Monthly Archive for April, 2006

Passover at the Uncanny’s

Passover finally ended tonight, and I could eat all manners of unkosher foods and porks. Phew. Like all Jewish holidays, Passover is all about the food. The kind of food that makes AG give a look of disgust and makes UC pant and salivate. For the unitiated, a delicious or disgusting review of the distinctive Passover foods:

Seder Foods:

Maror Sandwich – This is the part where you load up horseradish (either white or beet) on matzoh, make a little sandwich and eat after the blessing has been said. No matter how robust or mcmanly your pants may be, I assure you that you will shed a tear. It’s unpleasant and by design. Horseradish, delicious as it normally is, is never meant to be eaten in this quantity.

Verdict: Push

Charoset – Designed to look like mortar and brick, this mixture of walnut, cinammon, apple, and sweet red wine, is also eaten as a matzoh sandwich. It is sweet, cruncy, and interesting. My little sister made four batches of charoset, it is so popular at our seder.

Verdict: Delicious

Starters

Gefilte fish – There are two forms, the traditional gefilte fish, and the Uncanny gefilte fish. The traditional version involves keeping a carp in your bathtub, and upon mixing the oily fish with matzoh meal, eggs, carrots, and onions, is made into balls and boiled. The Uncanny version is made using a melange of three whitefish, freshly sauteed onion and carrots, and is baked in a bun pan. Usually the top gets just slightly caramelized and makes a sweet crispy top. It is a delicious and healthy low-fat loaf of wonder.

Verdict: Traditional gefilte fish – Disgusting
Uncanny gefilte fish – Delicious

Chicken soup with matzoh balls – The chicken soup is the usual delicious and health-indcuing kind that is made year-round. The matzoh balls are made from scratch using matzoh meal, egg, and oil. They are carefully cooled and then boiled such that they are not too fluffy and not too hard. It is all about temperature. Don’t bother ever making matzoh balls from a mix. Scatch is the only way

Verdict: Delicious

Side Dishes

Potato kugel – The simplest of kugels, it is like making a giant hashed brown. Simply grated potatoes, onion, matzoh meal, and egg. The egg is what makes it a kugel if you were wondering. Drizzling a little oil on top browns it nicely and gives it a little crispness.

Verdict: Delicious

Zucchini Kugel – Made just like a potato kugel, but using a stochiometric amount of grated zucchini. This makes it moister and healthier, but less delicious. Still, kugelizing zucchini is no small feat

Verdict: Push

Mushroom farfel kugel – The farfel part is made by softening small pieces of matzoh using boiling water and coating them with egg yolk and matzoh meal and then pan frying. Take the farfel, mix wtih copious amounts of sauteed mushrooms and onions, add in whipped egg whites and bake. It is a perfect side dish. I’ve been known to make this outside of Passover, but don’t tell anyone it has matzoh.

Verdict: Delicious

Sweet potato and prune tsimmes – The tsimmes is a strange and underappreciated ouevre of Jewish cooking. I make mine to taste the exact way that my grandmother did, even though nobody knows her recipe. It begins by taking miami rib (flank steak with bone works as well) and boiling with a little onion until it is soft. Then add loads of cut sweet potatoe and pitted prunes, brown sugar, a little lemon, boil to reduce the sweet water, and then bake everything in a casserole dish. Everything becomes sweet and slightly caramelized and is soft. Much tastier than you would guess. You can subsequently add some brisket, which automatically converts the overcooked meat my mom made into something delicous

Verdit: Surprising delicous

Main Dishes

My mother takes care of the main dishes. Basically, normal Jewish food. At our seder, we had the following main dishes:

Brisket, standing rib roast, veal roast, veal chop, cabbage rolls, baked chicken, lemon sauteed chicken breasts, pan fried tilapia and sole, and smoked salmon

Verdict: All delcious except brisket which was severly overcooked and hence a push

Desserts:

Banana Walnut Cake – Made using matzoh meal instead of flour and no baking powder. Basically is like a sponge cake with walnuts and banan. In the decade of making this cake, nobody has yet detected the banana flavour. Still, always popular.

