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FOOD FUN: Passover Matzoh

Chopped Chicken Liver & Matzoh

Chopped Chicken Liver & Matzoh

Chopped Chicken Liver & Matzoh

[1] Chopped chicken liver on matzoh: a classic. Here’s the recipe from Williams-Sonoma. [2] A deconstructed version from Chef Alex Guarnashelli at Butter restaurant. [3] Mr. Alpenglow created his recipe, inspired by Guarnashelli’s. Here’s the recipe.

 

When is a piece of matzoh with chopped chicken liver (photo #1) greater than the sum of its parts?

When creative chefs turn it into something spectacular.

Here, the first idea (photo #2) inspired the second (photo #3).

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter in New York City tops a board of matzoh with:

  • Chicken liver mousse
  • Crispy shallots
  • Concord grape jelly
  • Schmaltz vinaigrette
  • Parsley leaves
  •  
    As an alternative to the grape jelly and the crispy shallots, we made these honey-balsamic roasted red onions from Chef Tyler Florence:

    RECIPE: HONEY BALSAMIC ONIONS

    Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 red onions, halved
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. COMBINE the butter, vinegar, honey, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cook for 1 minute to reduce slightly.

    3. PLACE the onions, cut sides up, in a single layer on a baking pan. Drizzle with the honey butter mixture over and roast until soft and slightly caramelized, about 45 minutes.
     
    THE SECOND RECIPE

    Try this recipe (photo #3) from Mr. Alpenglow.
     
    CREATE YOUR OWN

    Schmaltz and gribenes, anyone? Or how about foie gras?

    Here are reciped for the first two, and the history of chopped chicken liver.

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Old Fashioned Sponge (Honeycomb) Candy, Anytime & For Passover

    Our colleague Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog wondered about the old-fashioned confection variously known as:

  • Angel food candy (Wisconsin)
  • Cinder toffee (Canada and U.K.)
  • Dalgona (South Korea)
  • Fairy food candy (Chicago, Wisconsin)
  • Hokey pokey (New Zealand)
  • Honeycomb candy (Australia, South Africa, U.K.)
  • Honeycomb toffee (Australia)
  • Karumeyaki (Japan)
  • Old fashioned puff (Massachusetts)
  • Puff candy (Scotland)
  • Sea foam (California, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Utah, Pacific Northwest)
  • Sponge candy (Buffalo and Western New York (photos #1 and #2); Milwaukee, Wisconsin; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Northwest Pennsylvania)
  • Sponge toffee (U.K.) and tire éponge (sponge candy in French-speaking Canada)
  • Törökméz, Turkish honey (Hungary)
  •  
    ….and, no doubt, other names in other places [source].

    They all describe a confection that’s crunchy, crisp in the center, and melts in your mouth.

    While there’s no molasses in it, the caramelization of the sugar gives it a bit of molasses flavor. You can have it covered in chocolate, or not.

    Hannah wondered: “Where did all those names come from, and why did they keep renaming the exact same candy?” She set out on a mission to make her own.

    “I cooked and caramelized, stirred and stewed, bubbled, boiled, and crystallized my very own sweet. If anything, what I created was even darker and more powerful than the old-fashioned candies you can purchase.

    “I used cocoa and dark chocolate, of course, and cacao nibs for extra crunch. But the real secret ingredient here is chocolate extract.”

    The spongy airiness of the candy is based on the middle school volcano trick demonstrated in science class: Baking soda plus vinegar equals bubbles.

    You’ll have a mini-volcano in your mixing bowl in Step 5, below. It’s fun, as long as you’re forewarned.

    As with Chocolate Matzoh, a.k.a. Matza Toffee, a.k.a. Matzo Buttercrunch, a.k.a. whatever, sponge candy is a treat you can make for Passover.

    But don’t make it in the summer heat and humidity and plan to serve it at a picnic or barbecue. If you need a fix, make it and eat it in the comfort of your air-conditioned home.

    Ready to make some four-chocolate sponge candy (photos #3 and #4)?

       

    Sponge Candy

    Sponge Candy

    Sponge Candy

    [1] and [2] Sponge candy from Watson’s Chocolates in Buffalo, New York, a town famous for its sponge candy. [3] You can find sponge candy worldwide, often under different names. This angel food candy is from Kitch Me in Australia.

