Passover

sorbetdonutsAs a kid I always loved eating chocolate-covered jelly rings by the handful. I eagerly looked forward to that time of year when the grocery stores stacked towering boxes of them in the Passover aisle. I still love eating them, but now am glad that I can only find them once a year, otherwise I'd eat them all the time.

Last spring my friend Caroline introduced me to Uncle Louie G's Italian ices and ice cream shop in Brooklyn. Their many flavors are astounding, but what caught my eye that first visit was the chocolate jelly ring Italian ice. I knew right away that I would love it and there was no doubt that I would order it. As Passover rolled around this year I saw those towering boxes of jelly rings in the supermarket and the first thing that popped into my mind was that I had to make a dessert with them.

Here is my kosher for passover dessert, a rich chocolate sorbet made with high-quality melted chocolate and an entire box of chopped jelly rings stirred in. It's a bit different, and some of my Jewish friends may have thought I was crazy for doing it, but once you have a taste, you will surely understand my obsession.

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pate bowlIf you ask my Jewish husband, he’ll tell you that, until I married him, I “didn’t know from Jewish food.” And he’s right. As a girl who was raised a Southern Baptist in Texas, my experience with Jewish cuisine was limited to toasting a bagel.

But when we had children and decided to raise them respecting the traditions of both of our religions, I really got into it. Hannukah and Christmas, Passover and Easter, we celebrated all of the holidays that honored God and Food.

Until the year he told me he craved chopped chicken liver and I was at a loss.

Thankfully, my mother-in-law gave me an amazing cookbook, The Gefilte Variations, and I realized chopped chicken liver was just a version of French pate, something that even this shiksa could understand.

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passover.thumb Passover is around the corner. In the past, thinking about cleaning out my cupboards, omitting all the Chametz(anything made with wheat, barley, rye, spelt, or oats or any product that is made with these grains and left to stand raw for longer than eighteen minutes) was a daunting task. No cereal, bread, waffles, pancakes, and most cookies for 8 days. Matzoh is the “grain” of choice and there are only so many ways one can eat matzoh (before it totally clogs up your system – and we all know how that goes).

Over the past few years I have become much more rigid in observing Passover. Mostly because I wanted my children to respect the holiday, understand what it means to sacrifice, and hopefully teach discipline through our values and our heritage.

Regardless, it can be a constant struggle. Yet, by the 3rd day, they all settled into the challenge at hand (not dissimilar to a cleanse) thus, their consciousness rises to the occasion. This year it is going to be much easier. Most of what we give up for Passover has already been omitted and almost forgotten as we lean more toward a gluten free lifestyle. But still, gluten free means we can eat rice, legumes, and most grains. Not the case during Passover.

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shoppingart.jpg Waking up at 5am really worked for me this morning.  I got to Fairfax at 8:15 am, expecting to avoid the long lines and empty shelves typical of pre-Passover.  Apparently, so thought all the other conscientious Jewish hausfraus. 

First, I run into Melissa between the tomatoes and avocados in the vegetable store. We know each other from when our children were in elementary school.  Her cart was already piled full with onions, carrots, celery, etc… each item meticulously checked off on the list in her hand.  Seeing her reminds me of old times, a sweet, sad longing for when our children were young. We hug. I’m a little embarrassed because Melissa, as always, looks beautiful and put together, while I look like a schmata (rag) in an old sweatshirt and sweatpants. 

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grocery listYears ago I was a personal Chef in a private home in a very swank suburb of Boston. My sister got me the interview for the job, I liked the family immediately and they liked me. My job consisted of getting to work at 10 in the morning, quite civilized, I was the last of the “staff” to arrive at the house. I would head to the kitchen to pick up my list from the madame of the house and read the pages of notes and the menu for the dinner that evening.

There was always a shopping list and at the end of the pages she would underline that they were on a very low fat diet with an exclamation mark! A big part of my job was to bake cookies every day to be ready when the two kids came home from school and they had to be “fresh out of the oven”, my choice of what kind, but they had to be piping hot.

I was given an adorable MG convertible to tool around in with my many bags of grocery and a charge account at the local high-end grocery store. I would make dinner for 6 o'clock sharp, clean up and head home for dinner at a later hour. The first day on the job my sister called to ask how was it going so far and what was the house like?

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