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Archive for Passover

TIP OF THE DAY: Jewish Chicken & Matzoh Ball Soup Soup

 

In the 1970s, one of the most beloved subway advertising campaigns in New York City was, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish rye.”

Each poster or print ad in the campaign featured African-Americans, Asians, choir boys Irish cops, Italian grandmothers and WASPs, enjoying a slice of the rye bread (see photo #4 below).

The pitch was successful in getting non-Jews to buy—and become fans of—the style of rye bread loved by the Jewish community: a light rye bread with caraway seeds.*

It was so popular, that some 45 years later, it is referenced by advertising professionals, professors, journalists and consumers. You can purchase full-size posters of your favorites from AllPosters.com).

We’d like to adapt the rye bread campaign to chicken soup.

While Campbell’s chicken noodle soup is the #1 canned soup in the U.S., often tied with Maruchan chicken ramen noodle soup, in our humble opinion there’s nothing like Jewish chicken soup.

The latter is not easily found in cans, except for Manischewitz Matzo[h] Balls in Chicken Broth, which we assure you, can’t hold a candle to the recipe below.

So our tip of the day is: Step beyond your usual chicken soup and go for the gold.

RECIPE #1: CHICKEN SOUP WITH MATZOH BALLS

Make the soup a day in advance so the flavors can meld. We increase the amount of vegetables to enjoy larger portions of them in our soup.

Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 3-1/2 to 4 quarts water
  • 1 large onion, sliced (or chopped if you prefer)
  • 5 large carrots, in 1/2-inch coins
  • 4-5 large celery ribs, chopped (we prefer chunky)
  • Optional: 3 turnips, in 1/2-inch coins
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill‡
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley‡
  • 1 4-5 pound chicken, quartered or cut into 8-10 pieces, skin removed†
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  •  
    ________________
    *Food trivia: Dark, unseeded rye bread is called pumpernickel. It is made from coarse rye flour and has a very long baking period, which gives the bread its characteristic dark color.

    †Removing the skin cuts down on much of the fat, which most people have to skim off later. Also, boiled chicken skin is not a particular treat.

    ‡We often tie a half bunch of dill and a half bunch of parsley with kitchen string and add them to the pot. We pull them out when the soup is done, and then use the rest of the dill and parsley to snip onto the bowls of soup as a garnish.
    ________________

    Preparation

    1. ADD the water to a 6-quart pot, filled by the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, skim any foam, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 3 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.

    2. REMOVE the cooked chicken from the pot and cut off the bone. You can shred it or slice it, as you prefer. Refrigerate.

    3. MAKE the matzoh balls per the recipe below (you can also do this a day in advance).

    RECIPE #2: MATZOH BALLS

    We were brought up with light-as-a-feather, soft matzoh balls. Our mother referred to firm matzoh balls as rocks.

    But it’s a matter of preference.

    If you only have one large pot, make the matzoh balls first. You can store them in another container in the fridge, and the pot will be free to make the soup.
     
    Ingredients For Soft Matzoh Balls

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  

    Jewish Chicken Soup

    Matzoh Ball Soup
     
    Italian Matzoh Ball Soup

    You Don't Have To Be Jewish To Love Levi's Real Rye Bread

    [1] The way we like it: lots of vegetables, lots of chicken and matzoh balls (photo courtesy Food Network, from an Andrew Zimmern recipe). [2] Some gourmets add wild mushrooms and truffles instead of carrots and celery and serve crostini with pâté de foie gras, but we’re happy with these chopped liver crostini (photo courtesy David Burke | Fabrick | NYC; here’s the recipe). [3] From a Jewish Italian grandmother: pasta, of course. Our grandmother (not Italian) and others often added fine egg noodles (photo courtesy Lincoln Ristorante | NYC). [4] One of several beloved posters of a 1970s ad campaign for Jewish rye bread (photo courtesy AllPosters.com).

