CTbites Invites Recap: Passover Cooking w/ Tabouli Grill

ellen bowen

With the snow piled so high in front on the Post Road, it could have been easy to miss Tabouli Grill in Southport… but  I was determined to join a spirited group for CTbites Invites Passover Cooking, so maneuvered my way around to the side parking lot and entrance. 

Chef/owner Judith Roll greeted everyone with hot coffee and her spongy homemade lemon cake as we were handed recipes for the morning's “hands on” cooking class in the Tabouli kitchen. (See Chef Judy's recipe for Bubbe's Brisket below.)

Chef Judy, who has traveled the world bringing authentic Middle Eastern cuisine to her two restaurants, in Stamford and in Southport, is passionate about what she prepares and had created a wonderful Passover menu for our entertainment and dining pleasure ( Passover is March 25-April 2 ).

We joined Judy and her sous chef, Wissam, in the kitchen where huge pots were already simmering with homemade chicken soup, and gravy for the brisket.

The first dish was the Farfel, a mixture of matzo meal and eggs, which is then spread on a baking sheet and baked.  To make the Matzo Farfel and Mushroom Stuffing, the baked farfel is added to a sautéed onions, mushrooms , chicken broth and thyme mixture and cooked until most of the broth is absorbed.

Next we tackled the matzo balls…which turned out to be much simpler to make than I anticipated.  Matzo meal, eggs, oil and water or seltzer, formed in 1 ‘’ balls and dropped into simmering salted water for approximately 30 minutes.  A couple of us tried our hand making and dropping the balls into the water.  Light and fluffy, they floated to the top of the pot. 

Bubbe’s Brisket, an old family recipe passed down from Judy’s Grandmother,  included garlic, carrots, onions and prunes and of course three cups of red wine!   A 5 lb brisket will serve 8-10 people, or in my house 6-8 hungry men!   Secret ingredient included 1 Cup of ketchup , which is smeared over the top of the meat before baking to create a crust.     

Another baking tip included covering the baking dish with plastic wrap and THEN covering with tin foil…sealing in juices and moisture without the metallic flavor that sometimes come with using only tin foil.  

Bubbe’s Brisket

1 5lb brisket

2 garlic cloves, sliced

2 large onions, sliced

6 carrots, peel and cut on bias

1 C prunes

1 bay leaf

Salt, pepper

3C red wine

1C ketchup

Season the meat with salt and pepper.  In large roasting pan spread half the carrots, onions and prunes.  Lay meat on top of vegetables.  Sprinkle remaining veggies around the brisket.  Spread ketchup on top of the brisket.  Cover pan with lid or foil and bake in preheated 350F oven for 3 hours.  Brisket should be fork tender at this point.  If not keep in oven, covered for an additional ½ hour.  Remove foil and let brisket brown for approx. 20 minutes longer.  When cool enough to handle, remove brisket to a plate.  Chill gravy and remove fat.  To serve slice ( across the grain) and serve with heated gravy.

The traditional dessert of Coconut macaroons were quickly prepared using basic ingredients of egg whites, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and shredded sweetened coconut.  Mixed and dropped as mounds ( shaped to look a little like the snow mountain out front!) onto parchment lined baking sheet and baked until golden brown.  

All of this preparation had taken just under an hour, which seemed amazing since I seem to spend hours in the kitchen preparing for Passover!  

Judy invited us all to return to tables in the restaurant where we were treated to a starter of Vegetarian Chopped Liver and homemade matzo, then came the steaming bowl of Matzo Ball soup, complete with fresh carrots, celery, onions, and chicken…possibly the best cure all for this so far just dreadful winter. 

The brisket and mushroom farfel was presented next, arranged on plates with the stewed carrots and prunes and was tender and moist.  

Chef Judy made a sometimes daunting traditional Passover menu look simple to prepare and sure to please! 

Just in case even these seem too difficult to prepare, stop in and ask Judy or her hard working staff for Tabouli’s catering menu and order some or all of these traditional dishes directly from her for Passover…but please order at least a week in advance. 

And watch for future CTbites Invites for “insider access” to fun, unique food experiences including Tabouli Grill’s Middle Eastern Appetizers Cooking class to learn how to make Hummus, Tabouli, Baba Ganoush, and Falafel this spring!

Tabouli Grill Westport/Southport border- 3381 Post Rd. Southport (203) 292-9788

Tabouli Grill Stamford- 59 High Ridge Rd. Stamford (203) 504-8888