Planning for Pesach yet?
No??? Why the heck not?
Oh, yeah... because it's January. Then again, when better to test out recipes so your family doesn't have to live with those thrown-together first-time "experiments" when yom tov rolls around?
And if you think of it as the most incredible gluten-free pie crust you've ever seen, EVER, then it becomes a little easier (so to speak) to swallow.
Plus, hey, who doesn't love a new cookbook? Especially when, like Maryland mom Paula Shoyer's brand-new The New Passover Menu, it's a totally user-friendly experience, complete with prep times, cook times, hints for advance prep and freezing... plus, get this: equipment lists.
Yes! A cookbook writer who GETS what it's like to work in a bare-bones Pesach kitchen, not sure if you have a pareve sieve or not. (Though she recommends that everybody run out to buy a waffle iron for Pesach, which may not be the most practical suggestion ever.)
I discovered Shoyer through an invitation to watch her cook in the home of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Who could I resist an invite like this? (Not me!)
As my mother would say, “what are you waiting for – an engraved invitation???” I could almost literally FEEL the engraving in this intimate, personally-addressed PDF from “Ms Julie Rachel Fisher, spouse of the Ambassador of the United States of America.”
Why the heck not? I hopped on a train and headed down to what has got to be the most lovely beachside property in Herzliya, stepping into a little slice of the United States of America the minute I walked through the security check.
It's a beautiful home, big by Israeli standards, but not excessive by any means. There are bigger, gaudier houses in the neighbourhood beside where we used to live in Toronto. Despite the diplomatic air in the room, it also feels like a family home, with menorahs and tchatchkes on display alongside the photos with President Barack Obama.
I always love watching pros at work in the kitchen. And Shoyer's definitely a pro, even if she did originally decide to learn cooking only as a sideline. Whatever goes wrong, she's thoroughly cool and collected - with an "on with the show" attitude that's gotten her through at least a few brushes with disaster.
Queen of Kosher Jamie Geller was also there to enjoy the demo, and it seems she’s got more than a souffle in the oven. The video and cookbook star, who made aliyah in 2012, looked gorgeous as usual in maternity wear that suggests there’s a little Sabra on the way.
Though The New Passover Menu is Shoyer’s first cookbook to include savoury recipes – her first two focus on pareve desserts – if the rest of the sweet treats in it are anywhere near as gorgeous as this Linzer Tart, the desserts section may end up being the most well-thumbed pages in the book.
As I write this, it’s still January for a few more hours. We haven’t had Tu b’Shvat yet, let alone Purim. Let alone started thinking about Pesach. So don’t think of this as a Pesach recipe. Think of it as a treat you can share with your gluten-free friends, family or SELF. Think of it as a tasty pareve indulgence that doesn’t overdo it on the margarine.
And as Shoyer said at the demo about another recipe, if it doesn’t work out, “dish it up in the kitchen and call it cobbler.”
NOTE: I haven’t tested this recipe, but presumably she has. :-)
ANOTHER NOTE: Even though the top looks like a woven pie crust, do not even think about attempting to weave these sticky, kinda-fragile strips of “I-can’t-believe-it’s-gluten-free” goodness that top this tart. Just lay them one on top of the other and they will meld into each other, kinda like Spock and Kirk’s mind-meld style, when you pop the whole thing in the oven.
1 1/2 cups (180g) ground almonds
1 cup (120g) ground walnuts
1/2 cup (55g) ground hazelnuts (with or without skins)
1/2 cup (80g) potato starch
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup (1 stick; 113g) margarine
1/2 cup (60g) confectioners’ [icing] sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 cup (240ml) raspberry, apricot, or your favourite jam
1 large egg white, beaten, for glazing
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat the margarine until soft, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula once or twice. Add the ground almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts, along with the potato starch and granulated sugar and mix. Separate a little more than half of the dough and put it into your tart or pie pan. Leave the remaining dough in the bowl.
Use your hands to press the dough into the bottom of the pan to cover it [Shoyer recommends an 8-inch (20-cm) round tart pan (with or without a removable bottom), or an ordinary pie pan] and create a 1/3-inch-thick (8mm) crust on the sides. Shoyer says, “I find it easiest to press the dough with my fingers into the sides and corners of the pan first, and then press the palm of my hand into the bottom of the pan to help cover it with dough.” Take a little extra dough from the bowl, if needed, to cover the bottom. Place the pan in the freezer.
Add the confectioners’ sugar to the smaller piece of dough in the bowl and mix it in; the easiest way is to use your hands. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten it. Do not worry if the dough is crumbly. Wrap the dough in plastic and place it in the freezer for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Remove the tart pan from the freezer and place it on top of a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust just starts to colour.
Remove the pan from the oven, slide the parchment and tart pan off the cookie sheet, and let it cool for 5 minutes, or until 45 minutes have passed and the dough in the freezer is ready to be rolled out.
Sprinkle a piece of parchment paper with some confectioners’ sugar. Place the chilled dough on top of the paper, sprinkle the dough with more sugar, and cover it with another piece of parchment paper. With a rolling pin (or wine bottle, if you don’t have a rolling pin for Passover), roll the parchment-covered dough into a 1/3-inch-thick (8mm) rectangle. Use a knife or pastry wheel to cut the dough into eight 1-inch (2.5cm) strips. Slide the parchment onto a cookie sheet and freeze the strips for 10 minutes to firm them up.
Use a silicone spatula to spread the jam evenly over the bottom of the crust.
Remove dough strips from the freezer and use a long metal spatula or a large knife to lift and place the strips across the top of the jam-filled crust to create a lattice. Do not try to bend the strips back to make a perfect “over-and-under” lattice. Instead, place half the strips in one direction, an inch apart, and then lay the others across them in the other direction. Trim the ends of the dough and press them into the border of the bottom crust. Brush the strips with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the jam is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.