DON'T HIRE A CATERER: EASTER & PASSOVER

By Georgette Farkas

Georgette Farkas is officially our Culinary Ambassador at Great Performances, but we’ve also crowned her our Hospitality Maven. Drawing upon her experiences working at leading restaurants and spearheading her eponymous Rotisserie Georgette, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. In addition to everything she does at GP across all teams, she also regularly entertains at home, creating incredible dishes that have that extra special touch that makes the food even more memorable and delicious.

In this series, Georgette shares tips from the caterer’s tool kit to make entertaining at home (almost) effortless. From time saving shortcuts and grocery store secrets to garnishing hacks and presentation magic, she’ll help you host a party that’ll make your guests feel extra special and that you’ll actually be able to enjoy.

She’s also curated recipes for you, highlighting the tips she’s shared. Each month look for dishes and ideas that would be delicious on their own, but that together make up menus that will have you entertaining like a pro.

Each spring I consider the proximity of the Easter and Passover holidays and the ways in which their two cultures intersect in the life of our city. Surely there are dishes that could grace both the Easter and Passover tables. This year the holidays fall from early to mid-April, when the new season’s vegetables have yet to be harvested. Yet, we are none the less hungry for a change in tone. I’m offering a trio of vegetable dishes that are a feast all their own. While they would also make delicious accompaniments to a roasted side of salmon, a chicken, or even a paschal lamb. I begin with asparagus and eggs, as I can’t imagine a spring menu without this classic pairing and harbingers of the season. The bright, bold pink of the red beet and pearl couscous salad is as pretty as any easter frock. Finally, the sweet roasted carrots offer a bridge between winter and spring and have a hint of the tzimmes that traditionally graces many a Passover dinner.

RECIPE: POACHED ASPARAGUS, TARRAGON CHOPPED EGG, GRAIN MUSTARD SAUCE

Serves 4 – 6

I can’t imagine a spring menu without asparagus or eggs, both harbingers of the season and also a classic pairing.

Three key steps to asparagus success: peeling, salting, icing. I like jumbo asparagus for their heft. Use a harp peeler to peel 12:45pm – 4:38pmhe outer layer from the bottom half of the stalk, which will make it tender, as opposed to stringy, and enables you to use more of the stalk. Trim off the woody very tough bottoms. Salt the poaching water generously, so that it tastes like sea water. Finally, plunging poached asparagus into ice water as soon as they are cooked, stops the cooking process immediately, preserving the vegetable’s bright green color and firmness. Once cooled, drain on cloth or paper towel. Very lightly coating the asparagus with a drop of olive oil just before serving gives them an appealing sheen.

As for the mayonnaise, I eagerly encourage you to whip up a homemade batch to avoid the sugar and emulsifiers in commercial versions. What a difference. No matter which route you choose, brighten the mayonnaise with freshly squeezed lemon juice, mustard and grain mustard.  My recipe quantities are just a starting point for making the sauce your own. The grain mustard seeds add a flavor and texture pop.

Ingredients

  • 20 pieces jumbo green asparagus, peeled, trimmed, poached (1.25 lbs approx.)
  • 1 tsp olive oil, to coat cooked asparagus
  • 2 eggs hard boiled, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh tarragon, stemmed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, preferably home made
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Toss poached asparagus with a few drops of olive oil to coat lightly. Set aside. If preparing asparagus ahead of time, remove from refrigerator at least one hour before serving. Combine chopped hard boiled egg with lemon zest and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Combine mayonnaise with lemon juice, mustard and grain mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer a more liquid version, don’t hesitate to whisk in some water and then adjust the seasoning.
  3. On a serving platter, arrange chopped egg around the asparagus. You may choose to pour some of the sauce over the asparagus and serve the remainder on the side. I’m confident your guests will want to add more.

