3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons margarine
grated rind of 1 orange

Place cornstarch, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Cook over low heat while stirring until thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in margarine and orange rind.

Adapted from the Frog Commissary Cookbook by Steven Poses, Anne Clark, and Becky Roller

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
8 ounces Unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons GF vanilla extract
1/3 cup potato starch
1 cup walnuts, very finely ground
8 egg yolks
8 egg whites
2/3 cups apricot jam

½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons instant coffee
6 ounces Semisweet chocolate, chopped (don’t use chocolate chips)

Butter and flour 9” x 2 ½ spring form pan. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt chocolate and cool until lukewarm. Cream the butter, salt, vanilla, and sugar. Toss together the potato starch and walnuts. Add the egg yolks one by one to the butter sugar mixture. Stir in the chocolate and the nuts. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks and stir ¼ of them into the chocolate mixture to lighten the batter, fold into the remaining egg whites. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for one hour. Let cool for 20 minutes and remove from pan. Push down the sides to be even with the middle. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack set over wax paper. The bottom is now the top. Cool completely.

Heat the apricot jam, push it through a sieve, and brush over the top and sides of the cooled cake. Let the glaze set for about 1 ½ hrs before icing the cake.