Passover 2006



Sharon Shaked


Every spring millions of Jews throughout the world gather to celebrate Passover in remembrance of their ancestors’ exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. Traditionally the Passover meal - known as the “Seder” - is prepared in the home and consists of recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.


But a new trend is emerging among American Jews who prefer to dine out during this week-long holiday. On Passover, Jews are not supposed to eat “Chametz,” leavened bread or anything made from the five major grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) that have not been completely cooked within eighteen minutes after coming into contact with water. This new trend of dining out for the Passover Seder - seen mostly among reformed Jewish communities - spurred many upscale restaurants throughout the country to create innovative Passover-inspired dishes prepared without "chametz."


Every spring for the past four years Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano in New York City has offered his patrons dishes that reflect the traditions of Mexican Passover seders. He bases the menu on the dishes popular among the roughly 50,000 Jews currently living in Mexico – mainly in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Cancun and Tijuana. The aromas emanating from Chef Santibañez’s kitchen are no longer that of Eastern European dishes like gefilte fish and matzoh ball soup, but rather scents of spicy Mexican cinnamon, invigorating cilantro, sweet mangos, and spicy habanero chili peppers. Central to Chef Santibañez’s Seder menu is Chambaretes deBorrego, a traditional Mexican lamb dish that uses the native guajillo chili to slowly braise the meat. These smooth-skinned, brick-or cranberry-red chilies are a little spicier than anchos, and not nearly as sweet.


Chef Roberto Santibañez will offer his Mexican-inspired Tropical Harroset at each of the five Rosa Mexicano locations from April 13th-15th. A Mexican Passover cooking demonstration will be offered at the Union Square and Washington, D.C. locations on April 15th.

Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano in New York, NY on
Chef Roberto Santibañez

Rosa Mexicano

9 East 18th Steet
New York, New York 10003
(212) 533-3350

1063 1st Avenue
New York, New York 10023
(212) 753-7407

61 Columbus Avenue
New York, New York 10023
(212) 977-7700

575 7th Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 783-5522

245 18th Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30363
(404) 347-4090



Recipes from Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano

» Chambaretes de Borrego
» Tropical Harroset
» Green Bean Casserole with Achiote
» Róbalo al Limón
» Tamal de Coco
» Passover Dessert Pears

Chambaretes de Borrego

Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano — New York, NY


Guajillo Sauce:

                3   ounces                guajillo chilies, cleaned, lightly toasted,

                                                            soaked, and rinsed with cold water

                6                              chilies de arbol, toasted

                4   cups                    pineapple, diced

                2   ounces                whole garlic cloves

                1   teaspoon             cumin

                8                              cloves

                1                              Mexican cinnamon stick (3-inch)

                1   cup                      orange juice

                2   cups                    water

                3   ounces                olive oil

                1   Tablespoon         apple cider vinegar

                2   Tablespoons       sugar



Lamb Shanks:

                6                              lamb shanks

                6   sheets                 parchment paper

                6                              pineapple slices, cored (1/2-inch thick)

                                                salt and pepper

                3   teaspoons           ground Mexican cinnamon

                                                zest of 1 orange

                1   quart                   guajillo sauce

                                                butcher’s twine


Roasted vegetables:

                2                              leeks, white parts only, sliced ½-inch thick

                1   pound                  turnips, trimmed, peeled and ½-inch diced

                1   pound                  sweet potatoes, peeled and ½-inch diced

                2                              bay leaves

                2   Tablespoons       olive oil, plus one teaspoon

               ½   teaspoon             dried thyme

                                                salt and pepper

                1   whole head         garlic, top 1/2-inch trimmed


For Guajillo Sauce:

Blend guajillo, arbol, pineapple, garlic, cumin, cloves, cinnamon and orange juice with 1 cup of the water. Blend until very smooth.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the sauce, cooking at least 30 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar, and season with salt, to taste. Strain the sauce through a fine seive, reserving the solids and liquid separately.

Add the remaining cup of water to the solids and mix thoroughly. Strain through a fine seive and discard any remaining solids. Allow to cool, cover and refrigerate/ (Should make approximately 4 cups.)

Note: It’s important to remark that the guajillo chiles must be weight-cleaned. Alter amount of garlic to taste. This adobo can be used as a marinade for shanks before cooking. (Before step 2).

For Lamb Shanks:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Loosen the top parts of the flesh and ligaments of the shanks so the bone and meat is separate for ease of handling. Place 1 sheet of parchment paper on work surface. Place 1 pineapple slice on center of paper and top with 1 shank. Season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and orange zest over the shank. Repeat with remaining pineapple and shanks.

Pour approximately 5 ounces of the guajillo sauce over each shank, trying not to get sauce on the exposed bones. Wrap up the parchment paper around each shank to form a pouch and secure it to the bone with twine. (The bones should be left exposed.)

Steam the shanks in the oven for 2½ hours, or until very tender and the meat is falling off the bone.

For Roasted Vegetables:

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Place leeks, turnips, sweet potatoes and bay leaves in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of the oil; add the thyme, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss to coat thoroughly.

Wrap the garlic, cut side up, in aluminum foil leaving the top exposed. and drizzle with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Place garlic in the roasting pan; place the pan in the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and slightly browned. Remove from oven.

Remove garlic from the pan and unwrap; peel and thinly slice. Toss with vegetables.

To Assemble and Serve:

Remove the parchment wrapping from lamb shanks. Arrange the shanks on a large serving platter, and spoon the guajillo sauce around the shanks. Line the platter with the roasted vegetables, and serve immediately.


