Every April, thousands of Jewish families gather at the dining room table with most of their relatives to celebrate Passover. In case you need a quick refresher, watch Ten-Commandments, but briefly: Jews celebrate their escape from slavery a long time ago in the land of Egypt. In 2014, us modern, reform Jews celebrate the holiday with family, friends and tons of food…one of which is meant to be bread. That’s not allowed because our ancestors had to get the hell out of Egypt so quickly that the bread didn’t even have time to rise. So in solidarity to our ancestors, we do no carbs for a week. We also eat matzoh ball soup, chicken, matzoh brei, kugel, apples, bitter herbs and my personal favorite: gefilte fish.
For many, gefilte fish is an abhorrent white slimy mass often seen floating in a Gold’s jar of primordial, gelatinous ooze. But not for me—my mother made the most delicious sweet loaf with fresh vegetables and fish. It’s a traditional recipe that combines the likes of pike, carp and whitefish into a loaf. (Have you read my fish-buying guides for NYC and Brooklyn? Clutch.) I’ve recreated her recipe many times and turned many gefilte fish haters into gefilte fish acolytes. Traditionally, gefilte fish is baked in a loaf, but here I’ve used my mini muffin pan to make them into two-bite cupcakes. You MUST eat gefilte fish with horseradish. You can buy the pink-colored stuff in a jar, which is totally fine. OR you can throw some canned beets, sugar and vinegar into a food processor and make your own.
Here’s the recipe.
Makes 36 mini gefiltecakes
1 sheet of matzoh
2 Tablespoons olive oil + a splash
2 Tablespoons oil or non-stick cooking spray
3 medium-sized carrots , peeled and roughly chopped
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 lbs. red snapper
1/2 lb. cod
1 teaspoon paprika
1. Preheat oven to 350 and liberally grease your muffin tin (or loaf if using).
2. Pulse the carrots and onions in a food processor until very finely blended.
3. Heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat in a small frying pan. Saute the carrots and onions for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add to a large bowl to cool for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.
4. Pulse the matzoh in the food processor until it’s meal. It should look like flour with slightly larger chunks. Whisk the eggs and matzoh meal together in a bowl and add to the carrot/onion mixture.
5. Chop the fish into manageable pieces and pulverize in your food processor. You may need to work in batches but you want the fish to be completely blended. Add this to the bowl along with the salt sugar and 2 Tablespoons olive oil.
6. Spoon the mixture into the tin, sprinkle with paprika and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the cakes with a butter knife while they are still hot. Repeat until you have used up the mixture. Then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Serve cold with horseradish.
Makes 2 small jars worth
1/2 cup chopped fresh horseradish root (peeled)
1/2 can beets
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1. Blend the horseradish and beets together in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to blend until combined well. I like it best when completely blended.
2. Store in the fridge for a day to lessen the heat.