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

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

1 potato, peeled and thinly sliced

1 stalk celery, sliced

4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced

1 crookneck squash, sliced

2 zucchini, sliced

8 mushrooms, sliced

4 small stalks broccoli, thinly sliced

2 large tomatoes, peeled and diced

4 to 6 cups vegetable broth or pareve chicken broth

Salt, pepper

Mini-Matzo Balls

Heat oil in large pan. Add shallots, green onions and potato. Saute until tender. Add celery, carrots, parsnip, squash, zucchini, mushrooms and broccoli. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Simmer slowly, allowing juices to accumulate.

Add tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes longer. Add broth, bring to boil and simmer, partially covered, 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with Mini-Matzo Balls. Makes 8 to 10 servings. Mini-Matzo Balls

3 eggs, separated

1/2 cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt

Dash black pepper

1 1/4 cups matzo meal

Place egg yolks, water, salt and pepper in small bowl. Beat well.

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold yolk mixture alternately with matzo meal into egg whites until well blended. (Use only enough matzo meal to make light firm dough.)

Spoon mixture into pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch round tube opening. Squeeze dough into boiling soup, cutting with sharp knife into 1-inch matzo balls. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Do not uncover during cooking time. Makes 6 to 8 servings. VEAL SHANKS WITH SANTA CLARA PRUNES AND APRICOTS

6 veal shanks, 2 inches thick

Salt, pepper

1/2 cup oil

3 cloves garlic, optional

1 large onion, chopped

4 carrots, finely chopped

3 stalks celery, finely chopped

3/4 cup dry white wine

4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 to 3 sprigs thyme or rosemary

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

12 prunes, plumped in Passover sweet wine

12 dried apricots, plumped in Passover sweet wine

Parsley

Season veal shanks to taste with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large heavy skillet. Brown veal shanks on all sides. Remove to platter. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery to skillet. Saute until lightly browned. Place veal shanks on onion mixture with wine and cook until wine reduces by half. Add tomatoes, thyme and parsley.

Cover and simmer or bake at 350 degrees 1 hour. After 1 hour, add drained prunes and apricots. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue cooking 30 minutes to 1 hour or until meat falls away from bone. Garnish with parsley. Makes 6 servings. PARSLEYED NEW POTATOES

1 to 2 pounds small red potatoes

1/2 cup oil, about

Salt, pepper

1/2 cup minced parsley

Slice potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place on paper towels in single layer and pat dry. Spread 1/4 cup oil on large baking sheet with sides, making sure bottom is entirely coated so potatoes don't stick. Place potato slices on oiled pan in single layer, overlapping slightly.

Pour 1/4 cup oil, or more if needed, over potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley. Bake at 400 degrees 35 to 45 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and crispy. Makes about 6 servings. PEAR MERINGUES WITH MONTEREY STRAWBERRY SAUCE

3 cups water

2 1/4 cups sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

4 pears, preferably Bosc

Monterey Strawberry Sauce

2 egg whites

Mint leaves

Combine water, 2 cups sugar and lemon juice in large pan. Simmer, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.

Peel pears, leaving stem intact, and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out center core carefully, making small cavity. Place each pear half in simmering water after peeled. Cook about 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with fork. Remove pears to shallow bowl with cooking liquid. Cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Beat egg whites until stiff and gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue beating until stiff. Drain pears, reserving syrup for strawberry sauce. Place drained pears on serving dish. Place meringue in pastry bag fitted with star tip. Pipe out meringue in star pattern over pears. Pour sauce around pears. Place dishes under broiler 4 inches from heat. Broil until tips of stars are browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with mint leaves. Serve at once. Makes 4 servings. Monterey Strawberry Sauce

3 cups strawberries, cut in halves and stems removed

1 cup reserved sugar syrup, about

2 tablespoons Passover sweet wine

Place strawberries in food processor and blend. Add enough sugar syrup with sweet wine to make thick sauce. Strain to remove seeds. Makes about 2 1/2 cups. CITRUS CHIFFON CAKE

9 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/3 cups potato starch

2 tablespoons ground almonds

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped Candied Lemon Peel

Beat egg whites until partially stiff. Add 3/4 cup sugar and beat very stiff but not dry. Set aside.

Beat egg yolks, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, potato starch and ground almonds until light in color and fluffy. Blend in lemon juice. Gently fold in egg white mixture and Candied Lemon Peel.

Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees 55 minutes or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert until cool. With sharp knife, loosen cake from sides, bottom and center of pan. Makes 10 to 12 servings. Candied Lemon Peel

Peel of 6 lemons, sliced thin

2 to 3 quarts water

2 cups sugar

Place lemon peel in water, bring to boil and simmer until translucent. Let stand 15 minutes, then drain, reserving 1 cup water.

Combine reserved water and sugar in saucepan. Bring to boil, mixing until sugar dissolves. Add drained lemon peel. Cook slowly until peels are tender and glazed with thick sugar syrup. Strain and dry on rack.

Note : Remaining lemon peel can be tossed in additional sugar and dried on rack. Dip tip of sugared lemon peels in melted chocolate, place on wax paper and refrigerate to serve as candy. PASSOVER MAYONNAISE

1 egg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash white pepper

3/4 to 1 cup oil

Place egg in food processor or blender container with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend. With machine running, add oil in thin steady stream until mayonnaise is thick. (Add 1 tablespoon warm water if mayonnaise is too thick.) Makes about 1 cup. PASSOVER LUNCH ROLLS

2 cups matzo meal

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1/2 cup oil

4 eggs

In large bowl, combine matzo meal and salt. Set aside.

In saucepan, bring water and oil to boil. Pour into matzo meal mixture. Mix well. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until completely blended. Let stand 10 minutes.

With oiled hands, shape into rolls and place on well-greased baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 24 rolls. BEET PRESERVES

1 pound beets, peeled

2 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Juice and peel of 1 lemon

Cut beets into julienne sticks. Place in large heavy pan with water to cover. Bring to boil and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Combine sugar and ginger. Add sugar mixture and lemon juice and peel to beets in pan. Bring to boil, mixing until sugar dissolves. Simmer until thick and clear, about 45 minutes. Turn into bowl or glass jar. Cover with plastic wrap or lid. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups. PASSOVER FRENCH TOAST

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs, well beaten

1 tablespoon grated lemon or orange peel

6 to 8 (1-inch) slices Passover spongecake

Butter or margarine

Sugar

Ground cinnamon

Preserves

Combine milk, eggs and lemon peel in shallow bowl. Beat well. Soak spongecake slices in milk mixture. Heat butter in skillet. Fry cake on both sides until brown. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Serve with preserves. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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