Verdict: Delicious

Apple cake – The matzoh meal makes it come out a little mushier than one would like, but apples and cinnamon always taste good

Verdict: Delicious

Almond flavoured macaroons – Homemade macaroons are always delicious, especially when moist and dipped in chocolate. Store bought kosher macaroons and always a push, especially when too dry. This particular variety has no redeeming quality. Take a bad macaroon and add a fake flavouring that tasted like burning to AG and more closely resembled painful death to me. Better are cookies and creme flavoured Streit’s macaroons.

Verdict: Disgusting

Chocolate-covered matzoh – Instead of using regular matzoh, you take egg matzoh, which is sweeter and less crispy, and coat with bittersweet chocolate. Even the chocolate averse AG liked these, comparing them to Kit Kat bars. Unfortunately, a Passover version of Take 5 is still not pending

Verdict: Delicious

Candy Fruit Slices – I don’t know why these emerged as a popular Passover dessert, but they did. Everything about them is artificial. They are neither fruit, nor sliced. But the jellied candy kind of resembles a fruit slice. They are usually covered with sugar and are always too sweet and not tart. Their best-case scenario is almost delicious, but never quite

Verdict: Push

Lieber’s Original Potato Chips (Rippled) – This is my all-time best Passover secret. These chips are the single tastiest and most perfectly cooked plain potato chip I’ve ever had. They make Ruffles seem like eating chemicals and I like Ruffles. My theory is that cooking in walnut oil (peanut oil is not Kosher for Passover) and using kosher salt (non-iodized) makes these perfect. They are light and crispy, but not oily, yet still have a rewarding fried taste. Just hoard them when Passover comes and eat sparingly over the year

Verdict: Delicious

Breakfast:

Matzoh brei: This classic Passover dish is served year-round at some Jewish eateries, it’s that good. Break up matzoh into cracker-sized pieces, soak in hot water, and drain. Mix wtih egg, and fry to desired crispiness. Best eaten with straberry jam and lightly salted. My dad will usually make at least 10 batches of these over a single Passover

Verdict: Delicious

Update:

Frozen lemon cake – I can’t tell you how this delicious dessert was constructed, as my parent’s friends made it for us, but it was phenomenal.  Frozen tart lemon filling, similar to the key lime filling from Joe’s Stone Crab, topped with meringue.   True, the cake base had to be assembled using matzoh meal, and was butter-free, but the cake was a hit, especially for AG.

Verdict:  Super delicious

Costco/Kirkland “Carnegie Deli™ Pastrami” Farts

None as of yet.

Verdict: Push

Most pastrami farts: heinously disgusting possibly topping brocooli farts for their ability to smell like the item consumed and the most disgusting fart imaginable simultaneously.

Costco/Kirkland “Carnegie Deli™ Pastrami”

I know you think those are scare quotes. I know you think this is a train wreck of immeasurable proportions waiting to happen. I have to tell you right now that those are not scare quotes. Those are delicious quotes. This product is like frickin St. Anthony riding the J-train out of the Egyptian desert having defeated the demons trying to tempt him to eat during his fast, tempting him to eat this, and you know what? He did. That’s why he came out of the desert obese and riding a Rascal.

This is how it goes down, a two pack containing a total of “12” servings is presented. Now, this is not true. If these came on legit Carnegie Deli sandwiches, there would be two servings. Only off by a factor of 6. For Pinko, there were four servings. These servings were each nuked in the microwave (per instuctions, in sealed bag) for a juicy, savory treat. Four yummy servings of pretty strongly coriander dominated front end (quite citrus, slightly sour/spicy) going through a mellow middle, with incredibly mild smoke flavor easily disntinguishable from corned beef (a key) with a rich, not too salty tail, with some spicy grittiness at the very end from the rub. The pastrami is nicely fatty but not overly so, enough to not be crumbly, and also it tastes like flavorful pastrami not flavorless corned beef. I consider corned beef to be aborted pastrami. This pastrami is not so salty that it can be slathered in mustard. In fact, unless you make a Carnegie sized monstrosity, the strong, slightly acidic coriander notes render mustard somewhat redundant. This particular pastrami would be great on a Toasted Challah P.L.T. In New York you usually get flimsy, stale rye anyway. Rye bread pairs well with pastrami, but crumbly stale flimsy rye is kind of a let down for this great meat. Easily a 7.5 on the scale of pastrami goodness. Remember you get delicious quotes at 5, with most offerings be 0.1-0.5 on the scale of absolute pastrami.

I am researching cardiologists as I write this.