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View it, braid it, bake it

The seder’s done and you’re sick of matza pizza, but that doesn’t mean surrendering to the Passover doldrums

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

You’re halfway through the holiday. If you live in Jerusalem, you’ve probably already been to Ice City (although if you haven’t, you should, and not to worry, they have heavy coats on hand for those who don’t have such items in their closet), the Israel Museum and the beach. You’ve eaten kilos of matzah, mounds of eggs, many a potato product. It’s time to take a second look at what’s being offered and what’s really worth the effort.

This week: the top five ways to keep celebrating until Passover ends next week.

From the 24th floor of the Shalom Tower (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
From the 24th floor of the Shalom Tower (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

1) It’s true that many museums are free during the holidays, and there is a plethora of activity options for the several weeks of vacation. But it’s also fun to seek out the places that never cost a penny, and which sometimes offer the pleasure of a secret discovery. If you’re heading to Tel Aviv, make a stop at the Shalom Tower, Israel’s first skyscraper when it was completed in 1965, built on the site of the famed Herzilya Gymnasia high school. The series of mosaic murals in the lobby tells the story of Israel from the beginning of time, as well as a fascinating display of black-and-white photos taken in Tel Aviv from the 1920s. Then head up the escalator to the second floor and walk to the back of the building, where you’ll discover a miniature display of Tel Aviv. For architecture buffs, there’s also a photograph display about Bauhaus architecture. Finally, take the elevator up to the 24th floor, where you’ll find a picture window that offers a view of Tel Aviv from the red-roofed houses of nearby Neve Tzedek to the sea beyond. It’s good for 15 minutes of pleasurable gazing. Shalom Meir Tower, 9 Ahad Ha’am, Tel Aviv.

2) Looking for an alternative walking tour? You can hire any number of experienced guides to explain the meaning of a city’s architecture, history and culture, or you can try a DIY tour by seeking out a city’s graffiti stencils, a common street art that is tidy in format and often powerful in its message. Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa all have their own street artists, and a recent tour of Tel Aviv’s gentrified Neve Tzedek neighborhood offered a host of current pieces on the walls and sidewalks, showing that despite the high-end cafes, boutiques and refurbished homes in the area, local street artists are still out there.

A tray of Chef Buchbut's matzal meal rolls (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
A tray of Chef Buchbut’s matzal meal rolls (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

3) The cooking never seems to stop during this holiday. It can be helpful to have an option besides matzah for the endless picnics and out-of-the-house eating that goes on for all eight days. I didn’t grow up with matzah rolls, but I’ve been making several versions for the last few years, finding that these ‘slider’ rolls are perfect for on-the-go sandwiches and the non-matzah-eaters among us. Chef Moti Buchbut of Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel shared his matzah roll recipe, claiming that last week’s White House press corps couldn’t tell they weren’t made from flour. I’m not sure about that, but they’re easy and very edible.

 

  • 1 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 cups finely ground matzah meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground pepper
  • 4 eggs

Optional additions:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives, dill, basil or oregano
  • finely chopped and fried onions
  • chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1) Mix the matzah meal, salt and pepper. Add the boiling water and oil and stir until the dough is well-mixed.
2) Add each egg one at a time, mixing well.
3) Add the optional ingredients.
4) Form small balls and place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. (I used muffin tins.)
5) Bake at 180 C (350 F) for about 45 minutes, until the rolls are brown.

A bunch of fresh garlic waiting to be braided (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
A bunch of fresh garlic waiting to be braided (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

4) After the rush to clean and prepare for the seder, I like the staycation aspect of Passover, the pleasure in getting up slowly each morning, preparing matzah brei and then contemplating the day’s activities. Given the great weather here in Israel, it’s a good time to clean out the garden or balcony, getting the house ready for the warmer days ahead. It’s also raw garlic season, and the Jerusalem shuk is full of fresh garlic bulbs, with the green stalks that are similar in appearance to scallions. A friend brought me a bunch of garlic, and, after a lengthy discussion about the process on Facebook, I’m planning to dry them outside. Some people reported using the green stalks as a savory addition to soups and stews, but others like to braid or tie the stalks, hanging the whole bunch in a shady spot where it takes about two weeks to dry.

A pile of French-style macarons; generally friendly for Passover (Courtesy Wiki Commons)
A pile of French-style macarons; generally friendly for Passover (Courtesy Wiki Commons)

5) I have a birthday cake to prepare for the latter half of the holiday, and since the birthday teenager is a big fan of anything lemon or lime, particularly lemon meringue, I’ve been searching the internet for Passover-friendly lemon meringue and pavlova recipes. I came across this recipe from Susie Fishbein, the creator of the Kosher By Design cookbook series, and, by chance, a high school classmate of mine. She has three components in her lemon meringue dessert — mini meringue sandwiches topped with a dollop of cream and a chocolate-dipped hazelnut or cashew. I’m going to skip the cream and chocolate-dipped nut, but the rest of it sounds great. That said, you could also create one large meringue base, filling it in later with lemon cream topped with fresh strawberries, or do it Parisian-macaron style, creating two large discs of meringue that are filled with the lemon custard cream. It’s all good.

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