Please the Crowd; De-Stress the Chef

[by Jamie Geller]

NEW YORK (JTA) — Passover may be the mother of all kitchen yuntifs, but stay cool and don’t stress. Here are some of my favorite recipes from last Passover that you will love this Passover and all year.

Last year, 99 percent of what I made for Passover weren’t actually Passover recipes. Of course they were kosher for Passover, but they didn’t require any major Passover ingredient tweaks. These recipes were developed with Passover in mind and have become staples in my year-round repertoire because they were super easy and got the most oohs and ahhs.

OK, real gourmet chefs don’t keep a tally of how many people flipped over this or that dish — but I really need to know. The winners on my menu get to come back and try for eternal stardom.
And the winners are:

  • Salmon Croquettes with Tropical Fruit Salsa: You can make this even easier by skipping the fresh salmon and using good quality canned salmon.
  • Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Saute: Shamelessly simple and super beautiful, it is pleasing to the eye and the palate. Audience applause told me that the zucchini actually tasted better when prepped this way.
  • Pomegranate Braised Brisket: So tender and so sweet, this piece of meat just melts in your mouth.

Follow my lead, and this year every dish you serve will be truly delicious, not just “pretty good for Pesach stuff.” Chag kasher v’sameach – Have a happy and kosher holiday!

Croquettes are cute and elegant for your starter course. They’re also wonderfully light and refreshing. The tropical salsa is a combination of fresh pineapple, mango, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice — the perfect complement to the richness of the salmon. The balance of sweet and savory flavors instantly pleases the palate. This is a starter with zing!

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 45 minutes
Ready: 60 minutes
Servings: 10 cakes

For cakes:
1 (2-pound) side of salmon, skin on
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 tablespoons matzah meal
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
For salsa:
1 cup diced pineapple
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a large baking sheet. Bake salmon skin side down for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Let cool completely.

Once salmon is cooled, gently flake away from the skin and break into large chunks. Place in a large bowl and combine with eggs, red onion, matzah meal, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well. Scoop about 1/3 cup at a time into your hands and form into a round patty about 1/4-inch thick. Place on a sheet pan and repeat with remaining mixture until you have formed 10 cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine pineapple, mango, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry 5 cakes at a time for about 5 to 8 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate while frying remaining cakes.

To serve, top each cake with a few tablespoons of salsa.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
Ready: 25 minutes
Servings: 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 roasted red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add zucchini ribbons and saute 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly softened. Add garlic and saute 3 minutes more. Add bell pepper and saute 5 more minutes or until warmed. Stir in paprika; salt and toss to coat.

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 4 hours
Ready: 4 hours, 5 minutes
Servings: 8

1 four-pound first cut beef brisket
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 medium onions, peeled and cut into eighths
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups pomegranate juice
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons honey
3 bay leaves
1 small bunch fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 375. Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large roasting pan or dutch oven over medium high heat. Sear brisket about 4 minutes per side or until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes over medium low heat until softened. Return brisket to pan and add pomegranate juice, broth, honey, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Transfer to preheated oven and roast for 2 hours.

Flip brisket over and continue roasting for 1 to 1  1/2 more hours or until tender. Let brisket rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain. Strain liquid and serve on the side as au jus.
Jamie Geller is the author of the best-selling Quick & Kosher cookbook series and creator of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine. She is the host of the popular “Quick & Kosher” cooking show online at and on-air on JLTV. Follow more of Geller’s Quick & Kosher cooking adventures on Twitter @JoyofKosher and on

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