  • 4 tablespoons melted schmaltz (chicken fat; substitute canola oil)
  • 1 cup matzoh meal (unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup seltzer water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons minced chives or scallions
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill‡
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley‡
  • Optional spices‡‡: 1 teaspoon each of dill or parsley, dry or fresh; 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
  • Optional: chicken broth of stock for reheating (we use Swanson’s
  • ________________
    ‡‡Some cooks add onion salt or garlic salt. We don’t like them in our matzoh balls, although we’ve personally added ground chipotle (although most guests opted for the fresh-herbs-only version).

    Chicken In The Pot

    Chicken Soup With Chickpeas

    Grandma's Chicken Soup

    [5] Chicken in the pot refers to an entire chicken cooked with the same ingredients as chicken soup (photo of AllClad stock pot courtesy Williams-Sonoma). [6] Want variety? Check out the list of variations at the right (photo courtesy Good Eggs |SF).[7] You can even send a chicken soup gift by mail, from Grandma’s Chicken Soup.

      Ingredients For Firm Matzoh Balls

    Use the above ingredients and:

  • Add 4 tablespoons water or broth.
  • Omit the baking powder.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY BEAT the eggs and add the remaining ingredients until well blended. Do not over-mix or you’ll get tough matzoh balls. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to 1 hour to set. Meanwhile…

    2. BRING a 6-quart pot of salted water (1 tablespoon salt per 4 quarts water) to a boil. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the matzoh ball dough into 1-1/2-inch balls—larger as desired, but two smaller matzoh balls are easier to slice and eat in the soup. (We use a cookie dough scoop; Mom formed hers by hand.) Add to the water, one at a time, with a slotted spoon. When all the matzoh balls are floating on the top…

    3. LOWER the heat to a rolling simmer for 40 minutes. AVOID the temptation to stir! Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish.

    3. STORE in the fridge. An hour or two before serving, bring them to room temperature and warm them in the pot of soup.
     
    CHICKEN SOUP ADDITIONS

    While we love classic Jewish chicken soup and eat it often, we also like to have fun by varying or adding ingredients. For example:

  • Asian greens: bok chtoy, Chinese/napa cabbage, Chinese broccoli/gai lan, snow peas/shoots/leaves, water spinach.
  • Beans or lentils.
  • Challah or pumpernickel croutons.
  • Chicken cracklings/gribenes, recipe below.
  • Chicken gizzards (Mom had to buy extra because the kids fought over them).
  • Chicken sausage (cooked with the soup and then sliced, or pan-fried and sliced as a garnish.
  • Eggs: beaten eggs for Jewish egg drop soup or stracciatella; egg yolks and lemon for Greek-style avgolemono soup; poached egg or sliced hard-boiled egg for novelty.
  • Fine egg noodles or fideo.
  • Green vegetables: garden peas/pea tendrils, snap peas, spinach and the Asian vegetables above.
  • Garnish: chicken sausage, mini chicken or turkey meatballs, parmesan ribbons, thin-sliced jalapeños,
  • Kreplach or other dumpling.
  • Mushrooms: wild or other
  • Other herbs, e.g. basil, cilantro, ginger root, thyme.
  • Pillow pasta: ravioli, tortellini, wontons
  • Rice or other grain (we really like wild rice).
  • Soup pasta: ditalini, orzo, pastina
  •  
    Any other suggestions? Let us know!

     
    RECIPE #3: GRIBENES

    The by-product of rendering chicken skin for fat (schmaltz) are cracklings: crispy pieces of chicken skin. They’re a prized treat to eat on potatoes or anything else.

    In Yiddish they’re called gribenes (GRIH-beh-ness) or grieven (GREE-vin), which means “scraps” in Hebrew.

    When a whole chicken is being used for soup and the skin isn’t needed (it just adds fat that needs to be skimmed off later), it can be cut into strips for gribenes. Cooked with sliced onions, the result is memorable.

    Ready to render?

