Chef Avram Wiseman of The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (the only Kosher culinary school in the country) based in Brooklyn, New York, shares how he celebrates Passover and some ways to push the creative limits of traditional Seder plates.
How do you usually eat your matzoh?
Broken into pieces and served like cereal with milk, raisins, and bananas; spread with whipped cream cheese; peanut butter and jelly matzoh sandwiches; and, of course, covered with chocolate.
Do you have any tips or advice for cooking with matzoh?
There are those whose custom it is to not wet matzoh for Pesach. This is called non-gebrokts. People who follow this custom will not do anything with matzoh but eat it in its unaltered form. For those who do not keep non-gebrokts, our advice is to have fun with it! Matzoh can be treated like a cracker or dry flatbread and topped with anything that you can think of. Get creative with your spreads and toppings. Casseroles layered lasagna style with different fillings between pieces of matzoh work well too.
What are some typical or traditional dishes prepared for Passover?
A must-have dish is always haroset (or charoset) which is symbolic of the mortar that Israelites bonded the bricks with while enslaved in ancient Egypt. It is made primarily from chopped nuts and apples although every Jewish community has its own tradition.
What are some of your favorite dishes to eat during Passover?
Braised lamb shanks, simple roasts, lots of fresh salad, potato kugel, toasted nuts, fresh melon, homemade almond macaroons, glazed carrots… but anything that doesn’t have bread in it is pretty much fine.
Could you tell us a little about the recipes that you have suggested? Why did you pick them?
We chose the Pistachio Dacquoise because it pushes the culinary creative envelope beyond traditional Pesach dessert. It was highlighted in a class we just gave featuring unique desserts that would yes, be suitable for Pesach, but could be enjoyed year-round as well. At the school, one of the many ideals we embrace is being able to teach students how to prepare and serve cuisine based on Kosher guidelines, but also how to creatively work within those boundaries where as in the past that may not have always been the case. We also chose the Shiitake, Apricot, and Matzoh Stuffing for the same reason.