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Chosen Food - A Celebration of Jewish Food and Culture

On Wednesday March 28th, at 3pm, there will be a live stream presentation on from the Jewish Museum of Maryland, famed cookbook author and TV host Joan Nathan, and White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses on "Chosen Food".

Passover is fast approaching and as families across the country begin to plan their Seder feasts, make travel plans to see their loved ones and brainstorm where to hide the afikoman, the White House Office of Public Engagement and the National Endowment for the Humanities will gather members of the American Jewish Community together to celebrate and prepare for Passover.

Tomorrow, Wednesday March 28th, at 3pm join a live stream presentation on from the Jewish Museum of Maryland, famed cookbook author and TV host Joan Nathan, and White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses from the White House . The Jewish Museum of Maryland is currently home to an NEH funded exhibit entitled Chosen Food, which explores the history and cultural significance of food in the American Jewish Community. Museum curators will explore the ever evolving history of Passover and share lighthearted stories while Joan Nathan and Bill Yosses demonstrate two dishes that families everywhere can incorporate into their Seders’ this year. One recipe is an adaptation of haroset from Arkansas and the other is Joan Nathan’s original matzo chremsel recipe.

For more information about Joan Nathan, see her recent article in the New York Times about Passover.

ARKANSAS PEAR HAROSET, adapted from Michael Selig, Little Rock, AR

Total time:  20 minutes

1 cup toasted pecans

1 cup dried figs

1 ½ just-ripe finely chopped pears, about 2 cups

1/2 medium Arkansas Black apple or other crisp, slightly tart variety, peeled and finely chopped, about ½ cup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons Passover sweet wine

The grated zest and juice from 1/2 lemon

1. Finely chop the pecans and the figs with a hand chopper or knife in a wooden bowl.

2. Stir them in with the pears and apple. Add the cinnamon, honey, sweet wine, and the grated lemon zest and juice.  Toss together and store in a glass or ceramic bowl. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to mesh flavors.

Yield:  4 cups haroset


MY MATZO CHREMSEL, adapted from Jewish Cooking in America by Joan Nathan

Total Time:  30 minutes

3 matzos, broken in bite size pieces, soaked in cold water very briefly, and gently squeezed dry

2 tablespoons currants

2 tablespoons almonds, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons dried apricots or prunes, coarsely chopped

3 large eggs, separated

¼ teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup matzo meal

1/3 cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Kosher-for-Passover vegetable oil, for frying

Sugar or Kosher for Passover confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

1. Lightly mix the matzos, currants, almonds, dried apricots or prunes, the egg yolks, the matzo meal, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and the grated zest and juice of a lemon in a medium bowl.

2.  Mix the egg whites until stiff in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Fold the beaten egg whites into the matzo mixture.  Refrigerate for about a half hour.

3.  Line a plate with paper towels and heat 2 inches of kosher for Passover vegetable oil to 375 degrees in a wok or other low-sided medium stockpot.  Carefully spoon the batter, 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil without crowding the pan. Fry until golden and crisp, about 1 minute on each side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the paper towels to drain. Serve warm, if possible, sprinkled with the sugar or confectioners’ sugar.  Leftovers you can reheat in a 350 degree oven just before serving.

Yield:  12 to 15 chremsel


Jarrod Bernstein is the Director of Jewish Outreach in the Office of Public Engagement