The foods that we prepare and serve on Passover do not have to taste just like different varieties of Matzah. My parents did not eat Gebrocht on Passover. This meant that anything made with matzah in water, like matzah balls, or matzah meal in water, was not part of our traditional food. This custom, a Chasidic custom which is very common among Hungarian and Czech Jews, developed as an extra precaution to be sure that the foods do not rise, or are not considered leavened. So… what we DID use a lot of in our Passover dishes was, and has always been, POTATOES and EGGS! I think my mom bought 40 pounds of potatoes and maybe 12 dozen eggs when I was young – and that was just for our family of four!
My mom would tell us how her mother began making potato starch for a few weeks before Pesach began because she was able to get approximately 2 Tablespoons of potato starch from 1 large baking potato. Imagine how that would affect baking and cooking. Well, for baking you could separate the eggs and whip the egg whites which would give volume to the cake. Or, since Hungarians are known for nuts in their desserts, you could make a nut cake with the whipped eggs and sugar. The possibilities are limitless. This year, I modified an old Israeli recipe that I had for a chocolate roll cake, using potato starch and adding baking powder to the mix and made a beautiful chocolate roll cake. And of course we made our sponge cake, and also meringue kisses which are delish all year round!
Also you can imagine that we had a lot of potatoes – in so many different dishes. You can look through my cookbook, Food Family and Tradition and you can find at least 4 different potato recipes and I have made much more, adding carrots and sweet potatoes for example. (I’ll have some of those recipes and dishes in the next blog- but n the meanwhile, look in the cookbook!)
Today, I read about the Healthy lifestyle that people want – vegetables and also gluten free – and while I am drawn to the traditional Passover style of dishes from my childhood, I also want to modify them or use those traditions as a base for creating new dishes and new Passover recipes and menus.
This year, we did a lot of cooking and I am going to post some of the dishes – maybe you will want to make them for the last days of Passover. Or put them in your recipe file for next year! I am amazed every day how our past influences our future – and even in our recipes and foods. Either way – Enjoy – wishing you a happy and meaningful Passover - and to your good health!