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Passover: The Mother of All Kitchen Holidays

April 4, 2012

Republished from the Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia.

Want to know a little secret that helps me keep my kitchen cool during the major food holiday that's fast approaching? Last year, 99 percent of what I made for Passover wouldn't qualify as a Passover recipe. Of course the dishes were all kosher for Passover, but they didn't require any major Passover ingredient tweaks.

These recipes were, however, developed with Passover in mind and have become staples in my year-round repertoire because they're super easy and got the most oohs and ahhs when brought to the table.

Among them are:

  • Salmon Cakes with Tropical Fruit Salsa: You can make this even easier by skipping the fresh salmon and using good quality canned salmon.
  • Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Saute: Shamelessly simple and super beautiful, it is pleasing to the eye and the palate.
  • Pomegranate Braised Brisket: So tender and so sweet, this piece of meat just melts in your mouth.
     

Follow my lead this year and every dish you serve will be truly delicious -- not just "pretty good for Pesach stuff." Chag kasher v'sameach: Have a happy and kosher holiday!

Salmon Cakes With Tropical Fruit Salsa

The balance of sweet and savory flavors in this recipe instantly pleases the palate. This is a starter with zing!

Cake Ingredients:
1 side (2 lbs.) of salmon, skin on
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 Tbsps. matzah meal
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsps. olive oil

Salsa Ingredients:
1 cup diced pineapple
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 Tbsps. chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a large baking sheet.

Bake salmon skin side down for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Let cool completely.

Once salmon is cooled, gently flake away from the skin and break into large chunks. Place in a large bowl and combine with eggs, red onion, matzah meal, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.

Scoop about 1/3 cup at a time into your hands and form into a round patty about 1/4-inch thick. Place on a sheet pan and repeat with remaining mixture until you have formed 10 cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine pineapple, mango, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry 5 cakes at a time for about 5 to 8 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate while frying remaining cakes.

To serve, top each cake with a few tablespoons of salsa.

Makes 10 cakes.

Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Saute

3 Tbsps. olive oil
4 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 roasted red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini ribbons and saute 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly softened. Add garlic and saute 3 minutes more. Add bell pepper and saute 5 more minutes or until warmed. Stir in paprika; salt and toss to coat.

Serves 8.

Pomegranate Braised Brisket

first cut beef brisket (4 lbs.)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsps. olive oil, divided
3 medium onions, peeled and cut into eighths
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups pomegranate juice
2 cups chicken broth
3 Tbsps. honey
3 bay leaves
1 small bunch fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 375F.

Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large roasting pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear brisket about 4 minutes per side or until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes over medium-low heat until softened. Return brisket to pan and add pomegranate juice, broth, honey, bay leaves and thyme.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Transfer to preheated oven and roast for 2 hours.

Flip brisket over and continue roasting for 1 to 11/2 more hours or until tender. Let brisket rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain. Strain liquid and serve on the side as au jus.

Serves 8.

Hebrew for "fit" (as in, "fit for consumption"), the action of making something kosher (like cleaning a kitchen). Hebrew for "fit" (as in, "fit for consumption"), the Jewish dietary laws. Hebrew word for an unleavened bread, traditionally eaten during the holiday of Passover. Hebrew for "Passover," the spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

Jamie Geller is the author of the best-selling Quick & Kosher cookbook series, creator of the Joy of Kosher online magazine, and host of the popular "Quick & Kosher" cooking show.

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