Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Passover Astoria!

Tonight is the first night of Passover and I'm excited. I love this holiday not only because of the good family and friends time that it brings, but also because of the delicious food, including plenty of dairy, fruit, nuts and chocolate.

I'll be attending a Manhattan Seder , hosted by friends, Gina and Joe. Gina is a fantastic cook whose Bolognese sauce I often brag about and Joe is a professional chef. To say that I'm looking forward to tonight's dinner is an understatement. I'm contributing a couple of dishes too--Matzo stuffing and chocolate covered matzo. We'll see how it all comes out and I'll report back with feedback and pictures.

In the meantime, I wanted to mention the below recipe for Matzo Sweet Kugel, which I'll be making for tomorrow's Seder with my family. My mom sent it to me by way of my aunt Hela, who recently took a Passover cooking class. It sounds delicious but involves a lot of pre-preparation. The picture above is my aunt's but I'll include my own tomorrow after it's done. Wish me luck--and if you're so inclined, try it yourself.

Matzo Sweet Kugel

Do ahead recipe - Preheat oven to 350 degrees - Preparation time 20 minutes - Yield 16

This is a very simple "do ahead" type of recipe. It is required that you refrigerate the Matzo Kugel overnight or at least 3 hours prior to cooking. Preparation time is about 20 minutes, and it is suggested to prepare the Kugel in the morning. You will need to use a 9" x 13" glass baking dish.

Prepare the Matzo by
wetting it and storing it overnight in the refrigerator between wet sheets of paper towels. Trim the edges of the Matzo to save for topping the Kugel at the end. Some brands of Matzo have burnt edges but they make for a fantastic cinnamon/sugar topping. Be sure to cut the edges and set aside for topping.

12 sheets of prepared Matzo (cut into 1/2" strips) - follow directions above for preparing Matzo
7 eggs (10 egg whites)
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of cottage cheese (light)
1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of white raisins
3 cups of milk (1% lowfat)
8 tablespoons of melted butter or margarine
2 cups of sour cream (light)

Beat the eggs well, then thoroughly mix all of the ingredients except for the prepared Matzo and raisins. Now that all is mixed, fold in the Matzo and the raisins. Pour mixture into a 9" x 13" glass baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least for 3 hours. You will find that the consistency will be loose before refrigeration, but it will set when chilled.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the topping, which will require the following ingredients:

Topping Ingredients:
2 cups of reserved Matzo edges (cut into 1/2" strips)
1/4 cup of vanilla
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
4 tablespoons of butter/margarine

Topping Directions:
Mix the vanilla, sugar and cinnamon until the sugar granules are dissolved. Fold in Matzo and let soak for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dot the Kugel with butter or margarine. Evenly distribute the Matzo edges on the Kugel (sprinkle with separate mixture of 2 tablespoons of sugar plus 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon) and bake in a pre-heated oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until golden brown on top.

Note - Use vegetable cooking spray to coat the pan to prevent sticking.

Enjoy and have a happy and healthy Passover!

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