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Salt, fat, acid – and Pesach heat

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LAUREN BOOLKIN

By mastering these four variables, Nosrat found the confidence to trust her instincts in the kitchen and cook delicious meals with any ingredients. That, for me, is the essence of Pesach cooking. Follow these four principles (read fatty flap rather than flat-iron) and you will leave the table happy and satisfied even without the bread.

Over Pesach, I try to stay away from preservative laden bottled sauces. Fresh herbs are easily available, and they lend an incredible depth of flavour to your food.

KNEIDEL SHOOTERS

Or soup and kneidlach if you haven’t lost the plot like me

Chicken soup

Ingredients

4 pieces of top rib

1 small chicken

1 packet of soup greens

1 onion

1 packet ready chopped pumpkin (about 400g)

Method

Wash the chicken well. Put it into a large pot, and cover with cold water. Bring it to the boil, and then throw off the water. This will yield a scum free soup. Return them to the pot with your washed and peeled soup greens, pumpkin, and peeled onion. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, and then reduce heat and let your stock simmer for five hours. Top up with boiling water to keep the level constant.

After five hours, strain your stock. Discard the chicken and vegetables. I also refrigerate my stock overnight. A layer of fat will form on top. I discard it before freezing.

The stock will be strong so you can divide it in two, and freeze.

When you are ready to serve it, defrost your stock. Add three or four Massel’s chicken cubes (or Telma for Pesach) and salt to taste. If your soup is bland, add extra cubes and salt.

Kneidlach

These kneidlach come from a dear friend, and I guarantee you they won’t flop as long as you do not open the lid during the 25-minute cooking time.

Yields 25 mini kneidlach or 14 whoppers

Ingredients

4 eggs

4 level Tbsp schmaltz

4 Tbsp water at room temperature

Salt and pepper

2 pinches cinnamon

14 rounded Tbsp matzo meal

Method

Beat eggs. Add schmaltz and water. Add matzo meal, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Wet your hands and roll the mixture into walnut size balls (or golf balls if you want bigger). Place into your fast boiling soup. Put on the lid, and switch your stove to low (three quarters). Boil gently for 25 minutes without opening to look. Serve in a shooter spoon or in your steaming bowl of soup.

HERBY FLAP WITH BEETY LATKES

You can use a whole piece of flat-iron steak with the sinew removed. Sear it, and place it on indirect heat. Not directly on the hot tray. Rather go for the flap if you can, as it will remain juicier.

Flap

One flap feeds 10 people thinly sliced. Double the marinade for more.

Marinade

1 cup sunflower oil

½ cup lemon juice

2 cloves garlic crushed

3 Tbsp parsley finely chopped

½ cup spring onions chopped

Heaped tsp salt (you may need more)

Black pepper

Method

Blend all the marinade ingredients together in a food processor or with a whisk. Taste for seasoning, as you may need more salt or lemon juice. Marinade the meat for 24 to 48 hours rubbing the marinade into the meat twice daily. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees centigrade, and cook the meat uncovered for 20 minutes a side. Wrap in tinfoil and for Shabbat purposes, keep warm on the hot tray using indirect heat. For example, put it on top of the tzimmes bowl. Slice thinly, and serve surrounded by the beety latkes.

You can also cook the flap on a braai for 40 minutes turning every 10 minutes.

Latkes

Ingredients

500g potatoes peeled and grated with the water squeezed out in a strainer

1 egg

1 onion peeled and chopped

⅓ cup matzo meal

Salt and pepper

500g sweet potato peeled and grated with the water squeezed out in a strainer

1 egg

1 onion peeled and chopped

⅓ cup matzo meal

Salt and pepper

Method

Heat a little sunflower oil in a non-stick pan, and fry the latkes in colour batches until crisp and golden. These can be made in the morning, and left uncovered on paper towel and reheated.

FENNEL SALAD

Ingredients

8 baby fennel bulbs

2 packets of rocket

1 packet asparagus

1 cup sugared nuts (or toasted pistachios)

Avocado

2 pears

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup brown sugar

Ingredients for dressing

½ cup light olive oil

2½ tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard (there is a kosher for Pesach mustard, the use of which is varied as it may contain kitniot (grains and seeds). Omit if you need to.

1 clove garlic

1 tsp salt

Black pepper

Juice from the caramelised pears and the leftover brown sugar and lemon (about 1/8 cup of each)

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade. Peel and core the pears, and cut them lengthwise.

Dip all slices of the pears in lemon juice, and then brown sugar.

Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet lined with baking paper, and roast until they begin to caramelise. Turn them over to caramelise the other side.

Coat asparagus with a small amount of olive oil and roast in the oven until slightly charred. Leave to cool.

Cut the fennel bulbs into thin longitudinal slices. Soak in ice water for about 30 minutes. Drain and dry. Arrange the rocket in your bowl. Top with the fennel slices and nuts. Just before serving, cut the avocado into wedges, add your caramelised pears, and dress.

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