Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Keeping Kosher for Passover

While most people know about Passover seders, the holiday is actually observed for a whole week. What does that mean exactly? Well, for one thing, it means keeping Kosher for Passover.

Keeping Kosher for Passover is a bit different from just keeping Kosher. Here is a basic summary of the major laws of Kashrut or "keeping Kosher" literally proper or fit:

* You are not allowed to serve milk and meat in the same meal

* Only animals that chew their cud and have split hooves are permitted for example lamb and beef but not pork, and must be slaughtered in a special way

* Fish can be eaten but must have both fins and scales

* No shellfish is allowed

Whether these laws were created for health reasons or for more humane treatment towards animals we may never know, but they have been in effect for a very long time and many people around the world observe them.

Kosher for Passover means keeping Kosher plus it means not eating any "leavened baked goods". Specifically you can't eat chometz which is anything that contains barley, wheat, rye, oats, or spelt and is not cooked within 18 minutes after coming in contact with water. Additionally Jews from Eastern Europe like myself, avoid corn, rice, peanuts, and legumes since they can be used to make bread. Lots of foods have additives that make them unsuitable for the holiday. For details on how the most observant Jews keep Kosher for Passover, check out this guide. It might seem silly, but think of it like giving something up for Lent. It's just a kind of reminder to keep you thinking about the themes of the holiday for a little while longer.

Because you don't use yeast, a lot of cakes, muffins and rolls use eggs, especially egg whites for leavening instead. Passover baked goods can be dry and rubbery. Fortunately Dannon All Natural yogurt is not only Kosher for Passover but a great ingredient to increase the tenderness in baked goods. If you are keeping Kosher you can use the plain, vanilla, coffee and lemon flavors of yogurt in recipes and as a substitute for higher fat dairy goods like cream cheese, sour cream and whipped cream which is something I do all year round.

This year I tried three recipes from Dannon that are specifically good for Passover. My favorite was a mini muffin recipe. It was so good I would make it year round.

Lemon Vanilla Yogurt Walnut Passover Mini Muffins courtesy of Dannon

2 tbsp. canola oil + 1 tbsp. for greasing pans
3/4 cup Passover cake meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon peel, or more to taste
3/4 cup Dannon® Natural Flavors Vanilla Lowfat Yogurt
4 eggs separated
36 large walnut pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin pans. In a large bowl, add cake meal, salt, ground walnuts, sugar and lemon zest.
2. In a medium size bowl, add 2 tablespoons of oil, yogurt and egg yolks and whisk together. Add to cake meal mixture and mix well.
3. In a clean dry bowl, add egg whites and beat until stiff. Gently fold 1/4 of the whites into cake mixture to lighten; then fold rest of whites into mixture until just combined.
4. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture into each mini muffin pan, top with a piece of walnut and bake for 12-14 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Yield: 36 mini muffins (2 muffins per serving)

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