Not Your Bubby’s Passover: OU Presents Delicious Recipes by Norene Gilletz

05 Mar 2013


Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She divides her time between work as a food writer, culinary consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer and editor. She lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at or email her at

Tradition, tradition! Every family has their favorite Passover recipes, tried and true dishes that have been passed down from generations past. These classic dishes bring back marvelous memories of meals shared over the years with family and friends. Passover just wouldn’t be the same without the traditional dishes that graced Bubby’s table: charoset, gefilte fish, chopped liver, matzo ball soup, meatballs, brisket, chicken, assorted kugels, potatoes of all sorts, matzo meal rolls, sponge cake, nut torte, jelly roll, macaroons and fruit compote.

You might ask, “Why is this Passover different from all others?” Your Bubby probably had a real carp swimming around in her bathtub, but today’s time-challenged balabusta is more likely to have several loaves of frozen gefilte fish in her freezer. There’s no need for her to grind the fish and shape it into balls. Instead, she puts the still frozen fish loaf into a pot of boiling water and the aroma fills the house, just as if it were made from scratch.

It’s always fun to try something different on Passover, so if you’re looking for some new twists on old traditions, look no further. Here are some non-traditional recipes that Bubby would never have dreamed of making. No one will believe that these innovative dishes are made with Passover ingredients, so don’t be surprised if people ask, “Are you sure this is Kosher for Passover?”


Adapted from: Norene’s Healthy Kitchen by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap Books)

Looks complicated—cooks easily! This layered loaf looks elegant and tastes terrific. You won’t have to fish for compliments when you serve this to your guests. They’ll fall for it—hook, line, and sinker! Bubby would have been impressed.

Fish Mixture:
2 loaves frozen gefilte fish loaf, thawed (22 oz/623 g each)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

First Layer:
1/3 of the Fish Mixture
1/2 cup seeded and diced red pepper
2 green onions, diced
2 Tbsp minced fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)

Second Layer:
1/3 of the Fish Mixture
1 pkg (10 oz/300 g) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 Tbsp minced fresh basil or parsley (or 1 tsp dried)

Third Layer:
1/3 of the Fish Mixture
1 medium sweet potato, cooked and mashed (or 1 cup cooked mashed carrots)
1 Tbsp minced fresh dillweed or parsley (or 1 tsp dried)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-×5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray.

2. Fish Mixture: In a large bowl, combine gefilte fish mixture, eggs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix well. Divide mixture in thirds and place in three separate bowls.

3. First Layer: Combine fish mixture, red pepper, green onions, and dill; mix well.

4. Divide in half and spread evenly in each prepared pan to make a first layer.

5. Second Layer: Combine fish mixture, spinach, and basil; mix well. Divide in half and spread evenly in each pan to make a second layer.

6. Third Layer: Combine fish mixture, sweet potato, and dill; mix well. Divide in half and spread evenly in each pan to make a third layer.

7. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour. When done, the top layer should be firm to the touch and the edges should pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

8. Loosen each loaf with a long flexible metal spatula and carefully invert onto an oblong serving dish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve chilled with horseradish, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

Yield: 2 loaves, 16 to 20 servings. Keeps 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator; don’t freeze.

Adapted from: Passover Made Easy by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek (Artscroll)

I’m sure that Bubby would have loved Leah Schapira’s creative way of using up leftover brisket! Leah writes: “I love eggrolls all year, and especially on Passover, when we can fill a crepe with any veggies, like sautéed shredded cabbage, kohlrabi and carrots, and fry them. This one, though, is an eggroll the men will especially love. They’re awesome, and you can use any leftover meat you want and turn them into this great appetizer.”

1/2 lb brisket (2 1/2 cups cooked shredded meat)
Salt to taste
Coarse black pepper to taste
1/4 cup oil, divided, plus more for frying
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch coarse black pepper
3 Tbsp orange juice
10 – 6-inch crepes (below)

1. You may skip the first step if you are using leftover meat. Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Sear brisket for 3 minutes on each side. Lower heat, cover and cook brisket for 1-1 1/2 hours, checking periodically. If meat seems to be burning, lower heat further.

2. Shred meat. Set aside.

3. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Sauté 5 additional minutes. Stir in orange juice, taste to adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and stir in shredded meat.

4. Prepare crepes as directed. (You’ll have more than you need so freeze extras or fill as desired.)

5. Place 2 Tbsp onion-meat filling towards the bottom-center of each crepe. Roll, eggroll-style: fold up bottom to cover filling. Fold in sides, then roll upward to close.

6. Heat 1 inch oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot (eggrolls should sizzle when slipped into the pan), fry eggrolls until golden, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Yield: 10 eggrolls

Make your own Passover teriyaki sauce: Combine 1 cup water, 1/4 cup imitation soy sauce, 3 Tbsp brown sugar and 1 minced garlic clove in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Add 2 Tbsp potato starch dissolved in cold water. Add to mixture and cook until thickened.

