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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Passover

TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Matzoh Crunch (Bark) For Passover

Passover begins on the evening of Monday, April 14th and ends on the evening of Tuesday, April 22nd. During that week, observant Jews refrain from bread and other food made with leavened grain.

Matzoh replaces conventional bread.

Passover is the story of the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Bible relates that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste that they could not wait for their bread dough to rise; the result, when baked, was matzoh (Exodus 12:39).

We can argue over how to spell matzoh: matza, matzah and matzo are common variations (not to mention the plural forms, beginning with matzoth). But we won’t argue about how good chocolate-covered matzoh is, turning the humble unleaved bread into a crunchy chocolate confection.

You can buy chocolate-covered matzoh, or you can make your own. Here’s a recipe from Golden Blossom, which makes honey that is kosher for Passover.

You can make the recipe with dark, milk or white chocolate, and with different nuts (we like pistachios).

 

matzoh-crunch-goldenblossomhoney-230sq

Matzoh crunch, chocolate “bark” made with crunchy matzoh. Photo courtesy Golden Blossom Honey.

 

The recipe has a variety of names; among others, chocolate matzoh, matzoh bark, matzoh buttercrunch, matzoh cookie, matzoh crunch, matzoh toffee, and even the questionable matzoh crack.

Here’s a second “recipe from Marcy Goldman, who calls it “matzo toffee.”

 

chocolate-matzoh-burdick-230

Burdick Chocolate and others dip whole
boards of matzoh in chocolate, and scatter
nuts, dried fruits or other ingredients on top.
It is available from BurdickChocolate.com from
April 7th through April 22nd, and is not
kosher for Passover.

 

RECIPE: HONEY ALMOND MATZOH CRUNCH
(A.K.A. MATZO BARK)

Active preparation time is 20 minutes; total time is 2 hours. Note that the recipe below produces “just” two boards of matzoh. The 16 pieces won’t last very long!

Ingredients For About 16 Pieces

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 matzohs, coarsely crumbled (about 1 cup
    crumbled)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Large flake sea salt (such as Maldon), for sprinkling
  • Optional: dried cherries or cranberries, dessicated or flaked coconut
  •  

    Preparation

    1. LINE an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. If using foil, generously butter the foil (parchment paper is naturally nonstick). Set aside.

    2. COMBINE honey and butter in a 2-3 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture begins to boil. Insert a candy thermometer into the bubbling mixture and continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally to prevent scorching, until it is deep amber in color and measures 275°-285ºF, about 8 minutes.

    3. REMOVE from heat and add vanilla extract (be careful as it will spatter). Stir in crumbled matzo pieces, slivered almonds and optional dried cherries until evenly coated. Pour into prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer.

    4. SPRINKLE chocolate chips evenly over top of hot candy. Let sit for 5 minutes, then spread into an even layer using an offset spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool for 1 to 2 hours or until set, then cut or break into bite size pieces to serve. Store in an airtight container.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Danny Macaroons

    Passover is around the corner, and macaroons are on the menu. The soft, 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. (They’re gluten-free, too.)

    Dan Cohen of Danny’s Macaroons and author of The Macaroon Bible, is one of the country’s—and probably the world’s—great macaroon makers. Beyond his grandmother’s plain and chocolate dipped, he’s brought macaroons into the new flavor age.

    The cookies are made with kosher ingredients, but are not kosher for Passover. Still, those who observe the spirit of the law if not the letter of it, will enjoy every bite.

    DANNY MACAROON FLAVORS

    Just take a look at these choices:

     

    the-macaroon-bible-230

    Get the book and bake your own! Photo courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  • Amarena Cherry, topped with an semi-candied cherry
  • Baileys McRoons
  • Bourbon
  • Black Chocolate Stout
  • Chocolate Almond
  • Chocolate Banana Nut
  • Chocolate Caramel
  • Chocolate Dipped
  • Chocolate Malted
  • Guava
  • Jamstand Surprise with spicy raspberry jalapeño jam
  • Maple Pecan Pie
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Plain Coconut
  • Red Velvet
  • Rice Pudding
  • Spiced Pumpkin
  • Stoopid, coconut macaroons are filled with potato chips, pretzels and pieces of Butterfinger, then drizzled with dark chocolate (how this relates to stupid, we can’t say)
  •  
    Get yours at DannyMacaroons.com.

