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BUILDING ON TRADITION SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW - SOME THINGS YOUR KIDS CAN DO - KEEPS PASSOVER VIBRANT.

Byline: Natalie Haughton Food Editor

Holidays are always more fun with a combination of tradition to carry through with the familiar, and something new to give a modern touch and add a bit of a surprise.

Depending on your preference, you'll find lots of choices for Passover, which begins at sundown April 12, in two new cookbooks - "A Taste of Nostalgia: Tales and Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul" by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D., and Judi Dick (Art Scroll Shaar Press; $24.99), and "Kosher by Design: Kids in the Kitchen" by Susie Fishbein (Mesorah Publications Ltd.; $22.99).

The first is filled with more than 150 traditional recipes geared strictly for Jewish holidays, including Passover, while the second contains 80 kid-friendly, easy recipes for all sorts of occasions - with some lending themselves nicely to Passover.

" 'A Taste of Nostalgia' is not a cookbook," says Twerski. "It's a storybook with some great recipes. Associating stories with recipes may animate one's spirit, eliciting a chuckle or providing a thoughtful insight. The stories, traditions and folklore associated with food can give it more meaning."

For Passover, which is often associated with special foods, Twerski, who grew up in an Orthodox home in Milwaukee, but now resides in Monsui, N.Y., celebrates in a heavily traditional fashion - and that means he insists on handmade matzos, as do many Orthodox Jews (several plants in New York and elsewhere produce them) rather than those that are machine manufactured. Although they are more expensive, they are tastier, he says, while conceding that machine-manufactured matzos are perfectly acceptable.

"Anything that is subject to being fermented with flour is a no-no (for Passover)." No product of leavened dough is allowed. "Once flour is baked into matzo it can no longer ferment. Some people won't even use farfel or matzo that comes into contact with liquid during Passover." So the holiday staple becomes potatoes. "Without potatoes we would starve on Passover," he says. The 75-year-old retired rabbi and medical doctor (general psychiatry), who dabbles in the kitchen has written more than 40 books, including this 28th volume in a Jewish series. But this is the first one with recipes. (He was running out of ideas and his friends noted that cookbooks always sell.) So he collaborated with Dick, the editor of his other books, who provided the recipes.

"We wanted the whole flavor of the book to be traditional ...," says Twerski, adding that people these days are interested in finding their roots, old traditions, the stability of the past and slowing down.

"It (the book) was designed around how things were made in the old days in Europe," says Dick, who cooks traditional recipes with Old World flavor for all the Jewish holidays.

"The book was not intended as a menu plan. Little did I know how much work goes into preparing recipes for a cookbook," she adds.

The book contains many recipes that have been in Dick's repertoire for years (about 50 of them from her mother), along with some contributed by friends and neighbors and the rabbi.

"Although the rabbi uses modern-day enhancements to make his food tasty and easier to prepare, I still cook the way my mother did (her mother came to America from Austria-Hungary at the age of 12)," adds Dick, who has her mother's recipes for everything. She went into the kitchen and wrote them down as her mother cooked them while she was still alive. When she made her mother pause so she could measure and write down the ingredient amounts, her mother said, "Do you want to learn how to measure or how to cook?"

Dick, who grew up in Brooklyn, only started cooking after she married 40 years ago. But over the years, Dick has done a lot of cooking - following the Jewish dietary laws by not mixing meat and dairy ingredients, utensils or dishes.

"I use almost nothing for Passover, except the basics," says Dick, adding that there "is a beauty in not buying any kosher-for-Passover products and living for eight days without all the extra frills. That's what I want to pass on to my kids (seven of them) and grandchildren."

If you want recipe creations with a modern slant during the eight days of Passover, opt for some of the simple, user-friendly recipes from Fishbein. Although they were designed with kids in mind, they are great for any cook, especially novices.

The recipes are for "real food, nothing silly. I want to welcome kids in the kitchen and get them comfortable and excited about making things other than chocolate chip cookies and brownies. I really tried to take recipes I would put on my table and make them accessible to children.

"Remember, everybody eats with their eyes, not just kids," says Fishbein, the mother of four children ranging in age from 3 to 12 years.

Fishbein is not opposed to using convenient, modern food items if they makes life easier - extra virgin olive oils infused with red pepper, or garlic and basil oil, jarred salsas, baby-food carrots (for muffins) and such.

"You have only one life to live, and you can't spend it all in the kitchen."

Natalie Haughton, (818) 713-3792

natalie.haughton(at)dailynews.com

Sweet Potato Kugel - Eggless

Cookbook author Judi Dick notes that this recipe has been one of her Pesach staples for 40 years. Some of her kids like it so much that they make it during the year as a special treat.

KUGEL:

8 to 10 sweet potatoes

4 tablespoons margarine (OR 4 tablespoons cottonseed oil, frozen)

1/4 cup wine

1/2 cup orange juice

3/4 teaspoon salt

TOPPING:

1 to 2 apples

Lemon juice

For Kugel, place unpeeled sweet potatoes in a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until soft. Remove potato peels and place potatoes in a bowl.

Add remaining kugel ingredients to warm potatoes. Mash ingredients together and spoon into 2 (9-inch) round disposable foil pans or other size and shape baking pans, as desired.

For Topping, peel apples and cut into eighths. Slice thinly (dip slices in lemon juice so that they will not oxidize) and arrange in an attractive pattern on top of kugel. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 30 to 40 minutes.

