The Food Maven, Arthur Schwartz, shares Passover recipes. He also talks about schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat, in Jewish cooking. He is a food writer, editor and cooking teacher and his latest book is Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited.
Wine Poached Pears
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups sweet red Passover wine (such as Malaga or Concord)
- 1 to 2-inch strips lemon zest (optional)
- 6 firm, ripe Bosc pears
To make the wine syrup, in a 3-quart saucepan (or the size that holds your pears snuggly on their sides but not pressed together), combine the sugar, water, wine, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring a few times to help dissolve the sugar.
Peel the pears, preferably with a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler, but leave the stems in tact. There is no need to core the pears.
Place the peeled pears in the syrup. The syrup will not entirely cover the pears. Adjust the heat so the syrup simmers gently. Cook the pears, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Every ten minutes or so, turn the pears so they cook and color evenly.
Remove from the heat and let the pears cool in the syrup in the pan, again turning them every 10 minutes or so for at least 30 minutes.
Chill well before serving. The pears are excellent as soon as they are chilled, but they will keep in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for several weeks. They will, in fact, improve with time, as they get more and more impregnated with the syrup.
Matzo Farfel Kugel
Serves 8 to 12
- 4 cups coarsely chopped onions, fried until medium brown
- 1 cup 1/4-inch diced celery
- 4 cups matzo farfel
- 8 cups boiling water
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsps salt
- 1/2 to 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken soup
- 4 Tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), or grapeseed or other acceptable Passover oil
Prepare the onions. After the onions have turned golden, add the celery and saute until the celery wilts but is still a little crunchy.
To prepare the batter, place the matzo farfel in a colander set in your sink. Very slowly, in a thin stream, stopping every few seconds, pour the boiling water over the farfel. The farfel should become limp, not sodden.
In a very large bowl, beat the eggs with the salt, pepper, and the chicken soup. Stir in the onion mixture, then the moistened farfel. To taste for seasoning, fry a spoonful in a nonstick pan.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put 3 tablespoons of the schmaltz in an 8-inch square glass baking pan. Place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour in the farfel mixture. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon schmaltz over the top.
Bake for 1 hour, until well browned. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving. It is also good at room temperature, and reheats beautifully in a 350°F oven.