Let’s make this one short and sweet.
Yesterday, I gave you a tip about making homemade matzo meal – I’m still embarrassed about it. Sort of. I don’t want to presume that this is what everyone does and knows. But I also don’t want those who thought it was a great tip to feel insulted either in that I might have thought that this tip was sooooo beneath me, and just who do I think I am, etc., etc. I’ll stop with the internet equivalent of hand-wringing already and just move on. There are more important things on the docket.
Passover is right around the corner. It’s a sneaky one, this year, coming up so early in April. I’m not one to pick a bone with the lunar calendar and all, but this early Passover definitely threw me for a loop. Lunar calendar, don’t you see how busy I am this spring? Those cupboards and shelves won’t be getting their usual spring cleaning. I’ll blame the wedding, but I should really be blaming work. If I’m lucky, I might crawl out of the vortex just in time to throw on a white dress, slap on some lipstick, and sprint to the altar. At least, that’s how I picture it in my head.
Passover, in my head, is the culinary equivalent of a Jewish Thanksgiving, but with a few food no-no’s: no regular flours, and for the Ashkenazim, no beans, rice, or legumes, all the while sticking to the standard kashrut laws. You can see that anyone who can pull of an delicious seder deserves some kind of an award.
Quinoa, actually, is acceptable, but has to be approved by a rabbi. These cooking obstacles certainly elevate the playing field. Not only are you expected to create a feast, but you’ve got some key ingredients taken away from you. And while it’s great to eat traditional favorites year after year, sometimes the heart (or the stomach) desires a change or two on the plate as well as the palate.
I’ve been playing around with sweet potatoes – I wanted them, somehow to be present this Passover. It’s not so late in the spring that it’s all asparagus and ramps. Plus, for reasons I can’t quite explain, they taste so good to me right now. Always a sweet potato fan, I’m thinking maybe they pack a nutrient my body lacks? Either way, these patties are a welcome addition to our Passover repertoire. Andrew says, they’re a keeper. I happen to agree, but I’m trying to come up with a sexier title than patties. If these sweet potato patties were actors, they’d be asked to get a stage name.
Plain name aside; the patties taste of mischief and delight. Packed with flavor: mint! cilantro! lime zest! cumin! aleppo pepper! they all play so nicely together. Don’t be afraid of the jalapeno; welcome it instead – you will barely taste its heat when it cooks. And with a drizzle of lime juice, the patties, though made of wintry sweet potato, are fully redolent of spring, which is kind of perfect for this early, sneaky Passover.
If you have any leftover sweet potatoes lying around, this a perfect way to give them a new life, or you can roast them especially for this, while you go about your business. Roasting, in that way, is a wonderful thing – it’s hands off cooking with some stellar results. While you roast, you can, say, organize your tax documents, for example. Or not. (Never mind that some of us are just getting around to that stuff. Shhh, it’s not due for another few weeks!)
Other Passover Things of Note:
Coconut Macaroons – last year we made a bunch, planned to share with friends, and ate them all rather greedily.
Almond Lemon Torte – airy, light, delicious for a seder dessert.
Brisket with Merlot and Prunes
Matzo Brei with Pears, Dried Cherries, and Ricotta
Matzo Toffee with Almonds and Sea Salt
UPDATE: A lovely commenter suggested the name “Croquettes” instead of patties. Done and done! Thank you, Fenriss!
Sweet Potato Patties
If you’re hosting a vegetarian seder or a parve meal, there’s no reason why you can’t whip up 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt with a few teaspoons of fresh lime juice and a pinch of lime zest and cumin – it will make a delicious accompaniment. If, however, you’re serving meat at your meal and want to keep your Passover meals kosher, skip the yogurt for another time.
For those of you who love sweet potatoes, but aren’t Passover inclined, I tested this recipe with regular breadcrumbs and the results were just as delicious!
3 medium sweet potatoes
3/4 to 1 cup matzo meal (from 3 or 4 sheets matzo) or regular breadcrumbs; the matzo/breadcrumbs amount will vary depending on how “wet” your sweet potatoes are
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 jalapeno, seeded, and brunoise (a fancy term for microscopic dice)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1/8 teaspoon (2 pinches) ground cumin
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime, plus additional
Olive oil, for frying
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F; position the rack in the middle. Pierce the potatoes in a few places with a paring knife, wrap in foil, and place in a baking dish. Bake, until soft when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature. [Can be made ahead; or use leftover roasted sweet potatoes.] Scoop out the flesh and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Add the matzo meal, eggs, jalapeno, mint, cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin, lime zest and juice and mix well to incorporate. Cover and let sit for 1 hour or refrigerate until ready to cook.
3. In a large skillet (preferably nonstick) set over medium heat, warm enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan until it shimmers. While the oil warms, up set a bowl of cold water nearby and the sweet potato mixture as well. Dip your hands in the water and shape the patty; place the patty in the pan. Repeat with the remaining sweet potato mixture (you will need to do this in batches). Cook the patties for about 3 minutes, or until the bottom is well browned. Gently, using an offset spatula, flip the patties over and cook for another 3 minutes. Add a squeeze of lime juice just before serving.
Makes about 12 patties.