Simply Satisfying Seder – Passover Lasagna 

matzo-lasagna-0089-md110848_vertPassover begins on the evening of April, 14, 2014.  This unleavened twist on lasagna is a great way to use leftover matzo after the seder.  Substitute layers of matzo for the noodles, then fill them with a mixture of spinach and ricotta cheese.  Look for the “kosher-for-Passover” signifier on all the other ingredients.  I saw this in the Food section of the April issue of “Martha Stewart Living” magazine & thought it would be a brilliant addition to a Passover meal.  See the Seder checklist below for basic guidelines to a seamless seder.  “Mazel tov

Matzo Spinach Lasagna (serves 6)

INGREDIENTS

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for dish
  • 2 cups ricotta or small-curd cottage cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon juice
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 4 sheets matzo

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush bottom and sides of an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with oil.

Whisk together ricotta, eggs, half-and-half, 3/4 cup Parmesan, zest, and nutmeg. Season generously with salt and pepper. In another bowl, toss spinach with lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.

Place 1 matzo sheet in bottom of prepared baking dish. Pour 1 cup cheese mixture over matzo. Sprinkle evenly with one-third of spinach mixture. Repeat layers 2 more times. Top with remaining matzo and drizzle with remaining cheese mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, until puffed and golden brown on top, 35 to 40 minutes (cover with foil if browning too quickly). Let cool 15 minutes, then serve.

Recipe for Charoset

This fruit, nut and wine mix is eaten during the seder. It is meant to remind us of the mortar used by the Jews to build during the period of slavery. It should have a coarse texture. The ingredient quantities listed here are at best a rough estimate. The recipe below makes a very large quantity, but people usually wind up making more before the holiday is over. Other fruits or nuts can be used.

  • 4 medium apples, 2 tart and 2 sweet
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup sweet wine
  • 1/4 cup dry wine
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon

Shred the apples. Add all other ingredients. Allow to sit for 3-6 hours, until the wine is absorbed by the other ingredients. Serve on matzah. Goes very well with horseradish.

Preparing for the Seder Meal Checklist

The Seder is the most important event in the Passover celebration, but there’s more than a few components to this intricate ritual. Use this checklist to keep track of everything from the wine glasses to the prayer books for a seamless Seder.

Tableware

 Tablecloth and napkins.

Passover is one of the most celebrated holidays in the Jewish faith, so it’s customary to dress up the table with an elegant tablecloth and cloth napkins.

Scatter candles throughout the room and on the table for a warm glow.

Kosher dishes and utensils.

Whether you choose formal china or everyday dishware, don’t forget to keep kosher for the Seder.

Put two glasses, one for water and one for wine, at each place setting.

An extra wine goblet.

Fill an additional wine glass and place it in the center of the table for Elijah, a prophet who is thought to visit each Seder dinner.

 Food and Beverages

 Seder plate.

  • Set the Seder plate, filled with foods that symbolize the story of the Exodus, near the Seder leader’s place at the table. Arrange five items on the plate: a hard-boiled egg; a roasted shank bone; a spring vegetable such as parsley, called karpas; a mixture of fruit, wine, and nuts, called charoset; and either prepared or fresh horseradish, called maror. Some Jews include a sixth item called chazeret, often represented by lettuce.
  • Salt water.
  • Provide each guest with a small dish of salt water to dip their greens into.
  • Additional dishes of karpas, charoset, and maror.
  • To make things more convenient for guests, you can also set small dishes containing each item next to every place setting.
  • Matzah.
  • Put three pieces of matzah on a plate, cover with a cloth or napkin, and place underneath or near the Seder plate.
  • Wine.
  • Make sure there is enough wine on the table for each guest to have four glasses, an amount that symbolizes the four stages of the Exodus. Substitute grape juice for the children and the teetotalers of the group.

Miscellaneous

Copies of the Haggadah.

  • Lay a copy of the Haggadah, a prayer book that explains the story of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt, on top of each guest’s appetizer plate, under the napkin.
  • Basin and towel.
  • Place a small basin filled with warm water and a towel on the table for two hand-washing rituals that occur during the meal.
  • Pillows.
  • It’s traditional for each guest to recline on a pillow during the ceremony to symbolize the comfort of freedom.

To those of you taking part in this important celebration, Mazel Tov!

 

 

 

food: Fantastic Frittata for Friends

For a perfect brunch try this sophisticated, no-frills recipe that can feed a few in no time.

Cast Iron is great for this
Cast Iron is perfect for making this

Courtesy of Sarabeth Levine, the jam-making pastry chef, and restauranteur behind N.Y.C.’s beloved Sarabeth’s Kitchen, who swears by this one.  “Always aim for a dish that’s easy to serve,” “Cold scrambled eggs are never acceptable, but a frittata can be warm or room temperature and still be delish.” I’ve tried her recipe which makes 4 to 6 servings and can attest that it is indeed a winner! It’s a bonus that Gruyère  & Goat happen to be two of my favorite cheeses.  A side salad will round out this meal beautifully.

Two-Cheese Frittata with Arugula

12 large eggs, beaten (this is why you want at least 4 people)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or olive oil, divided

1 cup packed arugula

3 oz. Gruyère  cheese, coarsely grated

3 oz. goat cheese, broken into small pieces.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350F.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs.  In a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. butter over medium heat.  Add arugula; cook for 1 minute.  Add remaining butter and eggs; immediately reduce heat to medium-low.

Cook for 8-10 minutes until bottom sets and top is partially set.  Sprinkle on cheeses; let edges set (1-2 minutes).  It should look shiny and uncooked on top, with cheeses still unmelted.

like this
just like this

Bake in oven for 8 minutes, until cheeses melts and frittata puffs slightly.

Cut frittata into wedges, serve with side salad which we suggest sprinkling with toasted sunflower seeds. EAT.

Check back here Sunday to find out some interesting facts about Cheese in the “words” post. For instance, I found out that I’m a TUROPHILE.  It sounds like a bad thing but it’s really not.