Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 97: Happy Belated Passover!

I know there are some fellow Jews out there would think that I'm crazy for saying that Passover is indeed my favorite holiday, but as a foodie, how can one not love this holiday? Sure, there are some restrictions and despite my Eastern-European background (or Ashkenazi as we call it), that doesn't deter me of experimenting in the kitchen (and pretending that I have a Middle-Eastern/Spanish background, or a Sephardic, because they have different and somewhat less restrictive dietary rules during the holiday, so I can eat beans and rice if I want to, something that Ashkenazi Jews don't eat during the holiday, which I'll explain more in depth when I make a mixed bean cake later this week or weekend). For the two main Passover meals, or seders, I'm responsible in the family for making the haroset, which is a sweet mixture representing the mortar between the bricks that the slaves used to build the pyramids in Egypt. It's a culinary contrast to the bitter and quite spicy maror, or horseradish, which represent the tears that many slaves shed during their hardships. The normal Ashkenazi haroset is made with apples, nuts and sweet red wine, however, I am not that simple. I decided to be a bit more creative and came up with a tropical fruit haroset (not really Ashkenazi or Sephardic) and then a date-based Sephardic haroset, as well as the traditional Ashkenazi apple one because my grandfather cherishes our traditions. I also made a dairy-free coconut ice cream to compliment my mother's famous frozen strawberry torte that she makes every year. So with that, as the holiday is actually about to be over, this is going to sound ironic, but Happy Passover or Pesach as it's called in Hebrew and feast your eyes on these untraditional recipes from my family's seder (and then be ready for our breaking of the Passover fast, which ironically, for my sister and I, doesn't really mean anything because we don't eat wheat/gluten (so no beer and pizza for us!), but then again, we're technically Ashkenazi, so TECHNICALLY, we weren't supposed to consume beans and rice during Passover! But I am thinking of making a gluten-free pizza tomorrow night...

Tropical Citrus Ginger Charoset
Makes about 2 cups

½ c. golden raisins
½ c. Craisins
½ c. candied ginger
2 tbsp kumquat zest
1 ½ c. dried apricots
½ c. dried mango or pineapple slices
1 c. white Passover wine
¼ c. pineapple juice
½ blood orange
½ c. toasted coconut flakes
1/3 c. toasted pine nuts

Sephardic Date-Fig Charoset
Makes about 2 cups

½ c. dried figs
½ c. dried plums (prunes)
1 c. dried dates
1 dried banana
¼ c. toasted almonds
¼ c. toasted walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp chrystallized ginger
½ c. Craisins
¼ c. Red Passover wine

Ashkenazi Apple Charoset with a Twist
Makes 2 cups

2-3 red apples (I used Gala), peeled and cored
2 tbsp kosher red wine 
2 tbsp kosher white wine
1 c. toasted walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Directions for Charoset: Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend! Enjoy on matzah (if you're not gluten-intolerant, although they do sell some gluten-free matzah, but it's really expensive, so we just put some in lettuce cups and then stuffed some bell peppers with some! Yummy! :)

Dairy-Free Coconut-Almond-Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Strawberry Sauce
Makes about 6 cups

2 c. light coconut milk
1 ½ c. coconut cream
1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk
1 ½ tsp raw stevia extract (comes in a small bottle with a dropper)
1 tbsp  vanilla extract
1 tbsp almond extract
1 tbsp ground basil leaves (can use fresh)
4 egg yolks
1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
1/4 c. coconut cream + 1/2 c. light coconut milk

Chocolate-Balsamic Strawberry Sauce:
Makes about 3 cups
2 c. Balsamic vinegar (white or black)
1 c. strawberries (can be frozen)
2 squares of unsweetened chocolate (unsweetened chocolate usually comes in bars that you can break up, but if you find some chocolate chips, use about 1/2 cup)
½-3/4 c. raw stevia (depending on how sweet you like it)

1) Combine all but the last three ice cream ingredients in a large pot and set the heat at a medium setting until it starts to boil slightly. Stir throughout occassionally for about 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
2) Whisk the egg yolks in a small boil with a fork and pour into the ice cream mixture along with the xanthan gum. Stir IMMEDIATELY or the yolks will curdle and you will have to strain the cream through a strainer like I had to and trust me, despite my family not being wasteful, we did not like the coconut-scrambled eggs that resulted from my error so we had to throw them away. They were a little weird, even for my somewhat sophisticated palate. 
3) Turn the heat back on to a medium-low setting and stir constantly for about 5-10 minutes until the cream mixture thickens.
4) Turn off the heat again and let the cream cool down for about 5 minutes. 
5) Spoon the cream into some ice cube trays (I filled 4)  and place in the freezer overnight.
6) Meanwhile, combine the stevia with the frozen strawberries and let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight as well.
7) The next day, puree the strawberries in the food processor.
8) Pour the Balsamic vinegar in a medium pot, turning on the heat to a medium setting and let it come to a slight boil, stirring throughout. 
9) Add the strawberry puree and the chocolate until it's melted.
10) Stir the sauce with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the back of your spoon.
11) Turn down the heat and refrigerate while preparing the ice cream.
12) Take the ice cream cubes out of the freezer and place 1 tray at a time in a food processor, gradually adding the 3/4 coconut cream combined with the coconut milk until the mixture becomes smooth. Now you will have extremely soft ice cream, which you can eat now with some sauce on the top, OR you can refreeze it in a container for several hours. Once it's refrozen, you can heat it up for a minutes in the microwave on a high setting, like you would do after refreezing normal ice cream. 

*Note: Unlike the ricotta ice cream, which was creamier due to the whipped ricotta cheese, the texture of this ice cream is more like a sorbet, and you can add more cream than milk if you don't mind that it's not as healthy to make it creamier. 

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                           The Tropical Ginger-Citrus Charoset

                                            The Sephardic Date Charoset

                                            The Ashkenazi Apple Charoset

The Ice Cream: Stage 1: Ice Cream Cubes (lip-shaped because my mom is that cool and has those at home--kisses!)

                                         The Ice Cream: Final Stage with the Sauce!

1 comment:

  1. The tropical chariest was my favorite! Yum, yum, yum!