Easter, Passover and Edible Books

Hosted by
Recipes and information from this week's edition of Good Food, Saturday at its new time, 10:00am, on KCRW.

The International Edible Book Festival and Tea is being held Saturday, April 3 at Plummer Park Community Center, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood. Book viewing is at 2pm, eating of the books (and drinking of tea) takes place at 4pm.

These recipes are from host Evan Kleiman. Mediterranean Easter Recipes

Asparagi Fritti (Deep-Fried Asparagus)

  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 cups flour
  • approximately1 1/2 cups beer or sparkling water
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water for about 10 seconds. Drain and refresh in a bowl of ice water. Drain and set aside.

Place flour and salt in small mixing bowl. Stir to mix. Add just enough beer or water to create a batter the thickness of heavy cream. Set batter aside in refrigerator for an hour.

When ready to serve, heat oil in large, heavy pot to a depth of at least 1 1/2 - 2 inches.

Dip asparagus in batter and carefully place in hot oil being careful not to crowd the pan. Turn the asparagus with tongs until it is golden brown on all sides. Lift out from the hot oil and place on paper towels to drain. Serve with lemon wedges.
copyright Evan Kleiman - 1997 Barbabietole all'Arancia

  • 2 to 3 bunches baby beets
  • 2 or 3 think slices red onion
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling (can use flavored oils)
  • Juice from 1 orange
Wash beets well. Trim tops so that at least 2 inches remains on the beet. Reserve the tops for another use. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place beets on top. Salt, pepper and lightly drizzle oil on beets. Cover with foil so that the beets are completely enclosed.

Place beets in preheated 450OF oven. Cook until tender when pierced with paring knife, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle them.

When cooled, carefully slip the skins off the beets. Place them on a serving dish. Scatter the onions over the beets. Drizzle with oil and orange juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
copyright Evan Kleiman - 1997

Baked Giant Greek Beans

  • 1lb giant white beans
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled and minced
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 large can Italian-Style tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight in abundant water. They will double in size so be sure there is enough water to cover them after doubling.

If soaking water is dirty, drain and discard it. Place soaked beans in large pot and cover with water. Add 1 onion, cut in half. Bring beans to a boil. Turn heat down so that the beans simmer and let cook until tender but still holding their shape, about 2 hours. Add salt to taste just before beans are finished cooking.

Saut- the chopped carrot and onion in the olive oil until very soft. Add the tomatoes or tomato sauce, oregano and sugar and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook just until sauce begins to thicken. It should still be plenty saucy.

Drain the beans and reserve a few cups of the liquid. Toss the beans and tomato sauce together in a bowl. Place in baking dish adding some of the reserved bean liquid if necessary.

Bake in preheated 350oF degree oven uncovered, for 30 minutes.
copyright Evan Kleiman - 1997

Long-Cooked Beans in Oil and Tomato

  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
Place all the ingredients together in a large cooking pot and mix together. Bring to a boil. Place parchment paper directly covering the beans. Add cover to pot. Turn heat down to a low simmer and cook for at least 2 hours - up to four hours, checking occasionally to be sure the beans don't go dry. Serve at room temperature with all the accumulated cooking juices and tons of bread.
copyright Evan Kleiman - 1997

Cianfotta (Pugliese Spring Vegetable Stew)

  • 1 large or 2-3 young leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb young fava beans
  • 1 lb English peas, shelled
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, cut into a chiffonade
  • Chopped mint to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saut- pan cook leek in oil until soft. Add the favas, peas, lettuce, mint, salt and pepper. Toss over high heat until favas and peas are crisp-tender.
copyright Evan Kleiman - 1997

Suzanne Dunaway, founder of Buona Forchetta Handmade Bread will sign her new book, Rome at Home, Wednesday, April 7 at the Santa Monica Farmers Market (3rd St Promenade and Arizona Ave).

Method for Hard-Cooked Eggs
From Marie Simmons book The Good Egg

  • Don't use absolutely fresh eggs, because they will be hard to peel.
  • Never boil the eggs.
  • Time your eggs precisely while they are in the hot water and drain and chill them immediately when the time is up. This keeps them tender, facilitates peeling and prevents the formation of a green tinge around the yok. (This tinge is iron sulfide and is a result of prolonged heat. It's perfectly safe to eat and doesn't affect the egg's flavor - but it visually unappealing.)
Here's her method:

1. Place the eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add tap water to cover by 1 inch. Set over medium-high heat and heat uncovered, until the water is almost boiling. When you see one or two bubbles break on the surface, remove the pan from the heat and cover. Leave the eggs in the hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your eggs and the consistency you like. I prefer a barely cooked yolk that is set but creamy and a very tender white that isn't at all rubbery. To achieve this, I set a timer and allow 10 minutes for medium eggs, 11 minutes for large eggs and 12 to 15 minutes for extra-large eggs. If you want a very firm yolk, you can leave the eggs in for 1 minute more.

