Everyone is familiar with the Four Questions asked at the Seder, but here is the big question that is on most people’s minds before the Seder: “How do I use up all that chametz in my kitchen so I don’t have to throw it out?”
When you realize that Pesach is just around the corner, it brings panic into the hearts of many. People become frustrated at how much food they end up throwing away and vow to do better next year. For very large families who go through their supplies of groceries quickly, getting rid of the chametz may not be a problem, but it often is for small families, couples, and singles.
My friend, food writer Sue Epstein of Efrat, Israel is the author of “Budget Cooking – Elegant Dining.” Each year, a few weeks before Pesach arrives, Sue goes through her kitchen cupboards and sets aside the chametz. She then earmarks one cabinet for the things she wants to use up and plans her recipes and meals around these items. Here are some of Sue’s wonderful tips and recipes for using up your chometz for your pre-Pesach enjoyment. I’ve also included two of my own favorites for your eating pleasure!
- Make bread puddings for dessert
- Make a savory bread/challah kugel instead of potato kugel
- Make French toast for breakfast or week-night suppers. This can be made ahead and frozen. Simply reheat it in the toaster oven or microwave
- Make SUE’S HOOTSLA (recipe below). This is a Scandinavian omelet that uses 10 to 12 slices of stale bread or challah cut into cubes
- Make NORENE’S STUFFING CASSEROLE (recipe below)
- Clean the inside of your coffee pot with vinegar to remove residue if you live in an area with hard water
- Use vinegar in the water to mop your floor – it will leave a beautiful shine
- Make homemade salad dressings
- Make CHUNKS OF CHICKEN IN SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE (recipe below)
- Make MOCK LEMON PIE (recipe below)
- Make rice pudding for dessert
- Make a rice kugel instead of potato kugel
- Make NORENE’S TUNA, RICE AND BROCCOLI KUGEL (recipe below)
Sue’s Hootsla (Bread Cube Omelet):
- ¾ cup butter or margarine
- 10 to 12 slices bread, crusts included, cut into cubes
- 5 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- Melt the butter or margarine in a large, heavy frying pan over moderate heat. Add the bread cubes and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Quickly beat the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper and pour into the frying pan. Cook for about five minutes over moderate heat, or just until the eggs are slightly browned underneath and softly set on top. As the eggs cook, lift the cooked portion around the edges, tilting the frying pan so that the raw egg on top runs underneath to cook.
- Cut into wedges or spoon out and serve.
Chunks of Chicken in Sweet and Sour Sauce
Enjoy these crispy, cornstarch-dredged bites of chicken with carrots, pineapple and peppers. Use light or dark brown sugar for the sweet and sour sauce if that’s what you have on hand, or substitute honey – they are equally delicious.
- 2 large whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water and ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup cornstarch (for coating the chicken)
- 6 Tablespoons oil, divided use
- 1 medium onion, cut into slim wedges
- 1 sweet red or green pepper, cut into strips
- 2 medium carrots, sliced thin
- ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar (or 1/3 cup honey)
- ½ cup vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons ketchup
- 1 (13½-oz.) can pineapple chunks (do not drain)
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup dry white wine or vermouth
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or drop of hot pepper sauce
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup COLD water
- Dip the chicken chunks in the egg mixture, then in cornstarch. Brown quickly in 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Remove to paper toweling with a slotted spoon.
- Add the remaining oil to the skillet and stir-fry the onion, red or green pepper, and carrots over moderate heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Add the sugar, vinegar, ketchup, pineapple, soy sauce, wine, and cayenne. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
- Mix the cornstarch paste into the skillet and heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear, about 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet and heat and stir for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve over boiled rice.
Mock Lemon Pie
6 to 8 servings.
It’s astonishing how much this vinegar pie tastes like lemon custard pie.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ½ cup butter or margarine, melted
- 3 large eggs or 6 large egg yolks
- 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl combine the sugars, flour and spices, pressing out any brown sugar lumps. Mix in the water, vinegar and melted butter or margarine, then blend in the eggs.
- Pour into the unbaked pie shell and bake for about 1 hour, or until the filling is puffed and tinged with brown. Cool the pie to room temperature before cutting.
A wonderful way to use up bread before Pesach is with the following recipe for this scrumptious Stuffing Casserole. And try my Tuna, Rice and Broccoli Kugel.
For some wonderful Passover recipes, visit my website at http://www.gourmania.com – lots of food for thought!
Norene’s Stuffing Casserole
6 to 8 servings.
- 5 cups soft bread crumbs or 10 slices of bread
- 2 Tablespoons oil or margarine
- 2 medium onions, halved
- 1 green bell pepper, cut in chunks
- 2 stalks celery, cut in chunks
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 3 eggs (or 2 eggs plus 2 egg whites)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Dash of freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- In a food processor fitted with the Steel Blade, make crumbs from stale bread or rolls. Tear bread into chunks and drop through the feed tube while the machine is running. Process until fine crumbs are formed. Measure 5 cups crumbs, loosely packed.
- Heat oil or margarine in a large nonstick skillet. Meanwhile, process onions with quick on/offs, until coarsely chopped. Add to skillet. Repeat with bell pepper, then celery, then mushrooms, adding each in turn to the skillet. Brown vegetables quickly on medium-high heat. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Process eggs for 2 or 3 seconds. Add with bread crumbs and remaining ingredients to skillet and mix well. Place in a sprayed 7 x 11-inch glass baking dish.
- Bake uncovered in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden brown.
Variation: To use as a stuffing for veal brisket or turkey, omit baking powder and increase mushrooms to 2 cups. Add ½ teaspoon each of dried sage and dried thyme.
Source: The Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz.
Norene’s Tuna, Rice and Broccoli Kugel
This light and healthy kugel is excellent to serve to family or friends. It’s perfect for a buffet or brunch and is a delicious way to use up rice, yogurt and cheese before Passover. Instead of tuna, salmon can be substituted.
- 2 cups water
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 3 cups broccoli, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 (6½ oz./184 g) can water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 3 eggs plus 2 egg whites (or 1 cup egg substitute)
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 cup nonfat or low-fat yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon each of basil and oregano
- 1 cup grated low-fat mozzarella or Swiss cheese
- 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- In a medium saucepan, bring water and a dash of salt to a boil. Add rice, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
(Alternatively, microwave rice, water and salt covered on HIGH for 6 to 7 minutes, reduce power to 50% (MEDIUM); microwave 10 to 12 minutes longer, until water is absorbed)
- Let rice stand covered for 10 minutes using either cooking method
- Microwave broccoli and onion covered on HIGH for 4 minutes. Let stand covered for 2 minutes. Broccoli should be tender-crisp. Combine with remaining ingredients except Parmesan cheese and mix well.
- Spread evenly in a lightly greased or sprayed 7×11-inch Pyrex casserole. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. (Can be prepared in advance up to this point, covered and refrigerated for several hours or overnight.) Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown.
Reheats well and/or may be frozen.
Source: Healthy Helpings by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap Books)
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.