Kosher Kitchen

Preparing for a joyous Pesach, despite it all


This year, a raging war, increased antisemitism, and trouble on our college campuses weighs heavily on all our minds. We struggle with so many issues, all the while praying for those innocent hostages and a road to a lasting peace.

I wonder how and why antisemitism has exploded throughout the world as ugly as the long-forgotten pogroms in Kiev, then called Huchov, that sent my grandfather, his mother and seven siblings to America after the Cossacks killed my great-grandfather. Later, hatred spawned the Holocaust and the fear that Jews felt worldwide.

We are three weeks from Passover. Each Shabbat, I pray that this will be the last one the hostages face in captivity and that they — and we — will greet Passover as a renewed holiday of freedom.

Still, despite the news cycles and more, Passover will arrive and there are things that need to be done. For me? As usual, a low-level panic is setting in. It always moves in at this time of year and doesn’t leave until 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. Each year, I worry whether I will get it all done. Each year, somehow, it does!

My sense is that this Pesach preparation anxiety is 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, 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 made with the best ingredients. 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 some unforeseen stressors, like last-minute food mishaps and last-minute guests. I have often had as many as eight unexpected, yet welcomed, guests at my Seder table – especially when my kids were in college and often brought home several friends. When that happens, I am left trying to add to the menu without looking like it’s last minute.

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. The potato kuglettes and vegetable kuglettes are examples. I make about 50 of them before the holiday and freeze them. If extra guests arrive, I just take a few more out of the freezer. We eat the rest throughout the week.

When I am really stressed, I think of my grandmother who fed more than 25 relatives at each Seder every Pesach. She had a stone sink, a wooden bowl and a hand chopper, an old wooden ice box, an oven that barely held two 9x13 pans, and several pots and pans that she rotated on her small four-burner stove.

And yes, there were fish in the bathtub! In fact, one year, at the Seder, my 3-year-old cousin was so angry that the fish were gone, that she locked herself in the bathroom which finally necessitated a call to the fire department to free her!

Somehow, there was always much more than enough food for two nights. I cannot even imagine how my great-grandmother fed her family in a shtetl in Huchov with no running water and an open-hearth fire.

So, Pesach will happen as it has for thousands of years. Everything will get done in all our kitchens as we use all our gizmos and gadgets, time savers, freezers, huge ovens, and more. And, this year, we will add prayers for the hostages, prayers that they will, like our ancient ancestors, soon see freedom.

I wish you all a zissen Pesach, a sweet holiday, filled with love of family and friends.

Potato, Leek and Shallot Kuglettes (Pareve)

I make these in advance, pop them in a freezer bag and freeze then for a few days. Before baking, I brush them with Safflower oil to make them crisp as they bake. They are GF, also!

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 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled

2 lb. 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 that are 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 (Pareve)

I have been making these for years and have recently seen them in several magazines! This is another” make ahead and use as many as you need” side dishes.

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)

Easy last minute dessert. I make them early in the morning and when cool, I place them in airtight container until needed. You can drizzle with melted chocolate.

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.

OPTIONAL: Drizzle lightly with melted chocolate. While the cookies are still on the parchment, melt about 2 ounces of 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. Alternatively, dust with cocoa powder. Makes about 30 cookies.

OPTIONAL: You can make 60 small cookies and make sandwiches by placing a dollop of the melted chocolate between two cookies.

Lemon Glazed Almond Torte (Pareve)


7 extra-large eggs separated

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups coarsely ground almonds, measure after processing

Rind of one large lemon or two smaller ones


1/2 cup plus two Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar

Zest from one lemon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch spring-form pan and set aside.

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and set aside. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until well blended, add the sugar and beat until smooth and a bit lightened in color.

Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until well ground, but not powdery. Using a zester or box grater, grate the rind of one lemon and add to the eggs. Mix well. Add the ground almonds.

Fold in the beaten egg whites and pour the batter into the prepared pan. The batter will be very thick. Smooth the top and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top is golden.

Meanwhile, place the lemon juice, sugar, and zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Prick the top of the cake all over with a skewer. Pour the glaze over the cake and let the glaze seep into the cake for 10 to 12 minutes. Run a knife around the rim of the cake, remove the sides, and place the cake on a serving platter. Garnish with powdered sugar and fresh, thinly sliced, sugared lemon slices. Serves 8 to 12