The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


Best Passover Recipes

A photo of Max & Sally's Gefilte Fish from Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen Restaurant, Houston, Texas.

Max & Sally’s Gefilte Fish from Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen Restaurant, Houston, Texas.

We asked new and longtime BackStory listeners to submit some of their best recipes for Jewish cuisine. Just in time for Passover, we’re highlighting a few of those submissions on our blog.

If you have a recipe you’d like to submit, just use the form below.

Max & Sally’s Gefilte Fish

About the recipe: Ziggy Gruber is the deli maven/owner & chef of Kenny & Ziggy’s and the third generation in his family to own a deli.  And Texas is the third U.S. coast where he’s educated the populace on how life without a great deli is really no life at all. This recipe is named after Ziggy’s grandparents


25 lbs. fresh fish (carp, whitefish and pike) – have fishmonger grind them together and save the skin, head and bones separate

8 large onions

6 carrots, peeled

2 stalks celery

15 – 20 large whole eggs

Salt & white pepper to taste

Sugar to taste

2 or more cups Matzoh meal

Vegetable oil

 For fish stock

Cut 4 of the onions into quarters and 4 of the carrots in half and place in a large, 12-15 qt stock pot.  Place all of the fish bones and skin on the pot and cover with water.  Add celery and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for one hour.

 Fish preparation

Place the ground fish into a large bowl. In food processor, grind the 4 remaining onions. Break eggs into a separate bowl and whisk.  Add onions to fish and slowly add in the egg until all ingredients mixed together.  Add salt, white pepper and sugar to taste.  Add matzoh meal to firm the mixture so that it can be formed into oval shapes – be careful not to add too much, in order to keep the mixture light.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

 Cooking the fish

Remove the fish bones and skin from the stock and discard, reserving the carrots in a bowl.  Strain the stock and divide into 2 large pots and bring both to a boil.  With a little oil rubbed onto both hands, mold the fish mixture into small, packed ovals and place gently into the stock, cover and simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Slice the carrots.  When the fish is cooked, plate and place a carrot slice on top of each oval and drizzle all with a little of the remaining stock and place in refrigerator to gel.  Serve the fish with horseradish-beet slaw – combine together 3 cups freshly grated horseradish and 1 cup grated boiled beets; add a pinch of sugar if desired.

Simple Mills Matzoh Ball Soup

Photo of Brandon Kazimer's Matzoh Ball Soup

Brandon Kazimer’s Matzoh Ball Soup

About the recipe: This Matzoh Ball soup is packed with chicken broth, celery, carrots and onions for a comforting dinner perfect for the whole family.

Matzo Balls Ingredients

1 box Simple Mills Pizza Dough

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed

1-2 Tablespoons water

Soup Ingredients

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive or coconut oil

¾ cup minced white onion (about ½ large white onion)

1 cup chopped celery (about 3 large stalks)

1 cup chopped carrots (about 3 large or 1 ½ cups baby carrots)

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

32 ounces (just over 4 cups) low sodium chicken stock

4 cups water, or additional stock, to taste

Salt, to taste (optional)

Fresh dill, for serving


1. Make the matzo balls: in a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and oil; add dry mix and stir to combine. Add one tablespoon of water and mix thoroughly. The dough should come together, in a ball, but if not, add an additional Tablespoon of water until the dough comes together in a cohesive ball.

2. Wet hands with water or oil; scoop out 2 Tablespoons of dough and roll it into a ball . Put it aside on a plate sprayed with oil or covered with wax paper. Repeat with remaining dough. Set the matzo balls aside.

3. In a large  pot, preheat the oil, then add the onions. Stir and cook gently until the onions are translucent, then add the celery, carrots, garlic powder and black pepper. Stir to mix everything together and let cook for 30 seconds to a minute, then add the chicken stock and water. Cover and bring to a boil.

4. When the broth is boiling, add the matzo balls, one at a time, about 1” apart. Cover and bring back to a boil. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the matzo balls float to the top. Add salt to taste.

5. Garnished with fresh dill and serve.


  • The broth should be flavorful but gentle (no overwhelming chicken flavor), which is why it is diluted with water. However, if you like the flavor of your broth, you can add more stock instead.
  • If you’re having trouble rolling the matzo balls because the dough sticks to your hands, try wetting your hands slightly with water (or oil) between every second or third ball.
  • If you’d like to make your soup a little bit heartier, add shredded (cooked) chicken just before serving.

Serve the soup as soon as possible after it is ready, or else the matzo balls will continue to absorb stock, swell and eventually start to disintegrate.

Rabbi Samlan’s Cholent

A photo of Vegetable Cholent. Source: Tamarlan (user), Wikimedia commons

Vegetable Cholent. Source: Tamarlan (user), Wikimedia commons

About the recipe: This is the Samlan family recipe for vegetarian cholent. Cholent is a stew-like dish (it usually also includes meat) that cooks from Friday, just before sundown (when Sabbath begins) until Saturday afternoon (when we get home from synagogue). A reason for that cooking time is that traditionally observant Jews do not cook on the Sabbath itself, but cooking that began before Sabbath simply continues to simmer and slow cook.


Sautee chopped onion and 5 cloves of onion

Add in 1/2 cup brown rice, 1/2 cup barley, 1/2 cup beans (we use a mix of kidney, navy and pinto)

Add 2 tablespoons ketchup

Add 3 potatoes (peeled and cut into large pieces) cover with water

Add 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste


Bring ingredients to boil, then reduce to slow and constant boil. Cook over stovetop for an hour. Put it into slow cooker on low heat and cook overnight.

Enjoy with family and friends!

Amy Gorin’s So-Simple Cinnamon-Roasted Apples

A photo of Amy Gorin's So-Simple Cinnamon Roasted Apples

Amy Gorin’s So-Simple Cinnamon Roasted Apples

About the recipe: Serve these So-Simple Cinnamon-Roasted Apples as a dessert and also place them on top of Matzo Brei. They are a healthy option, with minimal sugar. 


8 medium cored, diced apples, various types

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375°. Toss apples with vanilla, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon; place in a medium-sized baking dish. Roast for 45 minutes; toss halfway through.

For more on Jewish American culture, check out this week’s episode, “Judaism In America.”