outstanding collection of 300 vegetarian dishes has been woven together with
cultural and historical details that will intrigue armchair travellers, history
buffs and cooks alike. Olive Trees and Honey will take you on an
exciting global journey, allowing you to experience the way Jews have been
eating meatless meals for centuries. Unique seasonings and condiments add
regional flavor to simple recipes, letting you experience how Jewish communities
around the world prepared their food.
Marks is a rabbi, historian, chef, cookbook author, teacher and expert on Jewish
cooking. He has no professional training, but his mother encouraged him and his
siblings to cook and experiment, even if they made a mess. He told me that his
paternal grandfather once set the house on fire while trying to make coffee in
an electric coffee pot - on the stove!
I recently interviewed him by telephone, Marks declared "Cooking is an art,
but baking is a science." He loves to prepare fancy meals for friends in
his small, cramped upper West Side kitchen in New York.
Trees and Honey includes an exciting array of vegetarian dishes for any
occasion on the Jewish calendar, from festivals to everyday meals. For Passover,
dishes include Ukrainian Beet Soup (Borscht), Turkish Sweet-and-Sour Artichokes
(Anjinaras), Turkish Leek Patties (Keftes de Prassa), Moroccan Mashed Potato
Casserole (Batata bil Firan) and Calcutta Curried Vegetables (Subzi). These are
also suitable for year-round enjoyment.
writes about the versatility of matzo, which is "ground to make matzo meal
or finely ground to make matzo cake meal. Crumbled and ground matzo is used to
create an imaginative array of Passover dishes, including stuffings, puddings,
casseroles, pancakes, fritters, dumplings, pastries and cakes. Since matzo meal
has an intriguing nutty flavour, it is often used for binding and breading
throughout the year as well as on Passover.
Bible forbids the consumption of chametz (leavened grain) during Passover. Among
Ashkenazim, an interdiction emerged against eating legumes (kitniyot) on
Passover as well as rice, millet and some seeds: poppy, sesame, caraway,
coriander and mustard. On the other hand, Sephardim, prolific rice and legume
consumers, not only rejected these prohibitions, but frequently featured these
foods at the Passover Seder. The restriction of kitniyot on Passover remains one
of the major differences between Ashkenazim and other Jewish communities."
to Marks, these simple but delicious spinach patties are irresistible, even to
spinach-haters. He recommends a splash of fresh lemon juice, which makes a major
difference in taste. Onions add a sweet flavor and textural complexity. He
writes, "These patties are traditional on Passover and Rosh Hashanah,
corresponding to the emergence of the early and late spinach crops. For Rosh
Hashanah, you could substitute fine dried bread crumbs for the matzo meal."
SPINACH PATTIES (KEFTES DE ESPINACA) Pareve or Dairy
tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
large onion, chopped
to 4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
pounds fresh spinach, stemmed, cooked, chopped, and squeezed dry (or 20 ounces
thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry)
1 cup matza meal
3/4 teaspoon table salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt)
black pepper to taste
teaspoon grated nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
large eggs, lightly beaten
oil for frying
wedges for serving
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and, if
using, the garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove
from the heat and add the spinach, matza meal, salt, pepper, and, if using, the
nutmeg or cayenne. Stir in the eggs. If the mixture is too loose, add a little
more matza meal. The mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a day.
Shape the spinach mixture into patties 3 inches long and 1½ inches wide, with
tapered ends. In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium heat. In
batches, fry the patties, turning, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
Drain on paper towels. Serve warm, accompanied with lemon wedges.
about 16 patties.
SPINACH PATTIES WITH CHEESE (Keftes de Espinaca con Queso): Add 1 cup (4 ounces)
shredded Muenster, Swiss, Gouda, or Cheddar cheese, or ¼ cup grated kefalotyri
or Parmesan cheese.
SPINACH PATTIES WITH WALNUTS (Keftes de Espinaca con Muez): Substitute 1/2 to 1
cup finely chopped walnuts for the matza meal.
SPINACH PATTIES (Polpettine di Spinaci): Add 3/4 cup raisins soaked in white
wine for 30 minutes, then drained, and 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts.
MASHED POTATO CASSEROLE (BATATA BIL FIRAN) Pareve
pounds unpeeled baking (russet) potatoes, scrubbed
teaspoons table salt or 4 teaspoons kosher salt
tablespoons vegetable oil
to 2 cloves garlic, mashed (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
teaspoon ground turmeric
carrot, diced and cooked until tender
cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
Put the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover by 1 inch and 1
teaspoon of the table salt or 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt. Bring to a low
boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender,
about 25 minutes. Drain. Peel the potatoes and, while still warm, run them
through a food mill or ricer. Or, return the peeled potatoes to the warm cooking
pot and mash with a potato masher, heavy whisk, or pastry blender over low heat,
being careful not to over-mix.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté
until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. If using, add the garlic and sauté for
Beat the eggs into the potatoes, one at a time. Stir in the remaining salt, the
pepper, and turmeric. Add the onions, carrot, scallions, and parsley.
Generously oil a shallow 8-cup baking dish, such as 8-inch square and 7- by
11-inches, then heat in the oven until hot, about 3 minutes. Carefully spoon the
potato mixture into the baking dish. Bake until golden and set, about 50
minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
6 to 8 servings.
POTATO CASSEROLE: Reduce the eggs to 2 and add 1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese or
1 cup sour cream, or 3/4 cup (6 ounces) cream cheese and 1/2 cup (2 ounces)
grated Parmesan cheese. Bake the casserole for about 40 minutes, sprinkle with
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or shredded Cheddar cheese, and continue baking for
about 10 minutes.
asked Gil if he also would share a favourite dessert recipe with my readers. He
suggested this versatile chocolate mousse with its intense flavour which comes
from his book The World of Jewish Entertaining. He believes that
dairy ingredients mute the flavour of chocolate. This scrumptious dessert can be
used all-year round and is also excellent for Passover. His motto is "Never
serve a dessert on Passover that you wouldn’t eat the rest of the year!"
offers 3 different, delicious ways to serve this delectable mousse. The simplest
method is to serve it in individual dessert dishes. A second option is to bake
part of the mousse mixture in a pie plate. It will cave in after baking, forming
a chocolate shell that is then filled with the reserved mousse. A third option
is to bake part of the mousse mixture as a sheet cake, then fill it with the
reserved mousse mixture and roll it up to make a scrumptious chocolate-filled
log. The choice is yours - so why not make all 3 versions! It’s perfect to
serve at your next gathering, barbecue or any special occasion…
MARKS’ VERSATILE PAREVE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup water
8 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
In the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt the
chocolate and water, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Remove from the
heat and beat in egg yolks, 1 at a time. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, beating
until stiff and glossy (3 to 5 minutes). Fold ¼ of the egg whites into the
chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites.
Pour into a bowl or individual serving dishes, cover, and chill until set (at
least 4 hours).
8 to 10 servings.
MOUSSE PIE: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan and dust with
sugar. Pour 4 cups of mousse (above) into prepared pan, reserving remaining
mousse in refrigerator. Bake until set (about 25 minutes). Cool for 30 minutes,
then chill. (Center will fall, forming a shell.) Pour reserved refrigerated
mousse into chocolate shell. Refrigerate until serving time.
ROLL MOUSSE CAKE: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon 4 cups of mousse into a
15 ½- by 10½-inch jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Bake until
firm (about 15 minutes). Transfer to a rack and let cool. Invert onto a piece of
parchment paper placed on a flat surface, peel off the paper, and spread with
the remaining mousse. Roll up from a long end. Refrigerate until needed. Slice