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Tara Riceberg - 01 / Apr / 2020

Reinventing Tradition

Reinventing Tradition

Tradition, tradition! Tradition!

Just as Tevye had to adjust his concept of tradition because of societal changes encroaching on his life, so must we. Passover will be celebrated and rituals performed. However, instead of hosting twenty people at our Seder tables, we are now reduced to parties of one, two, or a few more. How do we adapt? We look at the new opportunities this has created.

We can try new recipes like a spicy jalapeño-shallot matzo ball or a spinach matzo lasagna and have lots of leftovers for the week. Let’s be grateful for our senses of smell and taste. Not everyone has them right now.

We can give boredom busters, like puzzles, as prizes for finding the afikoman instead of cash this year. Solving brain games causes neurochemicals to release that create happiness.

We can be with family and friends we normally don’t see at our tables with Zoom. (Finally, a motivation to get showered and dressed up!) Let’s meet online for dessert and a party trivia game. 

We are all enslaved by the virus at the moment. But we will get out of this Egypt. Traditionally when we close the Seder we say “Next year in Jerusalem.” This year, those words will have new meaning.

 

Modern Jewish Cooking, by Leah Koenig

Jalapeño-Shallot Matzo Balls

Serves 6-8

When working with jalapeños, and particularly if you have any cuts or scrapes, wear a pair of latex kitchen gloves to keep the fiery oils off your hands.

  • ¼ CUP/60ML VEGETABLE OIL OR SCHMALTZ (PAGE 318)
  • 2 SHALLOTS, FINELY CHOPPED
  • 1 SMALL JALAPEÑO, FINELY CHOPPED (REMOVE SEEDS FOR A LESS SPICY MATZO BALL)
  • 4 EGGS, LIGHTLY BEATEN
  • 1 TSP SALT
  • 1 CUP/105G MATZO MEAL (PAGE 18)
  • 3 TBSP SELTZER WATER
  • CLASSIC CHICKEN SOUP (PAGE 93)
  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium pan set over medium heat. Add the shallots and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan from the heat and transfer the jalapeño mixture, including the oil, to a large bowl (to speed up the cooling process.) Let cool to the touch.
  2. Once cooled, combine the eggs, salt, matzo meal, and seltzer in the bowl with the jalapeñ0 mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and keep at a simmer while you form the matzo balls.
  4. Moisten your hands with water. Scoop out a rounded 1 Tbsp of matzo ball batter and roll it into a 1in/2.5cm ball. Drop into the simmering water, and repeat with the remaining batter. You should end up with about 18 matzo balls. Cover the pot and simmer until the matzo balls are tender and puffed, 30 to 35 minutes. (If you cut one in half, it should be pale in color throughout.)
  5. Remove the matzo balls from the pot with a slotted spoon, divide between bowls, and ladle soup over the top. (Matzo balls can be cooled to room temperature, then stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Rewarm them in your soup before serving.)

 

Spinach-Matzo Lasagna

Serves 8-10

  • 3 TBSP EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
  • 2 LARGE YELLOW ONIONS, FINELY CHOPPED
  • 4 GARLIC CLOVES
  • 5 OZ/140G BABY SPINACH
  • 4 CUPS/910G FULL-FAT OR LOW-FAT RICOTTA CHEESE
  • 2 EGGS, LIGHTLY BEATEN
  • 2 CUPS/200G GRATED MOZZARELLA
  • ¼ CUP/10G ROUGHLY CHOPPED FRESH FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
  • KOSHER SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER TO TASTE
  • 9 SHEETS MATZO
  • 4 CUPS/960ML GOOD-QUALITY MARINARA
  • ¼ CUP/20G GRATED PARMESAN
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan set over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and spinach and cook, tossing with tongs, until the garlic is fragrant and the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, eggs, ½ cup/50g of the mozzarella, and the parsley. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Fill a shallow baking dish with water. Dip 3 sheets of matzo in the water and let soften for 1 to 2 minutes. (Not longer-you want the pieces to feel soft, but not mushy or soggy. They should hold their shape.) Spoon half of the marinara into the bottom of a 9-by-13in/23-by-33cm baking dish. Shake the excess water off the softened matzo pieces and arrange in the baking dish, breaking the sheets if necessary to fit. Top with about half of the ricotta mixture, followed by half of the spinach mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining marina, another 3 softened sheets of matzo, and the remaining ricotta and spinach mixtures.
  5. Soften the remaining 3 sheets of matzo and arrange on top. Spoon the remaining marinara over the top, then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 1/2cups/150g mozzarella and the parmesan.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the cheese is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let stand for a few minutes. Serve hot.

Personal note: I love spinach and increase the amount when I make this.