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Religion

Dreaming of a gorgeous, traditional seder

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Uncertainty about what Pesach entertaining holds for us this year has detracted from my normal plan-400-weeks-in-advance personality type. Last year, it was pretty much “let’s all wear pyjamas to the seder, and sit in the kitchen”. However, this year, there is a longing within me for a gorgeous, traditional seder with a tablescape to match. Perhaps it’s this nostalgia which has resulted in me hauling out all my bobbas’ recipes.

It’s important to remember that there were no metric measurements in those days, so use your intuition. Taste for seasoning, and add extra matzo meal to the gremzlach if they feel too soft.

Gremzlach to eat with your chicken soup

I mince the meat from my soup to use in the gremzlach. Mincemeat is a good second choice. Ask your butcher to mince round bolo. It works particularly well. These freeze well, and are lovely to keep for an emergency Pesach meal.

(Makes 16)

Ingredients for the meat

500g mincemeat

½ onion chopped

1 carrot chopped

3 Tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Ingredients for the potato crust

15 potatoes roughly quartered.

1 onion cut in quarters

1 packet of Rakusen’s matzo meal (about 375g)

½ tub schmaltz

1 Tbsp salt

½ tsp white pepper

6 jumbo eggs

Method

Soften the chopped onion and carrot in the oil until it is translucent. Add the mincemeat and brown gently. Add the salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Set aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Line three quarter baking sheets with baking paper, and grease lightly with sunflower oil. In a large bowl, place your lightly beaten eggs, matzo meal, schmaltz, salt, and pepper. Working quickly, whizz your potato and onion in the food processor until chopped. Do this in batches. Transfer the mixture to a strainer and over a basin, squeeze the water out of the potatoes. Tip the squished potatoes into the waiting mixture. Continue until all the potatoes have been added to the mixture. Mix well, and taste your potato batter for firmness and saltiness. Be brave, it’s just raw potato and egg! You will probably need to add extra matzo meal in small increments.

With wet hands, place about half a cup of the mixture in the palm of your hands and flatten to about 2cm thick. Place a heaped teaspoon of your meat in the centre, and wrap the potato around the meat. Place on the waiting baking sheet and continue.

Bake for 40 minutes until golden, flipping over when the bottoms are brown.

Potato and leek kugel

(serves 8)

It’s important to read the entire recipe first as some of the ingredients get divided. You may want to do this before starting. Double it if you want it to fit your rectangular casserole dishes.

Ingredients

9 potatoes peeled (2 kg)

3 medium leeks (cut off dark green part) / ½ packet checked leeks from Freshfellas

7 Tbsp oil

1 onion

2 jumbo eggs

1 Tbsp fresh thyme if you like it (we didn’t)

¼ tsp pepper

1 clove garlic crushed

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and place the tablespoons of oil in your casserole dish.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the leeks, and season with a pinch of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper. When the leeks are soft, add the crushed clove of garlic. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool.

Place the casserole dish in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile whizz seven of the potatoes and the one onion in the food processor. Squeeze the water out in a strainer. Stir in the leeks, garlic, eggs, one tablespoon oil, thyme, one teaspoon salt, and the pepper.

Thinly slice the remaining two potatoes and toss with the remaining one tablespoon oil, pinch of salt, and quarter teaspoon pepper.

Carefully remove the casserole from the oven and transfer the potato-onion mixture to the dish. Layer the potato slices on top overlapping. Bake for one hour, and then turn your oven to grill and grill the top for a minute or two, watching carefully.

Chocolate pecan tart with lemon curd topping

The combination of chocolate, lemon, and berries is amazing! And, you get to use up the left-over egg yolks. Don’t forget to add the berries for garnish to your ingredient list.

Ingredients

2¾ cups pecans

3 cups icing sugar

½ cup plus 3 Tbsp cocoa

½ tsp kosher salt (not normal salt)

4 large egg whites (at room temperature)

1 Tbsp vanilla

Method

Heat oven to 180 degrees. Toast the pecans for nine minutes, and then roughly chop.

Lower the temperature to 175 degrees, and line a springform tin with baking paper.

Whisk the sugar, cocoa, and salt followed by the chopped nuts. Increase the speed of the mixer and add the egg whites and vanilla. Just beat long enough to moisten the dough. These are not meringues.

Spoon into the tin, and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is glossy and lightly cracked. Cool and store. These also work magnificently as biscuits, just don’t bake as long.

Lemon curd

Double the quantity as leftovers are wonderful to have in the fridge. It tastes wonderful with chocolate cake, meringues, or even on its own.

Ingredients

3 egg yolks

Juice and rind of 2 lemons

1 cup of sugar

Pinch of salt

2 Tbsp potato flour

1½ cups of boiling water

Method

Mix the water, sugar, and potato flour. Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice and lemon rind. Very slowly, add the water mixture to the yolks so as not to curdle them. Transfer the mixture to a pot and cook on the stove until it thickens. Cool in the fridge.

To assemble

Place the biscuit base on a cake stand. Just before serving, top it with the lemon curd, mixed berries, and grated chocolate. You could do a double layer to add grandeur.

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