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Passover in the Time of a Modern Plague: Recipes for 2020

seder plateDue to the crisis, you probably won't have all the usuals around the table for Passover, which begins on April 8. Passover 2020 may be a virtual celebration with a smaller group but the theme of this holiday could not be more apt. We now have a new plague to add to the list of the ten in the Haggadah, that begins with blood and frogs and ends with darkness and the killing of the first born.

Many traditional dishes that are representative of past events will be served both at the Seders and for the week that follows. The common link that envelops the meals served during Passover are feelings of warmth among family and friends.

Following are some of my holiday favorites. With so many of us confined to our homes and with many markets offering delivery services, we are given the opportunity to spend lots of time in our kitchen preparing our holiday dishes.

We start with some suggestions for your Seder table.


Haroset Sephardic Style (1 quart)


3 pounds pitted dates

6 Tbsps. Passover sweet red wine (Concord Grape)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
Place the washed dates in a heavy saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Simmer, stirring until the dates are soft. Drain them and reserve the liquid. Cool. Place the dates in a food processor and process until smooth. Fold in the wine, cinnamon and nuts and mix. If you wish a thinner consistency add a bit of the reserved water. Cool and serve at your Seder. Any leftover is a perfect spread in lieu of jam.

Brisket with Apricots (Serves 6)

1 pound dried California apricots, soaked in 4 cups water for 1 hour
4 onions, chopped
3 pounds of brisket
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsps. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a Dutch oven, brown the onions and the meat in the oil. Add the salt and pepper, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and apricots in the soaking water and cover and simmer for about 2 ½ hours until the meat is tender. Remove the meat and cool it. Slice it thinly and arrange it in an ovenproof casserole dish. Pour the sauce and the apricots over it. Reheat in a 350 degree oven and serve.

Tzimmes (Serves 6-8)


½ pound pitted prunes

½ pound dried apricots
3 cups boiling water
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
3 pounds brisket cut into 10 pieces
3 onions, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
3 sweet potatoes peeled and quartered
4 carrots, 2 inch pieces
½ cup honey
1 tsp. cinnamon

Soak the apricots and prunes in boiling water for ½ hour. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and brown the meat and onions in it. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 1 hour. Add the undrained fruit and vegetables and remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 2 hours until the meat is tender and the liquid is absorbed.


Grammy’s Passover Stuffing (Serves 12)


1 pound matzos

1 pound ground chuck
2 onions, chopped and sautéed in canola oil
5 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups boiling chicken broth

Place 1 Tbsp. oil in a 9 by 13 inch oven proof baking pan. Set aside. Break up the sheets of matzos in a bowl. Pour the hot broth over it. Add the beef, onions, eggs and seasonings. Mix it very well. Spoon it evenly into the pan. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven covered for 30 minutes. Uncover it and bake until crisp on the edges and on top or about 20 minutes more.
For the many Passover meals after your 2 Seders I suggest several dishes for brunches or dinners during the week of Passover.

Individual Matzo Kugel (12)


5 matzos

6 eggs
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup walnuts
4 Granny Smith apples, chopped
Grated rind of 1 orange
¼ tsp. cinnamon mixed with ½ tsp. sugar
4 Tbsps. butter, melted

Butter 12 muffin tins and set aside. In a large bowl, crumble the matzos. Add a cup of water and squeeze dry. To the dry crumbled matzos add the beaten eggs, sugar, cinnamon, raisins, nuts, apples and orange rind. Mix well. Divide among the muffin tins. Sprinkle each with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees about 25 minutes or until browned on top. Serve with sour cream or yogurt.

With asparagus in season try our springtime Asparagus Soup.
Asparagus Soup (Serves 6)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 pound asparagus, rough ends discarded, in 1 inch pieces
1 potato peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper, to taste

Saute onions in oil until golden. Add asparagus, potato, carrots and saute lightly. Add stock, wine, dill and salt and pepper. Simmer for about ½ hour or until vegetables are soft. Cool. Blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return to pot and heat and serve. You can garnish it with additional dill.

Every meal during the Passover holiday should end with something sweet. Here are 2 suggestions.

Pecan Meringues

3 egg whites
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsps. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Beat whites until very stiff. Mix together sugar and cocoa and gently fold it into the whites. Fold in the vanilla and nuts carefully. Drop in small mounds onto an oiled cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 275 degree oven until dry or about 25 minutes. Remove with a spatula carefully while they are still warm. Handle with care since they are fragile.


Passover Brownies

2 sticks butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup matzos cake meal
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbsps. water
16 walnut halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan. Melt butter and let it cool. Mix together cocoa powder and sugar. Stir in beaten eggs and melted butter. Stir in matzos meal and chopped nuts until smooth. Stir in water to form a smooth mixture. Spread into prepared pan. Arrange nut halves on top. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

With best wishes to my readers for a holiday filled with family and friends beside you --either physically or virtually --all in good health.

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