At sundown on Monday, as they have done for thousands of years, Jews will begin the weeklong holiday of Passover that celebrates their deliverance from slavery in Egypt.
As the story of Exodus is told in the Old Testament, the Hebrews had to leave Egypt in such a hurry, they had no time for their bread to rise.
In celebration of Passover, the Festival of the Unleaven Bread, observant families eat only matzo, or unleaven bread, in place of products with leavening.
Certain traditional foods are always prepared for the Seder dinner that begins the celebration of the eight-day celebration. Recipes for the traditional Passover dishes generally are passed from generation to generation. The dishes also reflect the cuisine of the area. And, they are based on whether the celebrants trace their roots to the Ashkenazic or Sephardic tradition. Today, most of the Jews in the U.S. are Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe ancestry although some are descended from the Sephardic Jews of Spain, Portugal and the Middle East.
In “Passover Made Easy” (Artscroll/Shaar Press, February 2013; softcover, $15.99), authors Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek offer 60 triple-tested, creative, modern recipes that reflect both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions. Schapira’s grandparents came from Hungary while Dwek’s family is from a Syrian-Jewish background and ate rice instead of potatoes for Passover.
Schapira and Dwek note that all but four of the book’s recipes are gluten free and are delicious for any time of year. Among the recipes are Syrian charoset (the chopped fruit, nut and wine mixture on the Passover table), brisket egg rolls, eggplant-wrapped chicken, lime-infused pear salad, yellow squash quiche, pecan pie with cookie crust, strawberry fudge cake and apple iced tea.
Their 128-page book provides full-color photos by Daniel Lailah of each dish.
Amit Farber did the food styling. It also includes food styling tips, plating instructions and wine pairings.
Elana Horwich, founder of Meal and a Spiel, also has redesigned classic Passover recipes like matzo ball soup, brisket and kosher-for-Passover cakes. For example, her recipe for charoset is Italian in inspiration, using chilled moscato as the wine.
And, Carol Anne Blitzer, of Baton Rouge, shares her recipe for matzo balls with The Advocate’s Food readers.
Here are some traditional, yet creative, kosher-for-Passover recipes to try.