Passover Dessert: Orange and Hazelnut Torte

The key to a delicious and light Passover dessert, I believe, is not adding matzah to it. No disrespect to the cracker lookalike but if one doesn’t ordinarily grind up already-baked crackers and fling them in cake, there’s a good, taste-related reason for it.



March 30, 2010. Tags: , , , . Baked Goods, Cakes, Cultural Feasts, Desserts, Festive, Gluten-free, Jewish, Passover. 10 comments.

Passover: A Poem of Love, and Charoset

When I did my previous post on charoset, I mentioned that it recalls the mortar with which the Jewish slaves in Egypt put bricks together. It completely slipped my mind that the recipe for this wonderful, sweet, aromatic fruit-and-nutty pesto may have been inspired by the Song of Songs, a biblical book of love, often taken as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel. The Song, also important for Muslims and Christians, is also interpreted to symbolize the relationship between church and man, or husband and wife.

Anyway, after reading this post by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, I was tickled and very keen to make more charoset, among other things. (more…)

March 28, 2010. Tags: , , . Condiments, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Gluten-free, Jewish, Passover. 2 comments.

Passover Dessert: Toffee and Chocolate Matzah Brittle (Rabbi Approved)

Update: This recipe has been a work in progress. It’s not a Matzah Crunch, for which several recipes abound. I was after a texture more like toffee and made this one up, with the instructions below updated according to successive – and successful – tries at it 😉 Made a batch two days ago that hit the nail on the head! Beautifully flavored toffee (enquire indoors about secret ingredients which are optional), the right chewiness without being impossible to bite and which allows the matzah to be torn or broken gracefully.

Anyway, I was very excited to hear that Rabbi Laurence Groffman and his wife Melissa, of Temple Sholom of West Essex, had seen, tried and tested the recipe from scratch, and that it was a hit with their family  and guests.  I’m so happy! Scroll through to see their photo.

This is so addictive and fun to put together with the kids.  After making the candy and pouring it on the matzah, let them go wild sprinkling their favorite toppings over the still-warm chocolate and toffee. A great one for giving away, too, which might be a good idea (for your waistline) as they’re hard to resist!


March 24, 2010. Tags: , , , . Cookies, Desserts, Festive, Jewish, Kids Cuisine, Passover. 17 comments.

Planning for Passover: 20 Lunch and Lunchbox Ideas

As promised, here are some suggestions for lunches and kiddy lunchboxes through Passover week. Feel free to share your favorites, and those of your kids, in comments 🙂

  • Tuna or salmon salad, with matzah on the side
  • Fish balls and veg sticks or salad
  • Soup, with matzah crackers
  • Matzah pizza (click on link)


March 22, 2010. Tags: . Cocktails, Cookies, Italian, Japanese, Lunch, Lunchbox, Passover. 6 comments.

Planning for Passover: 13 Breakfast Ideas

After 51 weeks of reaching for that favorite breakfast cereal, Passover week can throw one off kilter in terms of daily eating rituals. Egg and soldiers? Buttered croissant? French toast? Avert thine eyes! Usually, by day 2 or 3, despite starting off well with peanut-buttered and jammed matzah (and with deep apologies to our ancestors who ate unrisen bread and wandered the desert for 40 years) I tend to hit a rut in terms of ideas for the kids’ lunchboxes or breakfast. (more…)

March 21, 2010. Tags: , , , . Breakfast, Festive, Jewish, Kids Cuisine, Passover. 14 comments.

St Patrick’s Day: Soda Bread with Candied Peel and Raisins

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  The patron saint of Ireland would be proud to see how enthusiastically and seriously this day is taken by the multitudes of Americans of Irish descent.  When I lived in London, despite its proximity to Ireland, it was fairly easy to not notice St Patrick’s Day (or, let’s say, most celebrations outside of Christmas, Easter and New Year’s) come and go.

But here, about 36 million Americans (six times the population of Ireland!), or 12 percent, are of Irish descent. NYC hosts the biggest and oldest St Patrick’s Day Parade on Wednesday, in which up to 250,000 people will participate as marchers or band members, watched by 2 million people on Fifth Ave.  (more…)

March 16, 2010. Tags: , , . American, Baked Goods, Breakfast, Brunch, Cakes, Irish. 6 comments.

Lemon Sunshine Cupcake Minis

It’s miserable outside. Grim, grey, gloomy, garbage. We’ve had a couple of days of this already, topped off on Friday with a poorly child  (he woke up sounding like a grumpy rhinoceros with pneumonia, but, from the second I told him he had to stay home, ne’er a sniffle was heard). He still looked awful, pretty hard for him from a doting mother’s point of view, and it was the sole clue of his true health.


March 14, 2010. Baked Goods, Breakfast, Cakes, Cupcakes, Spring, Uncategorized. 12 comments.

Thinking of Vietnam: Huong Viet in Nutley, NJ

(Published on Baristanet, March 8, 2010)

The sudden closure of Little Saigon in Montclair late last year disappointed many, and raised curiosity as to why. The restaurant had been a familiar sight on the otherwise uninspiring Elm St. for four years, having moved there from Nutley, where it recovered from fire damage in 2003 and plugged on bravely for a couple more years.  It was great to discover that Little Saigon was alive and kicking, and basically resurrected back in Nutley in January under the new name, Huong Viet, which means thinking of Vietnam.

Nestled among the stores on Passaic Ave was Huong Viet, whose owner, Mr Quan Hua, explained that he closed shop in Montclair in November after its lease had expired.

“It (the rent) was too expensive in Montclair and there was no parking,” said Mr Quan, a Baristaville resident for more than a decade. “We decided to come back to Nutley where it is cheaper.”


March 7, 2010. Tags: , . Asian, Restaurants, Reviews, Stories, Stories. Asian, Vietnamese. 3 comments.

Fish and Fennel Pie

This is a favorite recipe from Jamie Oliver, and one which Him Indoors had added to his repertoire a while ago. I don’t know why my husband picks the not-so-direct recipes for when he decides to cook. Such as risottos and then this one above, and excluding the baked beans on toast – excellent as well – which he occasionally produces with a flourish for a weekend lunch 😉  With the risottos, I gather that half the attraction is drinking the wine that’s meant to go into the pan, making the whole process very enjoyable for him, and no doubt, fortifying the reserves of patience he (and anyone) needs to cook a good risotto.

Perhaps this recipe may be of use for anyone leaning fish-wise and looking for ideas over Lent, when many try to abstain from luxury food. Although eating fish is a ‘hardship’ I would enjoy on a daily basis! To be absolutely strict, substitute fish or veg stock or milk for the cream, and eat a very small sliver of the final product (I dare you to stop there though).


March 5, 2010. Tags: , . Baked Goods, British, Dinners, Fish, Mains, One-dish meals, winter. 9 comments.