15 April 2009

recipe swap, passover edition

this whole week i've been keeping passover, meaning that i am not eating any bread or grain or corn...i can't really retell all the details of what i can and can't eat and why, but trust me. no bread. no pasta or corn. not really anything with corn syrup either. for eight days. when i was growing up this used to be so hard for me. i was (and in some ways still am) a bread girl. i would get in it 4 days doing really well and then there would be bread on the table at some restaurant and i just couldn't let it go. i swear that bread stared at me, begging to be eaten. but in the recent years i've actually made it all the way through the eight days of passover without leavened products. last year i didn't even eat rice. this year i have been. (call it an identity complex: eastern european descendants traditionally do not eat rice during passover and spanish/middle eastern descendants do.) i think it's not so hard nowadays. there is a lot more support and options for gluten free living, which helps in my week of bread-free life. after eight days of no bread i always intend to keep it up. always. 'that wasn't so bad, why not cut out bread for good?' But then some coworker offers me a cookie or there is homemade bananna bread in the office and i just completly forget. oops? so, for now, i will bask in the glory of my bread-free week, as today is my last day. for lunches, i've been enjoying salads with cheese and snow peas and sliced turkey. for dinner i've been eating a lot of asparagus. passover really rings in the asparagus season.

it is recipe swap today, and i wanted to show you pictures of the food that is traditionally at my family's passover seder. i look forward to this day every year, where my family comes together over a fancy meal and its rare and delicious food. my grandma and her devoted sisters prepare for this meal weeks in advance, ordering the ground white fish and salmon for gefilte fish and dropping beet juice in the horseradish to make it pink. it is only now that i myself am in the business of hosting events that i appreciate the hard hard work that my grandma and great aunts put into these meals. from the hours of shaping little gefilte fishes and matzo balls down to the table setting and the color of flowers. they are an impressive bunch, those ladies!

the top picture is gefilte fish, which is served first after a long (or not so long in my family) passover service. it is a prized possesion in our family, coming out only once a year and one serving each, that my grandma has taken to calling it gold.
next is matzo ball soup. light and fluffy matzo balls in simple chicken broth. always two balls.
then we have our meal of chicken, asparagus (with the ends peeled!) and matzo meal kugel, or as my grandma calls it: pudding.
for dessert, matzo almond roca (yummy) and strawberries with whip cream.

my contribution this year:

rhubarb compote

1lb rhubarb
1/4 cup raspberry juice (any red juice will do, to brighten the color)
1/4 cup sugar
lemon zest (no more than half a lemon worth)

wash, peel and chop rhubarb into one inch pieces.
throw in sautee pan with sugar, juice and lemon.
cook on medium low covered for 5-7 minutes.
you are stewing the rhubarb and once the time is up you will be able to break down the rhubarb more by stirring.
taste for sweetness.



  1. Thank you for sharing these details about your Passover, Anna! Your menu sounds delicious.

  2. ooooh! i'm sooo excited! i've been looking for a recipe that uses rhubarb! thank you. that matzo ball soup looks delicious too. any special matzo ball recipes floating around...? thanks so much for participating. take care!

  3. This morning on TV, Siskel talked about how to grow rhubarb. Here are some of the key point---a starter costs about 8 dollars. Once you plant it -- you cannot pick it for until the third year. Plant it in organic compost rich soil and add a little nitrogen. Wait three years, (DO NOT EAT THE POISONOUS LEAVES) then pick the stalks, follow this recipe, WHALLA!


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