“Tzimmer down now” and enjoy St. Louis baker’s creative take on classic Passover dish

Stefani Pollack

By Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

The Jewish Light recently highlighted five prominent Jewish social media influencers with local ties. One of our featured influencers, Stefani Pollack, is a baker and cook extraordinaire with nearly 1 million Instagram followers. Pollack’s recipe for tzimmes got a mention in a Detroit News story just before Passover began on March 27.

Pollack is used to having her unique recipes shared on various media platforms, but her take on tzimmes is near and dear to her heart because it’s truly a dish passed from generation to generation, albeit with a twist.

“With some family dishes, every generation changes them,” Pollack said. “My grandma’s recipe—it was just sweet potato and apples, using canned yams. My mom uses the canned yams and apples, but she added in dried fruit and the orange juice and carrots and updated it a little bit.

“When I make it I use all fresh ingredients, fresh sweet potatoes and a fresh pineapple that we cut up. Both versions are really good but it does taste a little bit different. My mom’s tzimmes tastes a little bit mushier because of the canned yams.”

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Either one is a welcome treat for Pollack who remembers loving her mother’s tzimmes on Passover, and other Jewish holidays. 

“I just remember it’s one of those dishes when it was served at the holiday table, I thought, ‘Put that one in front of me!’ I looked forward to it because it was so good.”

There are as many variations on the dish as there are possible origins of the word. Some etymologists claim it comes from the English word “simmer” while many believe it’s from the German zum essen, meaning “to eat.” The Yiddish version of the word tzimmes generally refers to “a big fuss.” 

If you want to try out Pollack’s unfussy tzimmes recipe as-is, or add your own spin to it, you can find it here.