    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup

  • 8 ounces chicken fat and/or raw skin, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the chicken fat and any skin in a small saucepan, along with the thyme, garlic and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.

    2. COOK until the fat has rendered (liquefied) and the skin pieces are crispy, about 35 to 45 minutes. As liquid fat fills the pan, drain it into a measuring cup or other vessel; the gribenes will take longer to get crisp.

    3. EAT the gribenes as soon as possible after they come out of the pan. Don’t refrigerate; they’ll go limp. These delicious cracklings can be eaten with potatoes, garnish a salad or chicken/turkey sandwich, grits or polenta, etc. Both Nana and Mom ate them straight from the pan.

    4. COOL the chicken fat slightly, then strain it into a lidded jar. It will keep for up to one week, maybe longer.

      

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    RECIPE: Chicken Liver Crostini…Or Maybe Foie Gras

    Chicken Liver Crostini

    Chicken Livers On Baguette Toast

    Torchon With Toasted Baguette

    Dartagnan Foie Gras Torchon

    [1] This recipe from Emiko Davies at Honest Cooking is popular in Tuscany (it also contains mushrooms). [2] Food Network adds a garnish of chopped hard-boiled egg and sliced radishes (recipe). Other colored vegetables also work, from asparagus and coronations to grape tomatoes. [3] A torchon of foie gras with toasted baguette (photo courtesy Elle France). [4] You can purchase a ready-to-eat torchon from D’Artagnan.

     

    Crostini and bruschetta have entered the American mainstream over the past 20 years (here’s the difference).

    At better restaurants, a bowl of soup is often served with a side or floating garnish of crostini, which can be simple toasted baguette slices (or other bread) and a side of butter or other spread; or topped with anything from cheese (blue, brie, feta, goat) to mashed avocado and bean purée.

    As millions of Americans get ready to enjoy the customary chopped liver Rosh Hashanah dinner, take a detour from the customary on saltines, rye or pumpernickel. Make chicken liver crostini.

    You can make them with store-bought chopped chicken liver or mousse, but we always keep the tradition going with our Nana’s recipe.

    Nana served her chopped liver with Nabisco saltines or Stoned Wheat Thins. When we were young, Mom had moved beyond those to party pumpernickel and [homemade] rye toasts.

    Other families prefer triangles of white toast or rye bread. We like baguette crostini or (for a chopped liver sandwich) rye bread.

    At Passover, chopped liver is served with matzoh.

    Crostini is the Italian name for croutons—not American salad croutons, but small size pieces of toast like a sliced, toasted baguette or a similar Italian loaf. They’re splendid with chopped liver, and are commonplace in Italy as a base for chopped liver.
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHOPPED LIVER

    European chopped chicken liver dates back perhaps 3,000 years. The chicken, which originated in [take your pick—the jury is still out] Africa, China or the Middle East, didn’t get to Western Europe until about 1000 B.C.E.

    You can bet that every part of the bird was used, including the innards. We’ve seen some European recipes that of the chopped the liver liver together with the heart and gizzard, no doubt as their ancestors did.
     
    CHOPPED LIVER FOR EVERYONE!

    Many Americans think of chopped chicken liver as Jewish cooking, served at holidays and special events. But it’s also served by European Christians.

    In Tuscany, Crostini di Fegatini (chicken liver crostini) is on every Christmas table—made by nonna (grandma), or with her recipe, and spread on crostini. As in Jewish households, its served for every birthday dinner or special occasion meal, and can be found on “the menu of literally every trattoria in Tuscany,” per Emiko Davies, a food writer and photographer specializing in Italian cuisine.

    Here’s her recipe, adapted from one of those Tuscan trattorias.

    On the opposite side of the country, in Venice, the recipes use butter and calves liver. In France, heavy cream and cognac (no surprise there!).
     
