Cook’s Corner

Cook’s Corner: New perspectives on the foods of Passover


Main dish

Beef Brisket with Coffee

3 pounds beef brisket

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

1 pound small new potatoes (about 12)

1 pound baby carrots

1 cup brewed coffee

1 cup ketchup or tomato sauce

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 or 2 bay leaves

Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the brisket, fat side down, and sear until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Tuck in the potatoes, onion and carrots around the side.

Combine the remaining ingredients, and pour over brisket. Cover and bake in 325-degree oven for 2 hours. Remove brisket from sauce and let stand 15 minutes before slicing across the grain. Taste sauce and see if it needs adjustments to salt, pepper or sugar. Return sliced meat to pot and bake another 30 minutes to 1 hour. Makes 8 servings.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero from reader recipe

Per serving: 620 calories (60 percent from fat), 41.0 g fat (15.7 g saturated, 17.1 g monounsaturated), 156 mg cholesterol, 32.6 g protein, 20.0 g carbohydrate, 2.9 g fiber, 574 mg sodium.


Kosher for Passover Cream of Zucchini Soup

5 large zucchini, scrubbed clean, washed, and cut into thirds

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

1 large onion, halved

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1–2 heaping tablespoons kosher salt

Additional fresh zucchini slices for garnish, optional

Place all ingredients in an 8-quart pot. Fill 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, with lid slightly ajar, for 30 minutes. Blend in batches in a food processor or blender, or place immersion blender in pot and blend until smooth. Makes 10 servings.

Note: Freezes very well for up to 6 months. Chill before freezing and thaw in refrigerator.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner from “Gluten-Free Goes Gourmet” by Vicky Pearl

Per serving: 47 calories (6 percent from fat), 0.4 g fat (0 g saturated, 0 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 2.0 g protein, .4 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fiber, 207 mg sodium.


Cheesecake Bars

1 box lemon or yellow cake mix without pudding

1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

2 eggs, divided

29 oz can light peach slices, drained

1 (8-ounce) bar cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine dry cake mix, butter and 1 egg and blend with mixer on low speed or with a fork. Mixture will be crumbly. Reserve 1 cup for the topping. Press the remaining mixture onto the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan, using the back of a spoon to push it all the way to the sides. Bake 13 to 15 minutes, until light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

To make the filling, combine cream cheese, sugar, remaining egg and vanilla; beat with mixer until creamy. Use a rubber spatula to spread over the still warm crust. Sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture. Bake about 15 minutes, until filling has set and topping starts to brown. Let cool at least a half hour before serving. Makes 16 servings.

Per serving: 337 calories, 42 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 5 g protein, 229 mg sodium, 13 g sugar

Source: Linda Cicero Cook’s Corner

Some new perspectives on the foods of Passover:

• Jennifer Felicia Abadi’s cookbook A Fistful of Lentils (Harvard Common Press, $24.95) balances the traditional recipes of her Middle Eastern heritage with her training at professional culinary school. This is a celebration of Jewish-Syrian traditions that she shares with memorable poignancy. There is a complete menu for the Syrian-style Passover Seder, enlightening for those of us who are familiar only with the recipes of Eastern Europe. I was particularly intrigued by the flourless pistachio cookies flavored with orange water.

• Manischewitz has introduced a new Passover product line called Kitni, expanding beyond its traditional Ashkenazi roots. Kitniyot is a category of food acceptable for Sephardic Jews to consume during Passover, including beans, corn, and rice. There are new convenience foods for Passover as well, including an almond pecan granola made with whole grain wheat matzo, almonds, pecans, dried cranberries and coconut ($4.99).

• For those with food sensitivities, Passover can be difficult. One resource is a new cookbook by nutrition expert Vicky Pearl, Gluten Free Goes Gourmet (self published, $35), with recipes that not only are gluten free but also are kosher, dairy free, corn free and low glycemic. Many of the recipes are kosher for Passover as well, including the easy zucchini soup here, plus chicken soup with knaidlach, gefilte fish, potato kugel and knishes, chicken chasseur, and pecan and chocolate chip cookies. Available at or on Amazon.

Reader Question

Q: While reading your rum cake recipe in the Miami Herald, I noted that it requires a box of yellow cake mix and also a box of instant vanilla pudding mix. I have a wonderful recipe that requires a yellow cake mix without pudding in it. Do you know how hard it is to find one on the grocery shelves? It seems that 95 percent of cake mixes already have pudding in the mix

Pat Joseph-Becker

A: Though Betty Crocker and Pillsbury mixes seem to all have pudding in the mix, Duncan Hines does not (even the ones labeled moist deluxe). You can also check store brands such as Walmart’s America’s Choice. Here’s another quick doctored cake mix recipe. If you like, add sliced berries, peaches or whatever before the final layer of topping.

Tried and New

If, like me, you are intrigued by new gadgets, these are worth checking out:

• The VinOice from Cork Pops is a step up from messy ice buckets for keeping your Chardonnay cold and crisp. You chill the stainless steel rod in the freezer, then when ready to serve put it right in the bottle and it will keep your wine at the perfect temperature for half an hour. It has a built-in nondrip pourer you screw on, so you just leave the rod in while serving. ($28 at major wine retailers and at

• The 3-in-1 Pocket Grater from Cuispro is wonderfully compact — a mere 7-by-1-inches — so you can tuck it into a picnic basket or pack in your lunch bag, yet it has three grating surfaces along with a plastic guard to protect the blades. I love being able to put a fine shaving of Parmesan on my pasta salad without carrying a huge rasp. ($10 at Sur la Table or at

The collapsible serving bowl from Pampered Chef makes so much sense. Push it down and it takes up a lot less space, plus in that position it can be used for chips and dip. Open it up and it can hold two to eight quarts, depending on the size you buy. There’s even a nonskid ring, and a lid for popping it into the fridge or cooler. $17.50 for the two-quart size at

reader response: coffee in brisket

Why would you add leftover coffee to your simmering beef brisket? Joy Whiting tells us “coffee makes it richer both in color and in flavor.” She was writing in response to a request from Maddie of North Miami, who wanted a recipe because she’d once seen her late mother-in-law put it in the Dutch oven while preparing her secret recipe.

“I learned from my mother to waste not want not. Instead of buying a browning agent such as Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet, she’d throw in the leftover morning coffee or the flat can of Coca-Cola. She’d wash out the last of the ketchup bottle with some water to get every last drop and throw it in, too. She could make gravy from anything.”

Mary J. says she has been adding coffee to her brisket “since I was a teenager working as a waitress at a diner and got in trouble for pouring old coffee into the sink. The cook told me it made the stew beef tender when you put it in the pot. I don’t know if that’s true, but she made the best stew I ever tasted so I still follow the recipe she gave me after she finished yelling at me.” Mary kindly shared the recipe here, which does indeed make a very fine and tender brisket. I added the precise measurements as hers, still scribbled on the back of an order ticket, called for interpretation — like the one for “half a teacup of Worcestershire.”

Sleuth’s Corner

Q: I just realized a favorite recipe I always served during Lent has gone missing. It is for a make-ahead pimiento cheese soufflé. It sounds crazy, but it was a no-fail soufflé that you made the day before because it had to chill for 24 hours. I’m hoping one of your readers has this one and will share.

Lucy Marie Houghton

Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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