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My first introduction to Shakshuka was several years ago when my local and new favorite café, Sofra, a Turkish coffee shop started serving it. If you want to make or try their traditional version, you can find their recipe here. This Shakshuka takes this popular mishmash of an Israeli breakfast and throws in some flavors of the American South. If you have time, I recommend making it with collard greens. However, this version has spinach as the greens to save on time. The addition of yams to the tomato sauce gives it a slight Southern sweetness and richness that is perfect for the colder fall and winter mornings. The remoulade drizzle also adds a taste of the South and you can make it as mild or as spicy as you like.
Shakshuka with a Southern Drawl
1. Bake your biscuits as directed on the package or make some quick and easy Southern biscuits from scratch.
2. The Southern drizzle is a remoulade sauce made with sour cream and mayonnaise. In a blender, add 1/4 of a small yellow onion roughly chopped, 1/8 of your green pepper, 1/2 Tbsp. of ketchup, 1/2 Tbsp. of yellow mustard, 1 clove of garlic, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, 2 tsp. of pickle juice and a 1/2 cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream. Blend until smooth and put in the refrigerator to chill.
3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then, cut a yam in half and slice four thin slices off the middle of the yam, about 1/8 inch thick, and pat them dry. Heat 3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil in a small sauté or saucepan. Thinly slice and cube your four yam slices to make mini croutons. Once the oil is hot enough that it starts to ripple, toss in the cubed yams and cook until golden over medium high heat. Remove the crispy yams and place on a paper towel to drain. Pour out half the oil from the pan. Dice and sauté the rest of the onion and green pepper over medium low heat just until the onion becomes slightly transparent. Remove the onions and green peppers with a slotted spoon and place into an oven safe pan or dish. You can use a small cast iron pan or a baking dish.
4. Without cleaning the pan, toss in your 8-12 cups of washed and trimmed spinach and cook until wilted. Remove and sprinkle with smoked salt. You can use regular salt here if you like, but the smokey flavor adds a little extra Southern flare. If you have time to prepare collard greens instead of spinach, just replace the sour cream above with all mayonnaise.
5. Grate the rest of your yams and add them to the pan. Pour in the 4 cups of tomato purée. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens a little. Once the grated yams are very soft, pour the mixture over your onions and peppers.
6. Crack all four eggs into your dish, or spoon the tomato and vegetable mixture into individual dishes and crack one egg in each dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the egg is just set. Ideally, you want the yolk runny.
7. Remove the dish from the oven. Sprinkle each slice of fresh tomato lightly with salt and pepper. Split your biscuits and slide a slice of tomato in the middle of each one. Add the spinach to the dish next to your eggs and toss the yam croutons over the dish. Drizzle the Southern sauce over the eggs and spinach, add a few extra dashes of Tabasco and serve.
Potato kugel is always a hit at holiday meals. Traditionalists enjoy simple potato kugel like their grandmothers used to make, but even so there are debates about whether the kugel should be crunchy and light or soft and compressed. This particular version has a pumpkin custard-like topping and is a mix of sweet and savory. You end up with a little crunch around the edges and a soft filling in the middle. It also lends itself to experimentation—add cumin or za’atar for Middle Eastern flavors, or turmeric or garam masala for an Indian-inspired version.
Potato and Pumpkin Kugel
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel onion and potatoes and coarsely grate with a box grater over a clean kitchen towel. (Here, I used 3 small potatoes as one large potato.)
3. Over the sink or a bowl, squeeze the towel of grated mixture as hard as you can to extract as much liquid as possible.
4. Add 2 ½ Tbsp. oil to a deep pie plate. Put the plate in the oven to heat.
5. Add onion and potato mixture to a bowl. Sprinkle with starch, salt and ½ tsp. pepper.
6. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and crack one egg into it. Beat the egg with a fork and mix well.
7. Remove the pie plate from the oven, scooping out ½ Tbsp. hot oil. Set aside.
8. With a fork, add the potato mixture to the pie plate. Build up the sides of the pie plate to form a crust. (If you like lots of crunchy potato, make your sides wide.) Drizzle remaining hot oil on top.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until edges begin to brown.
10. Mix pumpkin purée with evaporated milk. Add remaining eggs, cinnamon and sugar.
11. With a measuring cup or ladle, pour pumpkin mixture into potato pie until it reaches the top of the potato edges. (Any extra mixture can be used to make sweet pumpkin flan!)
12. Add remaining ½ tsp. pepper and additional spice, if using, to pumpkin mixture, stirring lightly with a fork to prevent overflow.
13. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If the edges begin to get too dark, cover with foil; the moisture from the pumpkin should help it stay crisp.
14. To make sweet pumpkin flan, add 3 Tbsp. sugar to leftover pumpkin mixture. Pour into oven-safe ramekins and bake for 30 minutes.