Yield: 6 Servings

Tropical Harroset

Recipe by Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano

                1                              pear, peeled, cored and diced

                3                              apples, peeled, cored and chopped

                3                              bananas, peeled and mashed

                1   pound                  dates, pitted

               ½   pound                  almonds, blanched

                2   Tablespoons       ground cinnamon

                1   cup                      sweet wine


Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and simmer over low heat, approximately 15-20 minutes, adding additional wine or water as needed. Allow to cool; cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

To Serve:  Serve Harroset as a spread with matzoh.

Yield: 6 Servings


Green Bean Casserole with Achiote

Recipe by Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano

Note: Chefs today will be surprised at how good a well-cooked green bean can be, and particularly with achiote paste. Use young and fresh green beans.

                8   Tablespoons       olive oil

                2                              red onions, thinly sliced

                3                              jalapeño peppers, seeded and membranes removed

                5   cloves                 garlic, chopped

                4                              Beefsteak tomatoes, roasted, peeled and crushed

                3                              bay leaves

                2   teaspoons           oregano, crumbled

                2   teaspoons           sugar

                1   ounce                  achiote paste

                2                              oranges, juice of

                1   cup                      water

          2 1/2   pounds                green beans, trimmed

                                                 salt, to taste


Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Heat the oil in an oven-proof casserole dish over medium-low heat. Cook the onions and jalapeños until they are soft. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, sugar, achiote paste, orange juice and water. Bring mixture to a boil, and then add the green beans. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes; season with salt, to taste. Transfer casserole dish to the oven and bake for 2 hours.

Yield: 8 Servings

Róbalo al Limón

Recipe by Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano

                2   Tablespoons       olive oil

                4                               white fish filets, fleshed like red snapper  (7-ounce)

               ½   teaspoon             roasted chile de arbol powder

                                                salt, to taste

                2                              limes, zest and juice separated

                2   Tablespoons       chopped garlic

                1   cup                      crème fraîche

                1   cup                      cilantro stems, finely sliced, to garnish.


Heat the oil in a sauté pan. Season the fish with chile de arbol, salt and several drops of lime juice. Sear each fish filet on both sides. Add the zest and garlic to the pan, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the crème fraîche and toss to coat all ingredients.

Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the fish until done, or approximately 7 minutes. Add cilantro stems and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Add 4 teaspoons of lime juice, and adjust seasoning of salt, so taste.


To Serve:

Arrange fish on a serving platter and spoon extra sauce over the filets. Garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 4 Servings


Tamal de Coco

Recipe by Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano

              20                              corn husks

                8   ounces                coconut, dryied and shredded

                1   cup                      water

                2   teaspoons           natural vanilla extract

                8   ounces                butter, or vegetable shortening

                1   teaspoon             baking powder (optional)

             3/4   cup                      sugar

                1   hefty pinch          salt

                2   pounds                masa

                5   ounces                raisins

Soak the corn husks in warm water for 1/2 hour; drain.

Soak the coconut in water with the vanilla extract until it softens slightly. Whisk the butter with the baking powder until it creams. Add the sugar, salt, masa and coconut-water to form a smooth dough that is light and fluffy in consistency.

Put 2 Tablespoons of dough into each corn husk and sprinkle with raisins. Fold and form the tamales and cook in a steamer for 1 hour. A tamal is ready when it detaches from the husk easily.

Yield: 20 Tamales

Passover Dessert Pears

Recipe by Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano



                2   Tablespoons       margarine

             1/2   cup                      pecans, chopped

             1/2   cup                      apricots, chopped

                1   Tablespoon         brown sugar



             1/2   cup                      sugar

                2   cups                    red wine

                2   cups                    water

                6                              pears, peeled and cored

                1                              vanilla bean

                1                              Mexican cinnamon stick (3-inch)

                1   teaspoon             anise seeds

                1   Tablespoon         lemon zest

                1   sheet                   parchment


Chocolate Sauce:

             1/4   cup                      margarine

             1/2   cup                      semi-sweet chocolate (nondairy), chopped


Spicy Vanilla Sabayon:

                4                              egg yolks

                2   cups                    sugar

                1   teaspoon             pure non-alcoholic vanilla extract

             1/4   teaspoon             red chili powder






For Stuffing:

Melt the margarine in a sauté pan; add the pecans and toast lightly. Stir in the chopped apricots; add the brown sugar and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until a light syrup develops. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

For Pears:

In a sauce pan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the wine and water. Add the pears, vanilla bean and aromatics. Press the parchment paper down into the sauce pan to keep pears submerged in the liquid. Bring to a light simmer and cook until pears are just tender, approximately 10-12 minutes. Remove pears from the liquid and chill. Fill the hollowed pears with apricot stuffing, and refrigerate.

For Chocolate Sauce:

Melt the margarine in a small sauce pan; remove from heat and stir in the chocolate. Take the chilled, stuffed pears and dip them half way into the warm chocolate. Place the pears on a parchment-lined tray and return to the fridge to allow the chocolate to set.

For Spicy Vanilla Sabayon:

Place the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and chili powder in a small mixing bowl. Whisk over a double boiler until the yolks become light and frothy and all the sugar is dissolved.

To Assemble and Serve:

Ladle 1 ounce sabayon into the bottom of each shallow serving bowl. Place 1 chocolate covered, stuffed pear in the center of the bowl. Garnish with fresh mint and berries.


Yield: 6 Servings