RECIPE: ROTISSERIE GEORGETTE ROASTED SWEET CARROTS

Serves 4 – 6

May be made a day or two ahead and reheated in the braising liquid.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 lb greenmarket carrots
  • 1 cup brown sugar + 1 cup water
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • 1 pinch ground coriander
  • 1 pinch espelette pepper
  • 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 pinch Fleur de Sel

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. 
  2. Trim the greens from the top of the carrots.  Scrub, but do not peel the carrots.  This helps maintain a firm exterior as the carrots roast.
  3. In a small sauce pan, bring the water and brown sugar to a simmer to make a syrup.  Add a pinch each of freshly ground cumin, coriander, and espelette pepper.
  4. Toss the cleaned carrots in the syrup and then arrange them in a single layer on a sheet tray lined with a non-stick baking sheet or parchment paper.
  5. Roast for 35-45 minutes, or until the carrots are very tender and lightly caramelized.
  6. Arrange roasted carrots on a warm serving platter and pour the syrup from the roasting pan over the top.  Drizzle with vinegar, olive oil, and fleur de sel. Serve hot,

RECIPE: RED BEET PEARL COUSCOUS SALAD

Serves 4 – 6

If we eat first with our eyes, then this dish’s festive pink tones will surely delight. The sweet and sour pomegranate molasses vinaigrette brightens the vegetables, while the cucumber’s crunch contrasts nicely with the tender beets and couscous pearls.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 4.5 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • ¾ cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ to 1lbs red beets
  • 4 to 6 oz yellow beets, poached and peeled
  • 1.5 cups pearl couscous
  • 1 whole English cucumber, seeded, cubed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Small bunch watercress or other cress variety
  • ¼ cup pistachio, toasted, coarsely chopped OPTIONAL
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Procedure

  • To prepare the vinaigrette, combine pomegranate molasses, sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil to emulsify. Season to taste.
  • Poach beets in salted boiling water until tender, drain and peel.
  • Cook pearl couscous in boiling salted water until al dente, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Drain well and toss in approximately one tablespoon olive oil to coat the couscous.
  • Turn about a quarter of the poached red beet into pulp using a plane zester or the smallest holes on a grater. You will need approximately half a cup. Toss the red beet pulp into the drained couscous and add approximately ¼ cup of the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cut remaining poached beets as desired, whether thinly sliced or cubed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss cubed cucumber in lemon juice.
  • From here, the presentation is a matter of your own creative preference. You may choose to toss everything together and serve in a salad bowl. Alternatively, serve the red beet couscous on a shallow platter and place the vegetables around it. If you choose the latter route, drizzle some dressing over the vegetables and serve remaining dressing on the side. If desired, sprinkle chopped pistachio over the vegetables. It is best not to mix the toasted pistachio into the couscous, as the nuts would loose their crunch. Garnish with watercress sprigs.

Images courtesy James Beard Foundation

 

Even as we’re practicing social distancing, we continue to see great examples of how life happens around food. Instead of the corporate lunches, we’re seeing teams enjoy video conference lunches; instead of big dinner parties, families are having home-cooked meals together; and instead of packing bars at happy hours, friends are toasting each other virtually.

With more people cooking at home, we’re collecting recipes from our Great Performances’ team members, families, friends and partners to share with you and provide some inspiration for delicious dishes you can make at home. Share your recipes and photos with us: tag us on social media #gpcovidcooking, direct message @gpfood or email marketing@greatperformances.com.

Easter Bread RECIPE

 

Recipe provided by Great Performances’ team member

Amanda DiUglio

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups milk

  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter cut into small cubes

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons rapid rise instant yeast 1 package

  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • 2 large eggs beaten

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour divided, plus more for kneading

  • 1 large egg beaten plus 1 teaspoon water

  • 3 dyed easter eggs raw or hard boiled

  • colored sprinkles (I like the mini ones!)

Procedure:

  • In a small saucepan, add milk and butter. Heat to 120 to 130°F, stirring until the butter melts. Do not allow the milk to go above 130°F.

  • In a large mixing bowl, (I use my kitchen aide mixer) combine yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the eggs and whisk together. Add the warmed milk and butter mixture. Add 2 cups of flour.

  • Attach a dough hook to a stand mixer and combine on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides with a spatula as needed to incorporate the flour.

  • Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of flour to the mixer on medium-low speed and scrape the sides as needed. Knead until the dough is stiff and slightly sticky, about 12 minutes.