15. After removing kugel from oven, let cool slightly and serve with sour cream.
A bagel is naked without a good schmear. The word schmear comes from the Yiddish word “to spread.” In the world of bagels and brunch a schmear has come to mean cream cheese or other, usually cream cheese-based, spreads for bagels.
This quartet of schmears has something for everyone: There’s a vegetarian, smoked salmon, egg & arugula and a sweet schmear. They are perfect to bring to a Shavuot brunch for a crowd or make one or two for a family meal. Dairy plays a central role on Shavuot because the holiday commemorates the revelation of the Torah. The Torah brings with it the rules of Kashrut (Kosher laws) and since it was given on Shabbat there could be no cattle slaughtered, so it would have been a dairy day. The Torah is also a symbol of nourishment like milk for a baby. Although dairy is the base for all four of these schmears, they are each very different, easy to whip up and full of flavor.
There are four schmears because each schmear is made with 1/2 block of cream cheese. You can also make three schmears and leave 1/2 a block of cream cheese plain for the picky eaters at the table.
Salted Lemon and Smoked Salmon Schmear
2. In a small bowl, put the room temperature cream cheese.
3. Slice the smoked salmon into long, thin strips and then slice them again into little cubes.
4. Add the lemon zest and salt to the cream cheese and mash it together with a fork.
5. Once the zest is thoroughly mixed into the cream cheese, carefully mix in the minced smoked salmon. Serve immediately or chill and serve.
Vegetarian Tomato Schmear
This can be made vegan with vegan mayonnaise and vegan cream cheese.
2. Sprinkle Kosher salt over the minced tomato.
3. In a small bowl, add mayonnaise and with a rasp or smallest side of a box grater, grate garlic into the mayonnaise. You can also use a garlic press. Mix garlic into the mayonnaise.
4. Add the room temperature cream cheese into the garlic mayonnaise. Mash it all together with a fork until it is uniformly mixed.
5. Mince white onion, about the same size as the tomato. Mix the onion into the cream cheese and then carefully stir in the minced tomato and black pepper. Serve immediately or chill and serve.
Eggs and Arugula Schmear
1. Hard boil two eggs. I like to use the J. Kenji Lopez-Alt method.
2. With a cheese grater, grate the 2 hard boiled eggs into a bowl. Add in salt, sour cream and mustard and mix together. With a fork, mash in the cream cheese. Toss in black pepper (freshly ground if possible).
3. Chop about 1 cup of baby arugula, for 3/4 cup of chopped arugula. I like to hold a small bunch of leaves and with kitchen shears, snip the arugula into the egg and cream cheese mixture. Stir together gently until combined. Serve immediately or chill and serve.
Sweet Schmear with Ginger & Blueberries
The last 1/2 block of cream cheese can be left plain or you can play a little with it for something sweet. I chose to add sugar and ginger.
Mash the sugar into the cream cheese with a fork. Grate the ginger into the mixture and serve with a bowl of fresh blueberries.
Missing morning carb treats like doughnuts? No need to stress if you are following the culinary traditions for Passover. Burmolikos are light, soft puffs of egg and matzah that are fried in oil (and bear no resemblance to heavy matzah fritters). They are a wonderful treat eaten by Bulgarian Jews during Passover and year-round because they are so delicious! Be sure to roll them with cinnamon and sugar while they’re still warm, or eat them with jam or honey.
Burmolikos (Bulgarian Matzah Puffs)
2. Drain the matzah and squeeze handfuls until almost all of the water is removed. Place in a 2-quart bowl.
3. Add the eggs, egg yolk and salt to the clumps of matzah and combine well with a fork.
4. Heat the oil in a small saucepan or deep fryer to a depth of 2 inches—if you use a 1-quart saucepan you will use only about 1 cup oil and will only be able to make 2 puffs at a time. However, they cook quickly so it is up to you.
5. When the oil is hot, drop the mixture by oval soup spoon or ice cream scoop into the oil and fry on one side until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Turn over puff and fry on the other side until golden—another minute. Drain on crumpled paper towels (you use fewer towels and have more surface area to absorb the oil).
Coat with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Burmolikos can also be served with jam or honey.
Some “Tina’s Tidbits”
Check out more delicious Passover recipes here!
Legend has it that the Cobb salad was the result of a midnight kitchen raid by a hungry restaurant owner, namely Robert H. Cobb, at Hollywood’s Brown Derby restaurant. Brown Derby was a restaurant chain popular in the golden age of Hollywood. The chain lives on in Ohio and Orlando. Although the original Brown Derby in Hollywood, which was shaped like the classic round hat, is long gone, the legendary midnight snack that became the Cobb salad lives on and is going strong on menus all across the country. This Deviled Egg Cobb Salad with Smoked Salmon Matzah Tartines makes the perfect all-in-one Passover meal.
