Why is this holiday more stressful than all other holidays?

NEW YORK (JTA) — I love Passover, but sometimes I wish I could pass over the arduous cleaning and re-cleaning, pass over the crumbs that my kids have snuck (and stuck) between couch cushions, and clone myself for culinary purposes.

Cooking can prove cathartic when it is of the no-stress, no-mess variety, but when you’re catering to aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, cousins of cousins, in-laws and guests, varying taste buds and dietary restrictions need to be considered. You may find yourself making two types of charoset — one with chopped walnuts and one without — and using more prunes than you can stomach.

You would think that as a cookbook author I would have this all figured out, but I am still trying to get it down to a science.

This year I decided that I had to stick with my recurrent “Quick & Kosher” theme. I always make suggestions to others about keeping it simple for the greatest enjoyment as a cook or baker. This year is going to be the year, God willing, to really follow my own advice, chill out and still get it all done.

As I sit with cucumbers over my eyes (for just a nanosecond before my kids come trailing down the stairs and my BlackBerry starts buzzing), I’m struck with sudden inspiration: I will set my timer and make sure to keep prep and cook time to a minimum for each dish. I will modernize some of my traditional faves and make this a fun experience with recipes that are easily replicable. I may be dreaming, but at least I’m dreaming big.

I take out a piece of paper and divide it into sections: Adults, Kids, Adults with Dietary Restrictions/Preferences, Kids with Dietary Restrictions/Preferences. It is time to hammer out a menu, but the process is going to be enjoyable, please God. After all, Passover is the celebration that once we were slaves and now we’re free — I will not be a slave to my kitchen!

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"Quick & Kosher" Passover recipe from Jamie Geller (reprinted with the permission of Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine):

POMEGRANATE BRAISED BRISKET
Prep: 5 minutes I Cook: about 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 four-pound first cut beef brisket
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 medium onions, peeled and cut into eighths
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups pomegranate juice
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons honey
3 bay leaves
1 small bunch fresh thyme

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375. Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large roasting pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sear brisket about 4 minutes per side or until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes over medium low heat until softened. Return brisket to pan and add pomegranate juice, broth, honey, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Transfer to preheated oven and roast for 2 hours.

Flip brisket over and continue roasting for 1 to 1 1/2 more hours or until tender. Let brisket rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain. Strain liquid and serve on the side au jus.

Yield: 8 servings

This slow cooked hearty brisket makes the perfect pairing for a robust Cabernet Sauvignon.

(Jamie Geller is the bestselling author of the "Quick & Kosher" cookbook series published by Feldheim Publishers. She is also a “mompreneur” and, in conjunction with the Kosher Media Network, recently launched a social network for foodies called www.JoyofKosher.com as well as the print magazine Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller.)

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