     

    Sponge Candy

    Sponge Candy

    Honeycomb Candy Recipe

    [4] and [5] Homemade sponge candy from Hannah Kaminsky, Bittersweet Blog. [6] Hold the chocolate! This recipe for “honeycomb candy” is from The Pioneer Woman.

     

    RECIPE: HANNAH KAMINSKY’S QUADRUPLE CHOCOLATE SPONGE CANDY/HONEYCOMB CANDY

    If you don’t want chocolate, you can make sponge candy without it. Here’s a recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 5 tablespoons water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon chocolate extract
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 ounces quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cacao nibs
  •  
    Plus

  • Cooking thermometer
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease. The parchment doesn’t need to fit perfectly inside the pan, as long as it covers the bottom and sides without any holes for the liquid candy to escape through.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, agave, 4 tablespoons of the water, and vinegar in a medium saucepan. Stir just to moisten all of the sugar, and place over medium heat. Swirl the pan gently to mix the ingredients as the sugar slowly melts, but avoid stirring from this point forward to prevent premature crystallization. Meanwhile…

    3. MIX together the remaining tablespoon of water, cocoa powder and chocolate extract in a small dish; set this cocoa paste aside.

    4. COOK the sugar until the mixture is caramelized and reaches 300° to 310°F, also known in candy-making as the hard crack stage. Remove the pan from the heat. Things will move very quickly from here, so be on your toes.

    5. VIGOROUSLY STIR in the cocoa paste along with the baking soda, allowing the mixture to froth and foam violently. Immediately transfer the liquid candy mixture to your prepared baking dish but do not spread or smooth it down. Allow it to settle naturally to maintain the structure of the fine bubbles trapped within.

    6. COOL for at least 1 hour until fully set. To finish, melt the the dark chocolate in a microwave-safe dish, heating at intervals of 30 seconds and stirring thoroughly between each one, until completely smooth. Pour over the top of the candy base and spread it evenly across the surface. Sprinkle with the cacao nibs and let rest until solidified.

     
    7. BREAK the candy into pieces and enjoy—but enjoy it quickly. Enjoy it within three days at room temperature, storing in an airtight container.

    If you’re bringing it as a gift: It’s fragile, so transport it carefully.

    And may we suggest: crushed or sliced sponge candy makes an exquisite topping for vanilla ice cream, or layers in a parfait.

    THE HISTORY OF SPONGE CANDY

    Sponge candy is known by so many different names that it’s difficult to discern where it originated. The closest we can find in English is that sponge candy was produced as early as 1913 in Beamish, a village in northwestern England’s Durham County. It was made in copper pans over an open fire.

    We do know that in the U.K., the Cadbury Sponge Candy Company first mass-produced sponge toffee in 1929, and created the Crunchie chocolate bar with a sponge candy center.

    In the U.S., the product called sponge candy took root in Buffalo, New York, which is still the sponge candy capital of the country.
    It is an airy variation of toffee with a light, sponge-like texture.

    Different versions of sponge candy have come and gone, as you can read in this article from an octogenarian who remembers it from 1940s New England.

    But look internationally, and you can find that the Turkish version, törökméz, dates back to ancient Turkish cuisine and was adopted in Hungary during the Ottoman Era* [source].

    Did a candy maker from Hungary settle in Buffalo? Does sponge candy date to Anatolia (most of modern Turkey).

    Neighboring Persia (the modern Islamic Republic of Iran) was cultivating sugar by the sixth century C.E. The ancient Sumerians in Babylonia were making vinegar from way, way back to 5000 B.C.E.

    So, what we think of as 20th-century sponge candy may have been the continuation of an ancient recipe.

    ________________

    *Ottoman Hungary was the territory of Medieval Hungary that was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from 1541 to 1699. More.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Jeff’s Famous Jerky

    We’ve had Top Pick jerkys before, but they are few and far between. Even small-batch artisan brands can be too tough for us, and/or leave remnants of gristle.

    Not so with Jeff’s Famous Jerky. Each variety we tried was melt-in-your-mouth tender, with exquisite flavor. When you can say jerky has exquisite flavor, you know you’ve hit the motherlode.