    OUR VERY FAVORITE: FOIE GRAS CROSTINI

    As much as we love Nana’s chicken liver, for us the ultimate chicken liver crostini is not chicken liver at all, but a slice of a duck liver torchon or terrine (a.k.a. foie gras) on toasted brioche.

    The liver comes fully prepared, with nothing to do except slice it and make the crostini.

    If you’re used to spending on good steaks, you can afford it. A 5-ounce torchon (good for 10 or more slices) is $39.99 and a 1-pound torch is $99.99, at Dartagnan.com.

    It makes a lovely gift for a foie-gras (or chopped liver) lover.
     
    FUN WITH CHICKEN LIVER CROSTINI

    In addition to room temperature chopped liver on crostini, you can also serve crostini topped with warm sautéed chicken livers and onions. Just slice the livers into pieces after sautéing.

    For some food fun, serve a duo of chicken liver crostini as an appetizer: one with chopped liver, one with sautéed liver.

    What’s the difference between an appetizer and an hors d’oeuvre? See below.

     
    RECIPE #1: NANA’S CHOPPED CHICKEN LIVER CROSTINI

    This recipe calls for schmaltz, rendered chicken fat. Some European cultures use butter, cream or olive oil. Just keep to these fats.

    We once were served chopped chicken liver at a Passover seder, made with mayonnaise! The guest who brought it must not have been able to find or make schmaltz. We will never forget that taste (think of pastrami or corned beef with mayonnaise). Oy.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes, plus optional chilling time. Nana insisted on making the liver at least a half-day in advance, to allow the flavors to meld in the fridge.

    Chopped Liver Consistency

    Depending on the preferences of the cook, chopped liver can be coarse, medium, or blended into a mousse-type consistency with some extra fat.

    Our preference is medium-to-mousse, but cooks with less time can go rustic. It’s just as tasty; we just a finer texture on the palate.

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh chicken livers, rinsed and patted try
  • 1 cup rendered chicken fat (schmaltz—recipe below)
  • 2 cups yellow onions, medium to fine dice
  • 4 extra-large eggs, hard-cooked and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Optional: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or thyme leaves (or more parsley
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHECK the livers and remove any fat or membrane. Heat a large sauté or fry pan to medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of rendered chicken fat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden but not brown—about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the onions to a large plate and wipe out the pan.

    2. COOK the livers 1 pound at a time. Place the livers in the same pan in a single layer, and season them with salt and pepper. Add three more tablespoons of fat and turn the heat to high. When the fat begins to shimmer, place the livers in the pan in a single layer. Cook the livers for 2 to 2-1/2 minutes per side until browned, turning once. You want to to get the insides just pink. Never overcook liver!

    3. TRANSFER the livers to the plate with the onions and repeat with the second pound of livers and 3 more tablespoons of fat. Let the cooked livers to cool on a platter.

    4. CHOP the livers and onions to your desired consistency. If you don’t have great knife skills, the time-honored Jewish technique is to use a mezzaluna and a wooden chopping bowl. You can buy them as a set, but it’s much easier—and less expensive—to use a double-blade mezzaluna and purchase a separate 12″ wood bowl. You can use the mezzaluna to chop vegetables or anything else; and the wood bowl doubles as a salad bowl, chip bowl, etc.

    Don’t plus in a food processor without experimenting to see if you can get the consistency you want (it could end up like mousse). If you do use a processor, pulse in small batches so the bottom won’t liquefy before the top ingredients are well chopped.

    5. ADD the chopped eggs, herbs, seasonings and the remaining chicken fat to the bowl. Toss to combine. If you want a finer consistency, continue chopping. Refrigerate until ready to use.
     
    ________________
    *You can substitute turkey livers. Here’s a party-size recipe from the New York Times.

     

    MAKE THE RECIPE YOUR OWN

    If you love chopped liver as much as we do, play around with the recipe and see which suits you. Some people like less hard-boiled egg mixed in; others leave it out of the liver and use it as a garnish on top. Some people like more herbs and onions, some people prefer less.