     

    box-danny-macaroons-southportgrocery-230

    How many flavors do we want? All of them!
    Photo courtesy Southport Grocery.

     

    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    “Macaroon” means different things to different people. To some, it’s a big ball of coconut, to others, a delicate, airy meringue. Both are delicious and neither is made with flour, making them options for gluten-free observers and for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

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

    Macaroons traveled to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution (1789-1799), paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaroon cookies, and thus became known as the “Macaroon Sisters” (the French word is macaron, pronounced mah-kah-RONE).

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it has no flour or leavening, the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, such as baking powder and baking soda (instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites).

     

    The recipe was introduced to other European Jews and became popular for Passover as well as a year-round sweet.Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds in Jewish macaroons, and, in certain recipes, completely replaced them.

    Coconut macaroons are more prevalent in the U.S. and the U.K.—and they’re a lot easier to make and transport than the fragile almond meringues that became the norm in France.

    Here’s more macaroon history.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Flourless Persian Pistachio Cake

    This recipe comes via Chef Jennifer Abadi and Zabar’s. The aromatic, citrus notes of cardamom add flair to a simple cake.

    Preparation time is one hour; the cake yields eight to ten servings.

    RECIPE: FLOURLESS PERSIAN PISTACHIO CAKE
    WITH CARDAMOM SYRUP

    Ingredients

    Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup matzoh meal
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground cardamom
  •  
    Wet Ingredients

  • 3 extra large eggs (or 4 large eggs), lightly beaten
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup water
  •  

    flourlesss-persian-pistachio-cake-jenniferAbadi-zabars-230

    Ground nuts replace flour in cakes for Passover. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.

     
    For Decoration

  • 3 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pistachios, as decoration
  •  

    cardamom-pods-farmgirlgourmet-230

    Cardamom pods. Photo courtesy Heather
    Scholten | Farmgirl Gourmet.

      For Cardamom-Sugar Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Few pinches black pepper
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 crushed cardamom pods
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. POUR pistachios into a food processor and pulse until they become a fine meal-like consistency, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the matzoh meal and pulse together an additional minute.

    3. POUR ground pistachio mixture into a medium size bowl and combine with remaining dry ingredients.

    4. ADD the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.

     

    5. POUR the batter into a greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan and sprinkle with whole pistachios. Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and center of cake is soft but not wet (cake should still be fairly moist). Meanwhile, prepare the syrup.

    6. COMBINE the sugar, salt, pepper, and water in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a bubbling simmer over medium heat. Add the ground cardamom and cardamom pods, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (the liquid will thicken slightly). Remove from heat.

    7. REMOVE cake from oven and cool 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve at room temperature sprinkled with the cardamom-sugar syrup.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER RECIPE: Charoset, An Apple Chutney

    Charoset, an apple chutney that’s a
    traditional Passover dish. Photo courtesy
    BeeRaw.com.

     

    Passover, the holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Jews from bondage in ancient Egypt more than 3,300 years ago, begins this evening. One of the symbolic foods on the Passover seder plate is charoset (also spelled charoseth, charoses or haroseth), a name that comes from the Hebrew word for clay.

    Why clay? It represents the mortar that Israelites used while enslaved as builders by the Egyptians.

    A kind of apple chutney of sorts, charoset is eaten during the seder with matzoh and fresh-grated horseradish. It is delightful as an accompaniment to roasted meats at any time; we enjoy it year-round on matzoh or toast.

    This recipe, which you can whip up in 15 minutes, is courtesy of Bee Raw Honey, a purveyor of artisan honeys. They recommend their orange blossom honey in this recipe; but you can use what you have on hand.

     

    You can enjoy the charoset immediately, but ideally let it rest in the fridge for an hour or longer to allow the flavors to meld. The yield is approximately 4 cups.

