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Absolutely and Positively Exclusive to the Winnipeg Jewish Review

by Mrs. Kaye Replach, (if you read my name quickly it sounds like kreplach) April 13, 2011

Well, another year has passed and I have several more grey hairs for a variety of reasons none of which have anything to do with Passover. Nonetheless, the idea of cooking for Passover always seems daunting, especially for those of us like me who can only aspire to be labeled a mediocre cook. So, what better way to embrace Passover and overcome those insecurities than by perusing Pam Reiss’s Passover, a Kosher collection. A quick flip through the book reminds me of how many recipes there are relatively straightforward.

Let’s consider the Roasted Asparagus for example: The preamble to the recipe says “this is a simple recipe – and when you can get good asparagus simple is the way to go.” I wholeheartedly agree and given my previously noted culinary mediocrity, I should probably extend that simplicity concept to most of the dishes that I make.  This recipe has only 4 ingredients consisting of asparagus, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Cook time is 10 minutes so you can start preparations at 5:30 pm on the day of and still have time to relax with a glass of Blackberry manishevitz before the seder. The recipe makes reference to the asparagus as being young and thin, the size of a pencil. I would submit a lot of us aspire to have the same features as Pam Reiss’s asparagus but its easier said than done, especially with all those nagging grey hairs.

While I didn’t notice it right away, adjacent to the Roasted Asparagus recipe, are Roasted Vegetables in a marinade primarily of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and garlic. This side dish sounds delicious but the preparation seems somewhat more involved than the Roasted Asparagus. While the asparagus is consistent in to both recipes, the vegetable assortment calls for assorted bell peppers in assorted colors, zucchini and mushrooms. Pam Reiss suggests that the vegetables should be cooked separately due to different cook rates so if my math is right this recipe could take up to an hour and a half. There is also the risk that in my impatient state I will nibble at the cooked vegetables so that by the time the later ones are roasted the serving size will be considerably smaller than I originally anticipated. 

Another recipe that appealed to me was the Spinach Dip.  While I ordinarily like my spinach dip to be situated in the middle of a dark pumpernickel, in the spirit of Passover the preamble to this recipe recommends this as a nice dip for fresh vegetables. Given that it always seems hard to find snack food on Passover, the dip sounds like a nice idea. Main ingredients include red onion, spinach leaves, cream cheese and sour cream. Preparation time for this also appears to be between 15 –20 minutes but Pam Reiss recommends letting the dip sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

The one recurring Passover nightmare I have is desert.  After an unfortunate mixup with an indecipherable apple kugel and an apple crisp which continues to haunt me, I have developed a bit of a phobia for Passover desert preparation. My policy in general is that if I cannot make the non-Passover version of desert in acceptable form, then I certainly will not try the Passover version. This rules out any “meringuey” type deserts or for that matter anything with separated egg whites or things that need to be “folded in”.  The possibilities I see for me this year are the banana chocolate chip loaf or the carrot cake. I’ll let you know how they turned out next year.
For those who are more adventurous or patient cooks (or more skilled for that matter) there are a number of recipes that genuinely look to be very appealing.

Fortunately for me and those that have to put up with my cooking, I took my turn this year for Rosh Hashanah and have the luxury of being invited out for both seders. For the rest of you, though,  pick up your copy and get moving. I will be bringing the asparagus side so I’ve got lots of time--and hopefully my asparagus will not taste like green pencils, but  only look like them.

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