Quick Recipes and Easy

Mazeltov, It;’s Easter

When my Dad, the only son in a Jewish Orthodox family, met my mother, the youngest daughter in a large Irish Catholic family the earth must have shook because those two crazy kids ran off and married much to the surprise and consternation of both their families.

Although the families never quite reconciled this event, a peace of sorts was worked out. A détente, if you will. In due time, I was born and my two brothers and sister eventually made the scene to complete our family.

In many ways children of religiously blended families live schizophrenic lives and this is probably most apparent during periods of religious holidays when the obligatory pilgrimages are made to grandparent’s houses for the customary observances and celebrations.

My siblings and I always knew that we were loved by all our grandparents, aunts and uncles. I had thirty-two first cousins on my mom’s side of the family and six first cousins on my dad’s side and those cousins, closest in age to me, were my best friends and remain so to this day. But, we also knew we were different than our cousins because we celebrated “weird” holidays that these cousins just didn’t know. My Christian cousins celebrated Christmas, my Jewish cousins celebrated Chanukah and WE celebrated both. In our house a Christmas tree was also called a Chanukah bush.

On the Friday before Easter we ate our Passover dinner at Bubba’s house complete with all the solemnity the occasion demands in Jewish homes. We heard the Passover tale, how our ancestor’s were delivered out of bondage in Egypt. We ate the bitter herbs and reflected on their slavery to the Pharaoh and their deliverance to the land of milk and honey in Israel. As I grew older, privately I would reckon of Jesus, attending the Seder and reflect that He would have been at home during Passover in my Bubba’s house.

On Easter we went to Mass and heard the Easter tale and reflected on the cruel death of Jesus at the hands of the Romans; how He died for the sins of man and of His resurrection on Easter morning and His and man’s triumph over death by His sacrifice. Later we went to Nana’s house and ate ham.

We were raised to honor and respect both our cultures and because of that we grew up to be tolerant of the beliefs of others. Our own religious beliefs are personal and none of us are doctrinaire Christians or Jews but my sister and my brothers are excellent people and I believe that I am too.

Being raised in a religiously blended family had many moments of confusion and hilarity and there were times of some embarrassment to our parent’s. I remember one dinner at Bubba’s house, which was kept strictly Kosher, when I questioned/demanded butter with my meal and I threw quite a commotion when I was firmly denied this request. I can still remember the look I got from both my parents and if looks could kill I would have died on the spot.

There was also the time, after Mass one Sunday when I wished the parish priest “Mazeltov” while he stood at the door of the church talking to his parishioners while they were leaving the church. On this occasion my mother turned beet red and again, if looks could kill, I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale.

The fall out from my mom and dad’s like and devotion to each other, their children and their families continues to this day and is seen in many ways. In my own family for example, I continue to honor and celebrate the holidays and customs in which my parents were raised (although I do not keep Kosher). As the holidays approach this year, I am plotting my Passover Seder and shortly thereafter, I will host an Easter dinner at my home. All are invited regardless of beliefs, I only question that we all delight in the holidays and the food and the conversation.

My Passover Seder will be as traditional as I can make it and I will be using recipes that I inherited from my Bubba. One of those recipes which will be on my table is one I particularly like because I was told that its texture and appearance was to remind the diners of the bricks and mortar that the Jews in slavery to Pharaoh were forced to work with to build the Pyramids:

Haroset

1 lbs. Tart apples , peeled and cored
4 ozs. Walnut halves (about a cup to a cup and a forth)
¾ TBS. Cinnamon
3 to 5 TBS. Sweet wine

Finely chop the apples and walnuts. Add the cinnamon and mix together in a bowl. Add enough wine to moisten the mixture to make a paste-like texture. Taste and add more cinnamon if necessary.

This recipes makes about 4 cups.

Another Passover Recipe that I first tasted at my Bubba’s table was a Honey Cake made with matzo cake meal so that it was suitable for the Passover Seder.

Honey Sponge Cake

1/3 cup Matzo cake meal
1/3 cup Potato starch
½ cup Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Ground Ginger
Pinch of Finely Grated Nutmeg
8 Eggs (separated)
1 Egg White
¼ cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Honey

Preheat the Oven to 325 degrees and lightly oil a 10 inch tube pan.

Combine the matzo cake meal, potato starch, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Make a well in the center and one by one, add the egg yolks, beating well after each addition. Beat in the oil and the honey.

With an electric mixer, beat the 9 egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. Gently fold the beaten whites into the batter. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, until the top of the cake is a rich brown and a skewer inserted in the center tests clean.

Let the cake cool on a rack. Place powered sugar on top. This will make 8 to 10 servings.

Baking with matzo meal, even the most finely ground meal, is a bit of a challenge. The large quantity of eggs used in the batter is what gives this cake its lightness.

At my Easter dinner, I will be remembering my mom as I bake my ham and use recipes that she inherited from her mom, my nana.

Baked Ham

When buying a ham to bake, allow ½ pound per serving and allow 20 minutes of cooking time in a 350 degree over per pound (using a meat thermometer allow for an internal temperature to reach 160 degrees).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place your ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan with the stout side up. Bake the ham unglazed until the thermometer reads 130 degrees or until 1 hour before the ham is done.

Prepare to glaze the ham by scoring the outside stout in a diamond pattern, cutting ½ inch deep with a sharp knife.

Glaze: 1 cup Bown sugar

1 cup Honey

2 tsp. Dry mustard

15 (or more) whole cloves

1 can Pineapple rings

Maraschino Cherries (optional)

Basting Sauce: 1 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 cup orange juice.

Combine the ingredients to make the glaze, mix well and spread over the outside of the ham. Stud with the whole cloves decoratively at the each of the diamond points. Place the pineapple slices in the center of each diamond and secure with toothpicks and finally, if you wish, place a maraschino cherry into the center of each of the pineapple slices and secure those with toothpicks (don’t forget to take the toothpicks out before you serve the ham).

Return the ham to the oven to end baking and if you wish, baste the ham every 15 minutes with the Basting Sauce.

Let the ham rest and carve at the dinner table.

And for desert:

Carrot Cake

2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 cups Sugar
½ tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
¾ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
3 egg yolks
2 ½ tsp. Hot Water
1 ½ cups Grated carrots
1 cup Vegetable oil
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 cup Walnuts (finely chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients; add oil, carrots, egg yolks, and water. Mix. Add beaten egg whites and fold in gently. Add nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes in an 8 inch round or square pan. Cool cake on cake rack.

Frost with Cream Cheese Icing (when cake is cool).

Cream Cheese Icing

¾ stick Butter (softened)
1 (8 oz.) Cream cheese, (softened)
16 ozs. Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
½ cup Chopped Walnuts (chopped coarsely)

Mix cream cheese and butter together. Add sugar and vanilla. Mix well, Add nuts and front the cooled cake.

My mom and dad married because they found each other and fell deeply, completely and eternally in like. They stayed in like and over came obstacles that even I can only imagine and they did it with grace and humor. I am so grateful to them for sharing that like with me and my siblings and as we approach the coming holidays, I will remember them with like and will honor the heritage they gave me. And so I say to you, Malzeltov, it’s Passover/Easter.

Maureen R. Sinclair is an American (via N.Y.C. and Lexington, KY). who currently resides in Nova Scotia, Canada. Educated as a Registered Nurse, she holds an M.S. in Psychology. Ms. Sinclair has traveled widely and has many interests. She is an accomplished artist and writer currently writing for onlinecooking.net. She may be reached at mailto:mrs3371@hotmail.com mrs3371@hotmail.com or mailto:msinclair@onlinecooking.net msinclair@onlinecooking.net.

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