The salty crunch that usually comes from bacon is replaced with roasted, salted sunflowers. For more smokiness, the optional addition of smoked Gouda is delectable.
Deviled Egg Cobb Salad
Brown Derby Dressing
1. Hard boil four eggs. I like to use J. Kenji Alt’s method. While the eggs are cooking, you can prepare the salad dressing.
2. In a jar with a lid mix all the dressing ingredients together: canola or grapeseed oil, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, white granulated sugar and minced garlic. Add a 1/4 tsp. of salt and pepper. Taste by dipping a leaf of lettuce into the dressing. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
3. You can toss the salad together in a bowl or set it out on a platter in horizontal layers. Chop the washed and dried lettuce into bite-size pieces. Chop the tomatoes into small cubes and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Cut the avocado in half and save half for the matzah tartines. Cube the avocado in the peel with a butter knife and then scoop it out with a soup spoon. Lay out each ingredient along the platter. Sprinkle four tablespoons of sunflowers over the avocado. If you are using cheese, grate or make small cubes of cheese to add to the salad either on the platter or separately in a dish to be added at the table. I like to serve the dressing on the side so everyone can put on as little or as much as they like.
4. Now prepare your deviled eggs. Peel the eggs and cut them in half from top to bottom. Put the yolks into a bowl and add the mayonnaise, sour cream, dry mustard and a pinch of salt. Mash it all together until smooth.
With a spoon, add a dollop of filling to each egg. You can also pipe the filling if you want to get fancy, but I like to just use a butter knife to cleanly even off the filling in each egg so it looks like a regular egg. I save the extra filling for my tartines.
6. In a few small bowls set out your tartine spreads: the soft herb cheese, the extra deviled egg filling (topped with the lemon zest) and mashed avocado topped with a little finishing salt. (Kosher salt is good, or some Maldon sea salt or smoked salt.) Put the smoked salmon on a plate.
The matzah tartines can be assembled at the table to keep the matzah crisp.
Read more delicious Passover recipes here!
Some people have strong feelings about the kind of recipe that aims to create a Passover-friendly version of a dish that is typically leavened. Detractors think creating Passover bagels, muffins, and rolls miss the point of the holiday’s specific diet. Those in favor see the practice as helping to make a difficult holiday more bearable. Some will even point to foods like Passover Popovers as an example of Jewish ingenuity.
Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t see the point suffering through a week of “I can’t believe you want to call this a bagel.” (But hey, if you can convince yourself that whatever you’ve come up with tastes like a bagel, more power to you. I’ll have eggs for breakfast this week.) On the other hand, when the introduction of matzah into a dish creates a delightful new twist on an old favorite, I’m all for it.
This brings us to Matzah Kugel, a sweet, dairy-filled confection of matzah layered with sweetened cheese. Sure, you could make a kugel with Passover noodles and come up with an almost-but-not-quite-satisfying proxy for the regular version, but you will never forget that it’s not the “real” thing. Matzah kugel, on the other hand, takes the idea of a noodle kugel as a jumping off point and transforms it into something different but equally delicious.
This dish can function as a side dish or a main course. (It pairs well with a side salad and a piece of gefilte fish.) You can freeze leftover portions: they reheat well in the microwave and even make a delicious and quick breakfast when you just can’t take one more piece of matzah with cream cheese.
Cheese Matzah Kugel for Passover
2. Add cottage cheese, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and butter and mix to combine thoroughly.
3. Grease an 8 inch square baking dish with butter.
4. Arrange half of the matzah so that it covers the bottom of the dish.
5. Pour half of the cheese mixture over it. Repeat with balance of the matzah and cheese mixture. If you wish, sprinkle additional cinnamon and sugar over the top of the kugel.
6. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until set.
Hamentaschen or “Haman’s Pockets” are the traditional dessert of Ashkenazi Jews on the holiday of Purim. Originally containing poppy seed filling in medieval Germany, it later became popular to fill the Hamentashen with prune filling. This tradition was started in 1731 to honor a Jewish prune jam merchant named David Brandeis. David was acquitted after being charged erroneously with trying to poison the magistrate of Jungbunzlau in northeastern Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). To celebrate his acquittal the people in his community filled Hamantashen with his plum jam and called it Poivadl (plum/prune) Purim. Today Hamentaschen are filled with many different flavors of fruit jams, nuts and even chocolate.
It is difficult for people suffering from Celiac Disease and others whose bodies are sensitive to gluten to participate in many food customs when one’s diet is restricted in this way. Creating recipes that allow people on restricted diets to participate fully in the enjoyment of Jewish culinary traditions is a very important goal of mine. The following two recipes can be made dairy free as well as gluten-free if you so choose and it is delicious either way. Choose either to make chocolate cookie dough or traditional sugar cookie dough, both with delicious chocolate filling. Enjoy!