Passover Delights

Host Frank Stasio speaks with The State of Things resident foodie Kelly Alexander and Marcie Cohen Ferris, author of “Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South” (UNC Press/2005) which was recently nominated for a prestigious James Beard Foundation Book award. Marcie and Kelly describe the seder table, the symbolic food and how to improve traditional Passover fare. (12:00)

Recipes mentioned on the show:

Keftes de Pressa

3 sheets matzoh
2 cups water
3 medium or 4 small leeks
1 1/2 c salted water
2 lb ground lamb
4 eggs; beaten
1 ts cumin
1 ts turmeric
1 ts salt
1 ts pepper
2 ts garlic; finely chopped
Olive oil for frying
Lemon wedges for garnish

1. Soak matzoh sheets in water to soften.
2. Cut off roots from bulb end of leeks. Remove tough outer leaves and trim off tops. Slice lengthwise and wash thoroughly under running water. Slice into 1/2″ pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add leeks, and simmer 10 minutes or until leeks are tender. Drain in a colander, then squeeze all water from leeks.
3. Take matzoh from water, tear into small pieces. Combine it with the ground lamb, the eggs, and all the seasonings; add leeks, and blend together gently. Shape into meatballs.
4. Flatten meatballs a little and fry in 1/4″ oil until brown on all sides. Add more oil to pan when necessary.
Serve with lemon wedges or red wine

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Adapted from recipes and advice from Carmela Mager and Viviane Alchech Miner.

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
1 cup freshly brewed espresso or 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 cup water
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
8 large eggs, beaten to blend
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
2. Line bottom of 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with parchment. Place all chocolate in large bowl. Bring butter, espresso and sugar to boil in medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add to chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly. Whisk in eggs.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake until center of cake is set and tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour. Remove pan from water. Chill cake overnight.
4. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Using oven mitts as aid, hold pan bottom over low heat for 15 seconds, warming slightly to release cake. Place platter over pan. Hold pan and platter together tightly and invert. Lift off cake pan; peel off parchment.
Serve with fresh whipped cream and fresh berries.

Serves 20.

Adapted from Bon Appétit, September 1995

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