AHI EZER YESHIVA The Much-Beloved Institution Moves Forward

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By: Sarina Roffé

Passover brings members of the family together for a Seder, during which we read about our Exodus from Egypt. But it is also a time for cousins to get together, to bond, to catch up, and most of all to be together as a family. These are special occasions that build lifelong family relationships and create memories for our children.

The cleaning and cooking in advance are part of the memory, and become a tradition that engages every member of the household in an important task. I have to admit that as a child I did not like the tasks assigned to us as children. My mother, aunts, and grandmothers were meticulous and maybea little obsessive in their preparation. Still these lessons have lasted long into my adulthood and have been passed onto my children.

So, every year when we are tempted by the various advertisements for Passover vacations, we hold onto those traditions we hold dear, and create new memories for our family. For our annual Seders, we like to introduce a new recipe. During the week of Passover, I find I can use many recipes from during the year that are suitable for Passover. Some adaptations need to be madeand I have learned that the holiday can be just as fun as other holidays if I keep everything in perspective.

As the author of Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads(2016), and the newly released Sarina’s Sephardic Cuisineapp for iOS 11 (download from the Apple Store), I am sharing beloved Passover recipes I learned from my mother, Renee Missry, A”H, and grandmother, Estrina Salem, A”H, and a few of my own favorites.

My mother typically welcomed those arriving early with her chicken soup with matzo balls. She always wanted her guests, especially the children, to eat something before the Seder, so they wouldn’t feel the need to rush through the Haggadah. As we waited for synagogue services to be over, there were plates of freshly fried kibbeh. My dad hadpicked up a preference for chopped liver and gefilte fish, so she always had those on hand, which pleased some of our guests. I remember the long tables to accommodate everyone.

My mother’s typical Seder always included salad, string beans, roast chicken with potatoes, meatballs (keftes), white rice, and stuffed veal pocket with peas and mushrooms. For dessert, she always had fresh and dried fruit, assorted nuts, and her famous nut cake (shared below).

My Seder is not my mother’s typical Seder. But it has the same memories and traditions. I serve fewer items and never forget to serve green salad. With this article, I am sharing my mother’s Strings Beans(fowl’eh), my Olive Pot Roast with RedPotatoes, and Rolled Fish Filets in Tomato and Herb Sauce, my grandmother’s Stuffed Grape Leaves in Tamarind Sauce with Apricots(yebra), and of course, my mother’s Famous Nut Cake.


String Beans(fowl’eh)

My mother, Reneé, took special care to prepare the string beans to just the right texture and crispness. A typical children’s job was to sit at the kitchen table and cut off the ends of the string beans and then to slice them in half the long way, French style.


•1 lb. fresh string beans     • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

• 1 tsp. kosher salt               • ½ tsp. pepper

• 2 cloves mashed garlic     •½ tsp. Allspice


1.Cut ends off the sting beans and slice in half the long way, then wash in strainer.

2.Place 2 Tablespoons oil in the bottom of a two-quart stainless steel saucepan and heat on medium high flame.

3.Add string beans and cover. Using potholders, hold the cover on the saucepan and shake well. Continue to steam for 15 minutes, shaking vigorously every five minutes.

4.Add tomato sauce. Then fill the can with water and add. Season with salt, pepper, and allspice. Cook an additional 20 minutes. Serve hot.


Stuffed Grape Leaves
in Tamarind Sauce with Apricots (

Everyone thinks grape leaves are a Greek invention, but they really are found wherever you find the leaves. The leaves make a great wrap for anything, and can easily be rolled into cigar shapes. A true Middle Eastern specialty, these stuffed grape leaves are delicious, filled with flavor, and are easy to make ahead and freeze. This Syrian-style version uses tamarind, lemon, and apricots in the sauce.


• 1 16 oz. jar grape leaves

Hashu (Meat Filling) Ingredients

• 3 lbs. chopped meat

• ½ Cup converted rice, uncooked

• 1 heaping Tablespoon Kosher salt

• 1 teaspoon white pepper

• 1 teaspoon allspice

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

• ¼teaspoon nutmeg

• ¼ Cup water

• 3 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley


1.  To make filling, mix meat with all the
filling ingredients.

2.  Rinse grape leaves in large bowl of water
to remove brine.

3.  Place a grape leaf shiny side down on flat surface, tip pointed away. Use small knife to cut off the stem.

4.  At broad end, place a line of about 1 Tablespoon of meat filling, depending on size of leaf.

5.  Fold in edges and roll tightly from wide edge toward the tip, like a log.

6.            To freeze: place on parchment paper lined tray in freezer until frozen. Store in freezer in airtight container.

