Sandy Gumerove, an attorney focusing on clients with special needs, lives in Jericho with her husband, Jeff Bernstein.
Do you like cooking for Passover?
I love it. I actually enjoy cooking for the holidays more than everyday cooking.
Why is that?
I have all these wonderful memories of my family at the holidays, particularly of my grandmother, Becky Burstyn. At the Jewish holidays we were always together and my grandmother made everything from scratch, including the gefilte fish.
Where was this?
Either in the Bronx where she and my grandfather lived, or they would come out to Long Island to be with us. I would sit at the table and watch, and as I got older she let me help her. It took a lot longer then, because she made everything by hand a no electric mixer, no food processor. While we cooked, we would talk about everything. She would tell me about her childhood in Poland, I would talk to her about what was going on in my life.
What were the holiday foods?
For Hanukkah it was potato latkes, Rosh Hashanah was a big meal, but Passover was the big one. We were off from school for the whole week so we would cook and bake for a week. For the seder there would be gefilte fish, chicken soup with knaidlach [matzo balls] and brisket.
What do you make for your own seder?
The same menu. When my kids were growing up I wanted to maintain that tradition, that special feeling, and that's what they expect.
And for dessert?
It's always either my grandmother's Passover sponge cake or this mandel bread. Everything she made had butter, two cups of sugar and six to a dozen eggs. She taught me to bake by taste and feel a does the batter have enough cake meal in it? Is it sweet enough? So it was a challenge to write down the recipe.
PASSOVER MANDEL BREAD
2 3/4 cups Passover cake meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Passover potato starch
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift together cake meal, salt and potato starch. Set aside.
3. With an electric mixer on medium, mix sugar with melted butter for 3 or 4 minutes until well-blended. Still mixing on low, add 6 eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is integrated before adding the next.
4. When all eggs have been added, add the sifted mixture and mix by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon. Mix in the nuts, chips and raisins.
5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide batter in half and, with wet hands, form two loaves, each 8 to 9 inches long. Bake 45 minutes, until top is brown and an inserted toothpick comes up clean. Remove from oven, wait 5 minutes and, while warm, cut with an un-serrated knife into 1/2-inch pieces. Let cool before eating. Makes 16 to 20 servings.