Friday, April 25, 2008

it's not just for passover!

as i mentioned previously, not all passover dessert recipes are created equally. most people try many different recipes over the years and develop a repertoire of ones they feel are "keepers".

the following recipe, popular around here for the past several years, could be considered as one of those "keepers". part cake, part mousse — it always gets finished quickly and can be served any time of the year, not just at passover. it also contains no matzo meal or matzo cake flour.

the original recipe calls for a little less chocolate than i put but i have found the extra addition helps. it also calls for using chocolate chips. since not all chocolate chips are great quality, i often use the same amount (by weight) with other forms of chocolate [i.e. bars/squares]. you'll have to experiment and see what you like. if you try it using cocoa powder, you'll need to make the conversion as using straight cocoa powder won't work. the recipe also uses margarine to keep it parve or non-dairy. i'm sure you can replace the margarine with butter, if you choose.

there is one thing to consider when making this cake: make sure you use eggs which are extremely fresh. the mousse part of the cake is not cooked and therefore you cannot keep the cake out of the fridge for long periods of time. it is best eaten when served.

also note before starting that the cake is baked in an 8 inch springform type pan which is ungreased. as the cake is not an "unmolded" type one, you will be serving directly from the pan.

easy chocolate mousse cake


1 c (8 oz) chocolate chips or similar chocolate
1/4 lb (1 stick) margarine

7 eggs

1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

optional for garnish:

thin chocolate curls or slivered toasted almonds


separate the eggs and place the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. make sure to use 2 large bowls. if using directly from the fridge, let them sit out to come to room temperature.

in the meantime — in another bowl, either in the microwave with medium low power setting or over a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the margarine. make sure your utensils are completely dry as even one drop of water will make the chocolate seize and ruin everything.

add the vanilla and put chocolate mixture aside to cool.

add only 3/4 c of sugar to the egg yolks and beat them for 5 minutes. make sure to beat them for this long. they should turn whitish coloured and become very thick. set aside.

beat the egg whites until stiff adding the last 1/4 c of sugar slowly by tablespoon (4 tbsp). set aside.

preheat the oven to 325F.

carefully add 1/2 the chocolate to the egg yolks and beat well to incorporate.

repeat with the 2nd half of the chocolate.

in 3 to 4 additions, add the egg whites to the chocolate egg yolk mixture. make sure you have a large enough bowl.

fold the whites carefully and break up any clumps of whites. you may need to use a wire whisk to carefully do this. use a gentle hand so as not to "deflate" all your hard work! this procedure will take a few minutes to do and must be done by hand.

the next part will be a bit of your decision. you need to decide how much cake you want in ratio to how much mousse. i suggest using 4 c (32 oz) batter for the cake and the rest (~ 20 oz) for the mousse. it works out to between 2/3 - 3/4 batter for the cake and 1/4 - 1/3 batter for the mousse.


pour the portion for the cake into the ungreased pan and spread it out a bit so it is even.

bake the cake for 35 minutes. do not open the oven door while baking. place the batter for the mousse in the fridge, covered.

remove the cake from the oven. it will have risen and the surface cracked.

let it sit undisturbed until cooled. the cake will sink — this is normal.

once cooled, pour the mousse into the depression/hole of the cake and refrigerate until serving.

before serving, you can place thin chocolate curls all over the mousse or slivered toasted almonds to garnish.


passover cookie "cold treatment"

it's no secret that during passover most of us always complain and think we won't make it a whole week without bread (the leavened kind, at least), pasta, cereal and myriad other everyday things we take for granted, all made from regular flour and leavening agents like yeast and baking powder. in spite of the restrictions for the 8 days, however, we all know there is still PLENTY to eat — some of it great, some of it so-so and the remainder — stuff which just shouldn't be consumed! :o

passover desserts 'n things made with matzo meal and/or matzo cake (flour) meal generally tend to fall into the category of ''s alright' to 'omg, i so can't eat this'. LOL. of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and there ARE desserts made with these two things which are really good. added to this is the fact that everyone has 2 or more opinions on the matter.

every pesach, i inevitably end up with a 3/4 box of unused cake meal since i don't make much with it but always need some in small amounts. this year, i decided i need to use it so i don't wind up throwing it out after the holiday is over. in a way, though, throwing out that box of unused cake meal has become tradition ;)

the following recipe is for cookies which turned out surprisingly good considering how much cake meal was used in them (i.e. a lot). my first thought was that they were going to be totally disgusting but not at all. while they won't win awards for cookies of the year, they were quite decent for what they were. i am therefore giving them a yiddish-isized name to their original one....

nisht gehferlach pesach refrigerator cookies
not-so-bad passover cookies


2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
pinch salt
1/4 c oil

1 c matzo cake meal

1/3 c chopped walnuts or almonds
1/3 c chocolate chips, optional


beat the sugar and the eggs well with the pinch of salt until thick.

add the oil.

add the cake meal, the nuts and chocolate chips, if using.

mix well.

the mixture will be sticky.

cut a piece of wax or parchment paper and place half the mixture on it in the shape of a log. make the log the size/thickness of the cookies you want. they will be exactly the same size baked as they are raw; don't expect them to spread while they cook.

carefully roll up the cookie dough in the paper and refrigerate either overnight or for at least several hours for it to get firm enough to slice. if you want to be different, you can also press the roll into a square block after it has chilled for a few hours.

when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F.

unwrap the dough and slice only 1/4 inch thick.

