Pesach, sweet potatoes, and lots of love
Romi Rabinowitz comes from a large, close Jewish family, and learned how to cook and entertain from her mom, mom-in-law, grannies, and aunties. Cooking and stylish presentation of food is very important to her, and brings her joy. Here are a few of her favourite recipes for Pesach.
These sweet-potato pizzas are a wonderful, healthy substitute for pizza. They can be enjoyed the whole year, but are especially fabulous for Pesach if you are craving the real thing.
Slice sweet potatoes very thinly, lengthwise, using a sharp knife or mandolin. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and pepper.
Bake at 180 degrees centigrade until slightly crispy.
Remove them from the oven, spoon over tomato puree (such as the Tuscanini brand, which is kosher for Pesach) or marinara sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese and a shake of dried basil. Add toppings of your choice such as olives, red onions, or garlic.
Place back in the oven, and bake for a few minutes until cheese is melted.
Poached salmon with citrus mayo
This is a perfect Pesach dish using fresh herbs and citrus to season and flavour. As I always say, this is how I like to cook all year round using fresh and healthy ingredients. This dish can be served warm or cold, and is great for a yom tov or Shabbos lunch.
1 side of salmon, skin removed
½ cup white wine
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1 handful of chopped dill
1 orange, 1 lemon, and 1 lime thinly sliced
Place fish in a roasting pan, pour over white wine and orange juice.
Cover the salmon with thin slices of orange, lemon, and lime.
Sprinkle with chopped dill, ground salt, and pepper.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade and bake for about 25 minutes. Watch that you don’t overcook your salmon.
Serve with a citrus mayo:
⅓ cup mayonnaise
Zest of 1 lime
Zest of half a lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Mix the above ingredients together, and serve with your salmon.
Chargrilled lemon and herb chicken
I am one of four sisters, and my third sister, Steph, is generally my first phone call of the day (and then about 10 times after that). Often, we speak all the way home from the early school lift, yet we never run out of things to say. There is something truly unique about a sisterhood. It’s one of my life’s treasures. Steph loves finding healthy, wholesome recipes that are great for the whole family. She shared this absolute gem with me, and my family was also totally mad about it, as I’m sure yours will be too.
8 butterflied chicken-breast schnitzels
A handful of fresh basil
A handful of Italian flat leaf parsley (available at Woolies or Freshfellas)
2 cloves garlic
½ cup olive oil
A good grind of salt and black pepper
Grate the zest of the lemons, and then squeeze the juice out.
In a Magimix or using a hand blender, blend herbs and garlic, half of the squeezed lemon juice, all the lemon zest, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Pour the marinade over the chicken, and let marinade for about an hour.
Heat a griddle pan on the stove, and grill the schnitzels until chargrilled and cooked through. Drizzle with the remaining lemon juice.
Serve with thinly sliced sweet potato chips (recipe to follow) and a crunchy, green salad.
Sweet potato chips
These chips are just off the charts! Perfect as a side, absolutely mouth-watering, and more-ish.
Using a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice the sweet potatoes using the long side of the sweet potato to get the length of the chip.
Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake on a lined baking tray at 180 degrees centigrade until crispy (you may have to take out some chips earlier and let others cook for longer).
I love the watermelon at the moment, and this watermelon granita is the perfect dessert to end off a heavy meal like a seder. I make this throughout the year, and it’s perfect for Pesach, with very simple ingredients.
⅓ cup white sugar
¾ cup of water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 cups of chopped watermelon
Make a light syrup by boiling together the sugar and water for a few minutes until slightly thickened (not too long), then add your lemon juice. Allow to cool.
Process the watermelon in your Magimix until smooth.
Add to the cooled syrup and freeze in a shallow Tupperware. After a few hours – don’t wait until it’s too frozen – scrape with a fork to make a slushy mixture, and then place back in the freezer.
Chag sameach and love!
- You can follow Romi on Instagram @eversolovelysa or on Facebook @Romi Rabinowitz
Our sages teach of the obligation of every Jew to ask, “When will my actions reach those of our illustrious patriarchs and matriarchs?” We see the prototype of kindness at the beginning of this week’s Torah reading, when Abraham and Sarah display remarkable hospitality towards three strangers travelling through the desert. Abraham bows down to each of them, and presents a more elaborate banquet than Bill Gates served this week at his daughter’s wedding – each guest received his own tongue. Why was this necessary? One tongue would have been sufficient. Why does Abraham go to such lengths to make each of the guests feel like a king? What motivated Abraham’s behaviour?
The Midrash describes Abraham’s meeting with Sheim, the son of Noach. Abraham asks Sheim, “What did you and your family do for the year you were in the Ark?” Sheim answers, “We were all involved with the kindness of feeding the animals 24/7”. Abraham realised that the foundation of the new world G-d was starting was kindness – olam chesed yibaneh (the world is built on kindness). Hashem’s training for the people who would build this new world was constant acts of kindness.
