Thursday, April 21, 2011

Feast without Yeast: Matzo Toffee and Charoset

Passover celebrates the story of the Exodus and how the Israelites escaped slavery in Egypt. I can't say I know much about Passover. I was born and raised a Catholic girl, however I'm always open to learning about new cultures. 

My childhood friend is Jewish and when we were little I remember getting really excited about going over to her house this time of year and eat the best snack ever, Matzo. I thought they were "special crackers" and she was so cool that she got to eat those all the time! (Kate you're cool without Matzo as well!) 
I realize now that there are lot more rules than just getting to eat Matzo. How strict you follow these rules depends on your background and how conservative you are. 


There are different ways to keep Kosher. 


Keeping Kosher for Passover means you are supposed to stay away from corn syrup, breads, grains or "anything that contains barley, wheat, rye, oats, and spelt, and is not cooked within 18 minutes after coming in contact with water. No leavening is allowed. This signifies the fact that the Hebrews had no time to let their bread rise as they made a hurried escape from Egypt." Click here for more info on the rules. Some Jews will scrub down their kitchens completely (ovens, countertops, fridge, shelves, etc) to eliminate any traces of grains. It's similar to a spring cleaning. 

However, many Jewish families follow Kosher laws at all times of the year. Here are some of the straightforward rules:
  1. Certain animals may not be eaten at all. This restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs and milk of the forbidden animals.
  2. Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.
  3. All blood must be drained from meat and poultry or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
  4. Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
  5. Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for bugs (which cannot be eaten)
  6. Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (According to some views, fish may not be eaten with meat).
  7. Utensils (including pots and pans and other cooking surfaces) that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food. This applies only where the contact occurred while the food was hot.
  8. Grape products must be made by Jews. 
Everyone has different ways of observing. It depends on how you were raised and how religious you are. 


Kat commented on one of my posts and asked if I was up for the challenge to make a Kosher/Passover dish. I must say, challenge accepted. I called up my friend Abby, (yes who's Jewish) and asked her for some help. I was an idiot and thought it would be a good idea to make latkes. Abby nicely informed me that I probably wouldn't want to do that since they are traditionally served at Hanukkah. 
We're Jewish stars? 
Abby came over last night and taught me how to make her Matzo Toffee that she likes to snack on during Passover. It's absolutely delicious and if you are Jewish or whatever- you definitely will enjoy!  

We also decided to make Charoset (also called charoses), which is traditionally found on a seder plate. I leaned that the different items on the seder plate have a significance in telling the story of the Israelites. 

For instance, Charoset represents the bricks used by the Jewish slaves to build houses for the Egyptians. Abby likes to put Charoset on top of Matzo. I found that it's a good snack plain or you could put in a sandwich. Delicious! 



Matzo Toffee

Ingredients 
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar 
Chocolate chips ( you can use Kosher chocolate)
Matzo 
Chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions
  
  1. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with foil. Place full sheet of Matzo on pan. I could only fit two across. Preheat the over to 350 degrees
  2. Melt butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan. Mixture is ready when it is slightly boiling and coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Pour brown sugar mixture onto the matzo and then spread evenly. 
  4. Place into over for about 4-5 minutes. Check often because it will burn easily. When it starts to bubble take it out. 
  5. Cover with chocolate chips and place back into oven for 2-3 minute (until they start looking shiny and easy to spread)
  6. Take baking sheet out and use mini spatula to spread evenly. 
  7. Chop nuts and place on top. (optional)
  8. Freeze until hard. 





Charoset

Ingredients
3 Gala apples
1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/4 cup of grape juice/red wine
1/4 cup of  finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions
  1. Cut apples into small pieces. Mix ingredients together. Add more for juice/wine for stronger taste.


L'chaim!-(translation: "To Life!") 







Bon App├ętit!
Chef Maggie

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