New Recipe: Ideas for the sacred meals of Passover, Easter

Good morning, good company. The request basket was so full last week that we are going to repeat a few. Vegetables came first, and will be coming soon to CSA baskets in the area. How do you prepare root vegetables, and then the colorful veggies of spring?

How about some ideas for food bowls created with grains, nuts and seasonal vegetables? And finally, what are some recipes, organizing plans and meal ideas for sharing food with those in needful seasons of life? “Take them a meal,” the email invites you, if you are a neighbor, a fellow church member, a friend. How do you do that well?

 

SIMPLE CAKE

A simple-to-prepare cake, fit for a feast, came this week from the table of Betsy Alderman.

Chocolate Chip Cake

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

2 small boxes instant chocolate pudding and pie mix

1/2 cup canola oil (or other nonflavored oil)

1 1/2 cups water

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (12-ounce) package chocolate chips

Mix together all ingredients except the chips, and beat 2 minutes. Fold in the chocolate chips, and pour into a greased and floured Bundt or tube pan. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Cool 20 minutes in pan.

Optional glaze: 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk. (I find this cake does not need the glaze at all.)

 

FLAVORFUL DESSERT

In a sheaf of recipes from Jody Poindexter of Flintstone, Georgia, there remained this recipe that seems ideal for this week’s celebrations.

Amaretto Dessert

1 stick butter or margarine

1 cup self-rising flour

3/4 cup pecans

8 ounces softened cream cheese

3 tablespoons amaretto liqueur

1 large container Cool Whip, divided

1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups milk

2 (3-ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding

Toasted slivered almonds

Combine margarine or butter, flour and pecans in a 9- by 13-inch pan, and cook at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Take out of oven, and cool. Mix softened cream cheese, amaretto, 1 cup Cool Whip and powdered sugar, and spread on the bottom layer. Using the 3 cups milk, mix pudding according to instructions on box, and spread on cream cheese mixture. Spread Cool Whip over pudding layer, and place almonds on top of dessert. Refrigerate.

 

LEVANTINE SALAD

The following recipe from David Lebovitz was featured in a newsletter from missionaries Michael and Carli Snyder. Every year they send favorite recipes and downloadable art to their supporters as thank-you presents, and it’s a real gift, as Carli Snyder is an excellent cook and artist.

If sumac is an unfamiliar ingredient, here is some background.

“Sumac is associated mainly with Middle Eastern cooking. It adds a tart note to foods, similar to lemon and other citrus fruits, though some say its flavor is like fresh apples. Along with the flavor, sumac gives your dishes a bright red color. It will give a citrus flavor in a dry rub for meat that you intend to grill or smoke.”

Buttermilk Fattoush

For making the salad ahead of time, you can prepare most of the ingredients in advance; dress the sumac onions, put all the chopped ingredients (except the bread) in a large bowl, and mix up the dressing separately. Then toss everything together just before serving.

For the sumac onions:

1 medium onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a bit more if necessary

1 1/2 teaspoons sumac

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

In a small bowl mix the onions with olive oil, sumac and salt. If the onions seem a little dry, add a touch more olive oil until they are glistening. Set aside.

For the salad:

3 small Persian cucumbers, peeled and diced in 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt for the cucumbers, plus 1 1/4 teaspoons for seasoning the salad

3 large tomatoes, diced in 1/2-inch pieces (or substitute quartered or halved cherry tomatoes)

12 radishes, sliced

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

1 cup packed flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

2 large toasted or stale flatbreads, such as pita, crumbled (see note)

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons sumac, plus 1/2 teaspoon for serving

Freshly ground black pepper

Note: Fattoush often uses stale or day-old bread, which often isn’t as crisp as bread that’s lightly oven-toasted. To make the toasted bread, put the flatbreads directly on the rack of a moderate oven (about 350 degrees) for a few minutes to dry them out.

Put the diced cucumbers in a strainer or colander, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and let stand over a bowl for 10 to 15 minutes, to drain away some of the liquid. (Don’t let them sit too long, though, as you don’t want them to get soggy.)

Put the tomatoes, radishes, mint, parsley, thyme and crumbled flatbread in a large bowl. Blot the drained cucumbers with a paper or kitchen towel, then add them along with the buttermilk, 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons sumac, half the sumac onions and several good grinds of black pepper.

Mix everything together, then transfer to a serving platter. Strew the remaining sumac onions over the salad, drizzle with a little extra olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sumac. Serve immediately. This recipe makes about 4 servings as a main course, 6 servings as a side salad.

 

VINAIGRETTE

Here’s another way with avocados, from Jon McKeachie. You will note that this recipe feeds a crowd, so may need dividing for home use.

Bacon Avocado Vinaigrette

2 cups avocado oil

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 cup bacon grease

1/2 cup cooked chopped bacon

1 ripe, peeled, small-diced avocado

Salt and pepper to taste

In a blender on high speed, blend together oils, vinegar and bacon grease. Add bacon and avocado; they can be pureed into the vinaigrette or left in small pieces.

Taste, and add salt and pepper to finish.

 

SACRED CELEBRATIONS

This is both Passover Week and Easter Week in the Jewish and Christian calendars; that means meals that are sacred and celebratory. Today I remember one of those unforgettable repasts. Not many years ago Fifi and Joel Ginsberg and their daughters Paige and Cara welcomed an assortment of friends, young and old, Jewish and gentile, to celebrate the Passover Seder meal in their Signal Mountain home. In this place, joy and merriment suffused the ancient rites of their Jewish faith. And every single food had a mighty meaning, as did their warm inclusion of a variety of guests. This year Cara (now Lubin) hosted her first Seder meal in the Lubin family’s Atlanta home. Another lesson straight from the Exodus story that Passover observes: Remember, pass it around and pass it on.

 

FEEDBACK AMONG FRIENDS

Marybeth Williams of Signal Mountain sent a note to the Alderman home, commending Betsy Alderman’s coffee-marinated chuck roast printed last week. Ms. Williams wrote, “I tried the chuck roast recipe, and it was delicious. I’ll definitely be making it again. Thanks to her for sharing it.”

It’s all about the sharing, you gracious people, and that includes telling us what worked well in your kitchen. Thank you, thank you.

 

REQUESTS

* Vegetable recipes

* Food bowls

* Food sharing ideas

 

TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

Email: chattfare@gmail.com

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