  • Place the dough on a lightly floured board and hand knead for about 3 to 4 minutes, adding a little more flour to prevent sticking.

  • Shape dough into a ball, grease the same bowl you used in the mixer with a little butter, canola oil, or pam, cover with a dish towel and allow to rest for 60 minutes in a warm place. The dough should double in size.

  • Divide into 6 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1-inch wide rope, about 14-inches long.

  • Taking 2 pieces, braid the rope, pinching the ends together and then loop into a circle. Make sure the ends are securely joined together.

  • Place on a lined baking sheet, providing enough room to rise.

  • Loosely cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap – (I spray my plastic wrap so it doesn’t stick with a little pam) and allow to rise in a warm area, until it doubles in size, about 60 minutes.

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177ºC). Set the rack in the middle position.

  • Whisk together the large egg and 1 teaspoon water. Brush each braided bread with the egg wash.

  • If desired, top the bread with sprinkles.

  • Gently place one dyed egg in the center of each braided ring. Do not press into the dough, it will sink as it bakes.

  • Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 to 18 minutes. I rotate the trays half way through.

  • Quickly transfer the baked bread to a cooling rack.


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By Chef Saul Bolton

I started cooking for Passover over 24 years ago in the west village. My boss’s mom came into the restaurant kitchen and would teach me her Passover recipes. The wonder. The honor to be given a personal glimpse into a family, a tradition and a culture. We cooked together for three Passover holidays. It was special.

I drew the following recipes from the past and present; from the freedom one has not being bound by years of tradition; from the enrichment by my culinary peers and the world we live in; and from the deep respect for the importance of family, culture and tradition.

PISTACHIO CAKE

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

PROCEDURE

  • 5 whole eggs, room temperature

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • 8 oz butter, browned and cooled to room temperature

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • ½ cup potato flour

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • 8 oz pistachios, unsalted and finely pulsed in a food processor

  • 1 tsp lemon zest, chopped

  • 1 tsp of kosher salt

  • 9 inch cake pan, buttered and floured

  • 3 ½ oz confectioners’ sugar

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F

  2. In a stand mixer, combine room temperature eggs and sugar. Beat for 10 minutes at medium-high speed until tripled in volume and thick and creamy.

  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, brown the butter and cool to room temp. Once cooled, add vanilla extract and set aside.

  4. Combine the potato flour, baking soda and salt. Add in the pistachios and lemon zest. Combine well. Set aside.

  5. Now carefully fold the browned butter into the egg mixture then fold/mix the flour mixture. Gently mix until mixture is completely blended. Pour the mix into the prepared cake pan and bake in the 325°F oven until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and the cake is lightly springy to the touch.

  6. Remove from oven and let cool for ten minutes, then carefully remove from cake pan. Turn out on to a cooling rack set on a cookie tray.

  7. In a small bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice.

  8. To serve, evenly spoon and spread the lemon sugar mix on to the top of the cake.

More Recipes

By Chef Saul Bolton

I started cooking for Passover over 24 years ago in the west village. My boss’s mom came into the restaurant kitchen and would teach me her Passover recipes. The wonder. The honor to be given a personal glimpse into a family, a tradition and a culture. We cooked together for three Passover holidays. It was special.

I drew the following recipes from the past and present; from the freedom one has not being bound by years of tradition; from the enrichment by my culinary peers and the world we live in; and from the deep respect for the importance of family, culture and tradition.

THAI NOODLE KUGEL

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

PROCEDURE

  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced

  • 1 small white onion, small dice

  • 1 medium red pepper, julienned fine

  • ½ lb shitake mushrooms, destemmed and cut in half

  • 2 tbsp red curry paste (shellfish free)

  • 8 oz egg noodles, cooked al dente

  • 6 oz extra firm tofu, cut into ½-inch dice

  • 4 whole cage free eggs

  • 4 oz coconut milk, mild

  • 1 or 2 thai chilis, chopped

  • 4 oz cream cheese

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or to taste

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or to taste

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 cup cilantro stems and leaves, chopped

  • ½ cup mint leaves, chopped

  • Canola oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an 8×8 casserole dish.

  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.

