Tag Archives: Easter

Maple-Walnut Espresso Torte

20 Apr

My recipe from Bon Appetit (photo by: Pornchai Mittongtare)

There are many nights of Passover to celebrate and time to eat more cake.  No doubt many of you have had your share of sticky, wet coconut macaroons, fluffy angel cakes, chocolate matzoh buttercrunch, and flourless chocolate cakes.  But here’s another to try, even if you’re not Jewish.  Something light and nutty and perfect for Easter dinner, too, served with diced ripe pineapple and crème fraîche, or dense vanilla-flecked ice cream strewn with raspberries.  Perfect little raspberries remind me of nature’s gum drops. The same ingredients that go into the cake — espresso, cardamom, lemon, and real maple syrup — are used to make the aromatic elixir that gets poured over the cake after baking.  Even if matzoh meal is not an ingredient usually kept in your cupboard, you will find it amply displayed in the supermarket.   Who knows?  It might even inspire you to make matzoh ball soup — once the provenance of Jewish households — it is a staple on many a deli menu sprinkled across America.  I have always meant to try making this cake with flour, too, but have not as yet.  I will let you know how to accurately swap out the matzoh meal another time.  But now, do enjoy this special cake as is.

During Passover, I like a slice with my strong morning coffee and another slice with my afternooon tea.   So far, this Passover, I have eaten many delicious new things, too.  A fruit salad with lychees, hawthorne berry brandy, bits of sliced oranges with their rind, mango, honey and much more.  I told my herbalist friend (also a bee-keeper), who made it, that I was sure these were the flavors favored by Cleopatra.  The taste was something so exotic that I can’t stop thinking about it!  Also exciting was the Iraqi haroset prepared by my friend Debbie –made with only two ingredients, date molasses and walnuts, it brought a new dimension and conversation to the meal.  Last night at our tiny Seder for three, we dribbled it on matzoh and, bereft of Gold’s horseradish, we dabbed it with wasabi!  New traditions begin.

Maple-Walnut Espresso Torte with Lemon-Espresso Syrup
You can serve this with non-dairy whipped topping that is kosher-for-Passover and garnish with walnut halves.

2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus  1/2 cup real maple syrup
5 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2-1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
8 ounces walnuts, about 2 cups
1/2 cup matzoh meal
4 extra-large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Oil an 8 or 9-inch springform pan.  In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water, 2/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of the espresso, and 1/4 teaspoon of the cardamom.  Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice.  Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves, then simmer 5 minutes until thickened.  Cool.

Process the walnuts and matzoh meal in a food processor until finely ground.  With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, the remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt on high for 4 minutes.  Add the remaining 4 teaspoons espresso, 2 teaspoons cardamom, and lemon zest; beat 3 minutes.  Stir in the walnut mixture.  Pour into the pan.  Bake40 minutes, until firm to the touch.  Pour 1/4 cup syrup over the cake; let cool.  Serve in wedges, drizzled with the remaining syrup.  Serves 8

A Kugel for Passover and Easter

1 Apr

With Passover and Easter just around the corner, here is an exciting side dish that fulfills the requirements for both celebrations.  I developed this cauliflower-leek kugel with its vibrant almond-herb crust for Bon Appetit when I was writing the “Entertaining Made Easy” column.  While kugels are typically “Jewish,” and most often connote “sweet,” this kugel is savory and, according to the editors at Bon App, tastes remarkably like artichokes!   You can find the slightly-altered recipe on Epicurious, but the recipe below is the original, where the almonds are more finely chopped and the filling more compact.  Part pudding/souffle in texture, it is a perfect offering for Passover as the dish is parve, with no dairy or any leavening in it.  The cauliflower “mash” is thickened with matzoh meal.  It is also perfect for Easter as the flavor screams “Spring” with its fresh burst of dill and parsley.  It is a wonderful accompaniment to roast lamb and equally delicious nestled up to pot roast or a golden roast capon.   It also fulfills the “entertaining made easy” requirement as it can be easily prepped and assembled and baked up to two days before serving.  I am imagining it now, on my palate, with rosy slices of garlicky-minted lamb and a puree of carrots flecked with fresh lemon thyme for Easter.  For Passover, I am licking my lips as I think about my slightly sweet-and-sour pot roast made with sticky dates.  Either way, try it.  You’ll like it.

Cauliflower-Leek Kugel with Almond-Herb Crust

1 large head cauliflower, about 2 ¼ pounds or 1 ½ pounds florets
4 large leeks, about 1 ½ pounds
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 extra large eggs, beaten
5 tablespoons matzoh meal
½ teaspoon salt
1 small clove garlic
1/3 cup whole shelled almonds with skins
½ cup packed flat parsley leaves
½ cup packed dill fronds

Wash cauliflower. If using whole head, trim leaves and cut into florets.  Cook, covered, in a large pot with ¾ cup water until tender, but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Toss periodically and if necessary, add small amount of water.

Trim dark green leaves from leeks.  Cut remaining leeks down their lengths into quarters.  Then cut across the leeks into ¼”-1/2” pieces. Wash thoroughly.  Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet and add leeks with their moisture still clinging.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring, for five minutes, then lower heat and let cook slowly until soft and slightly brown, about 20 minutes.  Stir often.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Drain cauliflower and put in large bowl.  Mash with fork into coarse pieces.  Do not make mushy.  Toss well with leeks, beaten eggs, matzoh meal, salt and freshly ground black pepper.   Pour into 8 ½” soufflé dish.

Put garlic and almonds in a food processor: pulse frequently until finely chopped  and place in a medium bowl. Put parsley and dill into food processor and process until finely chopped; do not overprocess into a puree.  Add to almonds and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon water.   Distribute herb mixture over cauliflower then gently press down to flatten.  Bake 50 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  Cut into wedges or spoon from soufflé dish.  Serves 8

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