Matzo – My Frenemy!
By Guest Columnist Chef Laura Frankel
Every day I like to feel as if I have learned something new. Kitchens are exciting places and food flavors and combinations are infinite.
This year, as I wrote these recipes, I decided to take a fresh look at matzo and matzo products. I have a love–hate relationship with matzo. We are truly Frenemies! I love it because I am proud of our heritage and we truly OWN matzo as a symbol and piece of history. I hate the stuff for its commercial taste and lack of nutrition. I avoid it and do not eat it except for the small amount required at the Seders.
But, I decided that I would play with matzo and see where it led me. These recipes are for family Passover dishes, specifically Chol hamoed. I think these are the days when creativity and diligence are needed to keep meals interesting and the family excited to gather together.
The Seders take care of themselves with family recipes passed down through generations. Once the flurry of activity dies down from the Seders, meals are hard to make and it is hard to duplicate the elegance of the Seder table and to keep excitement up. Passover should inspire memories and I hope these dishes become requested family favorites for years to come.
Shepherd’s Pie is bubbly, delicious and nary a drop of matzo in sight! This crowd pleasing casserole is a snap to prepare.
During the holiday, I want to spend more time with family and less time in the kitchen. This do-ahead dish is filling and can be assembled ahead of time, kept in the refrigerator while you do something else and then popped into the oven to be heated through.
I have modernized the recipe by replacing the mashed potatoes with garlicky parsnip and cauliflower puree. The vegetables make a creamy and delicious puree with the added benefit of having your decadent creamy mash and eating your veggies too.
Moussaka − All right this dish is a bit of a potschke , but it is complexly flavored, amazingly delicious and satisfying. This do-ahead dish is perfect for lunch after synagogue or a weeknight supper.
Chocolate Cinnamon Crumb Cake − My husband, who is also a chef, and must have his cake and eat it too, even during Passover, created this recipe. He sprang it on me with no warning and certainly not during the chag. He knows all too well of my dislike for matzo and all dishes matzo related.
I requested another piece and he triumphantly produced the slice and then announced what the cake really was. I ate the cake but first had to take my foot out of my mouth!
About the Author:
Laura Frankel is the Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies in Chicago. She is the author of Jewish Cooking For All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. Frankel is an avid farmer’s market supporter, giving demos and teaching classes all over the country featuring market produce. Frankel is the former chef and founder of the Shallots restaurants. She has training and extensive experience in both savory and pastry kitchens and has run restaurants in Chicago and New York. Before committing herself to her culinary passion, she played and taught both alto and baritone saxophones professionally. ChefLaurasKosher.com
March 18, 2013