    Some people like the Italian custom of adding wine or fortified wine, the addition of fresh sage and garlic, and shallots instead of yellow onions.

    Our favorite chopped liver appetizer preparation is our own Four-Onion Chopped Liver Crostini: chopped liver and onions (the basic recipe above), with a garnish of caramelized onions, some pickled onions on the side (red onions or cocktail onions), and a plate garnish of minced chives. Wowsa!
     
    Optional Mix-Ins

    Don’t use them all at once to find your ideal chopped liver recipe. Test small batches to see what you prefer.

    After you cook one or two pounds of livers, divide the batch and add the additional flavors you want to try.

    Some of the following are Italian touches; others were incorporated to Jewish-style chopped liver we’ve had along the way. If add adding wine or spirits, add them the last few minutes of cooking the livers.

  • 1/4 cup reconstituted dried mushrooms or sautéed fresh mushrooms, both finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pancetta, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves minced sautéed garlic
  • Heat: a pinch cayenne or chipotle powder, splash of hot sauce, etc.
  • Wine or spirits: 2 tablespoons dry white wine, port, madeira, marsala, sherry, vin santo; or 1 tablespoon brandy or 80-proof spirit
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
  • Crunch: ½ stalk celery or 1/2 large carrot, finely chopped
  •  
    Optional Garnishes

  • Apple or fig slicet
  • Baby arugula
  • Caramelilzed onions (delish!)
  • Chutney, fig or sour cherry jam, etc.
  • Coarse sea salt, plain or flavored
  • Cornichons, halved
  • Cress, microgreens or sprouts
  • Fresh herbs: parsley, sage, thyme
  • Hard-boiled eggs or yolks only (for more color), chopped
  •  
    ________________
    †Aside from a garnish, you can create bottom layer of sliced apple or fig, with the chicken liver on top.

    RECIPE #2: HOW TO RENDER CHICKEN FAT

    Plan ahead: Save the uncooked chicken fat and skin you trim from chicken instead of throwing them away. Freeze them, and when you have enough, defrost and you’re ready to render.

  • You can also get chicken fat—often free—from butchers, who throw it away (except kosher butchers, who know their customers will buy it). Ask at your butcher shop or supermarket meat department.
  • You can also collect the fat from homemade chicken soup. Refrigerate it and skim the solid fat that rises to the top. It won’t be a whole lot, but every few tablespoons count.
  • You can see the entire process in photos from Tori Avey (who uses a slightly different recipe than we have here).
  •  
    Get Ready To Enjoy Gribenes

    The by-product of rendering the skin for fat are cracklings: crispy pieces of chicken skin. In Yiddish they’re called gribenes (GRIHh-beh-ness) or grieven (GREE-vin), which means “scraps” in Hebrew.

    They’re a prized treat to eat on potatoes or anything else. When a whole chicken is being used for soup and the skin isn’t needed (it just adds fat that needs to be skimmed off later), it can be cut into strips for gribenes. Cooked with sliced onions, the result is memorable.

    Ready to render?
     
    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup Or More‡

  • 8 ounces chicken fat and/or raw skin, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  •  
    ________________
    ‡Rendering fat only produces more schmaltz than rendering fat with skin.

    Preparation

     

    Chopped Liver With Caramelized Onions

    Chopped Chicken Livers

    Chicken Liver Crostini With Chutney

    Chicken Liver Mousse

    Chicken Liver Mousse

    [5] This double garnish from StaceySnacksOnline.com is a dynamite combination of caramelized onions and fresh sage. [6] Arugula garnish (photo courtesy DailyLife.com.au. [7] Kings uses a garnish of baby sage and cranberry sauce or chutney (the recipe). [8] Chef Craig Wallen whips the livers into mousse consistency and garnishes the crostini with coarse sea salt (the recipe; photo by Stephanie Bourgeois). [9] Alton Brown serves DIY crostini, with individual ramekins of chicken liver mousse and a side of toasts. His recipe uses cream and cognac (photo courtesy Food Network).