2. When the time is up, I immediately tilt the pan over the sink and drain off the hot water. Set the pan in the sink, cover the eggs with cold water and add a handful of ice cubes.

Anna Delorefice is the co-owner and baker of Sussina (formerly Sugarplum Bakery)
7122 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 934-7900 (Recipe for her Passover cookies is coming.)

* Sharon Hudgins is author of The Other Side of Russia: A Slice of Life in Siberia and the Russian Far East, published by Texas A&M; University Press.

Russian Easter Paskha
(Easter Sweet Cheese Pudding)

Paskha is the Russian word for Easter, as well as the name of a rich holiday dessert-a type of uncooked cheese pudding-made only for Easter. Every Russian cook has her own recipe for paskha, some of which are closely guarded family secrets.

In Russia paskha is made with tvorog, a kind of fresh white curd cheese. Traditionally the paskha is shaped in a special 4-sided, wooden or plastic mold, shaped like a truncated pyramid, with an opening in the bottom to drain off any excess moisture. In America, you can make paskha with a combination of cream cheese and ricotta cheese (or tvorog from stores that sell Russian products), shaped in a flower pot.

NOTE: In this recipe it is important to use pure full-fat sour cream containing no stabilizers or other additives.

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied citron*
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied orange peel*
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 lb whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 hard-cooked egg yolks, crumbled
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature**
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pure full-fat sour cream (with no additives)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted blanched almonds
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon
Decorations: Dark raisins, whole unblanched almonds (toasted), dried or candied fruits, whole fresh strawberries, fresh edible flowers

*If unavailable, use other chopped mixed candied fruit
**Do not use salted butter

Special equipment: For molding the paskha, you will need two 1-quart (4 cup) terra cotta flower pots (6 inches in diameter at the top and 6 inches tall)-or one 2-quart (8 cup) flower pot (7 inches in diameter at the top and 7 inches tall)-plus cheesecloth for lining the pots. The flower pots should be new and clean, not previously used for anything else. If this is the first time you are using the terra cotta pots for making paskha, first soak them for several hours in cold water, then let them dry thoroughly, to remove the aroma of clay. Advance preparation:

Combine the raisins, candied citron, candied orange peel, and brandy in a shallow bowl and let them soak for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally.

Have all other ingredients chopped, grated, cooked, or at room temperature before you begin to assemble the paskha.

Just before assembling the paskha, line the terra cotta flower pots with a double layer of cheesecloth-dampened first in cold water and wrung out-leaving enough cheesecloth to hang over the edge about 4 inches all around.
To make paskha:
Put the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and cooked egg yolks into a food processor and process until smooth. Put the butter into a large bowl and beat it with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. With the mixer on high speed, beat in the cheese mixture, 1 cup at a time, then add the vanilla, beating until the entire mixture is very smooth.

Stir in the sour cream with a large wooden spoon. Add the soaked raisins and candied fruit (along with any brandy remaining in the bowl), chopped toasted almonds, lemon juice, and grated lemon peel. Stir until all the ingredients are well mixed.

Spoon the cheese mixture into the prepared flower pots, pressing it firmly into the mold. Fold the cheesecloth over the top of the mixture. Place a small saucer on top and put a weight (such as a large can of vegetables) on the saucer, to press down the cheese mixture and force any excess liquid to drain out the hole in the bottom of the pot. Set the flower pot on a rack, with a plate underneath it to catch the liquid that drains off. (There might be only a small amount of liquid, depending on the moisture content of the cheese you used). Then refrigerate the paskha for 24 hours before serving.

To unmold the paskha, remove the weight and saucer, and unfold the cheesecloth on top. Place an inverted serving platter over the top of the flower pot. Holding the flower pot and serving platter together, quickly invert them. Then carefully remove the flower pot and peel off the cheesecloth from the paskha.

