Passover is a crazy time in Jerusalem.
Matzo is mandated here during Passover - - that's the square crackers which are the closest to bread permitted during this Festival. And as if the matzo weren't enough, and the crumbs everywhere, tourists and pilgrims of all faiths converge on the city – including more Christian pilgrims in my village than there were here at Easter. Go figure. But they were singing, chanting and generally full of holiday spirit.
A friend asked one of the black men wearing white robes where he was from, and was a little disappointed when he replied London. This morning I met more unusual pilgrims, Egyptians, as jolly as it is possible to be, and especially welcome during Passover!
I went to a magical Passover Meal, known as a Seder, this year.
About 400 people were there – Holocaust Survivors from all over Israel, some walking in by themselves, others with canes, walkers or with the help of carers.
For the past year, a group called Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors has held a Seder for Survivors too poor or lonely to hold one for themselves..
Every single thing was donated – the food, the hall, the flowers, the wine, the entertainment. Many of the Survivors are too old and frail to arrive by themselves, so the Association organises transport for them all! Another huge job.
It went down to the wire. Just a week before, the organisers still weren't sure they would pull it off, but it turned out to be a great event – with amazing food!
Caterer Hanan Azran, from Erez and Hanan Catering, said there was no point doing a half job, just because it was a charity event.
"You either do it properly or not at all, and these people more than anyone deserve the best we have to give," says Hanan.
It was a Passover meal I won’t forget.
And if you want to hear some of the participants, you can listen to an audio report I filed about the event, here below.
5 Delicious Passover Recipes
And for those of you who want to bake something sweet and delicious and kosher for Passover (or KLP as they write it in Israel) -- take your pick of any of these recipes. They are 5 of the best!
And now that there is gluten free matzo -- amazing! -- they can all be made gf.
The first recipes are the ones that 3 of our original Food is Love grandmothers baked for our cameras on the ABC-TV Compass documentary Taste of Memory, which was screened last Passover. (Also an ABC Radio National as a feature documentary.)
1. Hazelnut Coffee Meringue
This is a fancy torte with coffee and nuts in the meringue, and cream, chocolate and fruit on top - usually strawberries brushed with warm apricot jam.
It’s the recipe of Food is Love grandmother Rita Ross, who survived World War Two as a child in Poland, hidden along with her parents and a second family of three. Six people kept alive for more than 3 years by one brave Polish family! You can read her inspiring story, including her re-union with the Polish rescuers, here.
Rita says this is her favourite cake all year round. And I must say that I bake it throughout the year too!
Below: Left, Rita Ross and her husband Bill in Melbourne; Right, Meringue about to be constructed!
Recipe on our website at:
Warning: I have tried to reduce the sugar or to use dextrose in place of sugar in this recipe and it changes the quality of the meringue. Still tastes nice, but it never becomes crisp.
2. ChocolateWalnut and Sour Cherry Cake
Chocolate, sour cherries, nuts -- really, what more could you want?
This wonderful Central European chocolate cake is the recipe of Food is Love grandmother Eva Grinston, who was hiding with her sister as a teenager in her hometown in Czechoslovakia during World War Two. The girls were discovered by German soldiers and taken to the death camp of Auschwitz. Eva survived, her sister did not. You can read more about her remarkable story, including finding her own grandmother’s cookbook, which Eva cooks from to this day.
This fabulous cake comes from that cookbook, and has become the family birthday cake, on the table at all Eva’s grandchildren’s birthdays.
Recipe on our website at:
I bake it all year round, using ground almonds or walnuts, and it never fails! I’m sure hazelnuts would work too. Dark chocolate and sour cherries form one of life’s great partnerships.
One of our test cooks, Judy Ingram, baked the cake again this week, using fresh figs, which she also says worked well. She forgot the butter, so in effect she baked a chocolate mousse which she says also worked so well, she might always bake it butter-free from now on!
3. Almond Macaroons
This is the go-to Passover recipe of Food is Love grandmother Lena Goldstein, still going strong at 96 (!) years old. Lena is one of the last survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and by any measure, a simply extraordinary woman You can read her story here.
These almond biscuits are so extraordinarily tasty for so little effort that it’s almost mysterious. Just almonds, sugar, egg-whites – and you can’t stop eating them.
Recipe on our webstie at:
Lena has even streamlined the egg white part. Once she found that it tasted the same whether or not you beat the egg whites first, now you just use a fork and mix them a little. A very easy hit!
Melbourne test cook Amanda Hampel made these with maple syrup instead of sugar and was delighted with the result.
4. Dutch Fruit Donuts - Gremsjelies
Doughnuts? Beignets? Pancakes? These are like a Dutch combination of all 3, based on matzo plus matzo meal, but the spices and dried fruit create an altogether different Passover experience.
It’s the recipe of Food is Love grandmother Renee Gompes whose story we featured here just 2 weeks ago. Renee was lucky to survive the War as a young teenager in Amsterdam, in hiding in the same city as Anne Frank, whose story ended so tragically. You can read her story here.
