The scent of fresh green garlic heads still on their stalks fills the air of the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv in the days before Passover, just as it filled the markets in ancient times. Along side roads and in backyards, orange tree blossoms are open and fragrant, and in the markets it's the season for fresh fennel, melons and strawberries, black radishes and asparagus, all providing us with a far greater selection than our ancestors could ever imagine, with which to celebrate the holiday. To help our readers celebrate the Passover holiday, Aish.com is happy to present a few of the many delicious and unique suggestions for both the Seder and Passover week, from The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking, by sisters Phyllis Glazer and Miriyam Glazer.
ROASTED CHICKEN WTH TWO POTATOES, GARLIC & ROSEMARY
If you're lucky enough to find fresh garlic heads with their stalks in farmers' markets, use 4 for this recipe, and cut the heads and tender part of their stalks in halves or quarters. Lay them in the baking dish, interspersed between the chicken. A real treat.
Easy-to-prepare, this casserole combines main dish and side dish. Don't be afraid it will be too garlicky -- the garlic flavor mellows during baking.
1 3-4 pound roasting chicken, cut into 6-8 pieces
1 1/2 pounds small unpeeled potatoes, halved
1 pound sweet potatoes or yams
1 medium onion, cut crosswise in rings
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, each broken into 3-4 pieces
20 unpeeled cloves of garlic (about 2 heads)
3/4 cup kosher for Passover extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Wash the chicken, pat dry and place in a roasting pan.
Wash, dry and peel the sweet potatoes and cut into large chunks. Scatter the potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic cloves and rosemary around the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the olive oil over all.
Place in a preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 -375 F (180°-190°C) and continue to bake for 45-60 minutes, until the chicken and potatoes are golden and the garlic is crisp. Turn the chicken and potatoes over occasionally during baking. (If the vegetables are browning too fast but the chicken is still not done, cover the pan with aluminum foil during baking.)
SPRING VEGETABLE KUGEL
2/3 cup kosher for Passover canola or olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup celery, cut into 1/4" slices (2 medium ribs)
2 cups sliced mushrooms (button, portobello, wild mushrooms) -- use any combination you wish
2 cups grated carrots
2 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup finely diced Italian parsley
2 teaspoons salt
11/2 teaspoons pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Lightly grease a 2 quart baking pan and set aside.
Break the matzahs into small pieces (about the size of a quarter). Place in a strainer, and let a stream of cold water run over them until softened. Squeeze out and place in a large bowl.
Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and finely diced celery. Saute over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, till the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms, and continue sauteing and stirring, until the mushrooms are just softened. Transfer to the bowl with the squeezed out matzah.
Heat the remaining oil in a separate skillet, and saute the carrots till nearly soft, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and saute an additional 3-4 minutes, till both the vegetables are soft. Add to the bowl with the matzah, mix gently to cool.
Stir in the eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper, mixing through. Place in the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Fabulous!
"MOSHE BA'TAYVA" - (MOSES IN THE BASKET) (P)
Dates Stuffed with Homemade Marzipan
Part of the Passover story begins with baby Moses bundled into a little date frond basket to float on the Nile under the watchful eye of his sister Miriyam until Pharoah's daughter found him. Making these adorable and delicious little sweets together with friends and family could start a memorable, meaningful and creative Passover tradition.
Medjool are very large dates, usually found in Middle Eastern stores, and should be tender to the touch and slightly moist inside. Although they are the perfect size, do not buy them if they appear very dry. Substitute another type of date if necessary. Your Moshe will be smaller, but just as sweet.
Caution: Before you start, ask everyone to refrain from eating more than one Moshe until they are all made, so that you can compare styles and techniques. Otherwise, before you know it, they'll just be a memory
NOTE: This same delicious marzipan can be used to stuff apricots, or it can be placed between two walnut or pecan halves.
14-16 large Medjool dates
3 1/2 ounces (100 grams, or a slightly rounded cup) slivered or whole blanched almonds, ground
3 1/2 ounces (100 grams or 2/3 cup) confectioners' sugar (Kosher for Passover, Ashkenazim shuld check that it does not contain kitniyot)
1/4 teaspoon kosher for Passover vanilla extract
A few drops rosewater or almond extract
1-2 teaspoons hot water
1/4 cup crushed toasted unsalted pistachio nuts
Coriander seeds (for the eyes)
Use a sharp pointed knife to slit the dates lengthwise, and remove the pits. Set aside.
Grind the almonds in a food processor to a powder consistency. Add the sugar, and with the machine running, add the vanilla, rosewater and 1 teaspoon hot water. The mixture should come together like a ball. If not, add another 1-2 teaspoon water, but be careful not to add too much or the marzipan will be too soft.
For each little Moshe, make a small ball of marzipan for the head, and an elongated oval-shaped piece for the body. (The total length of both together should be slightly smaller than the length of a date).
Roll the "body" in the crushed pistachio nuts (to add color and to represent the "bunting"). Attach the head to the body and stick in one of the dates, gently pressing the sides of the date around him to make him snug. Round the top and the bottom with a gentle pinch, like a little boat.
To make the eyes, use the tip of a whole clove to pierce 2 holes in the "head." (We considered using cloves for the eyes themselves, but were afraid of a lawsuit by anyone not removing them before eating). Stick a coriander seed in each hole (these are both edible and healthy), and Moshe is ready to float to his destiny.
Visit aish.com's Passover site for everything you need to know about Passover.