Passover: A Tale Told through Food

The history of Passover is recorded in the Bible; after centuries of brutal slavery in Egypt, the Jews were delivered by Divine agency and under the guidance of Moses to freedom. The cruel Pharaoh refused to let them go, however, until the Egyptians were inflicted with Ten Plagues. The last one, the death of the firstborn, was decisive, and Pharaoh finally let the Jews leave Egypt. The Jews were instructed by Moses to slaughter a lamb and sprinkle its blood on the lintel of their doors so their firstborn would be spared. That is how we get the name “Passover”—the plague of the first born passed over the homes of the children of Israel.

There are many food customs associated with Passover. The re-telling of the story of Passover is done through eating bitter herbs, matzo and drinking four cups of wine. Jews do not eat any bread or products made with leavening during the week of Passover. Although this might seem quite restrictive, inventive Jewish cooks throughout the ages have designed Matzo balls and special meringues which have become traditional culinary delights. Enjoy these dishes on Passover and the entire year!

These matzo balls are especially light and fluffy! Serve them with chicken soup and listen to your guests rave.

Matzo Balls

1 T. plus ¼ tsp salt
4 large eggs
1/3 cup oil
¼ tsp pepper
1 T. baking powder
1 1/3 c. matzo meal

Fill a wide pot ¾ full with water. Add 1 Tb of salt and bring to a rapid boil.

Crack eggs into a large bowl and beat well. Add oil, ¼ tsp salt , pepper and baking powder. Beat again. Slowly fold in the matzo meal and mix until well blended

Wet hands and form the mixture into balls about 1 ¼ inches in diameter (they will double in size when cooked). Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 25 minutes. These matzo balls freeze well, so if you make too many, you can enjoy them again!

Mimi’s Passover Chicken L’Orange

Roast Chicken is a staple for the traditional Passover Seder. My friend, Mimi, stuffs her chicken with oranges for a succulent, easy-to-make Passover favorite. There are plenty of leftovers to eat with matzo!

1 roasting chicken
3 to 5 oranges, depending on the size of the oranges and the chicken.

Wash the chicken in cold water and clean out cavities. Stuff the chicken with the oranges and use a string truss, if you wish, to tie the legs together. Take an extra orange and squeeze out the juice in a small bowl.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put a little bit of water (about a half an inch or more) at the bottom of the pan and put the chicken on top. Roast breast up for an hour and 20 minutes. Baste the chicken every 20 minutes with the orange juice. As juice forms in the pan, baste the chicken with that juice as well.

Chocolate Chip Meringues

2 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 c mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil. Beat egg whites with an electric blender until white peaks form. Add sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time. Stir in vanilla and salt and beat mixture until the whites are stiff and shiny. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop mixture by teaspoons onto the cookies sheets.

Turn off the oven and place the cookies inside. Leave them in the oven for a few hours or overnight. The cookies will be ready to eat when you open the oven. Makes 2 dozen.

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