Tag Archives: Pesach

Gluten-Free Passover Foods 2013

Because wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats aren’t allowed on Passover (unless they’re in matzo or matzo meal), Passover can be a great gluten-free holiday. You can find gluten-free versions of foods that you can’t find the rest of the year, like gluten-free matzo ball mix, blintzes, cookies and cakes. But be careful to avoid my eternal mistake (when will I ever learn?), and don’t overbuy Passover products. Passover foods are almost always expensive, but they don’t always taste great.

Many foods are labeled “gluten-free” and some are labeled “non-gebrokts” (which is basically the equivalent of gluten-free). Non-gebrokts foods are increasing in popularity because of the growing Hassidic population and gluten-free population.

passover-2

– My top recommendation is Lieber’s Knaidel Mix. This gluten-free matzo ball mix makes light and fluffy matzo balls (called knaidlach in Yiddish). My guests have asked for seconds, unaware that the matzo balls were gluten-free. Another gluten-free matzo ball option is Frankel’s Matzo-Free Balls. These premade frozen gluten-free matzo balls (six to a package) are convenient when you want to take individual gluten-free matzo balls to a relative’s house to drop in their chicken soup.

passover-3

– Don’t let the “breaded” fool you, Spring Valley Breaded Chicken Pattie Nuggets (sorry, I can’t find an online link) are coated with potato starch – a great find, since it’s hard to find gluten-free kosher chicken nuggets. Make sure the bag is labeled kosher for Passover and non-gebrokts. I also bought Spring Valley Frozen Stuffed Chicken Rolls — a good gluten-free kosher quick lunch. Also, it’s hard to find gluten-free blintzes during the year, so I stock up on gluten-free Spring Valley Blintzes, which come in cheese, apple and blueberry flavors. Make sure the box is labeled kosher for Passover and non-gebrokts, as only the Passover blintzes are gluten-free, not the ones they produce the rest of the year.

– Frankel’s makes a frozen gluten-free Passover cheesecake that’s great, as well as gluten-free potato knishes and gluten-free blintzes.

– Gefilte fish often is part of Passover meals, but most gefilte fish contains matzo meal. For the past few years, I’ve bought Kedem Gourmet Gefilte Fish, which is made without matzo meal, is gluten-free and does not contain MSG. This year, I also spotted Rokeach “Gourmet Sweet” and Rokeach “Heimeshe Sweet” gluten-free gefilte fish. Also, some of the frozen gefilte fish loaves are gluten-free.

– Most macaroons are gluten-free, including Manischewitz and Streit’s macaroons, which also use sulfite-free coconut. This year, Manischewitz introduced a frozen gluten-free macaroon dough.

– There has been a debate the past few years about whether quinoa is kosher for Passover. Quinoa is not a grain, but some want to count it as kitniyot and not permit it. Other rabbis say it’s fine for Passover. For a discussion of quinoa, see this article, “Quinoa, ‘mother of all grains,’ may (or may not) be kosher for Passover” published by the JTA news service, which has a quote at the end from me. (To save you the suspense, here’s the quote: “It’s a tiny powerhouse packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, and it’s an important grain alternative, especially on Passover,” Becker said. “It’s great to have it on Passover instead of the usual potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. Most of the Passover foods just end up tasting like Passover, so we rely on quinoa to be that side staple.”)

– I’ve already discussed gluten-free matzo-style squares and gluten-free oat matzos in other posts, so I’ll be brief here. Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo-Style Squares are tasty, gluten-free matzos that taste like crispy flatbread crackers. Yehuda also offers a toasted onion flavor and a fiber-enriched version, as well as gluten-free matzo crackers. I still haven’t tried to cook with Yehuda gluten-free cake meal, but some readers have told me that they haven’t been successful with it. This year, Manischewitz came out with its own Gluten-Free Matzo Squares along with gluten-free Passover crackers.

– New this year is a seasoned version of Jeff Nathan Creations Gluten-Free Panko Flakes. I used the plain panko flakes last year as a gluten-free crumb coating for chicken and fish and liked their texture. But they didn’t have much taste, so I’m happy to see a seasoned version.

– I hate it when I open a bag of tapioca starch and get coated in a puff of white powder. So I like the fact that Gefen Tapioca Starch comes in an easily reclosable canister. I also like the reclosable canisters of potato starch from a few Passover brands.

