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Leek Gratin

Leek Gratin

While the leek fritters are the family favourite for the Seder, we prefer to make this lighter version year round. Some recipes for leek gratins call for matzo meal and some are made with either ground meat or mashed potatoes. I usually add ground beef to the leek fritters and mashed potatoes and cheese to the leek gratin. Since the mashed potatoes replace the matzo meal, it’s a good alternative for those who can’t tolerate gluten.

The leek gratin is similar to the spinach one but the flavour of the leeks really stands out. It can be made ahead of time, refrigerated or frozen to be baked at a later time. I like to double or triple the recipe, prepare a few gratins and freeze them. It freezes well and makes a great vegetarian dish with a side salad but I have to admit, I love this piping hot out of the oven or cold from the fridge.

  • 3-4 medium leeks
  • 2 medium baked potatoes, peeled and mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated mozzarella cheese to sprinkle on top
  • Oil to grease the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 375F, grease a baking dish and set aside. Cut the leeks into ½ inch slices; wash in lots of cold water, repeat if necessary until the leeks are clean. Transfer to a pot and add about half a cup of water, cover with a lid and cook over medium high heat, until the leeks are soft.

Transfer the cooked leeks to a colander and let them cool, once they are cool enough to handle, squeeze as much water as possible from the leeks.

In a large bowl, combine the leeks, mashed potatoes, eggs and cheeses, season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer the leek mixture to the greased baking dish and top with the grated cheese. Bake until the cheese is golden brown, serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

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Candied Orange Peel

Candied Orange

Even though I live thousands of miles away from my parents, I am fortunate enough to talk to them and see them on the computer almost everyday. I get to chat with my parents while they admire their granddaughter. My mom usually rushes home from work to see little Sara before she goes down for her nap and if she misses her, we usually show each other our new food creations. On one of those days, about a month ago, she looked like she was sewing something while we were talking, and when I asked her what she was sewing, she said ‘orange peel’, well, of course! She showed me what she did and then went on and on about how good they would look on the blog, so here is the recipe for the candied orange peel, hopefully we’ll update the post when we go visit them and take a photo.

Candied Orange

  • 4 large thick skinned oranges (preferably organic)
  • 1 ½-2  cups sugar
  • 3-4 oz. dark chocolate, melted, 70% cocoa (optional)
  • Vanilla sugar (optional)

Wash and peel the oranges, cut them into about ¼ inch wide strips, put in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water, bring it to a boil over high heat, boil for about 3 minutes and drain, repeat this process twice more, three times in total.

In the same saucepan, combine the sugar and water, bring to a boil, add the orange peel and cook for 35-40 minutes or until the orange peel is very soft and looks translucent.

Drain the orange peels place them on a baking sheet cover with parchment or wax paper, let them air dry for a few hours but overnight is best. Save the syrup in the jar to use in another recipe or ice tea.

Candied Orange

To make the sugar coated orange peels, put the vanilla sugar into a large bowl and toss the orange peels (about 10 pieces at a time) making sure each piece is coated evenly, let the sugar dry and transfer to the serving dish.

To make the chocolate covered orange peels, melt the chocolate over a double boiler, dip the top half or the entire piece in chocolate and put each piece on a piece of parchment or wax paper, refrigerate until the chocolate sets.

Candied Orange

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Mina de Carne

Mina de Carne

Mina is the classic Turkish dish for Passover, this version uses meat but the vegetarian version, especially spinach and cheese (mina de espinaca) version is quite common. The dish is assembled in a similar fashion to a lasagne but made with matzo to make it kosher for Passover; slightly wet matzo sheets are layered with ground meat mixture and then topped with a mashed potato layer. I tend to use two sheets of matzo for a 9×9 baking dish but it can be made with as many layers as you like.

