Chef's Corner: Perfect pre-dinner Passover nosh

Passover is one of my favorite holidays. I spend days before our Passover Seder rendering chicken skin for the schmaltz in my matzah balls, and slowly poaching homemade gefilte fish. I gather all the necessary items for the Seder plate and look forward to gathering with my family, reading the Haggadah and recalling the story of the Exodus along with enjoying all the traditional Passover foods. We have moved around several times over the years, but we have always managed to belong to a community of friends to celebrate a Passover Seder.

The story of Passover tells of a very pivotal point for the Jewish people. God helped the enslaved Israelites escape slavery by inflicting a series of plagues on the Egyptians. The tenth and last of the plagues was the worst, the death of the first-born. Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord passed over these homes. During the Exodus, the Israelites left in such a hurry that they didn’t have time to wait for their bread dough to rise or leaven and that is the reason matzah, or flat unleavened bread, is such a symbol of this holiday.

One of my husband’s favorite things to cook (OK, even he will admit, basically the only thing he can cook) is Matzah brie and for that reason matzah is a staple in our house all year round. When I found this recipe for homemade matzah, I thought that Passover would be the perfect time to make my own matzah for our Seder. I was surprised how quick and easy it was, and it adds a nice homemade touch to our Seder table. I serve it as my guests arrive along with my own recipe for this delicious and creamy chicken liver pate flavored with apple, allspice and Marsala wine. It’s the perfect pre-dinner nosh. The spelt flour used in the matzah is an ancient whole-wheat flour. It adds a pleasant sweet and nutty flavor.

After Passover, you can use leftover spelt flour in addition to white flour in your favorite pancake or waffle recipe. If you can’t find oat flour, make your own by buzzing rolled oats in the food processor until smooth.
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Chicken Liver Paté with Apple, Marsala and Pistachios

1 lb chicken livers, trimmed
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted parve margarine
¹/3 cup Marsala wine
¹/₈ teaspoon ground allspice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Non-stick spray
Fresh bay leafs (or other fresh herbs) for garnish
½ cup chopped pistachios

Line a 3-cup soufflé dish or small 6-inch springform pan with plastic wrap. Spray wrap with non-stick spray. Heat sauté pan to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon margarine and sliced onions; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft and slightly browned. Add chopped apple and a splash of water, cover and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until apple is soft and water has evaporated. Remove to the bowl of a food processor. Melt 1 tablespoon of margarine in pan and add chicken livers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté on medium high until browned, but still slightly pink in the center, about 5-8 minutes. Add Marsala wine and allspice and reduce by two-thirds. Place cooked liver in bowl of food processor along with apple and onion. Process mixture until smooth. Add 1 cup margarine a tablespoon at a time with processor running. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour mixture into mold and place in refrigerator until firm, at least two to three hours. Unwrap paté and place on a sheet of wax paper. Sprinkle nuts around the outside of the paté and using edges of paper, gently push nuts into sides. Use a spatula to transfer paté to serving platter. Garnish with fresh herbs.

Homemade Whole-grain Matzah

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup spelt flour
½ cup oat flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
About 1 cup water

(NOTE: To make matzah kosher for Passover, no more than 18 minutes can pass from the time the flour and water are mixed until the time the matzah dough is put into the oven.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place flours, salt and olive oil in the bowl of food processor. Pulse to mix. With motor running pour in water and process until a soft, evenly moistened dough forms. If necessary add a bit more water 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide dough into 8 balls, cover with towel and let stand for 2 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough as thinly as possible and prick all over with a fork. Place on baking sheets and bake matzah in upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. Shift baking sheets halfway through cooking.

Lisa Glickman is a private chef and lives in Bend. She is a contributing writer and teacher and also does a weekly cooking segment for COTV’s “Good Morning Central Oregon.” She can be reached via email through her website at lisa@lisaglickman.com.

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