  3. Add 3 tbsp canola oil to pan. Add garlic slices and cook until golden brown.

  4. Now add the onions, peppers and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes.

  5. Add the red curry paste and coat the veggies. Cook for 2 minutes. Set aside.

  6. In a large bowl, mix eggs, coconut milk and cream cheese until smooth. Add in the red curry coated veggies, noodles, tofu, Thai chilis and herbs. Mix gently. Season with the fish sauce, soy sauce and salt and pepper.

  7. Transfer the mixture to the casserole dish and place in the 350°F oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

  8. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

  9. To serve, scoop and place the finished mixture in the center of a warm plate. Garnish with a wedge of lime, fresh mint and cilantro leaves.

More Recipes

By Chef Saul Bolton

I started cooking for Passover over 24 years ago in the west village. My boss’s mom came into the restaurant kitchen and would teach me her Passover recipes. The wonder. The honor to be given a personal glimpse into a family, a tradition, and a culture. We cooked together for three Passover holidays. It was special.

I drew the following recipes from the past and present; from the freedom, one has not being bound by years of tradition; from the enrichment by my culinary peers and the world we live in; and from the deep respect for the importance of family, culture, and tradition.

MATZO (CHILAQUILES STYLE)

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

PROCEDURE

  • 1 lb tomatillos, husk removed

  • 1 small white onion, peeled and cut into quarters

  • 1 whole jalapeño, stem removed

  • 4 whole garlic cloves

  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and shaken to remove excess water (set aside 12 sprigs of cilantro for garnish)

  • 1 ripe hass avocado

  • 1 lime, cut in half for juice

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Olive oil

  • 1 packet of salted matzo, broken up into tortilla chip size pieces & toasted in oven until golden brown

  • 8 whole cage free eggs, room temperature

  • ¼ lb queso fresco, crumbled

  1. Heat a sauté pan over high heat. Add tomatillos, onion quarters, jalapeño and garlic in batches. Carefully blister them on all sides until they have a nice char.

  2. To prepare a salsa verde, add the charred ingredients to a blender. Add cilantro stems and blend until everything is well processed. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with a fork and season with a squeeze of lime juice, salt and a touch of olive oil. Set aside.

  4. Heat an appropriate sized sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil then carefully add in the salsa verde. Add the matzo chips. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir until the sauce is evenly distributed.

  5. Add the eggs to the pan, gently stirring as per scrambled eggs. Cook to your liking.

  6. Divide the mixture between six warm plates

  7. To serve, top each mound of eggs with mashed avocado and garnish with a sprinkle of queso fresco, a sprig of cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

More Recipes

We asked our GP family for their Easter and Passover food memories. We hope you’ll take inspiration from them!

Gefilte Fish

Ronnie Davis and Liz Neumark

Most of you already know that I come from three generations of kosher caterers, and I was raised working in a kosher kitchen. One of the greatest joys of my childhood was helping out on the Jewish holidays. I remember running up and down the dark wooden stairs, giving clients their orders of gefilte fish and other holiday delights.

Over the years, the recipe has changed slightly, but it has remained basically the same. Last year we wrote about my family recipe for gefilte fish, however it has been many years since I actually made it myself …so this year, Liz and I decided to actually make it together. The Holidays mean spending time with family and friends as well as celebrating the traditions that bind us. 

The recipe is below for those brave enough to try. Remember, when it comes to Jewish cooking, I have never measured anything in my life. Gefilte fish like all traditional foods…it must be made with touch, feel and love.

Ingredients:

  • 8-9 pounds whole carp, pike or whitefish, and pollock (can use cod instead of pollock) filleted and ground* 

  • 4-5 quarts cold water

  • 1 large turnip, peeled (white is best but yellow will also work)

  • 1 medium sized parsnip, peeled

  • 6-8  Spanish onions, peeled 

  • 4-6 stalks of celery, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

  • 6-8 medium carrots, peeled 

  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar (optional) 

  • 4 to 6 large eggs 

  • 3-4 tsp freshly ground pepper (to taste) 

  • 3-4 tsp of kosher salt (to taste)

  • 6-8 bay leaves

  • 1/3–1/2 cup matzo meal

*Ask your fishmonger to grind the fish. Ask him to save the tails, skin, fins, heads, and bones. Be sure he gives them all to you.

