Being the lucky owner of Jerusalem, chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook, I thought I’d try out some of the recipes from this lovely book with Pesach in mind. Here is a slightly adapted version of ‘Za’atar-Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese:
6 medium beetroots (1 1/2 pounds), trimmed
1/2 small garlic clove, very thinly minced (the original recipe calls for more but I tend to be very careful with raw garlic)
1 small red chile, seeded and minced
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon za’atar
1/4 cup walnuts (next time I’ll try cashew nuts)
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
Steam the beetroots for 30 minutes in the pressure cooker.
Peel the beetroots, cut into wedges and transfer to a glass bowl. Add the garlic, chile and yogurt and puree with a hand blender. Add the olive oil, honey and za’atar and puree again. Season with salt. Scrape into a shallow serving bowl. Scatter the nuts, goat cheese and on top and serve with matzah bread and sticks of raw vegetables (carrot, celery…)
– Pesach Is Coming – I’m So Happy!
– Rabbi Leff’s Passover Guide – I like the passage about the Seder
– 25 Vegetarian Passover Recipes
The particularity of the way we celebrate Pesach is not through a metaphysical experience but via a story. The haggadah declares: ‘even if we were all wise, all understanding, all experienced and all versed in the torah, we would nevertheless be obligated to recount the story of the departure from Egypt…’
For Maimonides, you must imagine you were a slave in Egypt, that you left and were redeemed.
To remember and relive the redemption, the haggadah provides guidelines but the story will be told differently by and for each of us. Dr William Kolbrener writes: ‘Through the description of the ‘Four Children’ in the seder, the hagada acknowledges that children are different, and that parents must tell the story of the redemption in such a way that their own children can best hear it. Only in this way does telling of the Exodus lead to da’at, a knowing that makes the abstract ideal felt through experience – whether for the wise man alone in his study or for the second grader, part of the seder for the first time.
To ensure a meaningful storytelling, one which provides an opportunity to grow through da’at, it is important to choose and read a haggadah a few weeks before Pesach. Read some of it beforehand: in the doctor’s waiting-room, on the train, in between two assignments, before you go to bed – whatever works for you.
One of my favourite haggadot, for its wonderful and engaging essays, is Rabbi Sacks’ Haggadah – a new version is available form Koren Publishers.
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat has two versions of the same haggadah that can be downloaded from her website – one abridged and one expanded. I have used the expanded version over the years and cannot recommend it enough. The e-version also means that you can download it and select what you want to keep.
What haggadah/haggadot are you planning to use?
This year, I want to try and post about Pesach once or twice a week with ideas, suggestions and guidelines for those of us who do not live in places with lots of kosher products and are busy with work – in other words people for whom Pesach looks like a nightmare and who wish they could disappear from the surface of the earth for the full eight days of the chagim. I’ll also post a few simple and quick recipes.
My first suggestion is to plan in advance. I know what you are already saying ‘I’ll be lucky if I can think about it a week in advance so a month….’ By planning I mean: purchase food that is kosher for Pesach little by little, stock it in your pantry so you’ll be happy and proud to find it when the times come!
Products that keep and will prove to be useful:
– Frozen vegetables
– Frozen fish
– Canned fruit
– (Real) coffee
– Tea, but not herbal tea
If you eat kitniyot, add:
Feel free to make suggestions; I am a fledgeling at this.
Look at one of the lists below and keep an eye for the products you like when shopping.
Here are some links to Pesach lists, articles and guidelines:
– Orthodox Union Pesach Page. They also have iPhone and Android apps
– London Beth Din Kashrut Division (not updated yet)
– Consistoire de Paris
Remember that the Masorti movement allows eating kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach. Here is an English summary of the Hebrew responsum.
May your Pesach preparations feel more like a walk than a run!
I found this recipe a few years ago and have made it for Pesach ever since. It is also lovely in summer.
1 eggplant, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can mushrooms, drained
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1/2 cup sliced green olives
3 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for at least 1/2 hour. Stir frequently. Cool and refrigerate before serving.
If you have leftovers or just wish to alter the recipe a little, you can add tuna to the pot once it has cooled. I am sure boiled potatoes work well too.
Here are a few links to Pesach lists, articles and guidelines:
– London Beth Din Pesach Page
– Orthodox Union Pesach Page
– Paris Beth Din Pesach Page
Please, feel free to suggest other links
For the recipe, click here.
For more shots Straight Out of the Camera:
– Our Swedish collegues and their students are arriving tonight. We are busy cleaning the house and cooking. I’ll probably test a few Pesach recipes on the teacher who will be staying with us as a rehearsal for the big days!
– Yesterday I read another essay from Conversations – the print journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. It was written by Jeremy Rosen, a graduate of Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem and Cambridge University and now a Manhattan rabbi. Since it is online I urge you to read it; a very enlightning approach to Orthodoxy past and present.
– As Pesach is approaching and we are all feeling the strain of cleaning and cooking I have found two articles which have slightly altered my perception of the holidays. One was posted on The Jew and the Carrot while the other one was written by Mimi of Israeli Kitchen. I plan to prepare a mainly vegetarian – as in lots of vegetables – festival in an effort not to feel alienated by the pressure of overwhelming and costly preparations.
– Jean Ferrat, a French singer, has just died. I suppose he isn’t well-known outside France, except maybe to those whose French teachers admired his poetical songs. Since his death, journalists have been repeating over and over again that his father was Jewish and “died in deportation” or that he “was deported to Auschwitz during the war, where he died.” I hate this .self-censored use of language. “Died in deportation” seems to imply bad luck, poor health or old age while like millions of other Jews Ferrat’s father was killed/assassinated by the Nazis.
A question by a friend on FB concerning coffee that is kosher for Pesach prompted more questions on my part and made me do a bit of homework.
I checked How to Keep Kosher by Lisë Stern for a Conservative/Masorti perspective – although Conservative, the author is quite strict in her level of kashrut. Here is what she writes:
According to the “Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide”, published by the Conservative movement, certain foods may be purchased before Pesach and do not require a kosher-for-Pesach hechsher. These include the following: “Unopened packages or containers of natural coffee without cereal additives (however, be aware that coffees produced by General Foods are not kosher for Passover unless marked KP); sugar; pure tea (not herbal tea); salt (not iodized); pepper; natural spices; frozen fruit juices with no additives; frozen (uncooked) vegetables; milk; butter; cottage cheese; ripened cheeses such as cheddar (hard), muenster (semi-soft) and Camembert (soft); frozen (uncooked) fruit (with no additives); baking soda.”
As for the Orthodox Union, they have a downlodable Pesach Guide which contains, among other things, a list of items which are OU certified for year-round use and are kosher for Passover even without special passover certification .
Concerning the type of items mentioned above, I follow the list isued by the French rabbinate for two main reasons: commodity (products with a hechsher are rare here and I only ask a friend to get me the more obvious kosher-for-Pesach products) and finances (these items are usually dearer). What is your practice? Do you follow such lists or would you rather purchase only products with hashgakha for Pesach?