Friday, April 15, 2011

Passover Food: From Yuck to Yum!

I always recall Passover being a time for close friends and family to sit down and share a leisurely evening of the retelling of Moses and the Jews' exodus from slavery in Egypt. The songs, the stories, the plagues (plastic frogs and red wine drops of "blood") laughter and of COURSE, the delicious food. Brisket slathered in gravy, sweet carrot tzimmes, Grandma's matzoh ball soup...these are all tasty memories I eagerly looked forward to each spring.

However, when the first and second night have "passed over" (heh) and it's time to go back to school/work for the remaining six days with no chametz (bread), I was always sadly disappointed by the everyday meals that followed: Breakfasts of Chocolate "Cripsy Oh's" (more like "cardboard oh's" as my dad used to joke), lunches of matzoh and cream cheese sandwiches with a hard boiled egg from the school cafeteria, dinners of leftover chicken and soup and desserts of coconut macaroons and jelly fruit slices.
Needless to say, this would get boring very, very quickly.

Lucky for me, I had an adventurous mother who stormed the kitchen with fresh exciting recipes. We both discovered that we were gluten-intolerant and finding Kosher for Passover recipes became more typical for every day use. Here's one of my favorites that you will fall head over heels for!

Fran├žois Payard’s Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies
2 cups chopped walnuts (can use pecans or almonds too!)
2 cups of confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder (recommend Droste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg white at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Illustrations by John Burgoyne
(Photo: Kang Kim)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 F
2.) Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a work surface and coarsely chop them.
3.) Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
4.) In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioner's sugar with the cocoa powder and salt followed by the chopped walnuts. While whisking (or once you change the speed to medium), add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen).
5.) Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in evenly spaced mounds and bake for 14-16 minutes.
6.) Bake at 350 until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. (not necessary to move pans).
Slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto 2 wire racks.
7.) Let cool and enjoy!

Recipe from New York Magazine Online

Friday, April 8, 2011

Beyond Sushi at the First NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

This past Sunday, New Yorkers from all 5 boroughs, New Jersey and beyond flocked to the Altman Building in Chelsea to sample and snack on delectable vegetarian and vegan goodies from vendors in the local area to celebrate the first NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. Raw ice cream, gluten-free pasta dishes and vegan mozzarella sticks were just some of the treats available to taste and inquire about at the downtown food show.

Esprit Events was there in full-swing promoting our new line of boxed “Beyond Sushi” with our chefs Guy and Bogi busily rolling handmade vegetarian sushi rolls from 10 AM until the early evening. Our Rabbi Katz was also present to observe the preparation process and make sure that every roll passed the kosher law.

Just before noon, Chef Bogi and Esprit Vice President Ellen Vaknine took the main stage to give a live demonstration of how our sushi is prepared. Vaknine explained the process and ingredients (all vegetarian AND kosher!) that go into the unique maki rolls whilst Chef Bogi quickly turned a slew of fresh fruit, veggies, 6-grain rice and seaweed into a delicious work of edible art. Here's what some festival-goers (and new fans!) are saying about us:
"We bought sushi boxes from Beyond Sushi. We had to wait a little while to get our food, but it was well worth it. This is by far the best sushi I’ve ever had. Ever. And also the prettiest." – Veggie Girl
"All vegetarian, organic sushi rolls use black rice with fresh veggies, fruits and tofu based sauces like chilli & mango and tofu & miso...Look at how gorgeous these are; almost too pretty to eat. They’d be great for pregnant moms who can’t have shellfish, or those with shellfish allergies or of course, vegetarians/vegans!" - The Food Buff

Beyond Sushi was a smash hit with the beautifully crafted 10-piece “bento boxes” flying from the chefs' hands to the customer's shopping bags (or immediately to their mouths!). Beyond Sushi is not just beautiful to look at. All the rolls contain fresh fruits, vegetables and fiber-enriched rice with cute plastic tubes of topping sauces such as spicy mayo, wasabi, and miso. It also has a shelf life of 3 days when refrigerated.

If you were at the show and tried some of our sushi, tell us what you think! If you love it, tell your local supermarket and health food store you want to see Beyond Sushi on their shelves and in you fridge! We can also bring Beyond Sushi to your wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and other special occasions.

Photos by Metro Mix NYC