    CHAROSET RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup oange blossom honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 crisp apples, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Toss occasionally and watch carefully; remove the walnuts when they are fragrant. Let cool, then roughly chop.

    2. COMBINE the lemon juice, wine, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon salt.

    3. MIX the apples and walnuts with the liquid mixture in a large bowl; toss to combine. Chill until ready to serve.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Start New Traditions With These Recipes

    Passover begins at sunset on Monday, March 25th and continues for seven days. Observant Jews celebrate the first two nights with seders, featuring recipes that have been in their families for generations.

    But how about some 21st-century Passover recipes—if not for a seder, then for the other five days? There are more than 60 modern, creative Passover recipes in a new cookbook, Passover Made Easy. Some of the recipes that are calling out to us:

  • Brisket Eggrolls
  • Citrus Beet Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Eggplant-Wrapped Chicken
  • Espresso Macarons with Chocolate-Hazelnut Cream
  • French Roast with Fresh Spice Rub
  • Frozen Lemon Wafer Cake
  • Jalapeño Lime and Ginger Salmon
  • Pecan Pie with Cookie Crust
  • Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup
  • Schnitzel Nuggets with Apricot Dipping Sauce
  • Spaghetti Squash Kugel
  • Tortillas with Tomato-Mint Salsa and Guacamole
  • Vegetable Lo Mein
  •  

    There’s plenty of time to pick up a copy and plan for Passover. Photo courtesy Passover Made Easy.

     

    The easy to prepare, sure to please original recipes were developed and tested by best-selling cookbook author Leah Schapira (Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking) and co-founder of CookKosher.com, an online kosher recipe exchange; with Victoria Dwek, managing editor of Whisk, a kosher food magazine.

    Pick up a copy for yourself or as a gift: it’s just $10.87 on Amazon.com. There are fascinating culinary tidbits, useful preparation tips, full-color photos for each dish, step-by-step plating and food styling secrets, and a wine pairings and Seder wine guide.

    As a bonus, all but four of the 60 recipes in the book are gluten-free. And of course, the recipes can be enjoyed all year long. Here’s one recipes from Passover Made Easy to start you off; next week, we’ll publish Matzaroni, the mac-and-cheese alternative:

     

    Eggplant-wrapped chicken, one of the
    modern recipe alternatives. Photo courtesy
    Passover Made Easy.

     

    RECIPE: EGGPLANT WRAPPED CHICKEN

    Ingredients

    Eggplant

  • 1 tall eggplant
  • ½ cup oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch coarse black pepper
  •  
    Meat Mixture

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ pound ground meat of choice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  •  
    Chiken

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch course black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to broil. Grease a baking sheet. Cut eggplant lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick, to get 6 or 7 slices. Reserve remaining eggplant scraps. Place eggplant slices on prepared baking sheet. Brush slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil 5 minutes per side, until second side is beginning to brown. The slices should appear as if they were fried. Remove and set aside.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Peel and finely dice remaining eggplant to obtain ½ cup diced eggplant. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and diced eggplant and sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

    3. COMBINE onion mixture with ground meat in a small bowl. Season with salt and garlic powder.

    4. SEASON chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place a tablespoon of the meat mixture into each thigh and roll up to close. Roll an eggplant slice around each stuffed chicken thigh. Place, seam side down and close together, in a baking pan. Cover and bake for 2½ hours.

    Serve with mashed potatoes or your favorite Passover-approved grain,* and your favorite green vegetable, steamed or sauteed lightly with garlic.

    *Grains forbidden during passover include barley and all types of wheat. Grains such as quinoa and rice were not known during biblical times so are not forbidden. Extremely religious people will avoid any grain.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE GIFT: Danny Macaroons

    Danny’s Macaroons update the classic
    coconut macaroon to 21st century flavors.
    Photo courtesy Danny Macaroons.

     

    We grew up loving Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars, but as our palate for better chocolate grew, we switched to chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons made by artisan bakers. Ah, sweet addiction!

    A brief history of macaroons: Coconut macaroons exist mostly because of Passover, the Jewish holiday that proscribes leavened baked goods, among other foods.

