Sephardic Marbled Eggs

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My friend (and colleague) Rabbi Cory Weiss loves to cook as much as I do. Several years ago, we decided to co-host a pre-Passover program at his synagogue, Temple Har Zion (Thornhill, Ontario): Iron Chef Rabbi. We decided rather than make this an actual competition, we would each present our favorite Passover dishes. One of the dishes Cory cooked was this beautiful Sephardic Marbled Eggs. It is visually stunning! His version takes hours and hours to cook, and is imbued with the subtle flavor of onions. I adapted his recipe to suit my own taste. I decided that I am only interested in the "visual appeal" of the egg, and wasn't concerned with the slight onion taste. Because his eggs cooked for so long, the yolks became a deep gray color. I wanted to see if I could achieve the marble-affect while maintaining the yolk's yellow integrity. (My usual method of cooking hard-boiled eggs provides smooth and creamy yellow yolks always: cover a pot of eggs with cold water and cover the pot with a lid. Bring the pot to a boil and boil for exactly 2 minutes. Remove the covered pot from the heat source, keep covered and let the eggs sit for exactly 12 minutes. Then immediately shock them in cold water and ice cubes. Voila! Perfectly yellow creamy yolks every time!) With this recipe, however, the whites of the egg need to become dyed and colored. The color needs to permeate the membrane that lies underneath the shell. The eggs need to cook for a longer time than I would normally cook a hard-boiled egg. So it is impossible to get perfectly yellow yolks, but I was able to keep the layer of gray to only the outer edges. I usually make 1 egg per person, plus extras to have on hand during the week. You can either choose to serve with lemon wedges and salt (as is the traditional method) or I like it serve it as an appetizer with homemade guacamole (I make my guac by just mashing ripe avocados with lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper to taste) and crudites. Enjoy!

Pear Butter

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When the temperature drops below freezing, and the snow has been falling for hours (or days!), there's no better way to help make the house feel warm and cozy than having the sweet smells of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg waft through your home. Fruit butter (apple butter, pear butter and the like) takes hours of slow simmering on the stove. It also needs to be stirred every 15-20 minutes or so, so it doesn't get stuck on the bottom of the pot. So when you are staying at home on a snowy day, or just staying at home "because" - that is the time to make this deliciously fragrant and silky pear butter. The original recipe is from my brother, Ari M. Sobel. Ari is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef extraordinaire! I have adapted the recipe and made some changes that suit my tastes. It's very flexible. You can use whatever fruit you like: apples, pears, a combination of the two. Or, in the summer, use plums, nectarines, peaches. You can add strawberries or blueberries. You can use all the spices I've added, or just cinnamon - or leave them out entirely. Use your imagination!

Oven Roasted Broccolini and Asparagus (or any vegetable!)

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I LOVE roasting vegetables  - ALL vegetables! I find that quick roasting them at a high temperature brings out their flavour like no other cooking method. I used to grill my veggies on my barbecue - but no more. My preferred method is to now roast them at 425°-450° Fahrenheit in the oven on parchment-lined professional-quality heavy-duty baking sheets. I brush the parchment paper with good quality extra-virgin olive oil, brush the tops of the veggies with some olive oil, and depending on the vegetable, will vary the seasoning. I always use sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I LOVE Penzey's spices: They have a fabulous Tuscan Sunset (salt -free) spice that's great on vegetables, chicken, fish. Their Singapore Seasoning (salt-free) is absolutely fabulous on squash and sweet potatoes. I feel like I could be a p.r. rep for Penzey's at times! If you don't have a Penzey's store near you, you can order online. What's lovely about these veggies, is that you can cook them ahead and serve them at room temperature. They are also great cold the next day in a salad. Sometimes, I'm tempted to eat all of the broccoli at one time! If you make parsnips, make LOTS - they shrink down and go QUICKLY! And if you make beets, use rubber gloves, peel them and then cut them.

Betsy Stone’s Carrot Kugel (or Carrot Muffins)

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These taste like the most delicious carrot muffins, but not too sweet. They are a fabulous side dish with a roast beef, or chicken or fish. Kids gobble them up. It can be made in a 9" X 13" pan and cut in squares, or in muffin tins. I love making them in my Nordicware Rose muffin tin, because they just look so beautiful! They also freeze very well.