When people think of Passover they think of strange foods and deprivation, because it's not only bread you can't have on Passover, it's almost everything that is made with grain-products leavened with yeast or through other leavening processes.

Trust me that's a LOT of good stuff. Long story short, a few thousand years ago, my people had to get out of Egypt quickly and so we didn't have time for the pesky business of bread-rising. So, matzah or (matzo or matza or matzoh or matzoth or massa depending on which Jewish background you come from) is, of course, the food that symbolizes that unleavened bread. I don't really like matzah so I don't eat a lot of it throughout the holiday, but I do used matzah-based ingredients (like matzah meal or matzah-based cake meal.) which many Jewish cooks use as a substitute for flour during Passover.

Thus, over the years many Jewish cooks have found ways to replicate yummy non-Passover foods by substituting those ingredients. We also learn to make great stuff with the many varieties of foods that ARE permissible to us on Passover. Trust me there is no deprivation in my house. I probably will gain five pounds over this holiday with all the stuff I'll be cooking. After the eight days of Passover (seven if you're in Israel), you usually get back to the gym ASAP to lose the holiday bloat.

Here are a couple of my favorite Passover recipes that I make just about every year. Some require specialty Passover ingredients and some have things that are available in every grocery store. A couple are so good that I make them all year round.

Matzoh toffee crumble


4-6 matzahs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted margarine or butter
1 cup brown sugar
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or Passover chocolate chips (optional)

Line cooking sheet with heavy duty foil. Cover with baking parchment. Arrange Matzah on top in a single layer. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine butter or margarine and brown sugar. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 to 5 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and pour evenly over Matzah. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. (Check every few minutes to prevent burning.) Remove pan from oven.

If using chocolate, sprinkle with chocolate immediately after you remove the pan from the oven. Let stand five minutes, then spread chocolate in an even layer. Chill until set. Break into pieces and enjoy. This can also be frozen.

Easy passover pancakes


1 cup matzo meal
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten

Combine matzo meal, sugar and salt. Add milk, stir well. Blend in eggs. Drop spoonfuls onto a greased skillet. When lightly golden, flip. Serve with sour cream, jam,applesauce, or pancake syrup.

Passover mini pizzas


2 cups matzo meal
1/2 cup passover cake meal
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup hot water
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix dough well and roll out with rolling pin between two pieces of parchment paper or wax paper. Cut circles out of dough with a round cookie cutter or a glass and top with mozzarella cheese and sauce, or your favorite toppings

Bake for 20 minutes. 

Chicken with orange glaze


1 chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1/2 c honey
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 Tb lemon juice
1/4 tsp  ground nutmeg
pinch of salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Fold wings of chicken across back with tips touching. Tie or skewer drumsticks to tail. Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Put meat thermometer in thickest part of thigh. Roast, covered, for about an hour and 15 minutes or 1 1/3 hrs.

Mix honey, Orange juice, lemon juice, nutmeg and salt. Brush half of the mixture on chicken, reserve remaining sauce.

Roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes longer, brushing once or twice more. Chicken is done when the thermometer reaches 180 degrees and the juice of chicken is no longer pink when center of thigh is cut. Serve chicken with remaining glaze.

Easy veal scallopini


2 lbs veal slices pounded thin
2 tbs oil
Juice of one lemon
1 tbs oregano
2 tsp  garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 red pepper chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced

Heat oil in a skillet and sear veal over high heat until light on both sides (about 2 minutes each side). Remove from pan and place in Pyrex dish or or shallow pan.

Lower heat. Sauté onions and peppers in the skillet until soft. Add lemon juice oregano, garlic, salt and stir. Pour mixture over veal and bake in oven, covered for 30-40 min or untill tender.

Gluten Free pistachio cookies


3 cups coarsely chopped pistachios
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar

Heat oven to 325. Combine pistachios, sugar, and egg whites, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Line baking trays with parchment. Make heaping teaspoon-sized mounds of mixture and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Passover Chocolate chip cookies


1 3/4 cups cake meal
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks margarine or butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 package kosher for Passover chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking trays with parchment.

In a medium bowl, mix cake meal, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl, beat butter or margarine, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and slowly add in dry ingredients a little at a time and continue mixing until a dough is formed. Mix in chocolate chips. Form into one-inch balls and press down lately. Bake 15 minutes. cool completely before removing.

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