    The original macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s amaretti, with a crisp crust and a soft interior, made from egg whites and almond paste. While details are unclear, some historians believe they were first made by Italian monks in the late 15th century.

    Benedictine nuns brought the recipe to France in 1533, where the baked treat later evolved into the ganache-filled sandwich cookies—macarons—that we know and love today.

    Meanwhile, back in Italy, Jews adopted the cookie because it had no flour or leavening and could be enjoyed during the eight-day observation of Passover. The recipe 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.

     

    Coconut macaroons have remained popular in the U.S. and the U.K., where they appear on cookie platters year-round. Here’s the full history of macaroons and macarons.

    Dan Cohen, the founder of Danny Macaroons, learned his craft 10 years ago, baking macaroons for Passover and tweaking his recipe over time. Unlike commercial varieties, the centers of Danny Macaroons are soft and moist, while the exteriors are appropriately crisp.

    Following the flavor zeitgeist, Danny developed 45 different flavors, which are available in rotation. Currently on the menu: plain macaroons plus Black Chocolate Stout, Baileys McRoons, Bourbon, Chocolate Almond, Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Dipped, Guava, Maple Pecan Pie, Red Velvet and Salted Caramel.

    Buy them online at DannyMacaroons.com. The macaroons cost from $12 to $18 per half dozen, depending on flavor.

    Are they an appropriate Valentine gift? Absolutely!

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE COOKIES AND COOKIE RECIPES.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Our Favorite Treat For Everyone

    Matzo “toffee”: white chocolate with pistachios and dark chocolate with almonds. Photo courtesy MysteryLoversKitchen.com.

     

    Passover food and beverages (including wine) are a $2.5 billion to $3 billion industry. It sounds unbelievable, but according to KosherToday.com, some 30,000 different kosher-for-Passover products were produced specifically for Passover 2012. You may see shelves at the supermarket filled with a few dozen items—matzos, matzo meal, coconut macaroons, chocolate-coated jelly rings and other foods. But the ingredients for every kosher-for-Passover food recipe is also included among the 30,000.

    There are approximately six million Jews in America, of whom an estimated 70% celebrate the holiday. Jewish law forbids the consumption of fermented grain products and related foods. For the eight days of Passover, there are no bread products except matzo and potato bread, no pasta, no beer, no year-round favorite treats.

     

    Except that we do have a favorite Passover treat that can be enjoyed year-round. Variously called Matzo* Brittle, Matzo Buttercrunch and Matzo Toffee, it transforms bland boards of matzo, an unleavened flatbread, into a crunchy chocolate confection.
     
    Here are two variations:

  • Cookbook author (A Treasury Of Jewish Holiday Baking) Marcy Goldman’s iconic recipe, which she calls Vanilla Matzoh Caramel Buttercrunch
  • A variation by Cindy Coyle, who calls it “Passover Crack for Easter,” an interfaith treat.
  •  
    We recommend making more than one batch: one for the home, one for a seder gift, one to treat friends and co-workers who have never tasted this addictive confection—which of course, can be made year-round.

    *Variously spelled matzo, matza, matzoh or matzah.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Gluten-Free Matzo

    Millions of Jews will celebrate a week of Passover beginning Friday, April 6th. The holiday commemorates the biblical story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt, after God inflicted the ten plagues upon the Egyptians.

    As the story goes, the Jews had to leave Egypt immediately. They gathered up possessions and livestock but could not wait for the bread dough to rise, resulting in matzo, an unleavened flatbread. Thus, during the week of Passover, no leavened bread is eaten; only matzo (also spelled matzoh, matza and other variations).

    So what if you want to celebrate Passover with matzo, but have gluten sensitivities?