Method:

  1. Place the reserved bones, skin, and fish heads in a wide, long fish steamer. If you do not have one, use a large sauce pan with a cover. Add the water, 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper, the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Remove the foam that accumulates.

  2. Add 3 onions along with 3 of the carrots and the celery. Cut all in ½ inch slices.  Add the sugar and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes while the fish mixture is being prepared.

  3. Place the ground fish in a bowl. In a food processor finely chop the remaining onions, the remaining carrot, the parsnip and the turnip.  (Not too fine. Do not let them liquefy.)

  4. Add the chopped vegetables to the ground fish.

  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, salt & pepper to taste, and no more than a cup of cold water and mix thoroughly. Stir in enough matzo meal to make the mixture hold its shape. Wet your hands with cold water (or a little safflower oil), and scooping up about ¼ cup of fish form the mixture into oval shapes the size of your hand, about 4-5 inches long.

  6. Gently place the fish patties in the simmering fish stock. Place them right on top of onions, skins, head, and bones and return the stock to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Taste the liquid while the fish is cooking and add salt and pepper to taste.

  7. When the gefilte fish is cooked, carefully remove from the steamer with a slotted spoon, and arrange on a small sheet pan to cool for at least 15 minutes.

  8. Strain the stock….it should gel when chilled. Serve over the fish.

  9. Serve with a sprig of fresh parsley and fresh beet horseradish.


Easter Pie

Amanda DiUglio

Growing up in an Italian family, we learned to show our love by feeding people. “Here, have another bite” meant I like you. Just filling up an unsuspecting person plate with baked ziti and meatballs meant I really like you, or my favorite is when you have tin pans overflowing with food to go home with meant real love! My Grandmother had an open door policy at her home and always had food on the stove to welcome whoever stopped by. The smell could pull you in from miles away. I don’t remember her anywhere else in her house besides the kitchen, over a large metal sauce pot stirring tomato sauce – yelling at my father to stop eating out of the pot.

I was the lucky one to get my Grandma’s recipe book. It’s a bright yellow photo album with index cards in her writing, falling apart at the seams. It’s truly a piece of history. When I first tried to dive into making one of her legendary meals, I decided to start with one of my childhood favorites, Easter Pie (or Pizza Rustica as she called it). I was confused at first glance. 5lb of flour, 2 dozen eggs . .  who and what was she feeding! As I read down further, the recipe called for a handful of cut prosciutto and the light ham from down the block, 2 baskets of cheese, and a big ball of mozz. To her this was her way of doing one of two things; one: the recipe cards were a quick reminder to her because she made each recipe every year or two: making sure no could every duplicate one of her delicious treats.

After years of taste testing and family gathering, I think we have it pretty close. Nonna’s recipe for Easter Pie!

Ingredients:

For the Dough

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 1 pound chilled salted butter, cut into large pieces

  • 5 large eggs, beaten

For the Filling

  • 1 lb prosciutto, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 1 lb boiled ham, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 1 lb boiled ham, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 8 ounces pepperoni, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 8 ounces soppressata, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 1 lb mozzarella, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 8 ounces provolone, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 2 pounds ricotta

  • 8 ounces grated pecorino Romano

  • 10 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 large egg, beaten, for brushing crust

Method:

  1. For the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together 6 cups flour and the salt. Using a pastry cutter, large fork, or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add eggs and knead for 1 minute. Add about 1 1/4 cups ice water, a little at a time, to form a cohesive dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it forms a large smooth ball, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Let set aside for 30 minutes.

  2. For the filling: Mix the meats, cheeses, the 10 eggs and pepper in a large bowl.

  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough into two pieces: two-thirds for the bottom crust and one-third for the top. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger portion of the dough into a rectangle to line the bottom and sides of a 10 x 15 glass baking dish. Add the filling and smooth it lightly. Brush the edges with a little water. This will act like glue.

  4. Roll out the remaining dough to cover the top of the dish with some overhang. I like to cut a little carrot on the top of the dough while its on the counter, you can just use a fork and poke some holes. Trim off excess dough and crimp the edges to seal. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush top and edges with the beaten egg, then return to the oven until golden brown, another 45 minutes. Let pie cool completely before serving. 


