For the past 13 years, in addition to having prepared Passover meals for her own family since she got married 23 years ago, Naomi Nachman has been a personal chef for hire, making her kitchen kosher for Passover two weeks before Purim in order to start preparing and cooking.

“I always felt that Pesach was my forte,” said the Sydney-born, Five Towns-based radio show host, “Chopped” event organizer and chef, in a phone interview with The Jewish Week. So, she wrote a Pesach cookbook.

Some of the recipes in Nachman’s new book, “Perfect for Pesach,” are recent developments, like her Cauliflower Crust Lachmagine, a Passover-friendly version of Syrian open-faced meat pie appetizers, while the Chicken with Zucchini is a dish Nachman has been cooking since she got married. 

Perfect for Pesach cookbook by Naomi Nachman

Growing up in Austrailia, Passover was always her favorite holiday. “My dad ran a Pesach hotel in Sydney. My mom made the gefilte fish and matzah balls, and I ran the children’s group,” she said. The Veal with Mushroom Sauce recipe was a family favorite when she was growing up.

To complement Nachman’s Passover recipes, Sadie Flateman, an Israeli wine specialist and buyer at 67 Wine & Spirits on the Upper West Side, has offered pairing suggestions from Israel.

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RECIPES FROM NAOMI NACHMAN

Cauliflower Crust Lachmagine

Meat, yields 12 servings, freezer friendly

I’ve always enjoyed serving, and eating, lachmagine, a Syrian meat pizza mozze, or appetizer. With cauliflower crust pizza so popular these days, I was inspired to try a cauliflower crust lachmagine for Pesach. I debuted it at the VIP Ram Pesach program (where I run cooking classes), and the Sephardic guests gave this recipe a thumbs-up for authentic flavor.

Ingredients:
Cauliflower Crust:

  • 2 (32-oz.) bags frozen cauliflower, defrosted
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano

Meat Topping:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup prune butter or plum jam
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ¼  cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1  tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup pine nuts, optional
  1. Prepare the crust: Shred the cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles small crumbs.
  2. Tightly wrap the cauliflower crumbs in a clean dish towel. (I divide the crumbs in half and use a separate dish towel for each half.) Squeeze the towel until the crumbs are dry. If the cauliflower is still cold from the freezer, let it sit out for 20 minutes and squeeze it again. The cauliflower should be very dry or the crust will become soggy.
  3. Place the dry crumbs into a bowl; add eggs, salt and spices. Mix really well until a “dough” forms.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.
  5. Form 1/4-cup dough into a 2-3-inch round; place onto prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake for 15 minutes, until the rounds start to brown. Remove pan from the oven.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the meat topping: add all topping ingredients to a large bowl, mixing well to combine.
  7. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Spread ¼-cup meat topping onto each baked round, pressing down so it sticks to the dough. Make sure to spread topping all the way to the edge, as the meat shrinks while it cooks. Sprinkle a few pine nuts on each if using.
  8. Bake until the meat is cooked through and browned, approximately 30 minutes.

Year-Round: You can use store-bought pizza dough rounds in place of the cauliflower crust.

Prepare Ahead: Prepare recipe through Step 5, then freeze. Defrost, add the meat, and bake.

Cook’s Tip: For a dairy meal, make mini pizzas: Prepare the cauliflower crust through Step 5; add pizza sauce and cheese; bake in a preheated oven until cheese melts.

And for the wine…

A robust wine that matches the lachmagine’s flavor intensity, with enough structure to offset the richness of the dish.

Katlav, Wadi Katlav 2012 (Judean Hills, Israel)

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

A full-bodied and exotic fruit-driven wine, with gripping tannic structure, layers of dense, wild-berry fruit and spice. It undergoes 28 months of aging in French oak barrels before bottling. At 14.5 percent alcohol, this wine achieves balance and freshness. Yossi Yittach, proprietor at Katlav, who is of Moroccan descent, imbues his wines with a joyful and energetic quality, an attribute of perfectionism, quality fruit and passion for winemaking.

