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Jewish Federation hosts virtual Passover cooking demonstration


Special to The Press

The first Seder or dinner for the Jewish holiday of Passover took place March 27 with a special menu and readings from the prayer book or the Haggadah.

Because of COVID-19, there were many different ways of celebrating this year, starting with Zoom seders or seders with just two people present to possibly a handful of close relatives, especially those who received the vaccine.

But for sure, matzoh was available.

And some of the traditional dishes such as matzoh ball soup and the charoset or the finely chopped mixture made to resemble the mortar used to hold the bricks together that the children of Israel used to build the cities of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Also, on the special Seder plate were the greens, the salt water, the bitter herb and a shank bone of a lamb and the roast egg which is the symbol of rebirth.

There was also the drinking of four cups of wine.

The holiday of Passover lasts for eight days and ends April 4.

On March 16, the Jewish Federation sponsored a Passover cooking class on Zoom with Chef Michael Solomonov.

The three recipes for this Passover meal came from the cookbook, “ZAHAV” by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook.

The first recipe prepared was the mina. Mina is the Ladino word for pie. This is a dish using matzoh as the base and the cover, somewhat like a pie shell and top.

Inside is a ground beef mixture, used as the filling.

Many other fillings could be used with the mina, including a scrambled egg and feta cheese combination.

A red pepper salad and the charoset was made to eat with the mina.

This Passover dish, common throughout the Sephardic world, is almost too good to be true.

“Once the matzo is soaked and baked, it magically transforms into something more like traditional pastry than unleavened bread,” Solomonov said.

Solomonov, who is highly praised also did a Zoom cooking class on Rosh Hashanah recipes hosted by the Jewish Federation, which was very popular.

Chef Solomonov is the owner of Zahov, a popular Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia, and the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award winner for an outstanding restaurant.

Red Pepper Salad

by Chef Michael Solomonov

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

1 T. sweet paprika

1 T. red wine vinegar

5 cups roughly chopped red bell peppers (about 4 large)

1 cup peeled, grated carrots (about 2 carrots)

1/2 bunch cilantro or parsley (about 1/2 cup chopped)

1 T. sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

2 T. chopped fresh cloves garlic or garlic scapes

Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the paprika and stir, cooking for another minute.

Add the carrots, some chopped cilantro, sugar, and salt and stir to combine.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until coarse.

Serve hot or chilled.

Before serving, top with chives or scapes and the remaining cilantro.

Serves eight people.


by Chef Michael Solomonov

4 carrots, peeled and grated

1/2 apple, peeled and grated

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

2 T. fresh horseradish

2 T. raisins

1 T. white vinegar

Kosher salt

Combine the carrots, apple, walnuts, cilantro, horseradish, raisins, vinegar, and salt in a medium bowl.

Toss to combine. Set aside.

Mina with ground beef, cardamom and coffee

by Chef Michael Solomonov

1 T. canola oil, plus more for brushing

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. finely ground coffee

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

4-6 sheets matzo

1 large egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Brush the bottom of a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a baking dish with oil.

Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in another large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the ground beef and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion, garlic, and salt and continue cooking until the vegetables have softened but not browned, 5 to 8 minutes more.

Add the coffee and cardamom and stir to combine.

Soak the matzo in warm water until pliable, about 1 minute.

Line the bottom of the oiled cast iron skillet with the matzo, breaking up the pieces as needed to completely cover the bottom and sides of the skillet.

Spoon the beef mixture over the bottom and cover the top with more matzo pressing at the edges to seal.

Brush with the beaten egg and bake until the mina is golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Invert the mina onto a serving platter.

Slice into wedges and serve topped with the charoset.

PRESS PHOTOS BY ANITA HIRSCH This plate of food includes a red pepper salad on the left, charoset on the right, and mina on the top right.
The soaked matzah slices are placed on an oiled heavy metal pan. Then cooked ground beef is placed over the matzah pieces.
The soaked matzah pieces are placed on top of the cooked beef and then brushed with beaten egg.