In the kitchen with Henny: From hametz to matzah

Here are a few recipes that can be made either before, during or after Passover and enjoyed all year through. 

 The writer with matzah and hametz. (photo credit: HENNY SHOR)
The writer with matzah and hametz.
(photo credit: HENNY SHOR)

We are in the time of transition from winter to summer (Israel usually skips spring), and from hametz to matzah, when we purge our homes from any breads, pastas, crackers, pretzels and so on, in preparation for Passover, when we eat matzah.

Every year we anticipate this beautiful holiday and excitingly prepare delicious recipes that have been passed down to us for generations. 

But what about the days leading up to the holiday? Sometimes we forget we need to eat before Passover, too, and what can we make that is quick and simple during this busy time of year?

Here are a few recipes that can be made either before, during or after Passover and enjoyed all year through. 

Enjoy the warm air, and smell the freedom!

 Hametz chicken (credit: HENNY SHOR) Hametz chicken (credit: HENNY SHOR)

Yields 4-6 servings.

Every year, usually the week or two before Passover, we go through the cabinets and see what open bags of chips, pretzels or crackers we have to get rid of. About five years ago, I was trying to think of a way to use all this stuff up, plus I needed a Friday night chicken dish. And so was born the Hametz Chicken tradition that always receives many compliments. 

You can use just about any snacks to combine for this amazing, tasteful and crunchy dish – pretzels, Pringles, potato chips, corn chips, breadsticks, Doritos, Bisli and more.

  • 6-8 chicken pieces, in bone with skin
  • 2 cups ground hametz crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease a baking dish with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. I used a glass dish, but an aluminum pan works well, too.

Put all the chips/pretzels/crackers into a blender or food processor with the S blade to ground them up into crumbs by pulsing a few times. Place the crumbs into a bowl or large ziplock bag. Wet the chicken pieces with water, then coat them thoroughly in the crumbs, making sure to coat all sides of the chicken.

Place each chicken piece in the pan, then use any extra crumbs to add another coating to the chicken. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil over the chicken and put the chicken in the oven uncovered and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Variations: In bone without skin – bake for 1 hour; for boneless and skinless, bake for about 45 minutes

 Yapchik (credit: HENNY SHOR) Yapchik (credit: HENNY SHOR)

There have been many debates around our Shabbat table whether the meat dish Yapchik comes from Poland or Hungary. Honestly, I never did the research, because six years ago – when I first learned about this incredible dish – my niece told me that Yapchik is meat cooked inside potato kugel. At that point I didn’t care where it originated; my only concern was, how can I make this now?

So for that I did research.

Over the years we have made Yapchik in different ways, but the responses are all oohs and aahs. Although we make this for Shabbat often during the year, it is absolutely the closest you will get to having cholent on Passover.

This year we have Shabbat at the beginning and at the end of Passover, so I wanted to share this simple recipe with you to enjoy.

Yields one 9” x 13” (33 cm. x 23 cm.) pan

  • 8 potatoes
  • 2 onions, peeled
  • 1 kilo boneless asado/flanken
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1-2 cups water for the oven method

Wash the potatoes well; peel them, if you wish. Grate the potatoes and onions using a food processor with the shredding blade, or use a hand grater and grate them into a large bowl. Add in the eggs, salt and pepper, and mix well with the shredded potato mixture. 

Cube the boneless asado (which is short ribs, aka flanken) into 5-cm. (2-inch) chunks.

The Crock-Pot method (in my opinion, this is the easiest): Set the Crock-Pot to low to cook overnight.

Grease the bottom of the Crock-Pot dish with oil, pour about a third of the potato mixture into the pot, creating the first layer. Add the beef chunks for the second layer, and pour the remaining potato batter on top, covering all the meat beneath it. 

Place the cover on top and let the Crock-Pot do the rest. You will awaken Shabbat morning to the most amazing aroma!

The oven method: Also easy, but uses a lot of oven time. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease your pan or baking tray with oil and pour about a third of the potato mixture into the pan creating your first layer. Add the beef chunks for the second layer, and pour the remaining potato batter on top covering all the meat beneath it. 

Bake uncovered for about 1 hour and then lower the temperature to 150°C. Return the pan uncovered to the oven for another 2 hours. Take the Yapchik out of the oven and pour in 1-2 cups of water and cover the pan with foil. If you plan on serving it for Shabbat lunch the next day, put it on the hot plate/blech before Shabbat and keep it cooking overnight until lunch.

Place it on a trivet at the table, grab a large serving spoon and enjoy!

 Cucumber salad (credit: HENNY SHOR) Cucumber salad (credit: HENNY SHOR)

I love a salad that’s easy to make; we all do! This cucumber salad can be prepared ahead of time, to serve at different meals throughout the chag. It’s cool, it’s fresh, it’s simple, and it keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.

Yields 8 servings.

  • 6 cucumbers
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tsp. fresh dill
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar or honey
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • Dash of ground black pepper

Wash the cucumbers and feel free to peel or not. I peel a few stripes on each cucumber so that when they are sliced into circles you have the light and dark green contrast. 

Slice the cucumbers into thin circles and place them into a bowl. Sprinkle the salt on top, mix well, cover the bowl and let it stand for a half hour to an hour, then drain out any excess water from the bowl.

Slice the onion very thin into rings and dice up some fresh dill leaves. Add them to the bowl along with the sugar, water, vinegar and pepper. Mix well, cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

 Chocolate almond bark (credit: HENNY SHOR) Chocolate almond bark (credit: HENNY SHOR)

It always amazes me how the simple things make a big impact. I love to bake, and it is nice to put in the effort and hear the compliments. However, this dessert gets more requests and rave reviews than any other cookies or cakes I may have on the table. 

Note that this requires little to no effort, but tastes as if you’ve spent hours preparing!

Yields about 18 pieces (9” x 6” pan).

  • 1¼ cups raw almonds
  • 300 gr. semisweet chocolate 
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Pinch of kosher salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

You can purchase roasted almonds, but I prefer to roast my own, as I like them without salt.

To roast almonds, place the raw almonds in a pan and spread them into a single layer so they all get roasted evenly. Put them in the oven for about 6 minutes, then gently shake the pan so the almonds turn over, and then roast for another 3-5 minutes until they have turned to a darker brown. Remove the roasted almonds from the oven and turn it off. 

Every oven works differently, so keep an eye on the almonds and set a timer, as you don’t want the almonds to burn. Let the almonds cool completely, about 20 minutes. 

You can sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt on the almonds, as it brings out the flavor. Add chocolate chips (I use 66% cocoa chocolate chips) or broken pieces of dark chocolate on top of the almonds, then drizzle the oil.

Place this pan in a warm oven that is turned off. Leave it there for about 10 minutes until the chocolate has completely melted. Remove it from the oven and spread the chocolate evenly with a knife or spatula. Place it in the fridge to cool. Cut into squares or triangles before serving.

Wishing you all a very wonderful Passover, and enjoy the warmer weather! 

The writer is a kitchen coach, inspiring confidence and creativity in the kitchen.