Recipes that’ll add pep to your Passover

At sundown tonight, Jewish people will sit down to a seder in honor of the first night of Passover, the eight-day observance celebrating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II. As for many holiday meals, most Jewish families have traditions and recipes they follow year after year. But there is no reason, while keeping true to the spirit and rituals of the event, why you can’t mix things up a bit.

To demonstrate, Susie Fishbein, author of "Kosher by Design," visited the “Today” show with some updates on classic Passover dishes. (Passover recipes often involve the use of matzo, an unleavened bread used during the holiday to symbolize the Israelites’ speedy journey from Egypt. They had no time to let bread rise.)

Maverick Matzo Balls
(Yields 18 matzo balls, six of each variety. Matzo balls are traditionally eaten with a chicken broth soup at the start of the seder meal. Use three, one of each variety, per bowl of soup.)

Spinach Matzo Balls
Servings:

Yields six balls

Ingredients

    • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg white
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
    • ½ cup matzo ball mix (usually 1 bag out of a box)

Preparation

Baking Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and the oil. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the spinach until pureed. Add 10 tablespoons of the puree into the egg mixture. Whisk to incorporate. Sprinkle in the matzo ball mix. Stir in with a fork, mixing as little as possible. Don't overwork it. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Meanwhile bring a pot of water or chicken stock to a boil.  Wet your hands in a bowl of cold water. Using your hand, and manipulating as little as possible, scoop out a ping pong ball size of the mixture. Form it into a ball with your fingertips, using no real pressure. Turn the water/stock down to a simmer. Drop in the balls. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

Turmeric Matzo Balls
Servings:

Yields six balls

Ingredients

    • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg white
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
    • ½ cup matzo ball mix (usually 1 bag out of a box)

Preparation

Baking Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and the oil. Add the turmeric into the egg mixture. Whisk to incorporate to an even yellow color. Sprinkle in the matzo ball mix. Stir in with a fork, mixing as little as possible. Don't overwork it. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Meanwhile bring a pot of water or chicken stock to a boil.  Wet your hands in a bowl of cold water.  Using your hand, and manipulating as little as possible, scoop out a ping pong ball size of the mixture.  Form it into a ball with your fingertips using no real pressure.  Turn the water down to a simmer. Drop the balls into the water.  Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

Poached Chicken in Leek Broth
Servings:

Serves 6

Ingredients

    • 4 leeks
    • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
    • 2 bay leaves
    • Kosher salt
    • 8 whole black peppercorns
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
    • 1 cup white wine
    • chicken broth or chicken bouillon diluted with water

Preparation

Baking Directions:

This is a very beautiful and healthy dish. The leek ribbons make each chicken cutlet look like a perfectly wrapped present. Complement the colors of the white chicken and green leeks by serving them atop a one or two tone vegetable puree. Cut the very bottom off two2 of the leeks. Separate each leek into individual long leaves. Clean the leaves. Using a sharp knife, cut each leaf in half so you have long 1/2-inch ribbon-like strips. Pour water to depth of 1 inch in a large pot; bring to a boil. Drop the leek ribbons into the boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds or until leek is softened; quickly remove from the water.Lay 2 leek ribbons to form a plus sign. Place a chicken cutlet in the center. Tie each ribbon around the cutlet, knotting in the middle. Use scissors to trim any long pieces. Repeat process for all six cutlets. Place the chicken in a single layer in a large pot or heavy skillet. Slice the other two leeks into 1/2-inch strips. Scatter them over the chicken. Add the bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, lemon juice, parsley sprigs, and wine. Add enough chicken broth to cover the chicken. Bring the liquid, uncovered, to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and poach for 15 minutes or until chicken has lost its pink color. If the tops of any of the packets are exposed, spoon some of the poaching liquid over them as they cook. Serve with Vegetable Puree (recipe below).

From “Kosher by Design” by Susie Fishbein. Copyright ©2003 by Susie Fishbein. Excerpted by permission of ArtScroll/Shaar Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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