This week I vowed to supply you with a Passover’s worth of dinner ideas beyond the seder.
Today’s Passover recipe comes from a rainy July night in Amsterdam.
It was pouring, and we were hungry. There was a café near our bed and breakfast, Inn Old Amsterdam, in the Nieumarkt district, but we wanted something warm and filling and, you know, Dutch.
The owners of Inn Old Amsterdam sent us to de Struisvogel, a cab ride away. From the moment we walked down a quick flight of stairs into the small, subterranean space, I knew it was going to be a good night. The small place was packed. The signs, the menus, the clientele were all Dutch, Dutch, Dutch. Bottles of jenever and beer and wine studded the tables. It was Bruegel with Polo, and without the threatening undertones.
It had, instantly, all the attributes I want in a restaurant: just like eating at home, but much better.
de Struisvogel means “the ostrich,” and there is ostrich on the menu. I don’t know why. The men and women sitting next to us, a loud and friendly table of World War II vets and their wives who gather every year for a reunion (“until there are none of us left”) directed us to the fish.. and the jenever.
The menu is small, and prix fixe. But you can choose from a fish, beef or, of course, ostrich. There are Dutch dishes, like lamb stew, roasted potatoes, local blue cheeses, but plenty of Italian influence: risotto, carpaccio, etc.
The family that runs the place is just welcoming. Everybody is drinking, every body is speaking over everybody else, the temperature inside stays warm as rain pounds away outside. When it’s time to go, after a superior apple crumble, you’ll feel like you’re leaving home.
Here’s a Passover-friendly dish from de Struisvogel:
Grilled fillet of Sea Bass with Sauce Antiboise
You make sauce vierge (virgin sauce) with virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, tomatoes and perhaps some anchovies. Antiboise sauce, ostensibly from the Antibes, uses cilantro instead of basil.
4 sea bass filets (or halibut, snapper, cod)
1/2 lemon, grated zest only
1/2 orange, grated zest only
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 shallots, very finely diced
2 clovew garlic, crushed
1 cup coriander leaves, chopped
2 large plum tomatoes,chopped
2 T capers, chopped (optional)
lemon juice, to taste
Arugula and watercress leaves
1. Place the sea bass fillets in a large, shallow dish with the lemon and orange zest ¼ cup olive oil for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
2. Place the remaining olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan.
3. Add in the shallot and garlic and fry very gently until translucent.
4. Add the coriander leaves and cook gently a minute or two.
5. Add the tomatoes and warm gently, then add the capers. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and the lemon juice.
6. Preheat a grill until very hot.
7. Remove the sea bass from the marinade and cook on the hot griddle, skin-side down, for 3 minutes, then turn and cook for 3 minutes on the remaining side.
8. Spoon the tomato mixture onto four serving plates. Top each serving with a griddled sea bass fillet, then top with a few cress and arugula leaves. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve at once.
I like to serve with Passover Popovers—more roll-like than plain matzo. Of course, these they didn’t have at deStruisvogel. The recipe is below:
Bubbie’s Passover Popovers
(adapted from Ruth Levy and Joan Nathan)
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for baking sheet
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup matzo meal
(or half matzo meal, half matzo cake meal)
1/2 tablespoon sugar (or, to taste)
1 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2 Brush a baking sheet with oil; set aside.
3 In a medium saucepan, bring oil, 1 cup water, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat.
4 Stir in matzah meal (or matzo meal/cake flour) until sticky, remove from heat and let cool completely.
5 Add sugar and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6 Fill a large bowl with water.
7 Dip your hands in the water and then form dough into a ball about the size of a tennis ball.
8 Place on prepared baking sheet.
9 Repeat process until all dough has been used.
10 Transfer to oven and bake until popovers are puffy, about 15 to 20 minutes.
11 Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
12 Serve immediately.
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