Passover, the weeklong Jewish celebration of freedom and the start of spring, begins tonight at sundown. When the clock strikes quarter past seven, observant Jews everywhere will sit down for a lengthy Seder, which is essentially a ritual re-telling of the story of the Chosen People’s exodus from Egypt, punctuated with symbolic food and drinks, and culminating with a feast of traditional foods. To acknowledge the plight of their yeast-less ancestors, devout Jews will forgo the pleasures of wheat and barley until evening of April 22. That means no fun carbs—pancakes, French toast, cookies, beer—for a whole seven days.
Among those who will be snacking on matzo and honey instead of tastier leavened fare is celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe. Four years ago, we watched the fashion icon (but completely inexperienced cook) stress out over prepping her very first Passover dinner and agonize over whether she’d waited too long to start a family. Many Seders and two little boys later, the reality TV darling is celebrating not only the change of seasons and the liberation of the Jews, but the success of her second book, the New York Times bestseller Living in Style.
To Zoe, dressing fashionably while raising two kids means sporting a ton of black. “I wear more black than I ever have in my entire life,” the designer told InStyle. “Even tonight, I was standing there in this dress, and I kissed my boys good night. They were soaked in the bathtub, and Skyler wrapped his arms around me, and I thought, ‘Okay then. Glad I’m wearing black.’ If I was wearing white chiffon, I would have had to have changed.” Having children also means a lot of personalized jewelry: “I have my boys’ names engraved in almost every piece of jewelry I own because it’s the closest thing to a tattoo.”
That’s one of the sweetest thing’s we’ve heard coming from the designer, aside from her challah French toast recipe, which we’ll indulge in this morning before any seven-day bread ban. It’s festive (note the use of challah), meatless Monday-friendly (Pesach’s all about animal sacrifice, after all), and, well, it’s French toast—what’s not to love?
Rachel Zoe’s Challah French Toast
A big loaf of challah bread (plain or raisin, preferably a day or two old so it’s stiffer)
A bowl of milk (organic whole milk is ideal, but you can substitute your preferred milk)
3 whole organic eggs
A tablespoon of vanilla
A dash of cinnamon
A dash of nutmeg
1. Whisk eggs and nutmeg in a bowl until fully blended in another bowl, whisk milk, vanilla and cinnamon together.
2. Cut challah into 1-inch slices.
3. Grease a large pan with butter or nonstick spray and heat.
4. Dip each slice into the milk bowl until coated on both sides.
5. Dip immediately into egg mixture until well coated.
6. Transfer onto hot pan and brown both sides (Rachel likes them well done and crispy).
7. Add cinnamon sugar to both sides while cooking.
8. Once well cooked, transfer to warm serving tray.
9. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar if desired.
10. Serve immediately with warmed maple syrup or agave.
Secret syrup: Sauté sliced apples, pears, berries, peaches or whatever fruit you like. Once softened, add maple syrup to the warmed fruit and serve with French toast.