Decorate the paskha with dark raisins, whole unblanched almonds, and/or pieces of candied fruits. It is traditional to form the letters "XB"-the Cyrillic initial letters for "Khristos voskrese!" ("Christ is risen!")-on the side of the paskha, using the nuts or fruits. You can also make designs such as a cross, flowers, borders, etc., or put a row of fresh strawberries around the bottom and a few large strawberries on top. (Some people decorate the base with greenery and place a fresh lily or rose on top.)

Serve paskha as an accompaniment to kulich (Russian Easter bread). Makes 8 cups (32 servings of 1/4 cup each-paskha is very rich!). Leftover paskha can be kept in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 1 week.

Phyllis Glazer is the author of The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking, published by Harper Collins.

Braised "Bitter Herbs" with Pastachios
Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1-1/2 lbs romaine lettuce (1 large head)
  • 1/2 lb curly chicory lettuce
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive or cold-pressed sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or diagonally sliced
  • Salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
  • I to 2 tablespoons toasted whole oil or cold-pressed sesame oil pistachios, shelled
1. Rinse the lettuces well, especially at the base of the leaves. Remove the tough outer leaves, and break into bite-size pieces. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.

2. In a wok or medium skillet, heat the oil and saut- the cilantro, parsley, and garlic over low heat until the herbs wilt. Add the chicory and saut- for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the romaine and cook quickly over medium heat, until the lettuces are just tender but still bright green and crisp, and not completely wilted. Add more oil or a tablespoon or two of water if necessary to prevent burning.

3. Season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a shallow bowl. Garnish with pistachios and serve immediately: (To prepare ahead of time, saut- garlic and herb mixture and let stand in the wok or skillet. Rinse, dry, and chill lettuces. At serving time, heat the garlic-herb mixture and saut- the lettuces as indicated in the recipe.)

Variation: Substitute raisins for the pistachios.

Yemenite Haroset
Makes about 3 cups

Redolent with the spices brought to King Solomon by the Queen of Sheba, and chili peppers, introduced by the New World, this mildly hot haroset recipe was given to us by Schelley Talalay Dardashti.

  • 15 dried figs, chopped
  • 15 medium dates, chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • I tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated, peeled gingerroot
  • Dash ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • Dry red wine
Finely chop figs and dates, and add sesame seeds and spices. Stir in enough wine to make a paste. Store in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

Marinated Fennel in Olive Oil and Herbs
Fills a 2-quart Mason jar

These fennel -pickles- make a deliciously different condiment on the Seder table, as well as an accompaniment to both hot and cold dishes and salads throughout Passover week. They're a fiber-rich snack to munch on, and perfect on pasta throughout the year.

Thyme, which adds a subtle flavor and fragrance to this pickle, once grew wild in the hills of ancient Israel. The Mishnah mentions it both as a flavoring herb and as a plant suitable as tinder for fuel. It was traditionally eaten with fatty or heavy dishes made with lamb or beans, probably be- cause it was discovered to help improve digestion.

  • 3 lbs fennel (3 bulbs with I-inch stalks)
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2 lemons, scrubbed and sliced thinly lengthwise (unpeeled)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2/3 cup Passover white wine vinegar (optional)
  • Pinch of sugar dissolved in 1 tsp water
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to cover
1. Wash, dry, and trim the fennel stalks where they meet the top and sides of the bulb. Remove dry or pulpy outer leaves, stalks, and edible leaves. Save the outer leaves and stalks for soup, and the leaves for garnishing.

2. Slice the bulbs thinly crosswise. Place the slices in a large bowl with the onion, garlic, lemon, and thyme. Mix in vinegar, if using, and sugar water. Season with salt and pepper and cover with extra-virgin olive oil (or half olive oil, half vegetable oil), making sure that the olive oil covers the fennel.

3. Use a dish smaller than the circumference of the bowl and a kettle half-filled with water on top as a weight to help submerge the vegetables. Let sit several hours at room temperature before serving.

4. Remove thyme sprigs and transfer to a 2-quart Mason jar. Store tightly closed in the refrigerator. More fennel may be added to the same marinade throughout the week. Top up with olive oil so fennel is submerged.

Roasted Salmon with Marinated Fennel and Thyme
This gorgeous main course can be put together in minutes, once you prepare Marinated Fennel in Olive Oil and Herbs.
  • 2 large bunches fresh thyme
  • One 2-pound center-cut salmon fillet with skin
  • 2 to 4 cups Marinated Fennel in Olive Oil and Herbs
  • 1/3 cup oil from Marinated Fennel
  • Coarse salt
  • White pepper
1. Preheat oven to 500-F.

