As I write this, we are almost two weeks from Passover, and panic is setting in. It moves in at this time of year and leaves after the last Seder dishes are put away. There is just so much to do, and no matter how much time there is it seems as though there is never enough. And yet everything gets done.
I have one counter area Pesach ready. I have made my soup stock, beef stock and two batches of kuglettes, as my family has dubbed them. All are in the freshly cleaned and emptied downstairs freezer. I guess I should feel more than ready, but, alas, I know that when the time gets closer, I will worry about what is and is not done.
Pesach preparation anxiety seems to be universal among my friends who change their homes over for Passover. We commiserate over Facebook and the phone, support each other, and give pep talks and comfort and love. It is reassuring to know that so many are doing exactly what you are doing, and it’s fun to compare notes, and lists, and guest numbers, and, of course, recipes. We are a sisterhood of women — all trying to ensure a kosher Pesach with delicious food. I feel blessed to have such a community, and I hope you all have one, too.
Even with all this support and friendship, there are always unforeseen stressors, like last-minute food mishaps or last-minute guests. I have often had as many as eight unexpected, yet welcomed, guests at my Seder table. When that happens, I am left trying to add to the menu without looking like I have just tossed something together. I want these guests to feel as important as those I invited a month before, so I always make something that will expand without additional stress. These potato and vegetable kuglettes are an example. I make about 50 of them before the holiday and freeze them. If extra guests arrive, we just take a few more out of the freezer. We eat the rest through the week.
As we head into this meaningful time of year, I wish you all a minimal amount of stress. You will get it all done. I will get it all done. My grandmother did it with a stone sink, an icebox, a hand chopper, and fish in the bathtub. She fed over 25 at each Seder. My mother did it with less than four feet of counter space and tables that crossed a hallway into the living room, making it impossible to open the front door more than a few inches. (We always said that we hoped Elijah was skinny.) And I can only imagine how my great-grandmother did it in a shtetl in Belarus with no running water.
I wish you all a zissen Pesach, a sweet holiday, filled with family, friends and joy!
GF Potato, Leek and Shallot Kuglettes (Pareve)
I make these in advance, pop them in a freezer bag and freeze for a few days. Before baking, I brush with safflower oil to make them crisp.
4 medium to large onions, finely chopped
1 cup leeks, finely chopped, white and light green parts only
1/2 cup chopped shallots, about 3 to 5 shallots
1-1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
4 extra large eggs
2 Tbsp. potato starch
1 to 2 tsp. kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. each baking powder and baking soda.
Vegetable or safflower oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 2 or 3 12-cup muffin tins or use paper liners generously sprayed with non-stick spray.
Peel and finely chop the onions using the “s” blade of a food processor. Pieces should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Scrape into a large mixing bowl and cover to avoid the onion fumes.
Slice the leeks and add to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse several times to chop the slices. Scrape into the bowl with the onions.
Peel the shallots and add to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse to finely mince. Scrape into the bowl.
Cut the scallions, green and white parts, into half inch pieces. Place in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to finely chop. Scrape into the bowl.
Change to the shredding disc and shred the potatoes. Place in a new large bowl. Take handfuls and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add the potatoes to the bowl of onions and repeat until all the potatoes have been added to the bowl. Mix well to evenly distribute the onions, leeks, shallots and scallions.
Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Add the potato starch salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Add a teaspoon of oil to each muffin cup. Add a spoonful of the potato mixture and fill the cup just to the top. Place in the oven and cook until deep golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool and remove from the muffin cups using a plastic spoon. They should pop out easily. Place in a freezer bag and freeze until needed.
To reheat, line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place the kuglettes on the pan close together. Brush lightly with safflower oil and bake until crispy, about 25 to 40 minutes. Makes 24 to 30 pieces.
GF Broccoli, Cauliflower and
Vegetable Kuglettes (Parve)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions, finely chopped
2 bunch scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
5 cups very small (1/2 inch) broccoli florets
5 cups very small (1/2 inch) cauliflower florets
6 large eggs
1/4 cup GF matzah cake meal
1/2 cup finely minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely minced fresh dill
2 to 3 tsp. salt, to taste
1 tsp. pepper
Optional: Add chopped red or green pepper, chopped mushrooms, pre-cooked asparagus or diced carrots, chopped baby spinach leaves, baby kale leaves, chopped leeks, garlic or any other veggies you like. (Not zucchini — too much water.)
Top with toasted chopped almonds or walnuts.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 2 12-cup muffin tins. (Have an extra 6-cup tin available.) Set aside.
Process the onions and scallions in a food processor until finely chopped, but not minced.
Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil. Add the onions and scallions and sauté until lightly golden. Scrape into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until completely blended. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes to thicken slightly. Spoon into the prepared tins and place in the oven. (You may have enough mixture for another 2 to 6 kuglettes.)
Bake until deeply golden, 60 to 70 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before removing. Let cool completely and place in a plastic bag or wrap each in plastic wrap. Freeze and use as needed. Makes 24 to 30 kuglettes.
Mocha Meringues (Pareve)
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso powder
1/2 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or mini-chocolate chips or chocolate sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form. Add the vinegar, vanilla, cocoa and the coffee and mix well.
Remove the bowl from the stand and add the chopped chocolate. Mix with a spatula to evenly distribute the chocolate. Place same sized dollops of the batter, a bit less than 2 inches in diameter, on the parchment lined cookie sheets and place in the oven.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let cool for about an hour undisturbed. Makes about 30 cookies. (You can make 60 small cookies and make sandwiches by placing a dollop of the melted chocolate between two cookies.)
Optional: Drizzle lightly with melted chocolate. While the cookies are still on the parchment, melt about 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave. Dip the tines of a fork in the chocolate and wave the fork over the cookies so the chocolate makes thin drizzles over them.