Easter Brunch

Alexandra Papalia

Each year, my family celebrates Easter the only way a bunch of Italians know how — eating! There’s nothing better than getting together with aunts, uncles and cousins on Easter Sunday to have brunch and enjoy each other’s company. In a big Italian family, there’s never any shortage of food and brunch is a very loose term – the menu can range from bagels and pastry baskets with frittatas and quiches to spaghetti and meatballs with the biggest antipasto platter you’ll ever see. Any of these options are fine with me! Luckily for me, my cousin has her own catering business (who’s also a ‘Chopped’ Champion!!) and can put together a buffet table like it’s nobody’s business! Her key to success is taking advantage of the space you have with height – risers are the key! She also loves to use unexpected vessels, like in the photo below, she’ll core a loaf of sourdough bread for assorted dips with colorful veggies on the side!

We asked our GP family for their Easter and Passover food memories. We hope you’ll take inspiration from them!

Easter Pie

Amanda DiUglio

Growing up in an Italian family, we learned to show our love by feeding people. “Here, have another bite” meant I like you. Just filling up an unsuspecting person plate with baked ziti and meatballs meant I really like you, or my favorite is when you have tin pans overflowing with food to go home with meant real love! My Grandmother had an open door policy at her home and always had food on the stove to welcome whoever stopped by. The smell could pull you in from miles away. I don’t remember her anywhere else in her house besides the kitchen, over a large metal sauce pot stirring tomato sauce – yelling at my father to stop eating out of the pot.

I was the lucky one to get my Grandma’s recipe book. It’s a bright yellow photo album with index cards in her writing, falling apart at the seams. It’s truly a piece of history. When I first tried to dive into making one of her legendary meals, I decided to start with one of my childhood favorites, Easter Pie (or Pizza Rustica as she called it). I was confused at first glance. 5lb of flour, 2 dozen eggs . .  who and what was she feeding! As I read down further, the recipe called for a handful of cut prosciutto and the light ham from down the block, 2 baskets of cheese, and a big ball of mozz. To her this was her way of doing one of two things; one: the recipe cards were a quick reminder to her because she made each recipe every year or two: making sure no could every duplicate one of her delicious treats.

After years of taste testing and family gathering, I think we have it pretty close. Nonna’s recipe for Easter Pie!

Ingredients:

For the Dough

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 1 pound chilled salted butter, cut into large pieces

  • 5 large eggs, beaten

For the Filling

  • 1 lb prosciutto, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 1 lb boiled ham, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 1 lb boiled ham, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 8 ounces pepperoni, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 8 ounces soppressata, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 1 lb mozzarella, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 8 ounces provolone, in 1/4-inch dice

  • 2 pounds ricotta

  • 8 ounces grated pecorino Romano

  • 10 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 large egg, beaten, for brushing crust

Method:

  1. For the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together 6 cups flour and the salt. Using a pastry cutter, large fork, or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add eggs and knead for 1 minute. Add about 1 1/4 cups ice water, a little at a time, to form a cohesive dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it forms a large smooth ball, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Let set aside for 30 minutes.

  2. For the filling: Mix the meats, cheeses, the 10 eggs and pepper in a large bowl.

  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough into two pieces: two-thirds for the bottom crust and one-third for the top. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger portion of the dough into a rectangle to line the bottom and sides of a 10 x 15 glass baking dish. Add the filling and smooth it lightly. Brush the edges with a little water. This will act like glue.

  4. Roll out the remaining dough to cover the top of the dish with some overhang. I like to cut a little carrot on the top of the dough while its on the counter, you can just use a fork and poke some holes. Trim off excess dough and crimp the edges to seal. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush top and edges with the beaten egg, then return to the oven until golden brown, another 45 minutes. Let pie cool completely before serving.

We asked our GP family for their Easter and Passover food memories. We hope you’ll take inspiration from them!

