Arkansas charoset, from the White House to you


This afternoon at 3PM EDT, the White House goes live online from the Jewish Museum of Maryland with Joan Nathan, cookbook maven and sometime JTA contributor, and Bill Yosses, the White House pastry chef.

The museum is running a National Endowment of the Humanities-funded exhibit called "Chosen Food," which is all about, well, food for the chosen.

Nathan and Yosses will prepare Arkansas Pear Charoset, a recipe by Michael Selig of Little Rock; and Nathan’s own matzoh chremsel.

Natch, the recipes are all about the seder. Considering this is all government funded, I gotta ask: Do they get served up at the Obama-hosted seder next week?

And who gets the leftovers?

Watch online here. Recipes below the jump.


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

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