Pesach For The Rest of Us: Making the Passover Seder Your Own
Marge Piercy; 2007
283 Pages; Hard Cover
59 Recipes
Reviewed by Lisa Lovezzola Smith for Good Cooking, Inc., Early Summer 2007

The review---

This book is not just a book of recipes, but is an instructional guide of the Jewish Holiday, Pesach, or Passover. It is an easy read from which you will learn the tradition of this holiday and many simple recipes as well as poems and blessings that together will provide a contemporary interpretation of Tradition. All the recipes are written in a casual way, interwoven into the text of the author’s story. This book is not just for those who are Jewish, but can also serve as a wonderful read for someone interested in food history where you will learn the integral role that food can play in the history and traditions of a religion.

Sample Recipes:
Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans: This dish was absolutely delicious!! I cooked it on the stove rather than the oven for about 3 hours and it was delightfully flavored and the meat fell right off the bone. It was hard to find lamb shanks in a typical grocery store, so you may want to find a Jewish butcher.

Cinnamon Lamb: This was tasty, but not my favorite dish. No roasting directions were included with this recipe so I had to seek this information from another cookbook. It was also tricky to cook as the end result had some portions well done with the meat nearest to the bone quite rare. Some roasting tips and advice would be helpful. The egg and herb coating on the lamb was supposed to form a crust, but to achieve this, you will want to add in a bit more matzoh meal than the recipe suggests.

Carrots and Almonds: Slightly sweet and acidic but still quite tasty. I would recommend lightly roasting the almonds and adding them at the end to create a nice crunchy texture.

Potato Kugel: This dish was also great and is a good starch option for those who prefer a kugel that is not sweet.

Passover Apple Sort of Crisp: This was yummy. The apples were nice and crunchy, but I would add more nuts and nutmeg for added flavor.

Recipe tested

Braised Lamb shanks with White Beans

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lamb shank per person
1 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 large carrots, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 can cannellini beans-this is a good amount for 2 or 3
1 cup dry red wine (I often use wine left over from other meals.)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 jar tomatoes Some tomato sauce
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

If you are cooking for more than three, you want to increase amounts according to the number of people. On medium high heat, warm the olive oil. Brown the lamb shanks on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Take them out, turn down the flame, and add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pan and sauce 8 to 10 minutes, till tender. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add beans, wine, broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Stir to mix. Add the lamb shanks, bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until the beans are tender and the meat is nearly falling off the bone, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. If you keep the heat low or put it in a medium oven-325 F or so you can go off and do something else. It's not a fussy dish. You put it on and, as long as you don't have the heat too high, it will take care of itself.

Five minutes before you're ready to eat, add lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Serve immediately. You can use bread to sop up the sauce.