This is the first time we are featuring this recipe, and I've altered the quantities slightly, in light of my experience making this dish. It was so delicious I may have to try again, just to make sure I have the quantities right :-)
Makes 20 pancakes
- 1 ½ whole matza
- 1 cup matzo meal – a little under -- 110 g
- 3/4 cup water
- 30 g sugar
- 3 eggs, separated
- 50 g dried mixed fruit
- 10 g candied orange peel – sugarfree is fine
- 10 g glace ginger - optional
- Grated ind of half a lemon
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- Soften dried fruit in warm water.
- Lightly beat egg whites in a separate bowl.
- Crumb whole matzos in food processor until slighter courser than the matzo meal.
- Place crumbed matza and matzo meal in a colander and lightly moisten with water. You don’t want it too wet!
- Place moistened matzo in a large bowl then add all the other ingredients, except the egg whites. Use your hands to mix/knead the mixture. You want it to be the consistency of pancake mix.
- Place mixture in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Shape into flat oval-shaped patties, approx 5cm x7cm x2cm.
- Fry patties in deep oil a frying pan until golden brown.
JERUSALEM TEST KITCHEN
You know, this isn’t my kind of dish since I am one of the rare humans who don’t much like doughnuts. (No chance for me on The Simpsons!) But the very Dutch combination of spices and dried fruit meant it was really, really tasty. Definitely, definitely worth making!!!
And I say that despite almost going out of my way to sabotage this recipe, including leaving out a vital step.
I forgot to wet the matzo and matzo meal – doh! - and so couldn't produce anything remotely liquid enough to resemble pancake mix. Sand, yes. After frantically adding more eggs, it was like a kind of sweet clay. What did the Children of Israel use to be make bricks from in the biblical story? That.
I took a photo to send to Renee in Sydney for emergency advice. But then I looked at the recipe again and realised that it might be easier just to follow what she'd written there!
Another person might have started all over again at that point, but if there is one lesson I've learnt from the Food is Love grandmothers, most of whom were starving as youngsters, it’s not to waste food… so I persisted.
I added almost 1 cup of water, produced what looked like a pancake-y consistency, put it in the fridge and everything worked a treat after that!
A note on frying. I think the patties are better smaller and thinner – 1 tablespoon of mix each will do nicely.
A note on sugar. You cold easily make these without sugar, as the powdered sugar at the end makes it sweet and would produce a good contrast if the mixture itself is not sweet.
A note on eggs. Renee makes this using only egg whites, but I checked other recipes and they use the whole egg. As I hate having egg yolks sitting around, I used the whole egg too. But if you have another recipe that calls for egg yolks, remember that you can make this with egg whites only!
I think next time I would whip the egg whites till stiff for a lighter result.
5. Chocolate Matzo Layer cake
This is a cake that all the Israeli Food Is Love grandmothers will make at some time during Passover. It doesn't sound promising. Wet matzo layered with chocolate? Really? But it’s surprisingly great. Another of those classics, mysteriously quick and simple, and good.
There are richer versions, with more butter and added nuts, but this plain one is actually perfect. In fact, you may want to make double the amount, because it disappears pretty fast!
- 6 - 8 matzot
- Water – tap or filter
- 2 cups chocolate spread
- 1/4 bottle sweet wine or grape juice, a little more if you are making a higher stack
Note on Chocolate: You can use a store-bought chocolate spread eg nutella, or any spread that is kosher for Passover.
I don’t do that if I can help it, since I prefer to know how much butter and sugar and other calorific/forbidden ingredients I am adding to any desert.
My current favourite chocolate sauce is made by melting together dark chocolate and coconut milk. For this cake, I would also add some wine. This sauce is not overly sweet, so you may find you want to add a little sugar to taste.
- 100 g dark chocolate, 60 % or higher
- 400 g tin coconut milk, use 1/3 of the tin
- 3 tablespoons sweet wine, or to taste.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and add the coconut cream. If you don’t shake the can, and use only the creamy bit from the top, it gives it a beautiful consistency.
1. Stack 3 matzot together and run them under cold tap water for a few seconds. It’s a quick rinse. You are aiming for wet, not soggy. Repeat with the next 3. Rest on a plate.
2. Prepare 2 dishes, each large enough to comfortably hold the matza. Pour the wine into one of the dishes. The second dish is for assembly. It can also be your serving dish, or you can line it with greaseproof paper and serve separately when you’re ready.
3. Take one damp matza and submerge it in wine. This time you do want it to be very wet! Make sure you get the edges too, so that you don’t have crunchy corners. Somehow when you’re eating this cake you forget you’re eating matzo – not sure how, that’s its secret! – and those crunchy edges will remind you…
4. Place the matzo on your serving dish /greaseproof paper and cover the top with your chocolate spread. Repeat the process, stacking the matzo on top of each other. Leave the most chocolate for the top, and place tin the fridge to set for at least an hour.
For those who are celebrating, enjoy the end of the holiday! Everyone can enjoy these recipes.