[amazon_image id=”0688155901″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The New York Times Passover Cookbook : More Than 200 Holiday Recipes from Top Chefs and Writers[/amazon_image]After years of making the weak, watery Ashkenaz muck that Mira so disdains, I ran across this recipe in the [amazon_link id=”0688155901″ target=”_blank” ]The New York Times Passover Cookbook : More Than 200 Holiday Recipes from Top Chefs and Writers[/amazon_link], credited to Larry Bain and Catherine Pantsios as an adaptation of his gramma’s.
My version is only a little different:
- 1/2 pound walnuts
- 1/4 pound dried apricots
- 1/4 pound dried pitted prunes
- 1/4 pound pitted dates
- 3 whole apples, peeled, cored, quartered (I used Granny Smith)
- 1 large unpeeled seedless orange, washed and quartered (But one year I used a handful of kumquats instead, and it was much, much better! This year I forgot to buy kumquats and had to make do with two Meyer lemons. It just wasn’t the same.)
- 1/2 c sweet Passover red wine (in other words, that Manischewitz drek)
- 2 T brandy (you can flame it if you have nondrinkers coming)
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- 1/8 t ground cloves
- 1/8 t nutmeg
- (Who are we kidding with these miniscule amounts of spices? Just dump them in. And add a healthy dump of cardamom while you’re at it—as any self-respecting Norwegian would do.)
- 1 T fresh lime juice (not necessary if you remembered to buy kumquats)
- 2 T matzoh meal or as needed
- Buzz these up an ingredient or two at a time in the Cuisinart, just enough to get them well chopped. Don’t go overboard and puree them; Mira’s right, you need something to chew.
- Combine everything in a big bowl, adding matzoh meal and more “wine” or better yet brandy as necessary to make a mortarlike consistency.
This is a good recipe, especially compared to the basic Ashkenaz muck, but this year’s batch wasn’t anywhere near as good as the last time, when I used kumquats. Lesson learned.
In the end we took all three charosets—Mira’s minimalist Sephardi charoset of dates, pecans, and merlot; my fiery pelinca-laced Yemeni charoset; and this hybrid Ashkenaz-Sephardi “muck”—to Mira’s mom and agreed to let her be the judge.
She tasted my Yemeni stuff first, and she needed a glass of water to recover. She graciously pronounced it fitting as a “warrior’s charoset,” but said it had too much cayenne for an old lady. She had her Latina helper taste it, too, and she also found it too picante. Strikes one and two.
She tasted Mira’s next, and said it was basically right. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it was better than coughing and sputtering! Then she explained to me how she makes hers. Mira took note of the subtle recipe differences for next year, and unfortunately I think I might be sworn to secrecy on those details.
As for the muck, I don’t think she got around to tasting it. Strike three.
So I guess Mira’s won—unless we both lost, and Mrs Tzaddik’s recipe won in absentia. I think that might be what happened.