 

Gefilte Fish

Ronnie Davis and Liz Neumark

Most of you already know that I come from three generations of kosher caterers, and I was raised working in a kosher kitchen. One of the greatest joys of my childhood was helping out on the Jewish holidays. I remember running up and down the dark wooden stairs, giving clients their orders of gefilte fish and other holiday delights.

Over the years, the recipe has changed slightly, but it has remained basically the same. Last year we wrote about my family recipe for gefilte fish, however it has been many years since I actually made it myself …so this year, Liz and I decided to actually make it together. The Holidays mean spending time with family and friends as well as celebrating the traditions that bind us. 

The recipe is below for those brave enough to try. Remember, when it comes to Jewish cooking, I have never measured anything in my life. Gefilte fish like all traditional foods…it must be made with touch, feel and love.

Ingredients:

  • 8-9 pounds whole carp, pike or whitefish, and pollock (can use cod instead of pollock) filleted and ground* 

  • 4-5 quarts cold water

  • 1 large turnip, peeled (white is best but yellow will also work)

  • 1 medium sized parsnip, peeled

  • 6-8  Spanish onions, peeled 

  • 4-6 stalks of celery, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

  • 6-8 medium carrots, peeled 

  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar (optional) 

  • 4 to 6 large eggs 

  • 3-4 tsp freshly ground pepper (to taste) 

  • 3-4 tsp of kosher salt (to taste)

  • 6-8 bay leaves

  • 1/3–1/2 cup matzo meal

*Ask your fishmonger to grind the fish. Ask him to save the tails, skin, fins, heads, and bones. Be sure he gives them all to you.

Method:

  1. Place the reserved bones, skin, and fish heads in a wide, long fish steamer. If you do not have one, use a large sauce pan with a cover. Add the water, 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper, the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Remove the foam that accumulates.

  2. Add 3 onions along with 3 of the carrots and the celery. Cut all in ½ inch slices.  Add the sugar and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes while the fish mixture is being prepared.

  3. Place the ground fish in a bowl. In a food processor finely chop the remaining onions, the remaining carrot, the parsnip and the turnip.  (Not too fine. Do not let them liquefy.)

  4. Add the chopped vegetables to the ground fish.

  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, salt & pepper to taste, and no more than a cup of cold water and mix thoroughly. Stir in enough matzo meal to make the mixture hold its shape. Wet your hands with cold water (or a little safflower oil), and scooping up about ¼ cup of fish form the mixture into oval shapes the size of your hand, about 4-5 inches long.

  6. Gently place the fish patties in the simmering fish stock. Place them right on top of onions, skins, head, and bones and return the stock to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Taste the liquid while the fish is cooking and add salt and pepper to taste.

  7. When the gefilte fish is cooked, carefully remove from the steamer with a slotted spoon, and arrange on a small sheet pan to cool for at least 15 minutes.

  8. Strain the stock….it should gel when chilled. Serve over the fish.

  9. Serve with a sprig of fresh parsley and fresh beet horseradish.

Prepare for your holiday celebrations with this inspiration for a delicious meal at home.

APPLE CROSTATA

Recipe from Sylvia’s Table Makes one 9-inch crostata, serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced

  • 2 tablespoons ice water

  • 1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, or Golden Delicious apples (3 large)

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) medium-sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

Method:

  1. For the pastry, place one cup of the flour, two tablespoons sugar, and one-quarter teaspoon of the salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add eight tablespoons (one stick) of butter and pulse six to eight times, or just until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Continue pulsing to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass.

  2. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form it into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  3. Dust a rolling pin and a clean work surface lightly with flour and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet

  4. Peel, core, and cut the apples into eight wedges. Cut each wedge crosswise into three chunks, place them into a bowl and toss them with the orange zest. Spoon the apples over the dough, leaving a one and one-half-inch border.

  5. Combine the remaining flour, sugar, salt cinnamon and remaining butter  in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  butter and pulse just until the mixture is crumbly. Pour the mixture into a bowl and, with your fingers, continue to work it into a crumbly mass, but do not overwork the dough. Sprinkle the crumby mixture evenly over the apples. Distribute the cheddar cheese over the crumbs. Gently fold the border of dough over the apples, pleating as you go around; the crostata will now be around nine inches in diameter.

  6. Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.