Love, tradition and history are the vital ingredients in a new cookbook Just Add Love, featuring Holocaust survivors’ recipes like these almond macaroons for Pesach from resident Lena Goldstein OAM.
Losing precious family recipes from her own grandmother, Leah, prompted author Irris Makler to begin researching her new cookbook, Just Add Love. “I realised when she passed away that I would never eat her honey cake again, as nobody had ever written down the recipe,” says the Sydney journalist, currently based as a foreign correspondent in Jerusalem. For the past four years, Irris has captured memories and traditional recipes from 20 grandmothers and grandfathers – all Australian Holocaust survivors of diverse backgrounds.
The oldest person featured is the remarkable Lena Goldstein OAM, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday at Montefiore Randwick and continues to share her story with the community. Cooking for Passover always reminds Lena of the same time of year in 1943, when the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising took place. She escaped, went into hiding and became one of two family members to survive.
For her grandson, Ben, cooking together is also a reminder of all Lena and her generation endured, and an expression of gratitude for his very different life at the same age. “Bitter or sweet or both, it’s the reason we are so close,” he says, “and why we all love each other so much. You can’t lose your family like that again.”
These almond biscuits are Lena’s go-to Passover recipe. Just almonds, sugar and eggwhites – and you can’t stop eating them. Lena has devised a streamlined version, with no need to beat the eggwhites, just mix them a little with a fork. “I tried it both ways, and it didn’t make a difference. In fact, it is better this way,” says Lena. Makes 12
250g ground almonds (I use 190g almonds and 60g walnuts)
45g (6 large tbspn) sugar
1½ tbspn lemon juice, or to taste
½ tspn almond essence
Blanched almond halves, to decorate
1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease a flat baking tray, or cover with baking paper.
2. Beat eggwhites with a fork till slightly firm, no need to beat till stiff. Mix in nuts and sugar. Add lemon juice and essence. The mixture should be sticky. Check for taste.
3. Drop the mixture tablespoon by tablespoon onto the baking tray, leaving space to spread during cooking. Flatten out and place half an almond in the centre of each biscuit..
4. Bake for 10 minutes till brown and just dry. Don’t overcook! You want them to be chewy. Leave to cool.