About My Blog.

Welcome! This is "Catatonic Digressions."
Most, if not all readers don't understand my blog's title. It's an old inside joke from a forum long gone. I was going to change it, but since it's been "confusing" for so long, I decided to leave it. Don't worry about what it means, the content of the blog is what is important.

Unfortunately, my blog isn't what I set out for it to be. A disturbed and manic online stalker and cyberbully has made it impossible for me to post about family, my son, life in my part of New York...so I stopped (for the most part), and I mostly reblog and repost what I feel is important, necessary or close to my heart. As for the stalking sociopath, she can go to hell for harassing me and my family since mid-2008. You can't scare me offline with a few lame threats and dozens of pages of defamation, abuse, depravity and libel. I'm bitchy like that. ;)
(Anyone who knows me knows I'm not actually a bitch, but let's allow this psychopath to think I'm a bitch to her blackened heart's content—it seems to make her feel she has some sort of control over me…and it does not.)

If you read a story and you feel moved in any way, comment. Comments are more than welcome.

Unlike those online who lie and hide behind fake photos and insanely fabricated stories, I'm a real person. I'm real and I don't pretend to be someone I'm not. After years of putting up with online abuse by manipulative, pathological liars, attention whores or narcissists, I've had it. Don't bother me with pathetic drama. I have no time for these types of people and their need to absorb others' time and attention.

Feel free to email me if you have a story or cause you would like shared, especially if it pertains to animal rights, liberation, veganism, animal welfare, health and well-being, geekery, Macs and computer dorkiness, music, lowbrow art, kitchy stuff, skateboards, the beach, swimming, diving, NYC, beading (it's my hobby), recipes (love to cook, especially if I made the recipe up myself!), VEGAN!, ALF, Sea Shepherd, Action for Animals, NIO, 269Life and/or anything you think I might enjoy or others might—you never know. It doesn't always have to be serious. Hilarious stories, local NY, funny videos or photos, photobombs (especially if they contain pets!)...I might be partially censored, but I'm not closed down!

Please, join Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and follow them and The Barbi Twins on Twitter and Facebook.

For the Oceans,
Suzanne

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Passover

Sephardic Seder

Sephardic-Style Passover


Taken from In a Vegetarian Kitchen with Nava Atlas.

For more Passover recipes, check out Vegetarian Celebrations 

Food plays a major role in the rituals of Passover, the holiday commemorating the end of Jewish slavery in Egypt. It starts with the Seder, a celebratory meal during which families gather to recount the story as written in the Haggadah, or Passover prayer book. Throughout the reading, friends and family sample foods symbolizing the various elements of the Passover story. 

Most American Jews are of the Ashkenazic, or Eastern European tradition. But Jews from the Mediterranean, or Sephardic Jews, have some different Seder traditions in regard to food; these traditions lend themselves well to vegetarians. For instance, Sephardic tradition permits the use of legumes and grains that are not permitted in the Ashkenazic tradition, with the exception of wheat. 

The recipes that follow represent a small sampling of traditional Sephardic Seder dishes.






SEPHARDIC DATE HAROSET

Makes: about 2 cups


Haroset is a spread for matzo made from fruit, nuts and wine; it symbolizes the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build ancient Egyptian cities. Sephardic harosets are made in various ways, but usually contain dates. 


  • 1 cup pitted dates

  • 1 cup raisins

  • 1/2 cup walnuts

  • 1 medium apple, peeled and diced

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons sweet Passover wine


Combine all the ingredients in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Pat into a serving container and cover until serving.









MOROCCAN-STYLE MATZO BALL SOUP 

Serves: 8 to 10


Matzo balls aren't always a part of the Sephardic tradition, but a Turkish friend remembers them from his childhood Seders. They'd be sorely missed at any American Seder; boxes of Passover matzo ball mix feature a foolproof recipe for them. 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, minced

  • 2 large or 3 medium leeks, white parts only, quartered lengthwise and chopped

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

  • 2 medium white turnips, peeled and diced

  • 3 medium carrots, sliced

  • 3 medium stalks celery, diced

  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped

  • 8 cups vegetable stock or water, or a combination

  • 1 teaspoon each: paprika and ground cumin

  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 cups frozen peas

  • Matzo balls (make according to package directions)


Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and leeks; sauté over medium heat until the leeks are limp, about 10 minutes.



Add the potatoes, turnips, carrots, celery, mushrooms, stock or water, paprika and cumin; mix well. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer gently, cover, until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. 



Season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer 10 minutes more. Stir in the peas. 



Let stand off the heat for several hours or overnight in refrigerator to develop flavor. Reheat before serving. Serve with matzo balls. 






SPINACH AND POTATO MATZO PIE

Serves: 8 to 10 


Matzo pies, called minas, are common at Sephardic Seders. They consist of layered matzos, vegetables and cheese. 