Israeli wine specialist Sadie Flateman, a buyer for a local wine shop, paired Naomi Nachman’s recipes with Israeli wines. Courtesy of Snow R. Shai

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Veal Roast with Mushroom Sauce

Meat, yields 12 servings, freezer friendly

Veal has always been regarded in my family as special-occasion meat that I make only on yom tov. The beauty of this recipe is that the sauce cooks along with the meat, saving you an extra step. The savory roast paired with flavorful mushrooms make this a winning dish.

Veal roast with mushroom sauce. Courtesy

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4-5-pound) boneless veal roast
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 16 oz. cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a roasting pan large enough to hold the roast.
  2. Rub garlic, salt, and pepper all over the roast, coating all sides.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear roast for approximately a minute (or less) per side, until it starts to brown. Remove roast from skillet; place it into prepared roasting pan.
  4. Prepare the mushroom sauce: Using the same skillet, reduce heat to medium; add a tablespoon of the wine. Deglaze the skillet by stirring and scraping the bottom to loosen all the meat drippings. (This will add lots of flavor to the sauce.)
  5. Add onion; cook for a few minutes, until onion starts to brown. Add mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, and salt. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened. Add remaining wine; then pour sauce over the roast in pan.
  6. Cover; bake for approximately 1 hour 30 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast reaches 140°F for medium rare, 155°F for medium, or 165°F for well done.

Cook’s Tip:

Always slice a roast after it has properly cooled. I put mine in the fridge for several hours, which helps me get nice, even slices. Reheat in sauce, covered, over low temperature so the meat doesn’t dry out. If you can’t find cremini mushrooms, use white button mushrooms instead.

And for the wine…

Balance is key in choosing a wine that compliments the earthiness of mushroom, the pungency of garlic and the layers of flavor in this dish without aggravating the delicacy of the tender, caramelized meat. Choose a complex and earthy dry red with gentle tannins:

Somek Estate Winery, Adom 2011

Somek Estate Winery, Adom 2011 (Shomron, Israel) (not hechshered) 

Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvèdere

A rustic and soulful wine that is dry, medium-bodied with dark fruit, savoriness and minerality. Notes of dried herbs and subtle smokiness. This wine shows some development of age, appropriate to the complexity and earthiness of the dish dish. Like other wineries nearby (Vitkin and Tishbi), Somek is family-owned and traces its heritage to ancestors who were settlers of modern-day Israel, Zionists who emigrated from Europe in the 1880s. Based in Zichron Yaakov, Somek works with some of the oldest plantings of grenache in the country. Prior to founding its estate winery in 2002, the family grew grapes for Carmel Winery.

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Zucchini Stuffed Chicken

Meat, yields 8 servings, freezer friendly

This dish presents beautifully, with the secret zucchini hiding under the skin.

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole chickens, cut into quarters
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. potato starch
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Divide chicken between two 9×13-inch pans; set aside.
  2. Prepare the stuffing: Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add onion; sauté approximately 5 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook an additional 10 minutes, until some of the liquid cooks off and the zucchini has softened. Sprinkle in potato starch; stir well until starch has been mixed in and dissolved. Remove from heat; set aside to cool.
  4. Use your fingers to gently loosen the chicken skin. Stuff approximately 2 tablespoons of stuffing under the skin of each piece.
  5. Sprinkle remaining salt over the chicken; drizzle with honey.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour 15 minutes, basting with pan juices halfway through.

Plan Ahead:

Prepare the chicken with the stuffing; freeze before baking. Defrost and bake just before serving.

Lueria Pinot Grigio 2014

And for the wine…

A dry and full-bodied, food-friendly white:

Lueria Pinot Grigio 2014 (Upper Galilee, Israel)

From grapes grown at the base of Mount Meron (limestone, basalt, and terra rossa soil). Lueria’s Pinot Grigio brings out the body and minerality of this pink-skinned grape. Dry and firm with tropical fruit aromas, lemon zest and balanced alcohol. Its freshness, minerality and spicy finish make this an excellent food-wine, highlighting the flavors of the roast chicken.