Passover is coming up at the end of this week. With Passover it’s all about the Seder, right? Complete with a plate of matzoh, a Seder plate holding traditional symbolic foods, and a Haggadah at every plate to read the account of the Jews’ experience in Egypt and their liberation from the bonds of slavery.

Well, yes, Passover is focused on the Seder. But what happens after that when there’s an entire week in which observant Jews are expected to refrain from eating leavened breads along with a variety of grains? Fortunately, Passover coincides with the beginning of spring and with spring comes spring produce—asparagus, strawberries, artichokes, fava beans, and the like. So, why not create a Passover brunch for Jewish clients that celebrates a new season?

Growing up, my parents would treat us kids—and themselves, of course—to matzoh brei, or fried matzoh. My orientation is toward the savory so I have always loved the plump, crispy pieces of matzoh that emerge from the pan sprinkled with salt. To be honest, it doesn’t look like much and there’s just no dressing it up, but trust me, it’s delicious. And this is what I’ve long liked to serve for my Passover brunches with cold poached asparagus and horseradish sauce. And lots and lots of brilliant red juicy strawberries.

Now I’ve seen a lot of versions of matzoh brei that tend to be more of a matzoh omelet than what I make. Not my thing. Fortunately, it’s simply a matter of changing the ratio of eggs to matzoh. I like the matzoh pieces simply coated with egg so the ratio I use is one egg to two pieces of matzoh. All you do is break up the matzoh into bite-sized pieces, put them in a large bowl, and cover with hot water. Let the matzoh pieces soak in the water for a few minutes to soften and before they get too soggy, drain the water. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the matzoh, then gently stir the mixture together so each piece of matzo is coated with egg. Heat a large skillet (cast iron skillets are great for this), add vegetable oil to about ¼ of an inch and when a little piece of the mixture sizzles when it’s added to the oil, pour the rest of the mixture in. Stir and break up the pieces as they cook. The matzoh brei is ready when the individual pieces of matzoh puff up and are golden and crispy.

Then comes some decision making. Do you serve the matzoh brei with sugar and/or applesauce or salt and pepper and/or sour cream? It’s the classic Jewish conundrum (think potato pancakes at Chanukah). Resolve it according to taste or be a mensch and put it all out for your guests.

Here’s a different option for the menu: Sweet Matzo Fritters.

These fritters, created by Chef Jeff Rossman of San Diego restaurant Terra, were a fun surprise. I hadn’t used matzoh like this before. Let it soak and soak and the matzoh collapses into a dough-like substance. The recipe calls for raisins but I didn’t have a bag of raisins. I did have a Trader Joe’s medley of raisins, dried cranberries, and blueberries, and they worked just as well. Once I made them and had made up some whipped cream for strawberries, I tried them together and oh my…

Sweet Matzo Fritters
Jeff Rossman, Terra

Yield: 30 fritters, depending on the size you make them

4 ½ standard sized matzot, plain, whole wheat, or gluten free
3 large eggs separated
¾ cup finely chopped almonds or your favorite nut
1 cup raisins or currants
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons matzo cake meal
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Vegetable oil for frying

Topping:
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix sugar and cinnamon together for topping.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, break up the matzot into small pieces and cover with water. Let them soak until soft, about 15 minutes. Use your hands to squeeze the matzot dry of all excess water. Press the matzot with your fingers or with a fork and completely crush them. With a fork, mix in the egg yolks, almonds, raisins, oil, cinnamon, lemon juice, zest and cake meal.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating the whites until they form stiff white peaks. Fold the whites in the matzo mixture.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat enough frying oil so it comes up about ¼ to ½ inch up the sides. Drop generous spoonfuls of the batter into the oil. Fry the fritters until they are lightly browned on all sides, turning them once. Drain them on paper towels. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and serve with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Now, I know I’ve neglected Easter, but this week I plan to focus on lots of Easter recipes on our Facebook page, so go to the page, “like” it, and you’ll get a full stream of dishes to inspire you.

What kinds of dishes do your clients ask you to prepare for Passover?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

And if you are a member and have a special talent to share on this blog, let us know so we can feature you!

Charred Meyer Lemon Chutney

Filed under: Recipes , Tags: , , , — Author: Caron Golden , May 19, 2014

As personal chefs we’re awfully good at creating delicious, nutritious, ready-to-eat meals for clients. But how many of us also develop little extras that can lift an otherwise satisfying dish into something truly memorable? Extras like condiments–salsas, unique mustards, aioli, pickled vegetables, or some other treat?

Our friend Caron Golden, a food writer in San Diego, loves to meet with chefs in their kitchens so they can teach her a dish or technique, which she then shares with readers in her blog San Diego Foodstuff. About a year and a half ago she spent time in the kitchen of Terra, a restaurant in San Diego’s East County with a local, seasonal focus. Terra’s sous chef at the time, a young man named Pablo Ibarra, taught her how to make Charred Meyer Lemon Chutney. Winter, of course, is prime time for Meyer lemons–well, for citrus in general–although we still have Meyer lemons and conventional Eureka lemons on our trees and can generally find them year round.

Mise en place

This chutney is sublime with chicken, seafood, and pork. It’s got a mellow combination of tart and sweet. Make it with thicker skinned Eureka lemons and you get an additional intriguing bitterness, not unlike marmalade. This recipe calls for relatively few ingredients, but of course that means they have to be top quality.

Set up your mise en place with minced shallots, sliced green onions, sugar and salt. Neatly cut a couple of  lemons into quarter-inch slices, hold each slice up to the light to track down seeds, then use fork tines to pop them out.

You’ll need a couple of sauté pans, one for charring the lemons, the other for sautéing the shallots. Pour a bit of canola oil into each before firing up the burners. Once the pans heat up add the lemon slices into one, then toss the lemons around to get both sides blackened and sizzling. In the other pan, sauté the shallots, and then add the little caramelized pieces to the charred lemons.

Caramelized lemons

Next comes the sugar and salt–if you’re working with Eureka lemons, add a little extra lemon juice and sugar that the sweet juicy Meyers would otherwise provide. (You might also consider adding some chopped, sautéed chiles for heat.)

Just before removing the mixture from the heat, stir in the green onions. The chutney will be almost done, but there is one optional task left: chopping up the rings of lemons. Here, we used Eureka lemons and you can see they’re still fairly firm, but Meyer lemons would collapse. In this case you might choose leave them alone.

Pablo Ibarra’s Charred Meyer Lemon Chutney

2 Meyer lemons, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds, seeded
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt to taste
(Whole grain mustard)
Canola oil

1. Add oil to sauté pan (not nonstick) and heat to high temperature. Carefully add lemon slices and cook on both sides until browned.
2. Sauté shallots in a second pan until caramelized. Add to lemons, along with sugar and salt. Once the mixture begins to turn soft, add the green onions.
3. Remove from heat and chop the lemon peels. If you want to add a little spice or boldness, you can add a teaspoon or so of whole grain mustard.

Serve with tuna, any kind of firm white fish, pork tenderloin, or chicken (or spread on toast).

Grouper with Charred Lemon Chutney

Grouper with Charred Lemon Chutney

Do you make condiments for your clients that complement the meals you prepare for them? What are your/their favorites?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

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