Category Archives: Pesach

Take It Easy! Gluten-Free Recipes for Passover

Take It Easy! Gluten-Free Recipes for Passover and Year Round by Mindy Rafalowitz  is a cookbook of delicious, simple recipes that I’d recommend to new and experienced cooks alike – regardless of whether they eat gluten or not.

Take It Easy! Gluten-Free Passover by Mindy RafalowitzIt is the most exciting recent addition to my collection of cookbooks.

Given that I have several hundred cookbooks, this actually is very high praise.

This is the English translation of the best-selling Israeli cookbook Mitbashel Poh Mashehu, which is already in its fourth printing.

It’s easy to see why it was so popular.

This book is packed with recipes chosen because they are tasty, healthy, easy to make and relatively inexpensive.

But what I love most about it is the whole underlying philosophy. Mrs. Rafalowitz is here to remind cooks that they don’t need to work themselves to the bone or break the bank to provide delicious, nourishing, even impressive meals to family and guests.

The recipes are made with simple, easy to find natural ingredients.  They’re also peppered with comments and tips on how to make things easier for the cook (hence the title). There are variations to some of the dishes, suggested substitutions, and tips on how to wow your family and guests with simple but effective presentation tricks.

I admit that I’m as easily enticed as anyone by beautiful photographs in cookbooks. This book has none. That makes it cheaper to buy and given the tone of the book, I suspect this was an intentional decision.

That thrifty, easy attitude permeates the book in a very refreshing way. It’s good to be reminded that while delicious food it an important part of Shabbos and Yom Tov, it shouldn’t come at the expense of an akeret habayis being able to spend time with family and enjoy Yom Tov.

It shows, too, in the book’s design. Each recipe is set out clearly, with the steps numbered and widely spaced. There are a minimum number of steps, too, and most recipes cover only one page. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to glance back at the instructions while making something than it is with many other cookbooks.

Those thoughtful details make a big difference when you’re working under pressure.

Gluten-Free Recipes All Year Around

I do want to debunk a misconception caused by the book’s cover: This is not only a Pesach cookbook. It’s a collection of gluten-free, non-gebrokts and no potato starch recipes. So it’s understandable that the publisher chose to market it as a Pesach cookbook.  Included at the beginning of the book is a useful section of Pesach preparations. At the end of the book is an entire chapter entitled “Pesach Basics” that covers homemade mayonnaise, charoses, chrein, sauces and jams.

But all the recipes in between the first and last chapter are perfect for anyone on gluten-free or paleo diets.  Some recipes do use sugar, but elsewhere, there is an emphasis on healthy options. Where a rare recipe uses margarine, the author points that out and recommends making it only for occasional special occasions like Sheva Brachos. In other words, she encourages readers to make healthy choices but isn’t militant or dogmatic about it.

I appreciate an author who respects her readers enough to let them make their own, informed, choices.

I’d recommend this book to young and experienced cooks alike.

Published by Mosaica Press.

We received a review copy of this book.

Buy now from Amazon.

About the Author: Mindy Rafalowitz

Mindy Rafalowitz has been a cooking columnist for the Hebrew Hamodia for twenty years. However, she doesn’t just write about food. She runs food demonstrations and healthy cooking workshops in Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. She also sends out a phenomenal free weekly recipe and cooking tips e-mail newsletter.

To subscribe to Mindy Rafalowitz’s free newsletter or learn more about her workshops, please contact us.

 

Take It Easy by Mindy Rafalowitz

 

 

 

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Beyond Nut Cake: Pesach Desserts by Ronit Peskin

Beyond Nut Cake: Delectable and Different Pesach  Desserts for Chassidishe Minhagim by Ronit Peskin is an e-book determined to put to rest the misconception that the only possible non-gebrokts Pesach dessert is nut cake.

Beyond Nut Cake Pesach Desserts by Ronit Peskin coverArmed with only peel-able fruit and vegetables, nuts that can be shelled at home (including coconut), salt, eggs, wine, and sugar syrup, Ronit Peskin concocted over twenty-five desserts, ranging from flans to ice creams, from banana fritters to crepes, and even a recipe for how to make your own marzipan.

The recipes are all non-dairy, gluten-free, and suitable for people who have all kinds of dietary restrictions.

For those who don’t know Ronit, she’s the force behind Penniless Parenting, a frugal parenting blog taglined: “A Rich Life on a Minimum Wage.”

She’s undaunted at the prospect of making almost anything at home, and this shows in this short e-book, where she starts off with the basics.  How to make sugar syrup is pretty self-explanatory.  But had I ever even considered making my own potato starch? Not. Somehow, she makes it seem likely that I actually might try one day.

Instructions for nut milks and nut butters follow, before we get to the desserts.  I don’t believe a meal – any meal – qualifies for the term unless it includes dessert, so of course this was one book that spoke to my heart… or at least my stomach.

I’ve never tried flan with coconut cream, nor lemon curd with oranges instead, so our Pesach desserts are going to have some delectable new twists this year!

Ronit Peskin also leads foraging hikes, on which she teaches which plants in the greater Yerushalayim area can be used for food, which have first aid and medicinal properties, and which ones are poisonous. (A fascinating and  educational family Chol Hamoed outing, by the way!)   For more, check out foragingisrael.com.

Self-published.

We received a review copy.

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Vegan Passover Cookbook by Rena Reich

This new vegan passover cookbook is here to answer a basic question: “What are we going to eat on Pesach?”

Who hasvegan passover cookbookn’t heard that question before? Imagine being vegan at Pesach. An Ashkenazi vegan, not a Sephardi vegan. Now what do you eat?

In the Vegan Start Passover Cookbook, Rena Reich answers the question for vegan families with such simplicity and grace that she makes it look easy. Her cookbook provides a Seder menu and enough recipes to see you through Pesach without using any dairy, eggs, fish, meat or kitniyot.

In addition to soups and vegetable salads that are suitable all year around, there are the vegan versions of standard Jewish fare: How do you make a potato kugel without eggs? Rena shows us how. Matzo brei, mock chopped liver and matzo ball recipes ensure vegans can still enjoy a traditional Yom Tov meal.

The main courses include “meatballs” made with mushrooms and walnuts, mushroom burgers and mushroom steaks, ratatouille and gnocchi.

No festive meal is complete without desert. With a collection that includes mouthwatering turtle bars, chocolate truffles, cookies, apple cake, and chocolate torte, there is plenty here for the most discriminating sweet tooth.

The recipes I was most happy to see in this book, however, were for the “extras,” like egg-free mayonnaise, almond butter, almond milk and almond crackers with rosemary.

Some of the recipes include matza meal, as in the kishke and matza meal pancakes.

The Vegan Start Passover Cookbook is laid out clearly, with beautiful photographs and clear, step-by-step recipes. None of the recipes are particularly complicated (although gnocchi, by definition, are a patchke!) and the dishes are simply spiced. If you like your matbucha hot, feel free to add more spices to your heart’s content.

This book proves that even with the restrictions against chametz, kitniyot and animal products such as meat, dairy or eggs, it is still possible to create healthy, appetizing food for Yom Tov.

Rena Reich blogs at Veganstart.com, where she has a treasure trove of recipes for “food not quite like your mama used to make.”

We received a review copy of this e-book.

Self-published.

Purchase now from Amazon.com

vegan passover cookbook