Makes 2 (9-inch) round pans

VARIATION: For a sweeter kugel, add 1/2 cup sugar and 3 to 4 tablespoons potato starch to warm potato mixture. (The sugar will loosen the mixture and the starch will thicken it again.) After you slice apples, do not dip them in lemon juice. Layer them attractively on top of sweet potatoes and sprinkle top with sugar or a sugar/cinnamon mixture.

From "A Taste of Nostalgia, Tales and Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul," by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D., and Judi Dick.

Mini Meatball Soup

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) matzo meal

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley 2 garlic cloves

30 fresh baby spinach leaves

5 fresh basil leaves

Salt and black pepper to taste

Pour chicken stock into a large pot. Over medium heat, bring stock to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer.

Place ground beef into a medium bowl. Add matzo meal, oregano, dried basil and parsley. With a garlic press, press garlic over meat in bowl. Cover your hand with a Ziploc bag. With that hand, knead mixture lightly to mix, but don't overmix it or meatballs will be tough.

Roll meat mixture into mini meatballs, the size of large marbles. Handle as little as possible or meatballs will be tough when cooked. Carefully drop meatballs into barely simmering chicken stock. Cook, covered, 8 minutes.

Wash your hands and anything that the raw meat touched. On the cutting board, with a sharp knife, make a stack of the spinach leaves. Slice into thin ribbons. Do the same thing with basil leaves. Add spinach and basil to pot. Simmer another 10 minutes, uncovered. Use a spoon to taste soup. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls.

Makes 6 servings

From "Kosher by Design: Kids in the Kitchen," by Susie Fishbein.

Veggies With Ranch Dip

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

3 to 4 stems fresh parsley 3 to 4 stems fresh dill

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

2 small cucumbers

2 stalks celery

1 cup cherry OR grape tomatoes

1 cup baby carrots

In a medium bowl, place mayonnaise, sour cream and vinegar.

With clean scissors, snip off 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves and 1 tablespoon fresh dill. Add to bowl. Sprinkle in garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine all together. You can make this in advance and keep in bowl, covered, in refrigerator.

Rinse and dry red and green peppers. With a sharp knife, cut red and green peppers in half. Scoop out seeds and stem and discard. Slice peppers into strips or use mini cookie cutters to cut into fun shapes.

Rinse cucumbers. Peel with a vegetable peeler and discard skin. With a sharp knife, cut into rounds or spears. Rinse celery and slice off root and top part and discard. Cut celery into chunks.

Spear all of cut vegetables along with tomatoes and baby carrots on fun toothpicks or skewers or display them in ramekins. Serve with dip.

Makes 6 servings

From "Kosher by Design: Kids in the Kitchen," by Susie Fishbein.

Easy Meat Roast

1 (4-pound) beef brisket

1 large onion

5 garlic cloves, pressed

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup chili sauce OR barbecue sauce

3 tablespoons brown sugar

Place beef in a heavy baking pan that is just big enough to hold it. With a sharp knife, slice onion into rings. Spread over beef. Place garlic cloves in a garlic press. Press over beef. Pour ketchup, chili sauce and brown sugar into a small bowl. Stir to mix. Pour over beef.

Cover pan with foil. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 2 1/2 hours. When meat is done, carefully remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, carefully slice into thin slices. You can reheat it in sauce, if desired.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

From "Kosher by Design: Kids in the Kitchen," by Susie Fishbein.

White Chocolate Mousse In Chocolate Boxes

MOUSSE:

4 ounces good-quality white chocolate, broken into small pieces

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

CHOCOLATE BOXES:

2 to 3 (4-ounce) milk chocolate bars

For Mousse, place white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power 45 seconds. Stir with a silicone spatula. Return bowl to microwave and microwave 30 to 35 seconds more. When you remove the bowl and stir again, it should all be melted. Let cool 5 minutes.

If your mixer has a whisk attachment, use it here. Place cream and powdered sugar into bowl of a mixer. Beat at high speed until whipped, fluffy and stiff. When you run a spatula through center, it should leave a mark. If it doesn't, whip it a little longer.

Scoop white chocolate into cream. Beat it in with mixer 10 seconds. Place bowl into refrigerator.

Make Chocolate Boxes: Break each milk chocolate bar so that you have 4 equal square walls (the amount of squares will depend on what your chocolate bar looks like).

Take 2 of the extra squares (or 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, if you have no extra squares) and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high power 30 to 60 seconds. Stir with a silicone spatula. Return bowl to microwave and microwave 30 to 35 seconds more. When you remove and stir it again, it should all be melted.

Carefully remove melted chocolate. Build your chocolate boxes on a plate so that you can easily move them to the refrigerator. With a paintbrush, use the melted chocolate as the "glue" to attach 4 chocolate walls together to make a box. Make sure your smooth sides are facing in. Repeat with the second chocolate bar. Place boxes in refrigerator to firm up 5 minutes.

Fill each chocolate box with the white chocolate mousse.

Hold some of the extra chocolate over the top of the mousse. Run a vegetable peeler over the chocolate to make shavings that fall onto the mousse.

Makes 2 servings

From "Kosher by Design: Kids in the Kitchen," by Susie Fishbein.

CAPTION(S):

5 photos

Photo:

(1 -- cover -- color) BLENDING OF OLD & NEW

Keep Passover traditions fresh

Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer; photographed at Shalom House, Woodland Hills

(2 -- color) WHITE CHOCOLATED MOUSSE IN CHOCOLATE BOXES

(3 -- color) MINI MEATBALL SOUP

(4 -- color) VEGGIES WITH RANCH DIP

Photos by John Uher from ``Kosher by Design: Kids in the Kitchen''

(5 -- color) EASY MEAT ROAST
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Apr 4, 2006
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