    Jeff’s Famous Jerkey, of Mission Viejo, California deserves to be famous, especially for its eye-opening bacon jerky. Bacon or beef, the meats are marinated in deep, layered marinades.

    Jeff’s produces more than a dozen flavors (below).

    The beef jerky has lower sodium than most brands, with no added MSG or nitrates. The bacon jerky has less sodium than pan-fried bacon.

    The only caveat with jerky in general is that it’s high in sodium (don’t buy it for anyone on a salt-restricted diet).

    But it’s almost fat free, and it’s solid protein: One ounce has about 23% of one’s daily value of protein. Before we continue, check out:

    TRENDS IN JERKY

    And America wants more of this high protein, low-fat, grab-and-go snack that’s naturally gluten-free*.

    America’s consumption of meat snacks has increased by 18% over the past five years, according to recent data from The NPD Group, a market research company.

    House-made jerky can be found more and more on the menus of fine casual restaurants.

  • At Pakpao Thai in Dallas, the Salty Thai Jerky is one of the top-selling shareable starters, paired with a crisp lager or pilsner. The Massaman Curry jerky pairs well with wheat beers.
  • The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland, makes a jerky plate which includes smoked andouille jerky, pork curry jerky, black pepper beef jerky, dehydrated maple syrup and sriracha chips.
  • At Chapter One restaurant in New York City, house-made jerky is used to garnish for duck wings and Bloody Bull cocktails (a Bloody Mary with added beef broth).
  •    

    Jeff's Famous Bacon Jerky

    Jeff's Famous Maple Bacon Jerky

    [1] Oh so delicious: Jeff’s Maple Brown Sugar Jerky. [2] Hot and sweet: Jeff’s Honey & Jalapeño Jerky. (all photos courtesy Jeff’s Famous Jerky).

     
    Jeff’s Famous Jerky is so tender and tasty, you can bring it to the dinner table and pair it with fine foods.

  • We really enjoy it with oysters on the half shell, and with ceviche or pan-fried scallops.
  • You can lie it across or at the side of a protein, crumble it on top as a garnish, or mix it into other dishes like vegetables and pasta.
  • Consider Spaghetti Carbonara (which has bacon in the recipe), Fettuccine Alfredo (bacon is a delicious addition to the cream sauce), or pasta simply tossed with olive oil, bacon jerky and shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • With beer or a hearty red wine, it’s a natural.
  •  

    Jeff's Famous Beef Jerky

    Jeff's Famous Beef Jerky

    Jeff's Famous Jerky Maple Bacon

    [3] Jeff’s beef jerky. [4] and [5] Packages of Jeff’s Jerky.

     

    JEFF’S FAMOUS JERKY VARIETIES

    Jeff’s makes so many flavors of delicious, tender jerky that you won’t know where to start. (We suggest a build-your-own mixed box.)

    The flavors are variously spicy, sweet, hot, and combinations thereof. More importantly, they are clean, clear and natural, beautifully layered to imbue the meat with complex flavors.

    All are hormone-free, without added MSG or preservatives, made from American meats.

    Bacon Jerky Varieties

  • Honey Brown Sugar
  • Honey Jalapeño
  • Maple Brown Sugar
  • Sweet Cinnamon Roll
  •  
    Beef Jerky Varieties

  • Black Pepper Sea Salt
  • Cajun Style
  • Cranberry Jalapeño
  • Habanero Heatwave
  • Jalapeno Carne Asada
  • Korean Barbecue
  • Orange-A-Peel
  • Old Fashioned Original
  • Pacific Red Hot
  • Sriracha Ghost Pepper
  • Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ
  • Sweet Teriyaki
  •  
    GET YOURS NOW!

    Single-flavor packages are $6.99 at JeffsFamousJerky.com. The beef packages contain 3 ounces of jerky; the bacon packages have 2 ounces.

    Build-your-own variety packs offer a 20% savings; and there are gift boxes with personalized notes.

    For Easter treats, tie a ribbon through the punch hole on top of the bag, and maybe add some bunny stickers.

     
    SOME JERKY HISTORY

    The word jerky comes from the Quechua language of the Incas, who called their dried meat “charqui.” But they were hardly the first people to make it.

