Big flavors for seder and all Pesach long
Photo: Dave Carlin
Carrot Tzimmes with Dumplings

By Tina Wasserman

We’re getting closer to the holiday and you are now realizing that cooking for two or four is not much different then cooking for 10. Just remember that many dishes can be frozen into portions for you to enjoy later in the week so you don’t feel like you are eating leftovers for eight days,( that would be a plague until itself!).

Every recipe today will taste even better two or three days later and all, yes all including the gefilte fish, can successfully be frozen. So, hustle now and then enjoy the fruits of your labor for days or even weeks to come. A zissen (sweet) Pesach to y’all.

Tri-colored Gefilte Loaf Spanish Style

The tomato layer of this terrine is really what makes this recipe Spanish. Pimenton de la Vera is Spanish paprika that has a lovely smoked flavor and pairs well with the other layers. If you decide that you only want two layers  then you can eliminate one and divide the third of gefilte mixture between your two flavors. It goes very well with the orange scented horseradish recipe that I previously published  this year.

1 onion cut into 4 pieces

1 clove of garlic cut in half

2 eggs 

2 22-ounce frozen loaves of gefilte fish-thawed

¾ cup matzo meal

½ teaspoon salt

20 fine grindings of pepper

4 ounces of carrots (about 2 medium) sliced and cooked

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

10-ounce package frozen spinach thawed 

¼ cup toasted pine nuts or whole almonds

¼ cup raisins

1 roasted tomato, skin removed

½ roasted large red bell pepper, skin removed

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Pimenton de la Vera (smoked) or sweet paprika

1. Spray two 9 x 5 loaf pans with vegetable oil and then fit an 8 x 12 sheet of parchment in the pan widthwise so that about 3 inches of paper hang over the long sides of the pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place the onion and the garlic in a processor workbowl and pulse on and off until fairly pureed. (Alternatively, you could grate the onion and garlic into a medium bowl.)

3. Add the next five ingredients to the processor workbowl or the medium bowl and pulse or stir until the mixture is well combined.

4. Either divide the mixture into thirds or measure out approximately 1 ½ cups of mixture when you make each of the following layers.

5. For Carrot layer, mash by hand or puree the carrots in a small processor workbowl. Add the dill and ginger and ⅓ of the gefilte fish mixture. Spread evenly into the two prepared pans. Rinse out workbowl and blade.

6. For Spinach mixture, squeeze the chopped spinach very well until no liquid comes out. Add spinach, pine nuts and raisins to the rinsed workbowl and pulse to chop fine (or chop by hand). Add half of the remaining fish mixture and pulse or stir to combine all of the ingredients. Spread evenly into the two pans and rinse out the workbowl and blade if using.

7. For the Tomato/Pepper layer, peel the tomato and pepper and chop fine or  place in the small workbowl with the cumin and smoked paprika and pulse until pureed. Add the remaining fish mixture and pulse or stir to combine all of the ingredients and spread evenly into the two pans.

8. Cover each pan loosely with foil- shiny side facing you. Place pans in oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove foil and cook mixture another 20 minutes or until loaf feels firm.

9. Cool loaves for at least 15 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely and then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until needed.

Yield: 16 -24 wedges or slices

Tina’s Tidbits:

• If you are short on time, make the gefilte fish mixture and add nothing else or season with finely minced herb of choice and call it a day!

• Cooking carrots in boiling salted water taste much better (and get softer) than microwaving the carrots. Drained canned carrots also work well if you are in a rush.

• Squeezing the spinach very well is extremely important because there is so much liquid in the spinach and, if not drained properly, it can prevent that layer from holding its shape after baking.

• Wrapped airtight with plastic wrap and then either wrapped in foil or placed in a sealed freezer bag, gefilte fish can be frozen for months and then defrosted in the refrigerator. 