  • 8 medium potatoes

  • Two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed

  • 4 to 6 scallions, diced

  • 15-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese, preferably organic

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 6 to 8 matzos

  • 2 cups grated mild white cheese, such as mozzarella, Monterey Jack or white cheddar


Bake or microwave the potatoes in their skins until tender; cool. Peel and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. 



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 



In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach, scallions, ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. 



Soak the matzos in warm water in a shallow container until pliable but not mushy, about 2 minutes; drain. Lightly oil two 9- by 9-inch casserole dishes; line the bottoms with a layer of matzos. Layer each with the spinach mixture, potato slices, more matzos and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Finish with a layer of matzo. 



Bake until top matzo is golden with spots of brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.






TURKISH EGGPLANT STEW

Serves: 8 to 10


Eggplant is always abundant in the Mediterranean, so it is not unusual to find eggplant on the Sephardic Seder table. It is unusual, however, for Ashkenazic Jews to eat rice during Passover, so it is optional for this stew. 

  • 2 medium eggplants (2 pounds)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 14- to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

  • Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, to taste

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Cooked rice (optional)


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 



Prick the eggplants in several places with fork; place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until softened and collapsed, about 45 to 55 minutes. Cool, slice open and scoop the pulp from the skin. Discard the skin and chop the pulp. 



In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion; sautƒ until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggplant, tomatoes, lemon juice and sugar. Simmer gently, covered, 20 minutes. Add the parsley, then season with salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes more. Serve alone or over rice. 






ROASTED PEPPER SALAD

Serves: 8 to 10


This traditional Moroccan salad is often served during the Passover meal in the homes of Sephardic Jews. 

  • 6 large green bell peppers

  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • Salt to taste

  • Lettuce leaves


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet; bake until skins are blackened on all sides, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place peppers in paper bag; seal and set aside at least 15 minutes. Peel off the skins, remove the stems and seeds, and cut into 1-inch pieces. 



Combine peppers with remaining ingredients; mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Arrange lettuce leaves on serving platter and top with the salad. Serve 1 or 2 lettuce leaves with each serving of salad. 






SWEET AND SOUR ARTICHOKE HEARTS

Serves: 8


This simple side dish is traditional to the Sephardic Passover tables of several countries, including Turkey. 

  • Two 10-ounce packages frozen artichoke hearts, or two 15-ounce cans artichoke hearts (not marinated), drained

  • 1/3 cup apple juice

  • Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

  • 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


In a deep saucepan over medium heat, combine the artichoke hearts and apple juice; bring to a simmer. Stir in enough lemon juice and honey to achieve the desired sweet-sour taste. Add salt and simmer, uncovered, until liquid is reduced slightly. 



Transfer to serving plate; sprinkle with parsley. 






SEPHARDIC WINE AND FRUIT PUDDING

Makes: 24 or more little squares 

  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

  • 1/2 cup chopped dates

  • 1/3 cup raisins

  • 3/4 cup sweet Passover wine

  • 3 eggs, beaten

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 3/4 cup matzo cake meal

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts


Combine the dried fruits with the wine in a small mixing bowl. Let soak overnight or for the good part of a day, then drain off any excess wine.



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.



Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, then stir in the soaked fruits. Pour into an oiled 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more, or until the pudding looks dark but still moist and springs back at a gentle touch. Cool, then cut into small squares or diamonds to serve.




THE SEPHARDIC HERITAGE HAGGADAH
(The Sutton Edition) -- With commentary and insights from Talmudic and Rabbinic literature


The image above of Russian nesting dolls has nothing to do with Passover or this blog entry, but if I didn't post the picture now, I'd possibly forget for months… My cousin bought this for my parents a few years ago, and it was sitting out on a table in the living room until my son became far too amused by it, and we were afraid he might break it, so it's safely tucked away for now, until he can handle it and know it's fragile. This set is called "Jewish Rabbis." There are many other beautiful nesting dolls at Russian Legacy. CLICK ME.

About the nesting dolls: Origin: Russian Federation. As all of our nesting dolls, this 5 piece set is handcrafted in the heart Russia. It is handturned from linden wood and then handpainted by a professional nesting doll artist. It is a typical nesting doll, and each smaller piece of the set fits into the next larger one. Each doll is coated with 3-5 layers of crystal clear lacquer, and the tallest one is signed by artist.




In Hebrew the word Sephar, (Samech Fey Resh), is a noun meaning "Frontier Zone". This means ANY area outside of the legal/National boundaries of Israel.

In the ancient times, this was used to describe those Jews who had already been exiled by the destruction of the first Temple. Thus, we came to begin using the word "Sephardim" to describe those Jews living outside of Israel. In those days, this meant in all surrounding areas of Israel, which today includes, but is not limited to, the countries of: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. This is because those were the areas to which most fled.

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