kosher kitchen

For the happiest of Pesachs, get an early start with your Big Cook (and a tasty new cookbook)


With Pesach just three weeks away, I’ve begun the annual clean out the freezer and use up the chametz routine. It is not that easy to use up half-used boxes of pasta or cereal or oatmeal in time, but starting early is a big help.

It is also a big help to start cooking for Passover now. I have a small snack table set with Passover utensils and my oven gets cleaned several times this time of year. But preparing some foods ahead of time, especially if you are having a big crowd, makes a huge difference as the holiday approaches.

I have already made several quarts of chicken and beef stock and they are in the freezer. In the next few weeks, I will make more stock and a whole, 10 to 12 pound brisket that will be sliced and ready to reheat.

Making a brisket ahead of time saves time and oven space. I wish I hade three ovens during holidays, but, as I have only one, I need to plan carefully. When you make your brisket, try to make one that does not have carrots, squashes, celery, mushrooms or other such vegetables included in the recipe as these do not freeze well. On the other hand, dried fruits, onions, shallots, and garlic freeze well.

Freezing some food ahead makes preparation for the holiday much easier. And trust me, you will be more relaxed and no one will be the wiser.

Overnight (Freezes Like a Dream) Brisket with Cherries and Wine (Meat)

Kosher or fine salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (6 to 10 pound) first, second or whole beef brisket

1/3 cup Passover vegetable oil (I use Safflower)

24 to 36 shallots (about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds) peeled, cut into halves lengthwise

10 to 15 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 to 3 cups Pinot Noir or other fairly light, dry red wine

2 to 3 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken or beef broth

2-1/2 cups (10 to 14 ounces) dried tart/sweet cherries (mixed)  or dried cranberries

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar, more to taste

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar, more to taste

NOTE: Ingredient amounts depend on the size of the brisket. Adjust as needed. If the liquid gets too low while cooking, add some stock and wine.

Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Sprinkle brisket with salt and pepper.

Set roasting pan or large Dutch oven on burner and add 4 to 5 Tbsp. oil. Heat over medium-high heat until shimmery. Brown brisket on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large platter.

If necessary, add more oil, reduce heat to medium, and cook shallots, turning occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and reduce wine by half. Add the stock, cherries or cranberries, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and scant teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a simmer and return brisket, fat side up, to pan. Cover pan tightly with heavy-duty foil or a double layer of regular foil, and place in oven for 2 hours.

Reduce heat to 250 and cook for 3 to 5 hours until brisket easily shreds with a fork.

Remove from the oven, uncover carefully and let cool for 20-30 minutes. Taste and adjust the sauce as desired. Remove the brisket from the pan and slice across the grain into thin slices. Divide among freezer containers and fill with the liquid, shallots and cherries from the pan. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, discard congealed fat and place the container in the freezer. Makes enough for 12+. 

A wonderful new cookbook for this year’s Pesach

I love giving new cookbooks for Passover. The holiday heralds spring, which is a great time to recharge and find new cooking inspiration.

A few years ago, I received and reviewed a new cookbook called, A Taste of Pesach, compiled by Yeshiva Me’on Hatorah. I loved it and used it throughout Passover and beyond.

Then, this week, I received  A Taste of Pesach 2 —  a new edition with more than 110 brand new recipes to celebrate Passover with more deliciouness. After reading it, I think I may be sorry that the holiday lasts for only one week.

This new book is gorgeous. The photography will make your mouth water, and I swear you can almost smell the Horseradish Rub Rib Roast and Melted Chocolate Cookies. It also includes artistic, yet truly simple ideas for gorgeous restaurant-worthy platings of the scrumptious recipes you create. Page after elegant page of plating and menu ideas will elevate your Passover Seders and all meals to new heights.

Putting a cookbook together is a long and arduous task. The group doing the work for this book have perfected the art of “putting it together.” The book is well-organized and the recipes are easy to follow and clearly written. The best part is that the directions are short, the ingredients list is short, and the cooking time is reasonable. Many recipes can be made at the last minute and end up delicious and beautifully presented.

Some examples of delicious Pesach eating will make you hungry to get started. Start the meal with Baby Bella Burgers or Duck Crepes with Apricot Suace, followed by Onion Soup or Overnight Veggie Soup. Try Pesto Zoodles or a Grilled Veggie Salad. Forget Gefilte Fish. How about Pesto Salmon or Spicy Kani Cakes? Vodka Chcken looks delicious and Praline Chicken is divine. Osso Bucco and Horesradish Rubbed Brisket are definitely company worthy. Pair them with Gnocchi with Wild Mushroom Sauce or Drunken Mushrooms. Desserts and Cakes and Cookies are all too delicious. Coffee Vanilla Bites may be my new favorite, but Melted Chocolate Cookies are going to be hard to pass up.

I love this book. I love the simplicity of complicated-tasting recipes and I also love that you can learn to plate like a pro and serve delicious foods that look artistic and professional.

I often recommend bringing a new cookbook as a hostess present. However, I suggest sending this one early so your host or hostess can get started on some of these inspiring recipes. And don’t forget to get one for yourself! Happy Passover!

The following recipes and photos are reprinted with permission from Artscroll/Shaar Press. A Taste of Pesach II. Yeshiva Meon HaTorah, Artscroll/Shaar Press 2018. 

Horseradish Rub Rib Roast (Meat)

A rib roast is the “Rolls Royce” of roasts, and this recipe takes it even beyond that!

The ease of preparing this roast will have you putting it on the menu again. The amazing taste will have your family asking for it often!

1 (4-pound) rib roast

Horseradish Rub

20 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup oil

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1/2 cup white horseradish,mdrained

2 Tbsp. sugar

1-1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place the rib roast in a large roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine the rub ingredients and rub onto all surfaces of the roast.

Roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes; cover the pan, lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and roast 2 hours. Serves 8.

NOTE FROM JONI: You can easily double the amounts in the rub recipe for a larger roast. Cook according to your oven direction or until a thermometer in the middle is at the temperature you prefer. Rare is 125 degrees, medium rare is 135, medium is 145. Allow the meat to rest for 10-20 minutes before slicing. During this time, the meat will continue to cook and will rise about 5-7 degrees. 

Squash Mushroom Kugel (Pareve)

The squash in this kugel is sliced in rounds, enhancing the taste and texture so that it has substance and is not “mushy.” However, if your minhag is to eat gebrokts, you may want to add two tablespoons of matzo meal to the ingredient list.

3 Tbsp. oil

6 squash or zucchini, peeled and sliced

8 mushrooms, peeled and sliced

3 eggs

3 Tbsp. potato starch

3 Tbsp. mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. onion soup mix

1 to 2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Coat a 9 x 13” pan or two 9-inch round pans with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium pot. Add squash and mushrooms; sauté until soft. Drain.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Serves 12.