    Neither were Homo sapiens, we can deduce. Homo erectus emerged 1.5 million years ago, and evidence found five years ago in a South African cave suggests Homo erectus that built campfires.

    The remains of animal bones and plant ash could be dated to a million years ago. [source]

    By the time Homo sapiens emerged, 195,000 years ago, man had been enjoying barbecue, and by extension jerky, for some time.

    Drying food is one of the first three food preservation techniques, along with salting and, in northern climes, packing with snow in ice caves or cellars.

    Meat dried over a smoky fire is protected from egg-laying insects and multiplying bacteria (they need moisture to live). Cutting it into thin strips makes it easier to chew.

    All the fat is trimmed from the meat because fat doesn’t dry. The dried meat could (and can) then be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.

    While the prehistoric method of drying the meat was used by other ancient peoples, it was not known in Europe.

    The first visitors to the New World found Native Americans making jerky† from the meat of any animal they hunted (that which wasn’t consumed immediately).

    In addition to helping early colonists stave off starvation, later pioneers who headed west quickly learned to make jerky. It was easy to transport, and was an important, high-protein addition to their diet.

    The meat for jerky could be anything from buffalo to whale. Today jerky can be found in proteins as common as turkey, tuna and salmon, to exotics such as alligator and ostrich.

    Today’s jerky eaters have the luxury of enjoying it as a snack rather than a necessity. We also have the pleasure of using tender cuts of meat marinated in a variety of spices, salt and/or sugar—seasonings that were not available to most ancients jerky-makers.

    Modern jerky is dried in low-heat smokers, as opposed to the ancient technique of hanging strips of meat racks to dry in the hot sun. (The campfire could hold only so much.)

    If your only experience with jerky has been dry and tasteless jerky, you deserve some of the good stuff.
    ________________

    *Some brands or flavors within brands may use soy sauce or other glutinous ingredient in the marinade.

    †The pemmican you may have read about in tales of early America was dried meat mixed with dried berries and rendered animal fat. It was invented by Native Americans and used extensively by immigrants in the fur trade. Many years later, it served as a high-calorie food for Arctic and Antarctic explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easier Soft Boiled Eggs & Easter Breakfast

    Some people have never had a hot, runny, seductive soft boiled egg.

    That’s because they’re such a pain to peel when hot that even most restaurants don’t offer them.

    Soft boiled eggs were popular in our family. Nana had a set of vintage silver-plated egg cups; Mom had ceramic cups.

    The eggs were served with “toast soldiers” (photo #2): slices of toasted bread cut into half-inch vertical strips, for dipping into the yolk. (In the photo, the soldiers are topped with lots of yummy salmon caviar.)

    Soft boiled eggs have long been popular among those who could afford the egg cups: Egg cups were found in the ruins of Pompeii.

    No egg cups? Small ramekins, juice glasses and even some cocktail glasses will work. You can also nestle the egg in rock salt (photo #3) or small pebbles.

    You can even make origami egg cups (photo #5). Just follow the video below or this visual from Gathering Beauty.

    TAKING THE TOP OFF THE EGG

  • Nana’s Spoon Method: With a teaspoon tap the top of the cooked egg several time to crack the top of the shell. Place the tip of the spoon under a crack and slice through the egg, lifting the top half inch off as work around.
  • Mom’s Knife Method: With a regular flatware knife, whack the top of the egg as if the knife were a guillotine. For a more pleasant visual, then, as if you were one of Napoleon’s Hussars, whacking the neck off a Champagne bottle with your saber [the technique is called sabotage]). This should cut through the shell and most of the egg. Use the knife to lift off the top of the egg.
  •  
    We are incapable of doing either of these correctly. With the spoon, we end up with fragmented pieces of shell. With the knife, the force can end up spilling yolk.

    Practice makes perfect, but we found a better solution: an egg cutter, also known as an egg topper. It’s an inexpensive gadget and takes up very little room in the gadget drawer.

  • Our Egg Cutter Method: Place the egg cutter (photo #4) around the top half inch of the egg. Squeeze to cut. Remove the top.
  •  
    EASTER EGGS

    Dye The Eggs: Photo #1 shows how they do it at Petrossian.

    Top With Caviar: For Easter or other festive occasion, top your eggs with affordable caviar: capelin, lumpfish, salmon, tobiko, trout or whitefish roe.