Olive Pot Roast with Red Potatoes

Olives give tremendous flavor to pot roast, which is cooked on top of the stove rather than in an oven. Pot roasts need lots of liquid to keep them moist and tender. My family loves to eat olives, and they are always on the table. The potatoes will make meat and potato lovers happy with their olive flavor.

Spice Rub

• ½ teaspoon dried thyme

• 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

• ½ teaspoon white pepper

• 3 Tablespoons olive oil

• ½ teaspoon paprika

• 1 teaspoon parsley flakes

• ½ teaspoon garlic powder


• 3 lbs. pot roast

• 4 Tabelspoons olive oil

• 3 onions, peeled and sliced

•3 cloves garlic, minced

• 3 carrots, peeled and sliced

• 3 Cups beef broth

• 3 Tablespoons brown sugar

• ¼ Cup steak sauce

• 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

• 1/2 teaspoon pepper

• 1 Cup kalamata olives, chopped

• ½ Cup green olives, chopped

• 4 red potatoes, cubed


1.  Mix thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil, paprika, parsley, and garlic powder together and rub on pot roast.

2.  Heat olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Brown pot roast on all sides, about 7 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

3.  Add onions and minced garlic and saute. Add carrots and broth. Add brown sugar, steak sauce, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer.

4.  Add roast and olives. Spoon sauce on top. Cover and simmer for 90 minutes. Add potatoes and cook 30 more minutes.

5.  Remove roast and cool before slicing. Arrange vegetables around the roast. Top with remaining sauce to serve.


My Mom’s Famous
Passover Nut Cake

I am amazed that more people don’t bake their own cakes at Passover. The hardest part is separating the eggs, but with a good separator, the job just takes minutes. I looked forward to this nut cake all year. My mom used to divide the mixture into smaller cakes and give them away to anyone who walked through the door.

It took years for me to realize that with this basic recipe,
I could adapt the cake to some amazing flavors. For example, switch out thenuts for shaved chocolate or mini chocolate chips. Or make a mix of walnuts with cinnamon and sugar.
Put half the batter on the bottom, add half the walnut mixture, then the other half of batter and the remaining walnuts.
The result is a coffee walnut cake. Delish!

• 1 dozen eggs, separated

• 1 ¾ Cup or 14 oz. sugar

• 1 Cup oil

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• 1 Cup cake meal

• 1 lb. chopped walnuts


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat yolks at high speed until thick and lemon colored.

2.Add sugar, beating slowly until absorbed, then oil and vanilla and mix well.

3. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

4.Fold yolk mixture and cake meal into beaten egg whites.

5.Add chopped nuts and fold gently.

6.Pour into greased 10x14”oblong pan or tube pan

7.Bake for one hour.

Rolled Fish Filets in Tomato
and Herb Sauce

Use the thin filet of sole for this recipe as it is easier to roll the filets and pierce them with a toothpick. The tomatoes combine with the other ingredients to make a sauce as it bakes. My mother made this about once a month and somehow, we loved that the fish was in a roll. For Passover I use a pistachio topping, but during the year I sprinkle with seasoned bread crumbs. I think it was just a trick to get us to eat more fish!


• 2 lbs. filet of sole

• 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

• ½ teaspoon pepper

• 1 teaspoon parsley flakes

• 1 teaspoon paprika

• 2 onions, peeled and sliced

• 3 cloves garlic, sliced

• 3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

•2 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes

• 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley

• 2 Tablespoons chopped pistachios


1.  Preheat oven to 350 ° F.

2.  Wash and pat dry filets of sole.

3.  Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, parsley flakes, and paprika.

4.  Roll each filet and pierce with toothpick.

5.  In large glass baking dish, line with onions and garlic.

6.  Place fish on top of onions.

7.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.

8.  Pour tomatoes on top of fish.

9.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and pistachios.

10.Bake for40 minutes until fish flakes and sauce bubbles.

11.Serve hot.