Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Three weeks to for the soul

And by that I mean the Jewish Holiday Causing the Most Mental Anguish.

Here comes Pesach!

To make it all better, here's my recipe for Raspberry Brownies (suitable for Ashkenazim)

Nonstick vegetable spray
16 Tablespoons "light" olive oil
12 Tablespoons cocoa
4 (large) eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
1 cup cake meal (like matzah meal, but more finely ground)

Preheat oven to 325. Spray 9" x 13" inch shallow metal pan with nonstick spray.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and blend well.

Bake brownies until tester inserted comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 18-20 minutes.

If these are not moist enough for you, I would suggest either upping the amount of jam or adding a little more olive oil (a teaspoon). The original (nonpesach) recipe calls for berry liqueur--if available that's nice too (a tablespoon or 2).

For lovers of all things chocolate, especially easy and impressive chocolate cakes, the recipe from which this was adapted is superb.

The one year Taxman and I cleaned our apartment (Hell.on.Earth.) and actually stayed home for part of Pesach, we hosted a meal and served these brownies as dessert. (A granita would be a nice touch, not that I did that.) Other menu items included Strawberry-Pear Soup and poached salmon with mango salsa. How I remember this, I have no's taking up space along with the John Hughes movies, I guess.

Strawberry-Pear Soup (serves 4-6)

4 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
1/2 cup water
2 ripe pears, cored and cut into medium dice
3/4-1 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/4 cup white sugar

Using an immersion or regular blender (I used a food mill one year--more trouble than it's worth), puree strawberries with water, diced pears, and apple juice. Add lemon juice and sugar to taste; how much sugar is necessary will depend on the berries themselves. Serve very cold with strawberry slices for garnish if you're feeling fancy.

To be honest, I have no recollection where I got the recipe from, but I've changed it enough from the original that I don't feel like I am stepping on any toes.

The main course was salmon poached in white wine, in a recipe I cribbed from one of my mom's cookbooks. I don't remember if it was from the Joy of Cooking or the New York Times cookbook (most likely candidates). I'm sure everyone has their own favorite recipe for that. We served mango salsa (replacing the serrano with a jalapeno) as a topping.

The frustrating part about Pesach is that there are so few starchy options. No pasta, no rice, no bulghur, no barley. Just lots of potatoes. Quinoa, because it is a seed that grows with grasses, not grains, it is actually acceptable for Pesach. But I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would bring it into their house on Pesach without Passover certification, which I've yet to find. If I were willing to check all the seeds, I might be able to swing it, but this year I'm going to be a little busy.

So for now, it's a lot of meat, fish, potatoes, eggs, fruit and veggies. And Pesach is the one time of year I treat myself to salted butter. And brownies, of course. Lots of brownies.

No comments: