Matzah Ball Soup
(iStock)

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, take your Passover food to a different level — not gourmet, just interesting and pleasing.

Passover is a long holiday. And it feels longer because the menu is so limited. Or is it? Don’t let food worries color your cooking creativity. These days there are other ingredients such as quinoa (not a grain at all, but seeds) and tapioca flour, for example to cook with.

Growing up, my mother made matzah brei during Passover. It was a dish her Polish parents prepared for her family. It was almost the only “traditional” food she made for our family during Passover. She would serve it salty or sweet, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar or spread with fruit jam. It was our tradition. Basically, it is moistened matzah (use water), drained and mixed with eggs (1 pound matzah, 4 large eggs and a teaspoon of salt, mixed together). She fried it in a skillet with oil and it was heavenly.

Sure, you can avoid any floury foods (many of us do it anyway), or you can embrace your inner bubbie and look for fun and creative ways to add matzah to your favorite entrees. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, take your Passover food to a different level — not gourmet, just interesting and pleasing.

Go ahead — think inside the box (of matzah, of course). Use some newer ingredients and have some fun. Start some new traditions.

Quinoa with Vegetables

What makes this dish extra luxurious are the oodles of sauteed vegetables you can customize to your own tastes — super versatile. You also use it as a stuffing for vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini boats or my favorite, semi-hollowed eggplant halves. If you feel like adding a handful of dried fruits or nuts to the mix, feel free. I didn’t include them in the recipe because Passover food already has so many recipes with fruits and nuts.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup ¼-inch diced carrots
  • 1 cup ¼-inch diced zucchini, unpeeled
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: Fresh herbs, such as sage, dill, basil
  • Optional: Splash Balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 425º.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and place a lid on the pan. Allow the quinoa to cool in the pan.

In the meantime, combine the oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms, carrots and zucchini in a bowl and toss well. Season lightly with salt and pepper and spread on the baking sheet. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are just tender. Transfer back to the bowl and add the quinoa and toss well. Adjust seasoning to taste. Makes 4-6 servings.

Quinoa
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Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo)

As many of you know, my family is Brazilian, and this is one of our favorite treats. They have a sort of gummy texture on the inside, which is what I love about them most. You can purchase these, uncooked, frozen in many groceries or you can make yourself with this easy recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400º. Brush a 12-cup muffin tin or 24 cup mini-muffin tin with vegetable oil. Set aside

Combine milk, salt and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk the mixture constantly until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat immediately and stir in tapioca flour until smooth. Add the eggs and cheese and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Divide among the muffin tins and bake until puffy and golden, 15-20 minutes. Makes 12 large or 24 mini cheese breads. Eat immediately or reheat in a 300º oven for about 5 minutes.

Barbara’s Matzah Balls

My friend makes matzah balls from, guess what, actual matzah! She uses schmaltz (chicken fat) to make these glorious. She’s made them without it and says it’s just not the same. These make sturdy, dense orbs, just as her family likes. If you like fluffy matzah balls, this is not the recipe for you.

This recipe makes a lot of matzah balls (they freeze well), but halve the recipe for fewer.

Ingredients

  • Pound of matzah (about 12 sheets), crumbled
  • Water
  • ½ cup melted chicken fat (schmaltz) or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup matzah meal
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place the crumbled matzah in a large bowl and add enough warm water to cover. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

While the matzah is soaking, heat schmaltz in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until very tender.

Transfer the matzah to a colander and squeeze out excess water. Add the matzah to the onions and cook, stirring frequently until the matzah is drier and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer the mixture to the empty bowl and stir in the parsley. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the eggs, one at a time, until each is incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture is too soft to hold together when you squeeze it, add the matzah meal.

Cover and chill the mixture overnight in the refrigerator.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

Form the mixture into 30-balls (Barbara says “tight-balls”) and drop them into the boiling water (I use a slotted spoon). Cook them until they rise to the surface of the water. Remove the balls to a dish and chill until ready to serve.

Reheat the matzah balls in chicken soup (or broth) and keep warm until ready to serve. Makes 30 matzah balls.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

My friend, Julie, is a fantastic cook. This is her flourless torte that is great all year round.

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 stick unsalted butter or margarine
  • 7 large eggs, separated (yolks in one small bowl, whites in another)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Sweetened whipped cream, optional:
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ⅓ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

In a double boiler melt chocolate and butter (or combine in a microwave- safe dish, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 2 minutes and stir until smooth). Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat yolks and ¾ of a cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in warm chocolate and vanilla.

Preheat the oven to 325º.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until firm with the cream of tartar. Add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, a little at a time, continuing beating until stiff.

Fold egg whites carefully into chocolate mixture until there are no more white streaks. Pour ¾ of batter into an ungreased 9” springform pan. Cover the remaining batter and refrigerate. Bake cake for 35 minutes. Remove and cool.

The center of the cake will fall. This is supposed to happen. Spread the remaining refrigerated batter on top of the cooled cake.  Place back in the refrigerator and chill until firm.

Make whipped cream topping and frost the top and sides of the cake.  Garnish with chocolate shavings if desired.

This cake freezes beautifully. Makes 12 servings.

Chocolate Cake
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Pesachdik Banana Streusel Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups matzah meal
  • ¾ cup potato starch
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ cup oil (vegetable or olive – not extra-virgin)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2½ cups (about 6 medium) mashed bananas
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • Topping: 
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. matzah meal
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp. melted butter oil (vegetable or olive – not extra-virgin)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray well with nonstick cooking spray.

Place matzah meal, potato starch, cream of tartar and baking soda in a bowl and whisk well. Set aside.

Combine oil and sugar in a large bowl and beat oil, sugar and eggs until smooth, using an electric mixer. Add bananas and mix well. Add matzah meal mixture and mix until just combined – do not over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the mixture among the muffin cups.

Stir together the topping mixture and sprinkle over the muffins.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the muffins are puffed, golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.