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updated: 3/19/2013 9:53 AM

From the Food Editor: New cookbook makes Passover easy

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Cooks today have so many more Passover options than they did even 10 years ago. Food manufacturers have added an array of kosher Passover items to the shelves -- Manischewitz Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti among them -- and area restaurants have developed catering and dine-in menus, like smoked brisket from Real Urban Barbecue, to give less-traditional holiday cooks a bit of a break.

For those people who still want to treat family to a from-scratch feast, there's "Passover Made Easy" ($15.99, ArtScroll Shaar Press).

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The new book contains a tight collection of recipes developed and tested by Leah Schapira, co-founder of CookKosher.com, and Victoria Dwek, managing editor at Whisk, a kosher foods magazine.

The softcover book opens with a food and wine pairing guide and moves on to some basics, including homemade mayo and potato starch crepes that can masquerade as egg roll wrappers or morph into noodles.

And then there are the other recipes -- 60 triple-tested recipes in all -- along with prep tips, plating advice and color photos. I'm not Jewish and I'm still tempted by their Lime-Infused Pear Salad, Braised Short Ribs with Homemade Duck Sauce and Spaghetti Squash Kugel. I can even picture Frozen Lemon Wafer Cake on my table.

These are recipes you'll want to make this holiday and all year round, no matter what your religious leanings. Oh, and all but four of the recipes are gluten-free.

African cuisine: Wilbert Jones, author, food scientist and cooking teacher, will discuss the foods of ancient and modern Africa from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 23, at Kendall College's School of Culinary Arts, 900 N. North Branch St., Chicago.

Jones will take guests on a culinary journey of the earth's second largest land mass, discussing the ancient Egyptians' daily diet, national dishes from several countries, traditional use of some unique ingredients as well as cooking techniques and current food and beverage trends emerging out of Africa. He also will address the lack of African culinary presence in America and offers some solutions to increase visibility.

The lecture program costs $5; $3 for students and free for members of the Culinary Historians of Chicago. To reserve, call (847) 432-8255 or email your reservation to Culinary.Historians@gmail.com.

Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at dpankey@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at Facebook.com/DebPankey/DailyHerald or follow her on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram @PankeysPlate.com.

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