Dr Praeger’s offers some nice gluten-free options year-round and even more during Passover. I bought “Potato Crusted Fishies,” though now my kids have informed me that they will not eat fish sticks. Go figure.

passover food-1

– You can now buy so many gluten-free cookies, crackers and cakes throughout the year, it doesn’t make sense to buy the Passover versions, which are generally less nutritious and less tasty. Sometimes I’m tempted to buy the boxed bakery-style cookies, though most tend to be expensive and sugary. Still, it is sometimes nice to keep a box or two in the freezer. Shabtai Gourmet, a kosher bakery, is dedicated to baking gluten-free Passover goodies year-round. Oberlander’s , Schick’s and Hagadda also have a selection of gluten-free, bakery-style Passover cakes and cookies. I skip the Passover cake mixes; they’re generally not great. There are some frozen cake loaves that can be worthwhile, such as Osem marble cake and pound cake, which are small and easy to keep in the freezer.

– Generally, I skip the Passover noodles, pizza, pancakes and waffles. They usually end up mushy and gummy. Although this year I did buy frozen Heaven and Health gluten-free potato gnocchi.

– I’m always tempted by snack foods. I love all the boxes of chocolate available at Passover, though check the ingredients — not all are gluten-free. For snacks this year, I bought Guiltless Gourmet Crunchies nut squares and Paskesz Soft Crunch granola-style bars.

Click here for my shortened, printable gluten-free Passover shopping list.

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Fudgy Cream Cheese Brownies and Three-Cheese Eggplant Roll-Ups

fudgy cream cheese brownies

Fudgy, flourless cream cheese brownies, gluten-free

eggplant rollatini

Three-cheese eggplant roll-ups, gluten-free

While the rest of the community whines about giving up wheat on Passover, we gluten-free cooks have it pretty easy. We’re used to cooking without wheat and looking for creative alternatives to grains. While others try to make food with matzo meal, we stay away from the tasteless stuff. This frees us to be more creative with grain-free recipes that taste great during Passover and year-round, like these gluten-free flourless, fudgy cream-cheese brownies and three-cheese eggplant roll-ups.

On Passover, one of my favorite products is Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese — it’s airy, fluffy and spreads easily on matzo, especially on fragile gluten-free matzo that crumbles easily. I usually buy several containers (so does my neighbor Dani, who buys 10 Temp Tee tubs to last well after Passover). So when Temp Tee and Joy of Kosher asked bloggers to create recipes with Temp Tee cream cheese, I jumped at the chance. (Check out all the recipes at Joy of Kosher’s “matzah fatigue” page.)

I recently created fudgy, flourless brownies that not only are gluten-free but also are kosher for Passover. I ramped up the “wow” factor by adding a rich cream cheese swirl, using fluffy Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese.

To counter the sweets, I came up with gluten-free eggplant rollups (or eggplant rollatini, if you want to sound fancy) with a three-cheese filling of cream cheese, cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese.

But let’s start with the sweets, since that’s the best part.

choc chips and butter

First some prep: Place 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 6 tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on half-power for 1 minute, or until melted. Stir until well-combined and set aside to cool a bit.

Then line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, extending up the sides of the pan. This will come in handy later, when you lift the brownies out of the pan to cut them. (One of my favorite baking tips.)

brownie ingredients

With your mixer (or by hand), beat 2 eggs and 3/4 cup sugar until combined. Slowly mix in melted chocolate. Then add 1/4 cup potato starch, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and mix well. Stir in 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, because don’t you think we need more chocolate? And then spread the batter into the baking pan.

Now it’s time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While it’s heating, wash out your mixing bowl and make the cream cheese topping. Beat 8 ounces whipped cream cheese with a mixer. Add 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and mix until it’s all smooth and creamy, with nary a lump.

cream cheese swirl

Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter. Drag a knife through the batter several times to create a marbled design. (You may need to dredge up some thick brownie batter from the bottom to get a good marbled effect.)

Bake for 35 minutes until the brownies feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan (or refrigerate) so they’ll be easier to cut. When cool, lift the brownies out of the pan by the edges of the parchment paper. Place the parchment paper on a cutting board and cut the brownies into 25 squares.

Now on to the three-cheese eggplant roll-ups. Wasn’t it fun to have dessert before dinner?

eggplant

For the eggplant roll-ups, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and cut 2 medium eggplants into thin slices. Trim the top and lop off the bottom of the eggplant, so it can stand up on the cutting board without wobbling. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into slices that are 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Now we’ll need to soften the eggplant, so put the eggplant on baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. Brush the eggplant with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant is soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix 1 egg, 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese, 1/2 cup small-curd cottage cheese (low-fat is fine), 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper until well-blended.

rollups

Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce to cover the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place a spoonful of the cheese filling at the bottom edge of each eggplant slice and roll up. Lay rolls seam side down in the baking dish, placing the rolls close to each other. Pour 1 cup marinara sauce over top of the rolls and sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella. (If you like a little spice, you can sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes over the top.) Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling.