Carrot Tzimmes with Dumplings

Growing up I looked forward to having Mrs. Adler’s jarred Carrot Tzimmes with Mini Matzo Balls. They are no longer being made but I created this recipe from my memory of its taste. If you do not want to make the mini balls, this makes a delicious honeyed carrot side dish that kids especially love.

1 pound steamed, sliced carrots (substitute 1 pound drained canned carrots)

1/3 cup chicken stock

1/3 cup orange juice

¼ teaspoon ginger

1/3  cup honey

1 tablespoon  pareve margarine

1 1/2 teaspoons potato starch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water

12 miniature matzo balls or 3 regular sized matzo balls quartered

1. Make matzo ball mixture according to your favorite recipe. Use part of the mixture to make your miniature balls by shaping 1 scant teaspoon of dough into a ball in your oiled hands and adding it to the boiling water. Reserve matzo balls for later.

2. Place sliced, cooked carrots, stock, orange juice, ginger and honey in a saucepan and heat to boiling.

3. Reduce heat and add margarine.

4. Give potato starch mixture a stir to recombine and then add to the carrots. Stir constantly until mixture thickens.

5. When mixture has thickened, add the reserved matzo balls and gently combine until the dumplings are coated and heated through.

Tina’s Tidbits:

• If you want to make a portion of carrots look larger, cut the carrots on a diagonal.

• When adding potato starch to a hot liquid, always stir continuously. Potato starch congeals immediately when added to hot liquids and stirring prevents the forming of large clumps of gelatinous starch.

• An easy way to make little matzo balls is to put mixture into a pastry bag with a #6 tip.  Squeeze out  13” inch of dough and cut it off with a knife over a pot of boiling water. 

Braised Short Ribs in Sweet Passover Wine

2 pounds beef short ribs or 2 strips of Flanken* see note 

2 tablespoons potato starch for Passover (or 1/4 cup flour year-round)

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

25 grindings of black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and any vegetable oil

2 large carrots peeled and sliced into ¼ inch slices

1 onion cut into ½ inch dice

2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1 ½ cups sweet Concord Grape Wine (Manischewitz or Mogen David wine)

1 teaspoon freeze-dried or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste

2 -2 ½ cups vegetable or beef broth

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. If using Flanken, cut the strip of meat in between each bone so you have 6-8 pieces of bone-in meat. If using short ribs, you should have 4-5 pieces that will be thicker.

3. Place the potato starch in a small soup bowl and then add the salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Coat every side of the ribs with this mixture.

4. Heat a 4-quart, ovenproof casserole over medium high heat for 10 seconds. Add the oil and heat for another 15 seconds. Place the meat in the oil and brown all sides until a crispy brown. Do not crowd the meat at this point. If necessary, brown the meat in two batches. 

5. When all the meat is done remove the meat to a plate and discard most, but not all of the oil from the pot.

6. Add the sliced carrots and the diced onion to the hot oil in the pan and sauté over medium high heat until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned.

7. Reduce the heat a little and add the garlic. Stir for 1 minute then add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes until everything is mixed well and the sauce has darkened a little. This should take about 3 or 4 minutes.

8. Add the wine to the pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture is reduced by a third.

9. Return the meat to the pot.  Add the remaining seasonings and enough broth to cover the meat. Bring to a boil, cover and place in the preheated oven.  Cook for 1 ½ hours or until the meat is very tender but not quite falling off the bone.

10. This can be eaten right away but will taste even better when chilled and reheated the next day.

Tina’s Tidbits:

• Flanken is just short ribs cut through a line of bones to form a strip of meat as opposed to cutting in between each bone to make a thicker cut. Serves 4.

• Cooking time depends on your oven and the thickness of the meat.  If necessary, lower the heat to 300 degrees and continue cooking covered in the oven checking after ½ hour.  Meat should be very tender but not fall off the bone.

• Yes, a zinfandel or merlot may be substituted but dish won’t be quite as sweet/sour as the original.

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