Cinco de Mayo Is NOT Mexican Independence Day

The Weiser Kitchen™ — Tami Weiser

Cinco de Mayo Is NOT Mexican Independence Day

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Okay, hands in the air—how many of you think that Cinco de Mayo is like our July 4th; in other words, Mexico’s Independence Day? Color me a little embarrassed to discover that the REAL Mexican Independence Day is on September 16! Not only that, but Cinco de Mayo ISN’T a national holiday in Mexico! What gives? The event that started it all was the Battle of Puebla, fought in 1862. Here’s the short version: Mexico owed money to several foreign nations, but couldn’t afford to pay its lenders back. France (remember: Napoleon was running the show at the time) decided to invade Mexico to take its money by force. General Ignacio Zaragoza and his troops met the much better equipped French army in the city of Puebla on May 5—and… Read More

Five Newly Inspired Vegetarian Passover Dinners

The Weiser Kitchen™ — Tami Weiser

Five Newly Inspired Vegetarian Passover Dinners

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“Welcome to a new age” isn’t just the lyrics from Imagine Dragons. It’s a clarion call to those of us who grew up with the kitniyot prohibition on Passover. It wasn’t just no leavened bread and baked goods. It was no rice, no legumes, no corn, nada. It was a world devoid of peanut butter and hummus, and in my decades of vegetarianism it was a real downer. Without meat, baked goods, rice and legumes, and even peas and corn, I was left with salads and fruits and matzo and TempTee cream cheese and little else. Jews of Sephardic heritage never followed this custom. When I ate at their homes, it was truly like manna from heaven. For the past 10 years as an omnivore, I’ve still eaten the foods… Read More

Changing Times for Passover Meals: Rulings Allow Once Off-Limits Foods

The Weiser Kitchen™ — Tami Weiser

Changing Times for Passover Meals: Rulings Allow Once Off-Limits Foods

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I was going to write today’s post about making mina, the Sephardic matzo-lasagna. Over the years, I’ve developed recipes that meet the multi-century Passover eating customs of both Sephardim and Ashkenazim. (Want to know the history of mina? Read my column: Mina-My-Nee-Mo.) But the times they are a changin’—right this minute for American Jewry. Just weeks before Passover 2016, the most significant rabbinical councils for Judaism’s Conservative movement have joined their counterparts in Israel as well as the leaders of American Reform Judaism—and other Jews around the world—to allow consumption of kitniyot, or corn, rice, and legumes, and other foods customarily prohibited to Ashkenazim. (For more details, you MUST, MUST,  MUST read Liza Schoenfein’s  piece, “Conservative Movement Overturns 800-Year-Old Passover Ban on Rice and Legumes” in the Forward.) I can’t… Read More

Passover Dessert Fun

The Weiser Kitchen™ — Tami Weiser

Passover Dessert Fun

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Passover foods can so easily become stodgy and staid. We all love a “bubbe” dish, something with heritage and history. I even love something distinctly old fashioned, haimische, on the table for religious holidays. So I was happy when I saw chocolate frog shapes and locust shapes  a few years ago (both of which specifically appear in the Passover story as plagues that rained down upon the Egyptian enslavers). I bought them immediately and I buy them every year and they crack me up every time. But when I’m cooking, I like to take a less literal approach to Passover—and all holidays—for inspiration.  To know me is to know that meaning and taste rule at the table, and boy oh boy, during any holiday or celebration that’s extra-true. I search… Read More

Meringue Desserts 101

The Weiser Kitchen™ — Tami Weiser

Meringue Desserts 101

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Meringue is both utterly simple and thoroughly complex, and one of the most versatile tools for any dessert maker. And it is learnable. Meringue, at its most basic, is whipped egg whites with sugar. Sometimes it has cream of tartar or a pinch of lemon juice in it. That’s it. Maybe it’s three ingredients. Maybe you’ll add a flavoring. That’s the whole shebang. Simplicity defined, really. It does involve technique. I am not saying making meringue is easy-peasy-po-peasy and any beginner can do it well right out of the gate. That’s not true. But when you have virtually limitless possibilities from a single basic recipe, a single technique, it’s worth learning. And it’s a painless, inexpensive learning curve. You get to eat the mistakes—which still taste pretty good anyway. What… Read More