For the complete printable recipes see the Joy of Kosher website:

Fudgy cream-cheese brownies

Three-cheese eggplant roll-ups

This post is sponsored by Temp Tee and Joy of Kosher.

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Gluten-Free Matzo for Passover-Part 2

gf matzos

Recently, I wrote a post about gluten-free oat matzo for Passover. Fortunately, there’s also a different kind of gluten-free matzo on the block. These gluten-free “matzo-style squares” are matzo alternatives that taste better than regular wheat matzo or gluten-free oat matzo. With a crisp, cracker consistency, these gluten-free matzos are good enough to be eaten year-round (really!).

Made primarily from potato starch and tapioca starch, and lightly salted, the matzos have a delicate taste, unlike regular dry matzo that leaves you parched and scrambling for water. Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo-Style Squares have been on the market for the past two years. Not to be left out, Manischewitz came out with its own “Gluten-Free Matzo-Style Squares” this year. (How odd that they have the same name.)

Now, these matzos don’t technically meet the seder requirements of matzo — that’s why you’ll notice a disclaimer on the box that says “not a replacement for seder matzo” or “not for sacramental purposes.” At the seder the Hamotzi blessing is supposed to be said over matzo made from one of five grains: wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats. That’s why some people turn to gluten-free oat matzo, though the oat matzo tastes like cardboard and is much more expensive, because of the supervision involved in ensuring that it’s both gluten-free and kosher for Passover.

The Manischewitz and Yehuda gluten-free matzo-style squares are very similar — with a crisp, flatbread consistency. Manischewitz is cheaper, which is always a plus, though I like Yehuda’s flavor slightly better. Both are certified gluten-free, and both do not contain oats (doctors now say that most celiacs can tolerate pure, uncontaminated gluten-free oats, but some celiacs still have reactions from oats). Yehuda and Manischewitz also make smaller gluten-free matzo crackers, too.

Last year, Yehuda added a toasted onion flavor, and this year adds a fiber-enriched version. The fiber-enriched version has 3 grams of dietary fiber, compared to 1.2 grams in the regular matzo squares. The additional fiber comes in the form of “apple fiber” and “plant fiber.” The fiber-enriched version is dry, though. If you want fiber, you’d probably be better off eating a fresh apple, which has 4 grams of fiber, instead of eating apple fiber in your matzo.

Depending on where you live, these matzos can be hard to find. I’ve found them at a local Jewel that has a good kosher selection. Some Whole Foods stores (at least in Chicago) carry the Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo-Style Squares, too. You can also order them online, or ask if your local grocery store can order them for you.

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Gluten-Free Oat Matzo 2013

oat matza2

Gluten-free oat matzo for Passover

This Passover brings more gluten-free matzo choices than ever, which is a welcome relief from a few short years ago when you had to hunt to find any gluten-free options.

Gluten-free matzo falls into two categories. The first is gluten-free oat matzo, which is expensive and tastes like cardboard, but is the ritually correct type of matzo to include in a Passover seder. During the Passover seder, the Hamotzi blessing should be recited over matzo made from one of five grains (wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats), so gluten-free oat matzo qualifies.

The other type of gluten-free matzo is much more tasty (good enough to eat year-round as a crispy flatbread cracker) and much cheaper, but is made primarily from potato starch and tapioca starch. These “matzo-style squares” don’t meet ritual requirements, because they don’t contain wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats, so the box states “not a replacement for seder matzo” or “not for sacramental purposes.”  Yehuda has produced matzo-style squares since 2011, and Manischewitz has come out with its own version this year. (For more information, Tablet magazine published an interesting discussion of the merits of gluten-free matzo.)

Gluten-Free Oat Matzo

In this post, I focus on gluten-free oat matzo. Stay tuned for my post later this week about “matzo-style squares.” (Update: Posted 3/8. “Gluten-Free Matzo for Passover Part 2.”)

A few years ago, oat matzo was the only kind of gluten-free matzo on the market, and it cost about $35-$40/box. Now, prices have come down to about $20-$25/box. There are two versions: machine-made matzas, which are square, and handmade matzas, which are round and are kneaded and baked by hand.