Fill these with almost any filling. Fold them into an eggroll, stuff them with sautéed mushrooms or potatoes and fold them into a purse. You can fry or bake those little crepe packages.

12 large eggs
3/4 cup potato starch
1 cup water
1 tsp salt

1. In a blender (or using an immersion blender), beat eggs. Add potato starch, water and salt. Blend until smooth.

2. Lightly grease a crepe pan or skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Add 3 to 4 Tbsp batter and swirl the pan to coat the bottom with a thin layer. Let cook until crepe is firm and edges appear golden, about 1 minute. Flip crepe, using a slotted spatula. Cook for 15 seconds and flip over onto plate. Repeat with remaining batter, re-greasing pan as necessary. Stack crepes as they are completed.

Notes: These crepes freeze really well. When you have a freezer full of crepes, there are lots of things you can make with them. Enjoy a savor crepe for breakfast with veggies and cheese, or a sweet crepe for breakfast with yogurt and fresh fruit. Or make them into noodles – just stack them, roll them and slice.

Adapted from: Healthy Helpings by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap)

Szechuan duck sauce certainly wasn’t available when my Bubby made roast chicken, and pineapple was considered as dessert. You’ll get rave reviews when you serve this terrific dish to family and friends at your Passover table!

3 onions, sliced
2 chickens (3 lbs each), cut up
Pepper and paprika, to taste
1 1/2 cups Szechuan-style duck sauce
1 can (19 oz) pineapple chunks, drained (reserve liquid)

1. Place onions in the bottom of a large sprayed roasting pan. Remove and discard fat from chickens but do not remove skin. Place chicken pieces on top of onions. Sprinkle lightly with seasonings.

2. Pour duck sauce and pineapple chunks over chicken, along with half of the reserved liquid.

3. Bake covered at 400°F for 1/2 hour. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake 1 hour longer, basting occasionally.

4. When cool, refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

5. Discard chicken skin and congealed fat from pan juices. Reheat covered at 350°F for 25 minutes.

Yield: 12 servings. Reheats and/or freezes well.

Adapted from: Norene’s Healthy Kitchen by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap)

This kugel should be called ‘the great pretender!’ Potato kugel was always on the menu at Bubby’s house, but cauliflower is the mystery ingredient in this tasty imposter. It’s a wonderful way to cut back on calories and carbohydrates. One serving contains 93 calories, 9 g carbohydrate and nearly 3 grams of fiber.

1 large cauliflower, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup matzo meal

1. Pour 1 inch of water into a large saucepan. Place cauliflower florets in a steamer basket and transfer basket to saucepan, making sure florets don’t touch the water. (If you don’t have a steamer insert, pierce the bottom of a disposable round foil casserole with the point of a sharp knife.)

2. Cover pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and steam until tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Let cool.

3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour olive oil into a 7 x 11-inch glass baking dish. Place dish in the oven and heat until oil is piping hot, about 5 minutes.

4. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process onions for about 10 seconds or until minced. Scrape down sides of bowl before adding cauliflower, eggs, salt, pepper and matzo meal. Process until mixed, about 12 to 15 seconds. Carefully add half the hot oil to cauliflower mixture and mix well.

5. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle a little additional oil on top. Bake uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes or until nicely browned.

Yield: 8 servings. Keeps 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well for up to 2 months.

Frozen Assets: If you want to make this in advance and freeze it, bake it in a disposable foil pan. When cool, wrap tightly and freeze. When needed, reheat frozen kugel uncovered in a preheated 375°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until piping hot. Don’t defrost it first or it will be too soft. If kugel begins to brown too much while baking, cover it loosely with foil.

Adapted from: The NEW Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz (Whitecap)

This is a wonderful way to use up stale sponge cake. Bubby never liked to throw anything out so I’m sure she would have approved!

2 cups almonds or hazelnuts
4 cups stale Passover sponge cake, cut in chunks
2 cups Passover icing sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup pareve margarine
1/4 cup non-dairy creamer
2 Tbsp Passover chocolate liqueur or wine

1. Insert steel blade in food processor bowl. Process nuts until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Empty bowl.

2. Process cake until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Measure 4 cups.

3. Process icing sugar with cocoa, margarine, creamer and liqueur until blended, 15 to 20 seconds. Add cake crumbs and 1/2 cup of the ground nuts; process until well mixed.

4. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in reserved nuts. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets and refrigerate or freeze until firm. Serve in paper cups.

Yield: 5 dozen. These are delicious right from the freezer.

Variation: Instead of sponge cake, substitute macaroons.

Copyright ©Norene Gilletz, March 1, 2013.

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