    For bright colors, we’re partial to salmon caviar or colored and flavored whitefish roe. (For sturgeon caviar, we waive this suggestion.)

    Check out the different types of caviar and roe* in our Caviar Glossary.

    FOR SCRAMBLED EGGS

    If you want to fill the egg shells with scrambled eggs, you need to sterilize the insides of the shells or else (far easier) buy pasteurized eggs, such as Davidson’s Safest Choice.

    Here are instructions to sterilize the shells from Rem Cooks.

    ________________

    *The Difference Between Roe And Caviar

    All caviar is roe, the uncooked eggs of any fish. While caviar has traditionally referred only to sturgeon roe, the roe of many (or any) fish is now commonly called caviar. In the U.S., it is legally permissible to call any roe caviar as long as the fish is identified, e.g. salmon caviar.

    As food writers, we prefer to use the latter with the fish identified, even if it is sturgeon caviar. There are enough different kinds of sturgeon caviar, that even confining the word to sturgeon requires a modifier: beluga caviar, Black Sea caviar, Iranian osetra caviar, farmed white sturgeon caviar, etc.

    By the way, caviar is not a Russian word, nor is it used by Russian speakers. Khaviar, meaning eggs, is of Persian origin, found in the Iranian and Turkish languages. Russian speakers use the word ikroj (pronounced EEK-ruh, with a rolle “r”) for all roe, and use a modifier (beluga, salmon) to specify which type. Habitués of sushi bars will note that the Japanese adapted this word into ikura, salmon roe.

     

    caviar-easter-eggs-petrossian-230sq

    Salmon Caviar Egg

    Caviar Egg

    Egg Cutter

    Origami Egg Cups

    [1] For Easter, dye the eggs after you’ve cooked them (photo courtesy Petrossian). [2] Salmon caviar and toast “soldiers” (photo courtesy Le Coq Rico | NYC. [3] No egg cups? Use rock salt (photo courtesy Sturia Caviar). [4] Or make origami egg cups, with these instructions from Gathering Beauty. [5] How to cut the tops from the eggs (cutter from Amazon)..

     
    HOW TO MAKE ORIGAMI EGG CUPS

    There are several origami egg cup tutorials on YouTube. This one is the slowest (i.e., easiest to follow).
     
     

      

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    PRODUCT: Easy Coconut Macaroon Mix For Passover

    Macaroons are a delicious cookie year-round. The originals were invented by Italian monks from ground almonds. The name derives from the Italian maccherone.

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie for eight-day observation of Passover, because it was free of restricted ingredients like flour and leavening.

    The macaroon was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet. Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds and, in certain recipes, replaced them.

    Macaroons arrived in France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II.

    But the French macaron, a meringue sandwich, was centuries away.

    The concept was invented by Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée, who, at the beginning of the 20th century, had the idea to join two meringues and fill them with ganache.

    Here’s more history of macaroons and macarons.

    MAKE MACAROONS FOR PASSOVER

    You can make them from scratch, or pick up a box or two (or three) of King Arthur Flour’s Coconut Macaroon Cookie Mix.

    It’s $5.95 per box, yielding approximately 2 dozen macaroons; and it’s certified kosher.

    They’re super-easy to make: Just add water to the mix, scoop them into balls and bake.

    If you love coconut, this is your cookie. Ever so slightly toasty on the outside, moist and chewy inside.

    They’re as good or better than any from-scratch recipe we’ve had.

    While the ingredients themselves do not have gluten, the mix is not certified gluten-free because it hasn’t been tested for the presence of gluten.

    VARIATIONS

    You can dress them up macaroons by:

  • Dipping them in quality chocolate, all dipped or half dipped.
  • Drizzling them with chocolate.
  • Adding mini chocolate chips or toffee chips to the batter.
  • Making them thumbprint style, with a chocolate or other flavor disk on top (photos #1 and #2).
  • Baking squares with a chocolate bottom (photo #3).
  •  
    BAKING TIPS

    Use parchment so the white bottoms don’t get too dark or scorch, and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F,

    Even so, watch them closely as they bake.

    If the mix is too dry, before baking, add another 1/4 cup of water (or as needed).

     

    White Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroon Mix

    All photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

      

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