Passover recipes take “minimal effort” to create “maximum impact”

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER 

Voice shore correspondent

“What are we eating for Passover?”

That question will loom ever larger in the minds of Jews at the shore and everywhere over the next several weeks. For many of us, tasty new Passover recipes are always a welcome treat–and often a relief. That’s why a new local kosher cooking school—the Minimum Effort, Maximum Impact Cookery School, run by Congregation Beth Judah member Melanie Silver—will be offering a demonstration of Passover recipes for Beth Judah’s Rosh Chodesh gathering next month. Open to the community, the gathering will be held at Silver’s home on Thursday morning, April 7, at 9:30 a.m.

Cooking instructor Melanie Silver demonstrates a recipe for her student, Judy Galler. Photo by Janice Kusy.
Cooking instructor Melanie Silver demonstrates a recipe for her student, Judy Galler. Photo by Janice Kusy.

The cookery school will also offer two Passover cooking classes on Wednesday mornings, April 13 and 20. One class will cover starters and main courses, the other: Desserts and cakes. The school also plans future classes on cooking for Shabbat.

Silver, who grew up in an Orthodox household in London, got her chef’s training as a young adult in London and Zurich. After working briefly in catering (both kosher and non-kosher), she switched careers, got married, and started a new life in South Jersey. Her love of cooking came with her and continues to be central to her life.

“There is a home-cooked meal in the Silver house every night. Every Shabbat, every festival, we cook. It’s a mode of expression for me,” said Silver, who opened up her kosher cooking school, which she runs out of her home, in January.

At this point, Silver’s kitchen is kosher but unsupervised, with separate areas for milchig, fleishig and Pesach. Her three-hour cooking classes can accommodate up to six students, who make multiple recipes that they also get to sample and take home.

Melanie Silver
Melanie Silver

Those interested in participating in Silver’s cooking demonstration on Thursday, April 7, at 9:30 a.m. for the Beth Judah Rosh Chodesh group should RSVP to Karen at (609) 822-7116 by Wednesday morning, April 6. A donation of $5 and a kosher-for-Passover canned good is requested. For more information on Passover and other kosher cooking classes offered by the Minimum Effort, Maximum Impact Cookery School, contact Silver at melwsilver@aol.com or (609) 226-9100.

Here are a few of Silver’s minimum effort-maximum impact Passover recipes:

EASY CHICKEN CACCIATORE

4 skinless boneless chicken breast, each about 4-5 ounces

2-3 tbsp. matzoh meal

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1-2 tsp sugar

Good pinch of Italian dried herbs or mixed herbs

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion finely chopped or half a packet of chopped frozen onions

1 15-ounce tin petit cut tomatoes

8 ounces sliced button mushrooms (Baby Bella or Cremini are good too)

½-¾ carton chicken broth + 1 Telma chicken stock cube

Slice chicken into 2 or 3 thin slices with a very sharp knife. Place in to a Ziploc bag with salt, pepper and matzoh meal. Shake well to coat. Put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a big, high-sided skillet and heat to medium-high heat. Place the chicken breast in the pan and brown on a medium light, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet when chicken has a golden crust and reserve on a plate. Add the remaining olive oil, onions and herbs to the pan and soften, stirring on medium heat without color. When soft, add the tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, 1 ts. sugar, ½ carton of broth and the stock cube to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken back to the skillet. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until chicken is tender and the sauce has penetrated. Chicken should always have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees (F) to be cooked through safely. Check the seasoning and correct to taste. Add second teaspoon of sugar if needed.

The Chicken Cacciatore is a very forgiving dish and heats up beautifully from the fridge; cook it in the oven at 350 degrees (F) for 30-45 minutes and it holds very well. It may also be cooked ahead and frozen for up to 3 months. This is a great main course for the Seder meal, as it can be heated and held without affecting the quality of the dish.

 

CHOCOLATE COCONUT SQUARES

Melanie Silver's chocolate coconut squares
Melanie Silver’s chocolate coconut squares

8-ounce bag dark chocolate chips
½ cup butter or margarine
8-ounce bag shredded unsweetened coconut
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

Heat oven to 350 º F. Use 2 x 7 inch square tins that are non-stick or lined with baking parchment on the bottom. Melt the chocolate and spread it evenly over the tin. In a small saucepan, melt butter/margarine slowly. When melted, stir in sugar and coconut. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add to the coconut mixture. Mix together until everything is incorporated. Carefully spread the coconut mixture over the chocolate in the tin. As the chocolate will not be set, use a flat spatula to distribute the coconut mixture evenly over the chocolate. Try not to get chocolate on top of the coconut mixture. Bake for 17-18 minutes or until golden brown, but not any darker. When cold, trim the edges, cleaning the knife to avoid making chocolate marks on the coconut. Cut in to small squares and place in mini size baking cups. This recipe can be either dairy or parve, depending on whether you use butter or margarine. Be sure to choose your chocolate accordingly as well. It makes about 45-50 squares.

 

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