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Posts Tagged ‘Passover’

Behind the Scenes: The Making of Matzo

Manischewitz makes 1 million sheets of matzo per day during Passover season and almost 75 million sheets annually. That’s a lot of matzo. We visited the plant and headquarters in Newark, N.J., to go behind the scenes of a production that, during its peak season, has its team making matzo 20 hours a day. To be certified kosher for Passover, the matzo production follows very strict guidelines and abides by kosher laws. We donned hairnets for a behind-the-scenes factory tour to see how this unleavened bread, a Passover staple, is made.

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Almond-Orange Flan for Passover

There are few desserts as versatile as Spanish flan, which is egg custard gently baked in a water bath until it can just barely hold itself together. A variant of the French crème caramel, most Latin American countries embrace it as their own. Though many flan recipes start the same way – caramelizing a metal mold with sugar until it’s pulled back from the brink of bitterness and ending with a precarious un-molding where it can still go all wrong – in between the possibilities are endless.

Cheese, pumpkin, coconut, coffee, pineapple, and even melon flans all have their adherents, not to mention the savory varieties. This almond-orange flan, made with almond milk and a strong dose of orange juice and zest, is a popular dairy-free option for Passover. As the custard bakes, the sliced almonds form a light bottom crust for added texture. Dense but smooth and brightened by the citrus flavor, it will be a welcome last bite.

Almond-Orange Flan
Serves 6-8

1 1/4 cups of sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk 1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds 4 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest from one large orange

Equipment: 8-inch round metal cake pan (preferably 2-3 inches deep), roasting pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour 3/4 cups of sugar into round metal flan mold.* Place over medium heat and carefully move the pan frequently, without stirring, until it takes on an amber hue. Off heat, swirl the caramel so that the bottom and sides are lightly covered. The caramel will be very hot. Set aside to cool.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, almond milk, orange juice, sliced almonds, egg yolks, eggs, vanilla, salt, and zest to a blender and mix on lowest setting until blended.

Carefully pour the custard into prepared mold and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place the prepared mold in a larger roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the mold. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 60-75 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean though it may still appear wobbly.

Allow to cool completely inside the water bath then refrigerate covered at least 4 hours or overnight.
To un-mold the flan, run a thin knife along the side of mold. Gently shake to loosen. Invert a large plate over the flan and quickly invert the mold in one motion. The flan will gently drop onto the plate and the caramel will flow out so allow extra space around the flan.

Notes: The caramel could also be done in a small saucepan then poured into the mold.

Ana Sofia Peláez covers the spectrum of Spanish and Latin American cuisine on her blog, hungrysofia.com. From the rich smells and flavors of the Cuban food she grew up with to modern Peruvian causas, hearty Brazilian feijodas and delicate Mexican flor de calabaza soup, she’s always looking for her next great meal.

Seven Layer Cake for Passover

Monday is the beginning of Passover. I love this holiday for the ritual, the gathering of wonderful people and the challenge to come up with new desserts worthy of the day. This cake was inspired by a conversation I had with Deb Perelman about Dobos Tortes, which is a cake made up of many layers (7 to be exact) of sponge cake, separated with chocolate buttercream and topped with a layer of caramel. It is a style of cake that is claimed by many cultures, each with a different name depending on heritage or the state you are standing in. Dobos Torte (Hungarian), Doberge Cake (New Orleans), and Seven-Layer (which I think of as a Jewish cake from New York, but as soon as I write this, I’m sure I’ll hear from folks who will correct me).

My cake is a bit of a twist on the theme, because I thought the poppy seeds would be a fantastic match for the layers of orange scented sponge cake and chocolate buttercream. It is also stunning to cut into the cake and see the speckled icing. I replaced the caramel with curls of chocolate on top of the cake.

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Making the Most Out of Matzo

Ah, Passover. Though only eight days, the Jewish holiday that forbids flour feels much longer — especially to food lovers. Dry, crumbly matzo — the flat, unleavened bread eaten throughout the holiday — leaves much to be desired (and often prompts dreams of dancing bagels and pizza pies). But when mixed with surprising ingredients, standard-issue Passover fare becomes…dare we say…delicious?

Matzo ball soup (shown above) is a classic dish consumed at Jewish holidays year-round, but the delicate, fluffy balls aren’t easy to perfect. Far too often our soups are saddled down with dense rocks that’d be better fit as paperweights. Mix earthy, moisture-retaining shiitake mushrooms and fragrant truffle oil into your balls and we guarantee a soup that blows your grandmother’s out of the bowl.

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Flourless Chocolate Torte for Passover

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless chocolate cake is a long-standing tradition on Passover. I have made several variations, but this one is far and away the most popular. It is made of several layers of a flourless chocolate-almond cake and bittersweet ganache. I make the whole thing without dairy, for those who keep to kosher laws, and you’ll never know the difference. It is one of the few times I use margarine and cream substitute and I promise it is absolutely divine.

The cake can be prepared in advance, wrapped well and refrigerator for a few days or frozen for a couple of weeks. This leaves you with less work to be done on Passover. Just decorate with some fresh berries and enjoy a slice of rich, chocolaty goodness after your dinner.

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Chocolate Matzo Brittle

Matzo Brittle may forever change the way I feel about matzo.

I was asked to bring a dessert to my family’s Passover Seder this year. This presented a bit of a conundrum: All use of flour and leavening agents is forbidden on Passover, so needless to say, the baked goods on the holiday table often leave something to be desired. I also needed something that I could make ahead and transport easily on the train from New York to Washington D.C.

Rather than attempting a batch of flourless cookies that go uneaten every year, I decided to embrace the dry, cracker-like, mostly flavorless bread of the holiday and make chocolate matzo brittle. I usually can’t stomach much matzo, but certainly I could improve it by smothering it with molten sugar, chocolate and nuts?

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