Abraham reasoned that if Hashem valued the kindness done to animals in the Ark, how much more so would he value it when the kindness was done to human beings who are created betzelem elokim (with a spark of the divine). Avraham clearly saw the fingerprints of the creator in the world. He saw the spark of Hashem in himself, and he was then able to see the spark of Hashem in others. Only those who recognise their own G-dly soul will recognise it in the human beings around them. Avraham and Sarah’s kindness wasn’t simply to help those less fortunate than themselves, they saw the divine spark in every human being, and they treated their guests like royalty, impressing upon them their own self-worth and uniqueness. Their kindness was designed to uplift people, to raise them up to recognise their inner greatness.
This is different to how most of us see others. We usually have zero tolerance for those who are slightly different to us in any way. We need to follow the example of our patriarchs and matriarchs in doing true acts of kindness by seeing G-d’s presence in the world, identifying the divine spark in ourselves, and recognising it in others.
In the brave steps of Abraham
In this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, we read about the first Jew, Avraham, who resisted the tide of paganism, idolatry, and immorality. Society had moved away from monotheism and Avraham’s beliefs were ridiculed. However, Avraham stayed the course and in spite of great personal risk and at the cost of ostracism from his family, he spread the belief in one G-d.
The portion opens with G-d giving Avraham a direct command to travel out of his homeland and away from his family in order to spread his newfound message. G-d’s command to Avraham in this verse can additionally be seen as a command to us to leave the comfort of our insular lives and venture out to the world at large to transform it into a G-dly place.
While we may be satisfied by staying within the safe confines of the Judaism that we have grown up with, it’s no recipe for growth. G-d therefore tells us that if we enter the real world, our full inner potential will be realised, and our true, best selves will come to the fore.
Fighting the prevailing attitudes of the day has never been easy, but as Jews, we can be reassured that our forefathers have travelled this path before us. The Midrash teaches that “the actions of the fathers are a signpost for the children”. Another translation of the word siman or “signpost” is “empowerment”, and the Midrash teaches us that by risking their lives to spread the belief in one G-d, our forefathers made it easier for us to follow their example.
At this time of year, when we have hopefully been inspired by a month of festivals and are thinking about moving forward in our Judaism, we can be confident that we are following the advice of tried and tested authorities all the way back to Avraham.
My kind of hero
The world loves a hero. Every season, Hollywood invents new superheroes to fill the box-office coffers. Today, we even have a Jewish girl as the latest superhero. Now, superheroes are fantastic, but you’ve got to admit, they’re over the top, rather otherworldly and, realistically speaking, out of touch and out of reach. We can fantasise about flying through the skies in our capes, climbing skyscrapers with our webs, saving the world, or rescuing damsels in distress, but at the end of the day, it’s nothing more than wistful daydreaming. What bearing does it have on me and my life, me and my problems? Not much.
That’s why Noah always appealed to me. He comes across as a real-life hero, real in the sense of being human rather than superhuman and therefore realistically possible to emulate.
Rashi describes Noah as a man of small faith who had doubts whether the flood would really happen. He didn’t enter the Ark until the rains started and the floodwaters pushed him in. That explains why some people look down on Noah, especially when they compare him to other Biblical giants, like Abraham or Moses.
Personally, this is what makes Noah my kind of hero. He’s real. He’s human. He has doubts, just like you and me. Noah is a regular guy, plagued by doubts, and struggles with his faith. Which is precisely what makes him a hero. Because the fact is that, at the end of the day, his personal uncertainties notwithstanding, Noah does the job. He has faults and foibles, but he builds the Ark, shleps in all the animals, saves civilisation, and goes on to rebuild a shattered world. Doubts, shmouts, he did what had to be done!
Noah could easily be the guy next door. He is one of us. His greatness is, therefore, achievable. It’s not “pie in the sky”. His heroism can be emulated. If Abraham and Moses seem the superhero types too far-fetched for us ordinary mortals to see as practical role models, then Noah resonates with realism. After all, he had his doubts too, just like you and me.
There is an old Yiddish proverb that nobody died from an unanswered question. We can live with unanswered questions. It’s not the end of the world. The main thing isn’t to allow ourselves to become paralysed by our doubts. We can still do what must be done, in spite of our doubts.
Noah, the reluctant hero, reminds us that you don’t have to be fearless to get involved. You don’t have to be a tzaddik to do a mitzvah. You don’t have to be holy to keep kosher, nor do you have to be a professor to come to a shiur.
His faith may have been shaky. Perhaps he was a bit wobbly in the knees. But the bottom line is, he got the job done. My hero.
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