2. Arrange the thyme sprigs in single layer in center of heavy baking sheet. Place salmon skin side down atop the thyme.

3. Use a slotted spoon to remove 2 cups of the marinated fennel mixture, including lemon slices and thyme sprigs, from the jar (or use enough to cover the entire piece of salmon). Spread over the fish. Drizzle olive oil from the marinade onto the salmon and season with coarse salt and white pepper. (Can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

4. Roast salmon about 20 minutes, until just cooked through. Lower heat to 200-F and continue to roast about 10 minutes more, or until opaque throughout. Slice and serve with a spoonful of the marinated fennel and pan juices on top.

Zero'ah (Lamb Shanks)
Serves 4 (1 lamb shank per person)

With all of the fancy Syrian dishes available to her, rny grandmother's favorite is still the roasted lamb shank. Moist and juicy with lots of lemon and garlic, it. reminds her of her childhood in Aleppo and is somewhat of a comfort food.

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 4 large garlic cloves, cut into halves
  • Generous dash of salt
  • Generous grindings of black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Generous dash of paprika
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups cold water, as needed
  • 1 large lemon, cut into 8 wedges
  • Mint jelly
1. Preheat tile oven to 350-F.

2. Rinse each lamb shank well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. With the tip of a sharp knife, make 2 deep slits (wide enough to hold a piece of garlic clove) on either side of each shank. Stuff each slit with half a garlic clove. Sprinkle the shanks generously with salt and pepper and rub into the meat. Sprinkle each shank with 1/2 tablespoon of tIle oil and rub in as well.

3. Place the shanks in a deep, ovenproof casserole or roasting pan and sprinkle generously with paprika. Add 2 cups of the cold water, cover tightly, and place in the center of the oven. After 30 minutes, turn the shanks over, add 1/2 cup of the cold water, and continue to bake for an additional 11/2 to 2 hours, turning the meat every 30 minutes (add 1/2 cup more cold water if the liquid appears to be drying up). The meat. is done when very tender and falling off the bone.

4. Spoon the juices in the roasting pan over the shanks as you serve them. Serve hot with most any rice or bulgur dish and lemon wedges and/or mint jelly on side.

Kibbeh m'Gerza (Meatballs and Cherries)
Serves 4 - 5 (25 to 30 meatballs plus sauce)

Rich burgundy in color, complex in flavor, this unique dish is easy to prepare. The subtle "Yin-Yang" combination of opposing flavors in sweet and savory dishes is a trademark of the Syrian cuisine from Aleppo. When shopping, try to find cherries labeled "Hungarian Morello Cherries." You will most likely find them in a gourmet food store. It's OK if the cherries come soaked in water with a little sugar, just make sure that they are sour or tart cherries, not the cherries in heavy syrup used for pies or desserts. Serve this dish over rice.


  • 3/4 lbs ground chuck
  • 2 Tablespoons matzah meal or plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • Small dish of ice water
  • One 24-oz jar sour pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4cup cold water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Dark brown sugar (amount depends how sweet the cherries are)
1. Prepare the meatballs, Combine all the meatball ingredients, except the ice water, in a medium-size bowl and squeeze together with your hands until well blended and the meat is very soft, Shape into individual meatballs by rolling them between the palms of your hands, 1 tablespoon at a time, (Dip your fingers in the dish of ice water and keep palms wet to keep the meat from sticking. If it does stick, scrape off with a blunt knife and return to the bowl.) Place each meatball on a plate and set aside.

2. Prepare the cherry sauce. Drain the liquid from cherries and combine it in a medium saut- pan with the onions, tomato paste, vegetable oil, and water. Cook over medium heat for or 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt, pepper, and brown sugar (you should add enough brown sugar--about 1 tablespoon--to obtain a sweet-tart flavor). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the whole cherries and combine gently with a spoon.

3. Add the meatballs to the cherry sauce, mixing them in very gently so as not to break up the meat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon when dipped into the liquid and the meatballs are cooked through and fairly soft but firm, 20 to 30 minutes. (You may freeze the sauce with the meatballs at this point; let everything cool to room temperature and pour into a tightly sealed plastic container. Will keep for up to 4 weeks.)

4. Serve hot over rice.

* Jennifer Abadi is the author of A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes from Grandma Fritzie's Kitchen