    Two brands are at the ready:

  • Yehuda Matza, imported from Israel, is certified gluten-free. It’s made from tapioca flour, potato starch, potato flour and egg yolks. It looks and crunches like conventional matzo, and the flavor is more than satisfactory. In fact, it has a bit of salt and even more flavor than wheat matzo, which is famously bland. The only nit: It’s more fragile and the boards break too easily. It has a two-year shelf life. Buy it online.
  •  

    Gluten-free matzo. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Shemura Oat Matzo is made by a London rabbi, from gluten-free oat flour and water. We haven’t tasted it. It too is available online.
  •  
    Seder Idea

    The Passover seder, the ritual feast celebrated on the first two nights of the holiday, is accompanied from beginning to end by a reading of the Haggadah (“telling”).

    This year, participants at our seder are coming as witnesses of the Exodus. Each of us will provide a few minutes of insight into the desires, hopes, frustrations, fears and domestic lives of our characters. Participating will be will be Moses, Pharaoh, a nameless Jewish slave and an Egyptian, along with Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, a first century scholar who appears giving commentary in the Hagadah.

    We are going as a baker, faced with feeding the exodus masses without the time to leaven the bread. The result: matzo.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Egg Tips For Easter & Passover

    Here are some egg safety tips from the USDA, for everyone planning an Easter egg hunt or cooking eggs for the Passover seder.

    Hard-cooked eggs for Easter and Passover celebrations should be prepared with care.

    EASTER EGG TIPS

  • If you plan to eat the Easter eggs you decorate, be sure to use only food grade dye—not paint or fabric dye.
  • Consider making two sets of eggs: one for decorating and hiding, another for decorating and eating (see the tip in the photo caption). Or, you can use plastic eggs for hiding.
  • For an Easter egg hunt, throw away any cooked eggs with cracked shells. Bacteria can enter and contaminate the egg inside.
  • Keep hard-cooked eggs chilled in the fridge until just before the hunt.
  • Hide eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets and other bacteria sources.
  •  

    As pretty as they look, hard-cooked eggs can
    only be out of the refrigerator for two hours
    at a time. If you want to decorate eggs for display, use uncooked eggs. With a needle,
    punch a tiny hole in each end and blow out the contents before decorating. Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

  • The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should be no more than two hours. Then, if the eggs are not eaten, they need to go back into the fridge. Eggs found after two hours need to be thrown out.

  • PASSOVER EGG TIPS

  • A hard-cooked egg that has been at room temperature for more than two hours should not be eaten.
  • The hard-cooked eggs meant to be eaten should be kept in the fridge until ready to serve.
  •  
    GENERAL TIPS

  • When eggs are hard-cooked, the protective coating on the shell is washed away, leaving open pores where harmful bacteria can enter. Be sure to refrigerate eggs within two hours of cooking and use them within a week.
  • Check your refrigerator temperature with an appliance thermometer and adjust the refrigerator temperature to 40°F or below.
  • How to boil eggs.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: New Kosher-For-Passover Foods

    The Jewish holiday of Passover begins Monday evening, the 18th of April, and continues for seven days. It commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from enslavement in Egypt, which many scholars agree took place in 1476 BCE. Moses led his people to Canaan, and God parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape from the pursuing Egyptian army. Here’s more about Passover.

    Observers of Passover must avoid a variety of foods for the duration of the holiday: grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) and fermented products such as alcohol, among other things. Any permitted food, from milk and cheese to matzoh, must be certified kosher for Passover.

    These rules can leave one scrambling for ingredients and enough products to keep things interesting for seven days.

    This year, The Manischewitz Company has introduced more than 25 products to expand the possibilities. There’s Buttery Spray for baking and stove top pans. There are tasty macaroon pie shells in coconut and chocolate, making it easy to whip up a pie—think banana cream, chocolate silk or key lime.

     

    A small sample of Manischewitz’s new products
    for Passover. Photo by River Soma |
    THE NIBBLE. Placemat and tray by
    PacificMerchants.com.

     

    You can make kosher-for-Passover cupcakes with the Magic Max Cupcake Fun Kit, nibble on Chocolate Covered Biscotti (not hard and crunchy like the conventional kind, but a fine nibble nevertheless), start the day with Honey Almond Crunch cereal and Brown Sugar Hot Cereal and end the day with chocolates, from Chocolate Covered Cherries to Mint Creme Candies.

    See all of the products at Manischewitz.com.

      

    Comments

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