     
    1. COMBINE the chicken fat and any skin in a small saucepan, along with the thyme, garlic and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.

    2. COOK until the fat has rendered (liquefied) and the skin pieces are crispy, about 35 to 45 minutes. As liquid fat fills the pan, drain it into a measuring cup or other vessel; the gribenes will take longer to get crisp.

    3. EAT the gribenes as soon as possible after they come out of the pan. Don’t refrigerate; they’ll go limp. These delicious cracklings can be eaten with potatoes, garnish a salad or chicken/turkey sandwich, grits or polenta, etc. Both Nana and Mom ate them straight from the pan.

    4. COOL the chicken fat slightly, then strain it into a lidded jar. It will keep for up to one week, maybe longer.
     
     
    FOOD 101: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN APPETIZERS & HORS D’OEUVRE

    The terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference:

    Hors d’oeuvre (there’s no extra “s” in French: it’s the same spelling singular or plural), pronounced or-DERV, refers to finger food, such as canapés, served with drinks prior to the meal. The name means “outside the work,” i.e., not part of the main meal.

    French hors d’oeuvre were traditionally one-bite items, artistically constructed. Today, the category of has expanded to mini quiches, skewers, tarts; baby lamb chops; stuffed mushrooms, etc.

    An appetizer is a first course, served at the table and in larger portions. While you can plate multiple hors d’oeuvres as an appetizer,

    What about crackers and cheese, crudités and dips, salsa and chips, and other popular American foods served with pre-dinner drinks? Since they are finger foods, you can call them hors d’oeuvre. American hors d’oeuvre.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Off-Season Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Dipped Macaroons Recipe

    Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroon Inside

    Top: Chocolate-dipped macaroons (photo courtesy McCormick). Center: Plain coconut macaroons (photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections). Bottom: Up close (photo by Georgie Grd | Wikipedia).

     

    If you like coconut, don’t wait until Passover* to make coconut macaroons. They’re a great treat year-round, and gluten-free. Bring them as house gifts: They travel well without breaking.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Serena Rain of VanillaQueen.com, purveyor of top-quality vanilla beans, extracts, pastes, powders, sugars and salts.
     
    RECIPE: COCONUT MACAROONS

    You don’t need to add chocolate to macaroons; but if you want to, there are two options:

  • Dip the macaroons in a chocolate glaze.
  • Mix chocolate chips into the dough. This is an especially good option for warm-weather months.
  •  
    Ingredients For About 24 Cookies

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond meal†
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (for the dough)
  • Optional: 4 ounces quality chocolate bar (for a glaze)
  • Option: 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  •  
    Preparation

    You can incorporate the orange peel into the dough or the glaze. We like the “lift” it gives to the recipe.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line baking pans with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well incorporated. Use a spoon to scoop tablespoon-sized mounds of the coconut “dough.” Shape into round balls and place on the parchment paper. Alternative: You can drop the dough as unshaped mounds. See the difference between the top photo (dropped) and the bottom photo (shaped).

    3. BAKE for about 20 minutes or until golden brown (aim for the color in the center photo). Let cool.

    4. MAKE the glaze. Place the chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and if necessary, heat for 30 more seconds until fully melted. Dip the bottoms of the cooled macaroons into the chocolate. Alternatively, place the cookies on a tray lined with parchment paper and drizzle the tops with chocolate; let cool until set. Some people prefer the glaze on top: a chocolate dome. Take your pick.

     
    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    Macaroons appeared in the late 15th or early 16th century in Italy. The historical record isn’t clear, but they are believed to have been created by monks. There were thousands of monasteries in medieval Europe, and monks created different types of beers, brandies and liqueurs, cheeses, pretzels, sweets, wines and spirits.

    The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s amaretti cookies, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste.