Lakewood Matzah uses certified gluten-free oats that are grown, cleaned and ground in a gluten-free environment. The oat matzo is certified gluten-free by the GFCO, making it a safe choice for celiacs. Their matzo comes in two versions: Gluten Free Oat Machine (Square) Matzoh, $25.99 per lb, with nine matzos per pound, and Gluten Free Oat Hand (Round) Matzoh, $25.99 for three hand matzohs (at least half a pound).

Gluten-Free Oat Matzos. Rabbi Kestenbaum’s gluten-free oat matzos were the first, and for many years the only, gluten-free matzos on the market. Based in London, Kestenbaum has been making them for more than 20 years. This year, for the first time, his Gluten-Free Oat Matzos are certified by the GFCO, making them a safe choice for celiacs. They cost about $29.99 per pound.

Click to read our Q&A interview with Lakewood Matzoh

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Colorful Quinoa Salad

quinoa salad

Colorful Quinoa Salad

Now, I love overcooked Jewish food as much as any good Jew. I look forward to Passover seders full of Eastern European food that my family has made for generations: brisket, turkey, gefilte fish, kugel, tzimmes. But I have to admit that after a few days of all that heavy stuff, I’m ready for some lighter fare for the rest of Passover, an eight-day holiday.

Quinoa has been a more recent addition to our Passover repertoire. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is an ancient South American grain that’s high in protein and nutrition. Grown in the Andes mountains in South America, quinoa bears no relation to chametz grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt), making quinoa kosher for Passover and gluten-free.

Ancient Harvest says that its quinoa is grown in the high Andean Altiplano regions of Bolivia at 12,000+ foot elevations where the arid conditions will not support traditional gluten-bearing grain production. So there’s no possibility of cross-contamination in the fields.

The ancient Incas revered quinoa as sacred. It’s not only high in protein, calcium and iron, but it’s a complete protein, since it contains all eight essential amino acids.

I make the following gluten-free Colorful Quinoa Salad during the year, but it can also be a refreshing addition to a Passover table. Chock full of healthy quinoa and antioxidant-rich veggies, fruit and nuts, it’s particularly good to pull out for a brunch buffet, since you can make it in advance and serve it at room temperature. The recipe is adapted from “Let’s Dish,” a cookbook from my kids’ school.

Click for Colorful Quinoa Salad recipe

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Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

gluten-free matzo ball soup

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

If you could put comfort in a bowl, you’d end up with matzo ball soup. Chicken soup is legendary. This “Jewish penicillin” can conquer the common cold and, if you believe your Bubbe, can cure any hurt or illness. Add fluffy matzo balls and it’s the stuff family legends are made of.

When our family first went gluten-free, we mourned the lack of matzo ball soup. Chicken soup with rice just wouldn’t suffice. I tried to make gluten-free matzo balls from scratch, but instead of matzo balls we ended up with matzo lumps.

But when Passover rolled around, I found salvation. Salvation in a box.

Matzo balls contain, of course, matzo, which is made from wheat. However, some kosher for Passover brands of matzo ball mix are made from potato starch instead of matzo meal. That’s because some observant Jews don’t mix matzo with water during Passover, to prevent any possibility of it rising. Passover food that does not contain matzo is labeled non-gebrokts. (Gebrokts literally means “broken,” referring to matzo that is broken up and mixed with water.)

As Passover approaches, you can find several brands of gluten-free matzo meal. I buy four or five boxes to last well into the year. My favorite gluten-free matzo ball mixes are Paskesz Pesach Crumbs and Lieber’s Knaidel mix. (Paskesz’ gluten-free “Matzo Ball Mix” sounds like it would be great, but it produces knaidlach that are gummy instead of yummy.) Update: I’ve decided that Lieber’s Knaidel Mix makes the best gluten-free matzo balls. The recipe below follows the instructions for the Paskesz mix, so if using Lieber’s follow the directions on the box.

You’ll end up with perfectly round cream-colored balls that are fluffy on the outside, yet ever-so-slightly dense at the core (which, in my opinion, is a good thing). We’ve served them to gluten-eating friends who’ve asked for seconds and thirds.

To make the matzo balls, I use the recipe on the side of the box with just a few small changes. The recipe below uses Pesach Crumbs, because I can usually find those year-round in our kosher grocery store.

Some matzo ball tips: After you’ve made the matzo ball mixture, be sure to refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Then enlist your kids to help roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls. However, be gentle: The more you roll the balls, the denser they will be. Set aside all the balls onto a plate. When they all are rolled and ready, drop the balls into a pot of boiling water, so they all cook for the same amount of time. Use a large pot, so the matzo balls have room to fluff up and not crowd their neighbors.

Click for Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup recipe

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