Passover during a pandemic means fewer guests, but plenty of flavor.
This spring, almost everything is on hold because of the coronavirus. Gatherings are suffering, with most lifecycle events being canceled or pared way down to the mandated 10 people. With Passover coming up fast, many are limiting their seder meals to immediate family. So, if your holiday meals usually include 12 to 60 guests (or more), this year will most likely be more intimate.
With this in mind, here are some recipes for 6-8 guests. Small but mighty.
Simple Savory Brisket
I usually prepare ½ pound of raw brisket per person. This recipe does not require that you sear and brown the beef first for one less step!
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 brisket of beef (4-5 pounds), much of the fat trimmed
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped carrots
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 can (28-ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups red wine, any kind
2 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place the raw brisket in a large baking dish. Season it lightly with salt and pepper. Combine the onions, garlic, carrots and celery in a bowl and toss well.
Spoon this mixture around the brisket. Pour the tomatoes and wine over the meat and place a bay leaf on each side of the beef. Pour enough water into the pan to reach halfway up the side of the beef.
Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and cook in the preheated oven for about 3 hours. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes before placing the entire pan in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
Remove the chilled beef to a cutting board. Using an electric knife or other sharp knife, slice the brisket against the grain into thin, ¼-inch thick slices. Transfer the meat to another baking dish and stack it horizontally, overlapping the slices slightly (you want to shape this to look like the roast again).
Use a spoon to remove the solidified fat that’s collected on top of the meat juices. Heat remaining juices in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Strain the juices and discard the solids. Cook the liquid until it is reduced by half (this may take up to an hour), stirring occasionally. Adjust the salt and pepper in the sauce to taste at this point. Pour the liquid over the brisket and cover with foil. (You may freeze the brisket at this point and thaw a day ahead).
To reheat, preheat oven to 250°F. Place the foil-covered pan in the oven and cook for at least 1½ to 3 hours, uncovering during the last 40 minutes of cooking to brown the beef. Serve hot with pan juices. Makes 8-10 servings.
Roasted Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded to even thickness (about 2½-3 lbs.)
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/ 2-inch diagonal sliced
2 lbs. tiny new or creamer potatoes, halved
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika, to taste
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
½ tsp. dried dill
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Brush the the paper or foil with olive oil.
Arrange all the ingredients on the baking sheet (no need to separate the vegetables, just arrange around the breasts).
Drizzle oil over the potatoes, chicken, and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (you can always add more seasoning later). Sprinkle the chicken only lightly with paprika.
Combine the glaze ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Drizzle the glaze over the chicken (will run into the other ingredients).
Bake for 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Serve chicken hot or warm on platter with vegetables around and pan juices drizzled over. Makes 6 servings.
Pineapple Farfel Kugel
4 large eggs
½ cup sugar
1 can (about 20-ounces) crushed pineapple in water or light juice, drained
1½ cups matzah farfel
¼ (4 Tbsp.) cup margarine or
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush vegetable oil on an 8×8 baking dish. Set side.
Combine eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat well. Stir in the pineapple. Set aside.
Place farfel in another bowl and add just enough warm water to cover. Allow the farfel to sit for 3 minutes and then drain in a colander. Add the farfel to the egg mixture and stir well. Add the melted butter or margarine and stir until incorporated. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the kugel is set. When warm, cut into squares and serve. Makes 6 or more servings.
Salmon Gefilte Fish Loaf
It’s just as good, or better, than whitefish gefilte fish.
2 lbs. boneless, skinless salmon fillet
¾ cup finely chopped or shredded carrots
1 cup finely chopped onions
½ cup matzo meal
1 Tbsp. sugar (depending on how sweet you like your fish)
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground white pepper
Extra carrot slices, steamed or boiled for garnish
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray the inside of a loaf pan (8×4) with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
ut salmon into 1-inch pieces and put in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until finely chopped.
Combine the salmon with all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir well.
Transfer the mixture in the prepared loaf pan, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until the fish is set.
Remove from oven and top with plastic wrap (press the wrap right onto the fish surface).
Chill for up to 2 days. To serve, run a knife around the loaf pan, if necessary, and turn the fish onto a cutting surface. Cut the fish into thick slices, then cut the slices in half, diagonally, and arrange on dishes. Top with a slice of cooked carrot (you may also serve this on a leaf of lettuce, colorful kale or on top of field greens). Serve with red or white horseradish. Makes 8 servings or more, if you slice thinner.
Red Pepper and Garlic Quinoa
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
3 cups chicken broth or water
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp. Fresh lemon zest or peel
1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Add the olive oil and garlic to the quinoa in a large skillet and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
Add broth or water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to warm. Transfer to a bowl, and fold in the remaining ingredients.
Stir in additional ingredients as desired: ½ cup cooked chickpeas or beans, ½ cup sauteed vegetables or ¼ cup dried fruits, chopped, if needed.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Adjust salt and pepper to taste just before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 or more servings.
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1½ cups grated or shredded carrots
1 cup matzah cake meal
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. water
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 6-cup baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or rub the inside with vegetable oil and dust with matzah cake meal. Set aside.
Beat together oil sugar, egg yolks and carrots in a large bowl using an electric mixer.
Combine cake meal, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and whisk or stir well. Add this mixture to the carrot mixture and mix well. Add the honey, juice and water and stir until smooth.
Place egg whites in a separate bowl and whip with an electric mixer until stiff. Fold the egg whites gently into the carrot mixture. Pour the carrot mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top is set and the mixture doesn’t jiggle when the pan is shaken a bit. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.
For more Passover recipe ideas, check out Sissy’s Kitchen: Matzah Lasagna