  • 2 matzo sheets
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 12 oz. extra-lean ground beef
  • ½ tsp ground corriander
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 medium potatoes, cooked
  • 1 egg
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F, grease a 9×9 baking dish with oil, set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium pan; add the onion and sauté it until soft and takes on a light golden colour, add the ground beef and cook over medium heat crumbling it with the back of a spatula, season with salt, pepper and ground coriander, turn off the heat and let it cool. Mix in chopped parsley.
To prepare the potato layer, mash two baked or boiled potatoes, season with salt and pepper, add an egg and mix well, set aside.

To assemble the mina, hold each matzo sheets under running cold water for 2-3 seconds, they will look slightly wet. Grease a 9×9 baking dish with oil and lay the first piece of matzo on the bottom, put the ground meat layer, then another place another piece of matzo and cover it with the mashed potato mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes or the top looks golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature with a side salad.

Mina de Carne

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Almond Crescents

Almond Crescents

These crescents are gluten-free, parve and kosher for Passover, they are definitely not just for Pesach, and they are great any time of the year with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

The mastic gives them a delicious flavour that goes incredibly well with nutty, sweet and delicate almonds. The lemon zest is optional but I highly recommend it.

I weigh the almonds but not the egg whites, the amount of egg whites will depend on how finely the almonds are ground and the size of the eggs, so I start with half the egg whites and slowly incorporate them into the ground almonds. If you accidentally add all the egg whites and find the mixture too runny, simply add a tablespoon of ground almonds at a time until you reach the desired consistency, they should stick to your hands but it should be firm enough so that they keep their shapes when placed on the baking sheet. An equal amount of almond meal can be used but grinding it just a little coarser than store bought ground almonds gives the crescents a nice added crunch.

  • 300 grams slivered or sliced almonds
  • 125 grams sugar
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp mastic
  • 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • Sliced almonds to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven 350F, line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds, sugar, lemon zest and mastic until finely ground but make sure it’s not powdery fine. Transfer to a bowl, pour about half the egg whites and mix well with a fork, continue adding the egg whites until the mixture is sticky but holds its shape.

Shape the crescents, dip into sliced almonds and place them on the prepared baking sheets, bake them until they are lightly golden around the edges and on the bottom, for about 13 minutes, bake longer for crisper cookies.

Almond Crescents


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Meat Stuffed Swiss Chard Leaves

Meat Stuffed Swiss Chard Leaves

These meat stuffed Swiss chard leaves are commonly known as dolma and they happen to be one of my mom’s special dishes for Pesach. About a week before the holiday, she makes a large batch of these. Since she doesn’t serve them for the Seder meal, she freezes in two separate containers to be enjoyed later on in the week. I know that there are mixed views on eating quinoa during Passover, if you are not using quinoa, use matzoh meal.

These dolmas are delicious both with quinoa or matzoh meal, my mom uses matzoh meal during Pesach and rice throughout the year, they are easy to make, freeze well and reheat beautifully but I have to say, they are best as soon as they are cooked!

  • 2-3 bunches Swiss chard, depending on the size of the bunch
  • 1 lb extra-lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup quinoa or matzoh meal
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1 medium tomato, peeled and grated
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups hot water

Blanch the Swiss chard in salted boiling water for about 1-2 seconds, transfer to a plate and let them cool.

Meanwhile prepare the filling, mix the ground meat with quinoa or matzoh meal, onion, tomato and parsley, season with salt and pepper.

Place the shiny side of leaf on a plate, remove the tough stems and cut the tough vein in the middle, put about a tablespoon of the meat filling on the bottom, bring the sides together and roll.

Cover the bottom of a medium, heavy bottomed pot with unused blanched leaves (this prevents the dolmas from sticking to the pot), arrange the stuffed leaves and put an inverted plate to keep the stuffed leaves in place.

Mix the hot water, tomato paste and olive oil, pour over the inverted plate and cook over medium heat for 30-35 minutes, serve piping hot. If you are planning on freezing, let them cool to room temperature, transfer to a container and wrap tightly to avoid freezer burn. The day before you are planning on serving, put the container in the fridge and let it thaw slowly; reheat over medium heat before serving.


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