The week of Passover begins April 14th at sundown. Holidays are all about the grub for me, and Pesach and I have a love-hate relationship. So many delicious foods, yet No. Bread. Or. Pasta. In. Any. Form. What?! Did I mention this sacrifice lasts for an entire, very long week? My, hubby kids and I are a carbilicious clan, and this is one serious, yeast-free debacle. Oh, well, like our forefathers, we shall overcome. The Israelites didn’t have time to let their bread rise when fleeing Egypt… and that’s Passover in a leaven-free nutshell. I know, I shouldn’t complain – but I am just so good at it.
Oh, please don’t tell me how amazing tasty matzo crackers are. Bread they are not. Yes, they are a clear reminder of the suffering of the Israelites. Matzo brei, matzo kugel; Matzo slathered in delicious chopped liver (my Jewish pate); Matzo plastered the Ward Way in inappropriate amounts of butter: all ways to detract from tasteless, cardboard cracker itself. Yes, I said it. Do you still have matzo in your cupboards from last year? Point made. It has its place during the holiday; afterwards, it is cast away to the back of the cupboard; a lonely fate. Back to matzo brei and matzo kugel: one can only consume so much
There are, of course, other sources of carbohydrates in the world other than leavened ones. Really: no need to panic. During Passover, it’s fun and exciting to explore new grains that are Kosher for Passover, such as amaranth and quinoa. “Wasabi crusted salmon” is delicious paired with any ancient grain. I create an easy quinoa pilaf by combining cooked quinoa with sautéed, thinly sliced radicchio and Brussels sprouts and chopped red or yellow bell pepper and white onion. Then, add hits of zesty lemon, bright parsley; earthy, pungent garlic and wha-lah: a gorgeous side-dish that’s ideal for the holiday.
Of course, never forget your friends Mr. Squash and Mrs. Potato (or any of their family members). Both are delicious when roasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil, and completely Pesach approved. A root vegetable plus half an hour in a hot oven never fails to impress the pants of holiday guests. All are sensational sprinkled with a touch of chopped, fresh rosemary after plating. As New Mexicans, we rosemary growing out of our ears (really, my husband is a ENT doc, and you can vouch for this fact).
While developing recipes for the coming holiday, my cravings are taking hold. They take charge of each dish. I am expecting my third child, and my pregnancy food urges remain unchanged. Insatiable cravings for salmon and chocolate (no, not together! that’s gross!) cannot be muted. Avocados seem to haunt me dreams, as well. It’s common to find me preparing chocolate-avocado and chia seed pudding in the middle of the night. Now, that’s a story for another foodie therapy session (seriously, this lady needs help).
Fortunately, flavorful and delicate “wasabi crusted salmon” fillets topped with a gorgeous, oozing, over-easy fried eggs is a dish that satisfies any human, with bump or without. My generous and kind friend Kiyo from the Hawaiian cooking blog My Lilikoi Kitchen sent me amazing wasabi sauce and Japanese Nori Komi Furikake seasoning blend. The two combined take ordinary wild salmon from run-of-the-mill (or sea) to out of this world (or ocean)! I agree: too many puns for one day. If you don’t have your own Kiyo (which, might Interject, is a sad life to lead), these ingredients can be easily ordered online or found in specialty food stores and Asian markets. The elegant dish packs a flavor punch, is easy to make and quick to cook. A home cook such as myself can’t ask for much more than that. Full confession: I gave my husband the small piece of fish the last I made this. I enjoy playing the pregnancy card and milk it for all it’s worth.
Rich, decadent and flourless “just chocolate brownies” are sinfully delectable: moist, dense, slightly sweet, chocolate crumbles of dessert heaven. And, get this: they Pesach approved and secretly healthful. I am not only referring to the healthy-fat and vitamin-rich almonds on top. You won’t believe how nutritious a chocolate concoction can be after the first glorious bite, or the twelfth. Still, it’s true: just take a peek at the recipe. Now, onto more important topics: how did I fit so much cocoa goodness in one 8×8-inch square pan? Oh, life’s great mysteries.
Important recipe note: do not freeze these. You will end up eating myriad, frozen squares of chocolate indulgence at odd hours, such as two in the morning. Leave the entire pan on top of your counter and sadly (or happily) accept defeat. Not that I know anything about such a sorrowful (or glorious) scenario. It is also recommended that this recipe is prepared when other in-house chocoholics are not within state boarders. The hubby happened to be on (another) surgical fellowship interview, this time in San Francisco when I made this batch of “flourless just dark chocolate brownies.”
Coincidence? I think not. What can I say? I am a soulless, pregnant chocolate monster.
These recipes and ideas alone are solid proof that there is no reason to sacrifice enjoying great food any day of the year. There is always a scrumptious, amazing recipe to fit any tummy, any holiday, anytime.
Wasabi Crusted Wild Salmon
Make sure your ingredients are Kosher for Passover, if desired.
Serves two. Double or triple this recipe to serve a crowd, if desired.
- Preheat oven to 350•F.
- Line a cookie sheet with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray.
- Place the fillet of salmon on the foil.
- Use enough wasabi sauce to lightly coat the filet, about two tablespoons.
- Generously sprinkle the furikake on top of the wasabi sauce. Cover the sauce completely, about two tablespoons.
- Lightly spray the top of the fillet with cooking spray. Generously season with salt and pepper.
- Lightly spray two small ramekins with cooking spray. Carefully break one egg into each ramekin and season with salt and pepper.
- Place the salmon and the eggs in the oven.
- Cook the eggs for about five to seven minutes, just until the whites are set and the yolks still appear uncooked. Reserve. If you are pregnant, it is recommended that are fully cooked, about ten to twelve minutes.
- Cook the salmon for about eight to twelve minutes, just until medium to medium rare in the center, per your taste preference.
- Divide the salmon into two portions. Place the fillets on warm plates.
- Place the eggs on top of the salmon pieces and devour. Bon Appétit!
Flourless Just Chocolate Brownies
Make sure all of your ingredients are Kosher for Passover, if desired.
Makes 16, 2×2-inch brownies.
1/2 chopped, raw or blanched almonds (optional)
- Make sure all of your ingredients are laid-out. You will need to work efficiently when working with chocolate.
- Preheat the oven to 300•F.
- Line a standard, 8×8 inch metal, non-stick brownie pan with greased parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla until lighter in color and fluffy.
- Melt the chocolate and butter over a double-boiler. Or, microwave in fifteen second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted.
- Allow to cool slightly and place in a separate bowl. Whisk in the yogurt and the cocoa.
- Combine the chocolate mixture with the egg mixture until very well mixed.
- Evenly press the batter into the prepared pan.
- Press the almonds evenly on top of the batter.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the center is soft but the edges are firm. Avoid overbaking at all costs.
- Cool pan completely on a wire rack. Then, refrigerate overnight (or several hours, if you just wait), until very firm.
- Cut into squares and enjoy.