If you're Jewish, you know that Passover is less than two weeks away. And if you're making a seder then you're already thinking about the menu. I know I am! So aren't I a lucky lady that my copy of Faye Levy's (one of my very favorite cookbook authors) latest cookbook Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home just arrived in the mail.
I already own two fabulous books by her - Feast from the Mideast and 1000 Jewish Recipes (I loved this one so much, I bought a copy for my daughter Joanna - who also owns a well used and loved edition of Faye Levy's International Jewish Cookbook ). In fact, Faye's been at so many a holiday (and not so holiday) meal at our homes, that I consider her one of the family.
Her latest book is organized by Jewish holidays as well as by the more traditional sections such as appetizers (like Spicy Spinach Tahini), soups ( I definitely have to try her Chicken Soup with Chickpeas, Winter Vegetables, Ginger & Garlic), right through to awesome desserts like Ginger-Scented Plum Sorbet. She brings together an international array of healthful dishes, revamping old standards and introducing new classics to us. As you can tell, I've already earmarked quite a number.
Since Passover is close at hand and now that we're living in Halifax, with a smaller Jewish community than I'm used to (growing up in Montreal and then living in Toronto), I can't just run over to a local Jewish deli and order gefilte fish, nor will I eat canned (I'm a gefilte fish snob, sorry). Last year, Joanna made Faye's Baked Gefilte from 1000 Jewish Recipes which was delicious.
But, the truth is, I've always whined that making gefilte fish like my grandmother and aunts did was way too smelly a job for my home! My experiences (never in my own house!!!) with boiling fish in fish stock is that the fishy smell lingers way too long. So both my daughters were shocked when I decided to try to make my own. The Springtime Green Salad with Gefilte Fish Balls, Sugar Snap Peas and Asparagus sounded too good to pass up. Although normally, I'm not afraid to try new dishes on my guests, this time I thought I should do a practice run just in case.
Funny thing about living in Halifax, which is right on the Atlantic Ocean...I haven't seen an actual fishmonger shop other than at the Saturday Farmers Market. Don't get me wrong, the local Sobey's and Atlantic Superstore (large grocery chains) and Pete's Frootique serve lovely fresh local fish so perhaps that's why you don't need places like you find in other large cities. The thing is...I wanted to make my own fish stock (my daughters couldn't believe it and my husband was sceptical)...Faye has a recipe for Quick Fish Stock that only takes 30 minutes, start to finish and I thought...how bad can the house smell...ready to abandon it at the first sniff. Can you believe that I actually had to order fish bones? Anyway...back to the stock...the kitchen smelled heavenly of bay leaves, parsley and fresh thyme - honest! If you're squeamish, Faye suggests using vegetable broth to cook the gefilte fish.
Since that was such a success...on with the Salmon Gefilte Fish Balls....so easy to prepare (it's all done in a couple of minutes in the food processor) and gently simmered in the fish stock (or vegetable broth) for 30 minutes. Verdict...very tasty and it's a good thing I actually made double the stock which now sits in my freezer ready to cook up my next batch in time for the seder.
Step Three...the Springtime Salad with Asparagus & Sugar Snap Peas with a delightful Asian Dressing. Two minutes to whip up the dressing...Three minutes to blanch the asparagus and, because I didn't like the looks of the sugar snap peas at the grocery store, snow peas...another minute to toss with mixed spring greens and....voila! The perfect appetizer for our seder.
Salmon Gefilte Fish on Springtime Greens with Asparagus & Peas
(seen at the top)
Oh...and I forgot to mention the delicious Roasted Sesame Salmon we had for dinner. Faye served hers with spinach, but these yellow beans looked so fresh and springlike in the store, I couldn't resist.
All in all....this book's a Twelve out of Ten!