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A Lighter, Colorful Seder Feast Styled for a Golden State : Old, New Passover Recipes Harmonize With a California Menu Theme

April 17, 1986|JUDY ZEIDLER | Zeidler is a free-lance writer who teaches Jewish and other ethnic cookery. and

Passover begins on Wednesday this year and I am planning a new look for the traditional Seder dinner. Instead of the usual heavy starchy meal, fresh California fruits and vegetables will add a colorful, lighter, flavorful touch.

We begin with a new version of the familiar gefilte fish. Rather than forming the ground fish mixture into round shapes, line a glass or porcelain baking dish with fillets of sole, and spoon in the ground fish mixture with chunks of fresh salmon. The baking dish is then covered with wax paper and foil and placed in a larger baking dish filled with hot water halfway up to the rim. The result is an attractive, colorful gefilte fish terrine.

An added advantage is that the terrine is a time-saver compared to the traditional gefilte fish. Be sure and serve it with some of the interesting greenery available, such as radicchio , arugula, mache (lamb's lettuce) or red leaf lettuce and red horseradish sauce.

A fresh vegetable soup, garnished with a petite version of the traditional matzo balls, will leave more room for the courses to follow than the usual chicken soup with big heavy dumplings. Fruit-accented veal shanks make a welcome and unusual main course, followed by a fresh fruit dessert and a citrus-flavored Passover cake, made from scratch with potato flour.

Passover guidelines declare that all breads, flours and baked goods must be removed from the shelves in observing the holiday. And with the strict avoidance of processed, canned and packaged foods, including baking powder and other leavening agents, the cook must face the challenge of cooking and baking from scratch. Many families even use special china, cooking utensils and cutlery for the holiday.

This isn't as difficult as it sounds and affords the chance to try some old and new Passover recipes. There is an added bonus--eating low-sodium foods that are not subjected to additives, preservatives, overprocessing or added salt.

This menu will work just as well if turkey or chicken is substituted. Just add another green vegetable, like slim tender asparagus, which is in season now.

In harmony with a California menu theme, we are going to serve some of the special dry white and red wines approved for Passover use and bottled in California. Among those wines now available are Hagefen, Weinstock and Herzog. (For a related story on Passover wines, please see Page 24.)

To help plan interesting menus for the eight days of Passover and avoid the monotony of too many matzo-based recipes, I am including some delicious menu-savers for the holiday. They include a versatile Passover Mayonnaise, the classic ruby-hued Beet Preserves and an unusual brunch specialty Passover French Toast, made from leftover spongecake. There's even a Passover Lunch Roll, which uses up leftover chicken or turkey. The mayonnaise and beet preserves make perfect accompaniments for these dishes.

Even if you don't go all out to observe Passover in a strict and traditional manner, you still can enjoy the chance to serve interesting and different foods.

PASSOVER MENU

Gefilte Fish Terrine With Horseradish Sauce

Southland Vegetable Soup With Mini-Matzo Balls

Veal Shanks With Santa Clara Prunes and Apricots

Parsleyed New Potatoes

Pear Meringues With Monterey Strawberry Sauce

Citrus Chiffon Cake

California Passover Wines

Passover Mayonnaise

Passover Lunch Rolls

Beet Preserves

Passover French Toast GEFILTE FISH TERRINE WITH HORSERADISH SAUCE

4 sole fillets, skinned and cut in halves

Oil

2 onions, diced

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 stalk celery, sliced

1 pound ling cod fillet or white-fleshed fish, cubed

1 pound halibut fillets or white-fleshed fish, cubed

3 eggs

1/2 cup cold water

Salt, pepper

1 pound salmon fillet, cut into chunks

Lettuce

1 (12-ounce) jar red horseradish sauce

Soak sole fillets in cold water 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Flatten slightly between sheets of wax paper. Make several slashes with sharp knife on skin side of each fillet. Oil 2-quart glass baking dish and line with strip of parchment or wax paper. Oil paper. Arrange sole, skin side up, overlapping slightly, lining entire baking dish. Chill, covered, 30 minutes.

Place onions, carrots and celery in food processor or grinder. Blend. Add cod and halibut and process until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, alternating with water. Blend well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer ground mixture to large bowl. Gently fold in salmon chunks. Spoon fish mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with oiled wax paper and double layer of foil.

Place in large baking pan and pour in hot water to come halfway up sides. Bake at 350 degrees 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Loosen foil and pour out excess liquid. Refrigerate. To serve, invert terrine on platter and slice. Serve on bed of lettuce with horseradish sauce. Makes 8 to 10 servings. SOUTHLAND VEGETABLE SOUP WITH MINI-MATZO BALLS

1/4 cup oil

2 shallots, minced

6 green onions, sliced

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