Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Peel me a grape

Shopping for delicious blueberries, strawberries and grapes can be really a hit or miss endeavor. You just never know. You can do your best by shopping for fruit when it's in season. But even then you take a chance. I love those days when I open up a bag of red seedless grapes and every single one of them is sweet perfection. I happened upon a bunch like this yesterday. Today's Passover-friendly recipes are inspired by the grape!

Banana, Berry & Grape Breakfast Smoothie

1/2 frozen banana
1/2 fresh banana
8 red seedless grapes
1/2 cup of blueberries
1/2 cup of nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
2 t of honey
handful or two of crushed ice

If you have an immersion blender, you can put all of these ingredients in a plastic pitcher to blend. I always put the ice in last since that's what the blade touches first. However, if you have a conventional blender, you may want to blend the ice first, stop and then add the other ingredients before blending again.

Moving on to lunch, I focused on the grapes again and made a Curried Chicken Salad with Grapes and Apples. I adapted this recipe from Gourmet magazine.

Poached Chicken:

1 1/2 lb of chicken
4 cups of water
1 3/4 cups of chicken broth
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
7 baby carrots
handful of flat leaf parsley

Add the water, broth and vegetables to a large saucepan and bring it to a simmer. After a few minutes of simmering, add the chicken. Simmer for 6 minutes uncovered, then turn off the heat and move the saucepan to another burner. Cover the pan tightly with foil and a lid and let it sit for 15 minutes. By adding the vegetables to the broth/water mixture, the chicken turned out very flavorful! Thank you to my mother in-law for that suggestion. It made all the difference in this dish.

For the salad:

1 1/2 lb of cooked chicken, cubed
1 cup of red seedless grapes
1/2 cup of toasted & crushed cashews
1 Fuji apple, chopped roughly (you can leave the peel on)
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 cup of lowfat mayo (kosher for Passover)
1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 T honey
5 t curry powder
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper

Add chicken, grapes, apples, celery and cashews to one large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk the mayo, lime juice, honey, curry, ginger, salt and pepper. Combine the dressing with the chicken mixture. Dish can be served warm or cold.

As you can see from the picture, I'm serving this with a swiss chard leaf. Since you can not have torillas on Passover, I rolled it in the leaf like a sandwich. You can do this with a big Romaine lettuce leaf, too. But I find swiss chard to be heartier and the "sandwich" stays together better.

Finally here's another Passover memory from the past.

It's 1998 and for the first time in many years, my extended family is divided by a large ocean for Passover. Our custom has always been to share the holiday with my mother's sister and her family. My aunt was working at the London School of Economics for four months that Spring. But as a family we were determined to not let that stop us from spending Passover together. So we went to London! My uncle, cousins, their significant others, my parents and I made the trip to be with my aunt for seder. Incidentally, this was my parents first trip abroad which made it that much more exciting. My aunt was renting a flat that happened to be on the fifth floor. No elevator. The stairs were so steep you can literally feel them brushing against your nose as you climbed. You had to be an Olympic athlete to get up those stairs without stopping at each landing. When my aunt called around to rent tables and chairs for seder, there wasn't one company that would make the round trip up and down those stairs. She wound up purchasing everything so they would come! Don't ask me what the owner of flat said when he came back after renting it to my aunt and found the extra furniture.

Ever year on Passover we ask, "Why is this night different than all other nights?" Gathered around that table for seder, in a cramped London flat, was certainly different & one of the most wonderful memories I've ever had. Here were all were in London, thousands of miles away from our homes. But we were home because we were together.

1 comment:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

You are so right -- it is family (the one you were born into, or the one you create wherever you are) that makes holidays memorable. That, and the occasional failed recipe that gives everyone something to laugh about (my family still calls my matzoh balls "depth charges"...)!