Pesach Beets and Sweets
With the cleaning and scrubbing well underway (oh, to be finished) it is now time to concentrate on the kitchen, and the preparation of those special Pesach foods. Since beets are one of the most widely and traditionally used vegetable at this time of year, we will focus on them (and sneak in a little something sweet to serve for dessert.
As a kid, I never really enjoyed beets and this notion stayed with me into adulthood. Now that I have discovered so many tasty and beautiful recipes, beets feel like a whole new food to me and I have really started to like them. Beets have a dark, lovely reddish hue that adds a lot of color to any Pesach table, which is another one of their benefits. They are also loaded with healthy vitamins.
For all these recipes, you must first peel, and then wash off your beets thoroughly. Afterwards, chop them in four, once across, once down, and look at the insides. As long as there is no tunneling from fun little creatures such as white worms inside, they are fine. If you find what looks like long holes, or exactly that, tunnels, or even the little critters themselves, discard that particular beet and go on to the next one.
After the beets are peeled, washed and checked, place them in a medium sized pot, cover them with water, and boil them until soft, about 45 minutes. They are done when a fork inserted into one's center comes out easily. Turn off the flame, let them cool for 20 minutes, and then place them in the fridge. Beets slice and shred much easier when they have been refrigerated six hours or more first. This is why I personally like to boil my beets early on and then have them ready to go for the following day.
Another thing to know about beets is that they are very versatile; after being cooked and shredded, they can be frozen, together with a bit of their juices, for later use. This is the best part. You can peel and prepare all of them in one go, then whatever you don’t want to use just yet (say, for your borscht which you may want later on for a Chol HaMoed seuda, or your horseradish which you may want to put together only a few hours before the Seder), just place in plastic containers in the freezer, and defrost several hours before you would want to use them. They do not even need to be recooked or touched up in any way. Simply put them in a bowl and continue using them as if you had cooked them that day.
Tamar Ansh is an author, freelance recipe developer, and food columnist. Her articles have appeared in Jewish publications worldwide. She has published 4 books so far which include: Splitting the Sea (Targum Press), inspirational stories on finding one’s soul-mate; Let's Say Amen!, an illustrated children's book about the holiness of Amen (Feldheim Publishers); her first cookbook, A Taste of Tradition (Feldheim Publishers) which is both gluten free and kosher for Passover. Her most recent book is called A Taste of Challah (Feldheim Publishers, 2007). It is a photographic guide to baking and shaping beautiful challahs, and includes many other healthy and interesting bread types as well. Visit http://www.TasteofChallah.com to see all her books online, as well as other, not yet published, challah and bread recipes. She will be coming on a short book tour and speaking in two different places in the Tri-State area the week of March 4-9th! See her website for details and locations.
Beet Salad in Orange Sauce
4-5 beets, cooked and sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 Tablespoon vinegar (kosher for Passover)
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp. potato starch
small pinch of salt
Mix the potato starch with the orange juice in a small bowl to soften it. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. Place the mixture in a pot, close the lid and simmer on a low flame for 15-20 minutes. Stir and refrigerate. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Mandarin Orange Beet Salad
2- 2 1/2 cups cooked and shredded beets, which is about 3 medium sized beets
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice or vinegar
1/4 cup juice from what the beets were cooked in; or water, if you threw it out by accident
1 can mandarin orange pieces
1/4 cup almond slices
6 dried apricots, diced
1/3 cup white raisins, optional
1/4 -1/2 cup pine nuts for garnishing, optional
Mix together the beets, sugar, salt, juice and water. Refrigerate until serving. Right before serving, add in the rest of ingredients, tossing just a bit. Decorate with the mandarin orange slices arranged nicely on top, along with the pine nuts.
3 cups of cooked and shredded beets, drained
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup ground walnuts or almonds (optional)
1 T. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until a loose mixture is formed. Take out a large, open frying pan and grease it with a thin layer of oil. Heat the pan, then spoon out beet batter onto pan and let fry on first side until lightly browned. Flip over and fry on the second side the same way. Serve immediately. Although I wrote that the ground nuts are optional, they do add a nice texture and flavor. These serve great alone, or together with a small dollop of sour cream.
Apple Crumb Cake
2 & 1/2 cups. matzo meal
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup melted margarine (Note: I think this will work substituting the same amount of oil instead of margarine)
3 & 1/2 cups applesauce
3/4 cups raisins
1/2 cups chopped walnuts
Ginger to taste
Mix matzo meal, sugar and cinnamon. Blend in the margarine or oil. Brown the mixture at 350 for 15min. stirring occasionally. Press ¾ of the crumbs firmly on the bottom and 1 & 1/2” up the sides of a 9” springform pan. Mix applesauce, raisins, and nuts. Pour this mixture into the pan and spread it out evenly. Top with remaining crumb mixture and sprinkle with ginger. Bake at 350°F / 180°C for 1 hour. Cool 1 hour in the pan before removing from the pan, or simply remove the sides of the pan and serve as is.
Lemon Bavarian Mousse
My mother says emphatically that this recipe should only be done in a blender, not a food processor. This is a very tasty and refreshing dessert, and it really only took about 10 minutes tops to put together. This amount makes enough for one small trifle bowl, as shown. If you want more for a larger crowd, a typical larger trifle bowl size, do this three times. DO NOT attempt to double the recipe at once, it won’t fit in the blender. It works best when you first lay out all the ingredients in front of you, so you can work quickly without stopping.
14 gram package of unflavored gelatin (Kolatin is OU kosher for Passover and year round use)
(In Israel, it comes in a box, with two packets. Each packet is 14 grams. In the States, it comes in a box of two packets but each packet is 7 grams. Check your box. It will tell you the amount in grams whichever country you are in, and use it according to the amount listed.)
¼ cup tap water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice. It’s best if you’ve squeezed it yourself.
Grated rind of one lemon.
(This depends on the bug situation in your country and what your Rabbanim say. I did not use it here as the day I made this, all the lemons were very dirty. Even scrubbing did not take it off, so I left it out of the recipe. It was still delicious.)
½ cup boiling water
1 box Rich’s dessert whip, 8 oz. (the smaller size box)
2/3 cup sugar
1 & ½ cups ice cubes (If you don’t have crushed ice from your freezer, as I didn’t, just sort of measure them in a large measuring cup, I did it closer to 2 cups as my cubes were huge and there was a lot of space between them.)
Place the gelatin, tap water, lemon juice and the rind if you are using it in the blender. Blend well. Add the boiling water and blend for a minute at high speed.
Add the dessert whip, sugar and eggs. Blend again on high.
Add in the ice cubes a bit at a time and keep blending. You will see the mixture thicken and increase. Keep whirling your blender blades until the mixture is completely smooth. It’s best to use an on/off motion to keep the motor of your blender happy.
Pour it out into your small trifle bowl. If you are using a standard sized large trifle bowl, you’ll need to do this three times, in order to fill it to the top.
Leave this to set in the fridge for several hours or overnight, covered with plastic wrap.
To decorate, top with a few mint leaves and some berries of your choice. Blueberries and/ or strawberries look beautiful next to the rich yellow color of the mousse.
Serve and enjoy!!