Family favorites: Lasagna and matza cake

This is a special time of physical and spiritual redemption. A time of celebration and family gathering!

lasagna 311 (photo credit: Rafi Sandler)
lasagna 311
(photo credit: Rafi Sandler)
Jews and food, like love and marriage are an inseparable entity. We know that we should eat to live and not live to eat, but somehow the aroma of plump matza balls floating luxuriously in a rich chicken soup or dark velvety chocolate mousse overwhelms the health messages in our brain… For me, personally, the haggim and food are synonymous with family; it is as though the generations before me are standing in the kitchen with me as I prepare the haroset, the slightly overstuffed turkey and the lemon sorbet – I can hear my grandmother compliment “the beautiful fish” as I prepare the gefilte fish, and my mother delight in the fragile Pavlova as she conveys her foolproof recipe.
The memory traces are so strong – and I feel their physical presence so deeply even though they are no longer here – how sweet are the Pessah aromas of home-made strawberry jam and lasagna wafting through the house as the spring cleaning gets under way. This is a special time when each of us looks deeply into our psyches and examines the haughtiness within; it is a time of physical and spiritual redemption. A time of celebration and family gathering! The following are two of my family’s personal favorites. The lasagna is best when made in advance and frozen; it is guaranteed to fill the hollow stomachs created by the absence of bread. The Fridge Chocolate Cake will satisfy the sweetest of cravings and can be made with the help of your children.
Tuna Lasagne
(This recipe makes two generous lasagnas, and can be adapted to make vegetable and cheese and tomato lasagnas.)
Instructions: Grate one onion very finely and sauté until translucent in 1/2 tub of Pessah margarine. (For those mushroom lovers, add one punnet of freshly sliced mushrooms).
Add approximately five tablespoons of potato flour, one at time, ensuring that each spoon is absorbed lump free into the mixture before adding the next. Gradually add one liter of milk, one cup at a time, stirring all the time. Be patient as potato flour needs more time and love than regular flour to ensure smoothness. When the mixture starts to thicken, add two beaten eggs. This is done off the stove to prevent curdling.
Stir some of the hot mixture into the egg mixture until the egg is absorbed; you have to repeatedly add a few tablespoons of the milk mixture to the egg and then when it is smooth and creamy , return this back to the pot on the fire. Stir for 3- 5 minutes until thick and creamy. Add salt, black pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Set aside.
Add four tins of drained, flaked tuna in water to the following: Sauté 2 chopped onions and 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic in 1/2 tub margarine. Add 1/2-1 tin of tomato paste and one carton of 10 percent cream. Season with one teaspoon of fresh or dried parsley, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, one teaspoon of oregano and one teaspoon of sweet basil. Set aside.
Click for special Jpost Pessah features
Click for special Jpost Pessah features
Grease a dish using the foil layer of the margarine tub and alternate layers of tuna sauce, matza sheets dipped in milk, and white sauce in that order. Repeat three times. Bake at 180 degrees C covered with foil for 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle generously with grated cheese and paprika and bake for another 5-10 minutes until brown and the cheese has melte Layered Chocolate Matza Cake Ingredients: 1/4 tub of Pessah margarine 3/4 cup of sugar 4 tblsp cocoa 2 tblsp sweet Kiddush wine 1 tsp vanilla essence 1 beaten egg Method: Melt margarine, sugar, cocoa and wine over a low flame until smooth. Gradually add some of the mixture into the beaten egg until it can be mixed into the chocolate mixture without danger of curdling.
Cook until the mixture is thick, stirring all the time.
Cool. Dip each whole piece of matza in sweet wine and layer spreading the chocolate mixture generously in between the matza pieces. Repeat using at least 5 matzot.
Slice and enjoy! I usually double or even treble this recipe to ensure that I have enough for more than one cake. For a more interesting, dairy combination, alternate the layers with cream cheese, cream and egg to which a pinch of cinnamon has been added.
Wishing you all a hag kasher vesameach!
The writer is a caterer based in Ra’anana.