Event planner and mother of four Amy Stopnicki knows the importance of getting things done efficiently while remaining simple and wholesome.
Last year the Toronto-based cooking expert released “Kosher Taste: Plan. Prepare. Plate,” a collection of 100 recipes developed for home cooks that are easy to follow and are free of salty soup mixes and other additives.
She says her philosophy behind food is “less is more” and “flavor food with food.”
“I like to flavor my meats and my chicken with herbs, with garlic, with onions, with wine — things that I would consider to be food, as well as all the spices that have a lot of health benefits.”
For example, in her simple “old-fashioned” brisket recipe, she uses three whole onions and two kinds of mustard to bake the meat with, instead of a soup mix or other salty additives.
“When you put so many onions it really infuses the flavor into the meat,” she said. “I wanted that to just be a savory, flavorful brisket.”
Stopnicki says so long as care is taken to make sure the mustards are Kosher for Passover, her brisket recipe is good for the upcoming holiday, which starts Monday.
Stopnicki, an event planner for more than 15 years, says one of her favorite things to make at Passover is potato schnitzel.
“The reason I think it’s a great Passover food is really because it can be made all year round, especially if you are gluten-sensitive or have friends that are gluten-free,” she said “You can make it baked in the oven, or if you want a treat, you can fry it in what I would say is ‘good oil.’ It’s a really versatile recipe.
The event planner says for Passover she considers grapeseed oil good for baking and olive oil for marinades, salad dressing or frying. Cottonseed oil is also okay, but it has a high ratio of saturated fat.
“On Passover we’re a little more limited; cottonseed oil is quite frequently used on Passover, but I prefer not to go anywhere near it.”
Stopnicki says at her seder table she likes to mix traditional and modern elements.
“I think modern is really about mixing it up,” she said. “For example, in the past I’ve given everyone (at the table) a mini seder plate at their own seat. So I’ll do those little mini shot glasses and everyone will get the five shot glasses with the five ingredients and it makes the table look pretty.”
For those who are hosting their first seder, or who are new to the Jewish faith, Stopnicki says learning how to properly prep meals can save time.
“My first and best advice is learn what dishes can be made in advance so on the day that you’re entertaining you’re not going crazy with all the details,” she said. “Learn how to prep. For example, a soup can be made much in advance and put in the freezer. No one will ever know, especially if you learn proper freezing techniques.”
Besides looking to kosher cooking experts like Stopnicki, who says she interacts with readers regularly on Instagram and Facebook (search for Amy’s Kosher Taste), those with questions on how to make a proper Passover meal can look to kosher.com.
There, home cooks can search for recipes that are Kosher for Passover, watch videos and post questions to a community comment board.
New this year in retail, Pereg Natural Foods — found at pereg-gourmet.com — launched a line of vegan, non-GMO, products that are Kosher for Passover, including baby quinoa, quinoa flakes and Kosher for Passover flour that is gluten-free. Also new, Kayco has developed a pre-made, frozen pie and tart crust that is gluten-free and available at specialty stores, including Whole Foods.
This recipe is adapted from “Kosher Taste: Plan. Prepare. Plate” by Amy Stopnicki. This brisket can be marinated in the refrigerator in advance to save time. Amy’s note: To ensure this dish is OK for Passover, make sure all the mustards are Kosher for Passover.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 4-5 lbs. brisket
3 tablespoons deli mustard
3 tablespoons old-fashioned mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 onions, sliced
Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes and paprika in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture over brisket. Let brisket sit for 30-40 minutes at room temperature.
In a small bowl, combine both mustards, oil and onions. Coat the brisket well.
Bake for 25 minutes in a roasting pan, then reduce heat to 300°F and continue baking for another 3 hours or until brisket is thoroughly cooked. Serves 8 to 10.