Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Passover, Post the First

According to Gothamist, hospitals see "an uptick in total patient volume during Passover...[largely due to] Dizziness from [cleaning] fumes, slips from highly buffed floors or wet bathroom tiles...knife wounds from cutting food, burns from stovetops, and even fingers chopped up in blenders." I only have two cuts and a burn, so I consider myself lucky. Doubly lucky since I did most of my cooking while half asleep.

I'm a sabbath observer, so I had to make sure most of my Passover food was ready by Friday night. I took Friday off from work and started my food prep Wednesday night. And, like all responsible people would, went to see Colin Meloy Thursday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg (side note: he is the cutest thing on two feet. I stood there the whole time wishing I'd baked him cookies). Due to transport issues and my inability to shut up and leave when I'm hanging out with friends, I got home at 2 AM. In case that wasn't bad enough, my mother was still in the kitchen, so I wasn't able to get to work until 3. I ended up not sleeping at all until after dinner Friday night. Oy vey!

Almost every recipe I picked for the holiday used vegetable broth or stock, so the first thing I had to do was make the vegetable broth. Naturally, I made the one from Vegan With a Vengeance. It's such a staple in our house that even my mother made a double batch of it to feed the family and to use in all her cooking (Wednesday night was dedicated to chopping vegetables for all the broth). You'd think after making the broth over a dozen times, I'd be able to make it without screwing it up, right? Wrong. Somehow, I'm unable to tell the difference between parsley and cilantro and ended up accidentally substituting the latter for the former. I didn't even realize it until it was time to use the cilantro in another dish and I didn't have any. D'oh! Thankfully, I like cilantro, and I was just using the broth as an ingredient, not eating it straight, so it didn't make a huge difference when combined with the other ingredients in my dishes.

While that was simmering for 90 minutes, I grabbed Tofu Mom's recipe and made matzo balls. Lots of lots of matzo balls.

And started the crust and the filling for my Raw Apple Pie. I don't have a Passover blender or food processor, just a Smart Chopper, and trying to do all those dates in there nearly made me want to stick my head in next. I hate that thing. Definitely getting something better for next year. But I got it done and had plenty of time to let the filling soak and the crust firm up in the fridge. I tried to get all decorative with a flower in the middle and some golden raisins to garnish, but I don't think it worked so well. It didn't really matter since it completely fell apart when we cut into it, but it was still tasty, which is the most important part.

And I prepped my portobello mushrooms, prepared my marinade and put everything together for Yellow Rose Recipes' grilled portobellos. It was so easy to put together that I forgot I don't have a grill pan for Passover. I decided to roast them instead, after they marinated for 24 hours.

While I'm on the subject of Yellow Rose Recipes, I need to talk about the Braised Cauliflower. I know I say this about everything, but it's really the easiest recipe ever. The aroma when the cauliflower was cooking in the margarine was amazing. My mother kept asking what was in the pan and refused to believe it was just cauliflower and margarine. I was almost disappointed when I added the broth and everything started smelling like it instead of yummy, popcorny, cauliflower. As the broth cooked off, the fragrance came back, better than ever, and joy was had. My family really enjoyed this. It's a side dish that's so simple it compliments everything. Even my grandmother ate one floret and deemed it good. She never eats vegetables, so that's high praise indeed.

I wanted to make the Indian variation of the Yellow Rose Recipes Green-Wa, but couldn't find kosher for Passover curry powder. Instead, I found this handy guide to making your own spice blend that could be deemed "close enough" by some people. Those people don't include me. Not because I'm so discerning, but because I only had red pepper flakes and no matter how much grinding I did with my new mortar and pestle, I just couldn't powder them.

I used that "curry powder", substituted the coconut milk for the soy yogurt and was about to start chopping my herbs for the Green-Wa, when lo and behold! I didn't have any cilantro! Oh yeah, it was all in the soup. So I chopped up the parsley and stuck that in the quinoa instead. And I completely forgot to even add the curry powder until the very last step. I made numerous mistakes with this recipe, but it's very forgiving. The current dish is somehow almost bland, in a good way, but still burns my tongue. My brother ate loads of it; he especially liked putting it on chicken. I can't say I love the recipe as I made it, but it gave me an idea of how it would taste if I didn't completely screw it up. Will definitely try again when I'm not completely out of it.

The last thing I made before the sun set on me was Herb Roasted Potatoes from Vegan With a Vengeance. Holy crap, those are good! I took the time to chop my herbs up nice and fine and got them really well done and my family went crazy for them. Even my grandmother ate a significant portion of them, and usually just looking at spices gives her "agita", and my brother didn't even pick out the onions. Victory!

A couple more pictures from Day One:

Stay tuned for Passover Cooking: Day Two!

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