place on a cookie sheet (greased or with parchment paper), and bake for approximately 13 to 15 minutes. they should be golden brown.

let cool before eating. they will be crisp. as an alternative, once cooled, you can also dip half of the cookies in melted chocolate and return them to the cookie sheet to dry.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

five ingredients, five minutes

sometimes only a few ingredients thrown together make the best food. such is the case with the following salad which is regularly seen on some sabbath and holiday tables.

to be honest, i actually used to detest fennel (anise as we call it) because i cannot stand the taste of black licorice. give me red licorice any day and i'll be happy ;) over the years, as my tastes have changed, i have come to like fennel more and more provided it's mild. the ingredients which make up this fresh salad seem to keep it tame enough for my liking.

the whole thing can be made in less than 5 minutes and is well worth trying. it keeps well for many days in the fridge also.

fennel salad


1 fennel bulb

3 - 4 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper

(good pinch of sugar — optional but i think necessary)


slice the fennel bulb on its side into very thin slices. if the fronds are nice, you can add some of those also (chopped up like you would for dill).

place the fennel in a large bowl and add the oil, salt, pepper and sugar and mix with your hands.

add the lemon juice to taste.

let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 hours and serve cold or at room temperature. taste and adjust beforehand.


light and fluffy

during the 8 days of passover, some families will use matzo meal and matzo flour to make all sorts of things while others, who believe that matzo mixed with any liquid will possibly render foods as "hametz-like" (gebrokts) or leavened, will abstain from using it. much of it comes down to what customs one's family follows [or one's adopted tradition] — mine is of the former.

one item that was always made and served during the holiday and/or at the Seder meal was bimuelos del pesaj or matzo fritters. they are almost the same thing as the ashkenazi kremzlach (chremslach) which are also known as matzo meal latkes. i think one big difference between the two is that bimuelos are fried in much more oil and tend to be a little greasier.

these fritters can be made in two ways: mixed with the whole egg or with the eggs separated. making them with the eggs separated makes for better bimuelos, in my opinion. another important thing for success is that the oil needs to be hot enough so that they immediately start to fry once the batter is dropped into the pan.

bimuelos can be served as a side dish with meats or they can be made sweet and served for breakfasts or as snacks. i personally never liked them mixed with nuts and dried chopped fruit but they can certainly be enjoyed that way by you! traditionally, there was a syrup that got made to pour over them — either a simple sugar syrup from equal amounts of sugar and water flavoured with lemon juice or one made from dates (silan). some people sprinkle sugar over them also.

bimuelos del pesaj
passover matzo meal fritters

light and airy on the inside, crisp and brown on the outside, these bimuelos are perfection. serve them as a side dish or as a snack or for breakfast. they're great all year long, too!

makes 8 to 10 small to medium bimuelos (double if wanted)


2 eggs, separated
1/8 tsp salt (for savoury side dishes) or,
2 tsp sugar (for sweet ones)

1/2 c matzo meal
1/2 c water

oil for frying


separate eggs and set in different bowls (medium sized).

beat egg whites until fully whipped and stable.

set aside.

pour about 1/3 - 1/2 c oil in a SMALL skillet or about 2/3 - 3/4 c oil in a large one and heat over medium heat.

in the meantime,

mix together the yolks, salt or sugar and water until blended.

add the matzo meal and mix well.

at this point, don't delay or the matzo will set and it will be harder to mix the two; if it does set, it's not a problem just continue as normal. it's just a little harder to mix and the egg whites may lose a little volume as you have to incorporate them with more vigor.

add 1/3 of the egg whites to the matzo meal mixture and fold it in until well mixed.

repeat this again.

repeat with the last 1/3 of the whites. the final mixture should be light.

drop a little of the batter into the oil and see if it starts to bubble around the edges. if it does, them continue. if not wait a few minutes and then try again. if it's too hot, lower the heat.

drop by tablespoons the batter into the oil and fry for about 3 to 4 minutes until they are golden on the bottoms.

carefully flip them over and fry again another 3 to 4 minutes (you'll see -- adjust times if needed).

remove and let drain on paper towels. you may want to blot the tops with paper towel also.

syrup recipe (arrope)


2/3 c sugar
2/3 c water
2 to 3 tsp lemon juice


place the sugar and water in a pan and bring to boil. let cook for about 7 to 8 minutes on medium heat. it should be like that of maple syrup (thin). cook longer if needed. it will thicken a bit when cooled so don't overcook. add the lemon juice as wanted after it's finished cooking.


moses split the sea, the japanese split the ...

when i saw this, i had two thoughts: that's pretty funny (inventive, even) & 'why doesn't it surprise me it's "japanese"'?! well, the video has been done japanese style; the guy is obviously jewish.

watch and see (don't worry about the language barrier — the visual is enough). those of you who have battled with matzot will need to try this one!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

back to business......

hard to believe it's been ONE month since i last posted to my blog — the weeks have flown by getting ready for the passover holiday which is currently upon us. with the two sedarim now over, i can finally breathe a bit and post a few things to my blog. this year was insane with the holiday starting on saturday night. those of you who observed from friday night until monday night, know what i mean! :o

the 4 sons
by paul freeman, 1960

so, without further ado, and perhaps a touch "late",
i wish everyone a —

happy passover

חג כשר ושמח

א זיסן און כשרן פסח

joyeuse paque


and if you don't celebrate the passover holiday ......

HAPPY SPRING!! (goodbye snow!)