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it had no flour or leavening‡, so could be enjoyed during the eight-day observation of Passover. It 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 some recipes, replaced them. Today in the U.S., coconut macaroons are the norm.

    Macaroons came to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of France’s King Henri II. In France they evolved into delicate meringue cookie sandwiches filled with ganache or jam.

    Here’s more about the different types of macaroons.
     
    _____________________
    *During the week of Passover, in April, celebrants eat no leavened grains. Macaroons (all varieties) are grain free.

    †Almond meal, or almond flour, is ground from whole, blanched sweet almonds. The nuts are very low in carbohydrates and very nutritious.

    ‡Leavening is the agent that raises and lightens a baked good. Examples include yeast, baking powder and baking soda. Instead of these, macaroons (all types) are leavened with egg whites.
     
      

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    PASSOVER: Matzoh Strawberry “Shortcake” Recipe

    Matzoh Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

    Substitute matzoh for the biscuits or cake in this Passover Strawberry Shortcake recipe. Photo and recipe courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    In addition to Chocolate Matzoh Crunch and chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, we’ve added anther Passover treat to our recommendations. It’s courtesy of Good Eggs in San Francisco.

    “Shortcake“ is a stretch as a substitute for biscuits or sponge cake, but this no-cook, no-bake Passover dessert is delicious and oh-so-easy to make.

    Speaking of sponge cake, our standard family Passover dessert is Strawberry Shortcake with sponge cake, strawberries and whipped cream. Since sponge cakes are not leavened with yeast, they can be eaten during Passover when made with matzoh meal instead of wheat flour.

    RECIPE: MATZOH STRAWBERRY “SHORTCAKES”

    Prep time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 3 Servings

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 boards matzoh
  • Optional garnish: mint sprigs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the strawberries and let them macerate in the orange juice, reserving one tablespoon. Mix the mascarpone with the powdered sugar, half of the zest and the reserved tablespoon of orange juice.

    2. MELT the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the matzoh and fry until crispy and golden-brown, about 1 minute on each side.

    3. ASSEMBLE the shortcakes: spread a generous layer of mascarpone on each piece of fried matzo, then top with sliced strawberries and mint. Dust powdered sugar over the top for an extra touch of sweetness!

     
      

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    BOOK: The Macaroon Bible

    the-macaroon-bible-230

    A gift for cookie lovers, gluten free observers and Passover hosts. Photo courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

     

    Before there were macarons, French meringue oookie sandwiches, there were macaroons.

    The soft, gluten-free coconut cookies are a delight year-round, but especially appreciated by Passover observers. Made of shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk and egg whites—without the flour or leavening that are verboten during this holiday—they happily replace other baked sweets.

    Dan Cohen of Danny’s Macaroons and author of The Macaroon Bible, is a great macaroon baker. Starting with his grandmother’s plain and chocolate dipped recipes, he’s brought macaroons into the new flavor age. You can order them online at (the cookies are made with kosher ingredients, but are not certified kosher for Passover). We’re big fans.
     
    RECIPES IN THE BOOK
    Amarena Cherry, topped with an semi-candied cherry
    Baileys McRoons Macaroons
    Bourbon Macaroons
    Black Chocolate Stout Macaroons
    Chocolate Almond Macaroons
    Chocolate Banana Nut Macaroons
    Chocolate Caramel Macaroons
    Chocolate Dipped Macaroons
    Chocolate Malted Macaroons
    Guava Macaroons
    Jamstand Surprise Macaroons (with spicy raspberry jalapeño jam)
    Maple Pecan Pie Macaroons
    Peanut Butter & Jelly Macaroons
    Plain Coconut Macaroons
    Red Velvet Macaroons
    Rice Pudding Macaroons
    Spiced Pumpkin Macaroons
    Stoopid Macaroons (coconut macaroons filled with potato chips, pretzels and Butterfinger, then drizzled with dark chocolate)

    Get the book at Amazon.com.

    And take a look at the history of macaroons and macarons.

      

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