Passover

ricottagnudiSpinach ricotta gnudi, made with no wheat flour, are my latest recipe, just in time for Passover. Since the Israelites had to flee their oppressors quickly they didn't have time to allow bread to rise, so the story goes. To commemorate that time, during Passover Jews eat foods made with matzo meal or matzo cake meal, but not with regular flour. Most other non-wheat flours are also not allowed.

Gnudi are a little larger and plumper than gnocchi but somewhat similar. Some people think of them as "ravioli without the pasta."  This recipe is very easy because you use one of those "blocks" of frozen spinach. The secret is getting as much water as possible out of the spinach. You want the dough to be very stiff.

Rolling the dumplings in potato starch also helps keep them from falling apart in the water when you boil them. Since I used potato starch instead of flour, these gnudi are also gluten free. I adapted my recipe from the Weelicious recipe for Spinach Gnocchi.

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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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noodle_kugel.jpgIt has to be the unsexiest of all Jewish foods, the Noodle Kugel.  If you say kugel with a nasally tone, it’s even more unsexy than previously mentioned.  The word kugel itself reminds me of kegel, another less than sexy term.  Maybe that’s the problem.

However, if you were to challenge me, indicating gefeltifish in a jar is the unsexiest of all Jewish food, I might secretly agree with you.  But for the moment, I’m going with kugel.

Now, with all of that said, I would like to go on the record proclaiming this particular Noodle Kugel, in all of its high piled noodle glory, as having the sexiest TASTE ever.  If you take a peek at the list of ingredients, you’ll see there is no way it could taste bad, it’s like dessert.  There is something about the crispy-sugared edges of the baked noodles on top that send you to kugel nirvana.  It’s sublime.  And please don’t try to tell me there is no place called “kugel nirvana” because I’ve been there.

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cake gf passover choc1aPassover is essentially a gluten free holiday. With the absence of wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and oats for 8 nights, creates limited choices. Protein and veggies are easy. It’s the carbs, the desserts, actually the stuff that most of us crave, thus find satisfying become absent. What I have found in creating a gluten free household is that mealtime as well as snack time is every bit as tasty, if not tastier than how we previously ate.

For my kids, Passover elicits emotions of dread and doom. However, this past week, as I tested and retested recipes, the kids were quite emotional about what was coming out of our kitchen. Even a failed attempt at a gluten free passover doughnut this morning, were gobbled up. Eli coined it a “makee” – a cross between a muffin and a cake and one of the best gluten free treats to date!

So, in testing recipes for the first night of Seder, I started with this Amaranth, Quinoa and Dark Chocolate Cake from La Tartine Gourmande. The first go around, I made it exactly according to the recipe. Delicious! Perfect! And it disappeared within minutes. But with 14 adults and 9 kids, sitting down to dinner, this wasn’t going to go very far.

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