Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Moscardini de Pesach a la Winicur

The countdown to Pesach has begun. The house is almost completely kashered, the baking and cooking for the seder is underway, and we have now reached the most difficult time of Pesach...the days of final chametz. Now is when we have used up all the good chametz, and we are trying to find something to eat amongst the last few scraps of usable food. We can't break into the matzah yet, but we don't have anything to put in our sandwiches other than bread itself.

As a matter of fact, today I had a glutenschnitzel sandwich. That means that other than the tomato sauce I smeared over it, I had wheat gluten breaded with corn meal between two pieces of bread. It was like a super chametz sandwich. Tonight, I stopped at the store, bought a 8-count package of tortillas, a can of black beans, and a small can of corn. Combined with the last of the leftover rice in the fridge and the non-kosher for passover salsa, we suddenly had a wonderful burrito meal with hardly any leftovers. And tomorrow, I'll take the last of the stir fry and noodles for lunch.

Trying to make the chametz come out even before Pesach is almost an art. Open question to all of my readers: What do all of you eat on the last couple of days before Pesach? Do you kasher your kitchen weeks before and eat out for 10 days straight? Do you put all your chametz in a bag in the fridge and sneak your sandwiches out to the garage until you finally sweep up that last bread crumb with a feather and a candle the night before?

When you live in Indianapolis, you have to prep for Pesach ahead of time. If you haven't bought your Doc Brown's kosher for Passover black cherry soda a couple of weeks before Pesach, then good luck finding any at all.

I'm sure that all you folks in Skokie or NYC or Israel can go into the local Walmart any day of Pesach and find whatever you want whenever you want it. But for the rest of us in the Midwest (i.e. outside of Chicago) we have to plan ahead. It just makes us better than you. Or something like that.

Switching topics rapidly, I finally worked out a good recipe for Passover moscardini, an almond cookie usually made for Purim. If any of you can give me a historical background on this cookie (or even a good picture of what it should really look like), I would be much obliged. These cookies taste wonderful, but they are possibly the most unappetizing looking pastries that I've ever made. What can you expect? They are dark brown cookies with flecks of white in a nondescript tubular shape that looks like...well, you get the idea.

So, I've played with the recipe to make it look more like mandelbrot. At least now it looks like a cookie I'd actually want to eat.

Moscardini de Pesach a la Winicur

1 1/4 cup almonds, toasted then finely ground
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup matzah cake meal
1/3 tsp. cinnamon
2-3 tsp. orange zest (1/2 an orange)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 egg yolk

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Oil a baking sheet and coat it with matzah cake meal.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the egg and egg yolk into the dry ingredients and stir well.

Press the dough firmly into a long mound, about 3 inches wide by 9 inches long by 1 inch high. Taper the edges so that when you slice the loaf, you get moon-shaped cookies.

With a sharp knife or a pastry scraper (a pastry scraper works very well), cut the mound into segments, each about 3/4 inch thick. Place the segments cut side down on the baking sheet, each about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes till just firm. Remove cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Yields about 1 1/2 dozen.

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