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What are you cooking for Passover Seder?

What are you cooking for Passover Seder?
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  • What are you cooking for Passover Seder?

    Post #1 - March 16th, 2009, 2:23 pm
    Post #1 - March 16th, 2009, 2:23 pm Post #1 - March 16th, 2009, 2:23 pm
    The Seder meal marks the start of the Passover week (or 8 days) and celebrates the successful exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Unlike any other holiday I know of except for Thanksgiving, the meal itself is central to the holiday’s meaning and correct celebration. Certain foods (and wine) are necessary and cannot be omitted, and certain others are forbidden and cannot be included, if you are actually observing the holiday—not just having a nice family dinner with some traditional foods. My family tries to observe the holiday, although we do not keep kosher.

    The final count of guests is not in yet, but it looks like I’ll be cooking for between 15 and 18 people this year (April 8th). I will be preparing the Seder plate’s ceremonial foods and making all the courses except for the matzah ball soup, to be made by my brilliant brother. (As I noted here, our recipe uses whole matzahs that make al dente balls, not the fluffy, tasteless monstrosities made with matzah meal one is often served in restaurants.)

    I’m curious what others are doing for the optional portions of the meal—I’m not talking about the Charoses or the horseradish, although good recipes for those are very welcome. As a sidebar, I will say that in my family, we always ate the horseradish (the bitter herb we eat to remind us of the suffering of our ancestors’ slavery) as slices off the root. We provide prepared ground horseradish, both white, and for the real wimps, red, but by us, real men and women eat the root straight up.

    My menu for the dinner portion of the evening:
    Hard-boiled eggs with the salt water (reminds us of tears) left over from the telling of the Seder story (this is traditional if totally unnecessary when the rest of the meal will have another 5,000 calories)
    Aunt Louise’s gefilte fish paté (recipe to be posted soon—absolutely awesome and way better than virtually all other g.f.)
    Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls—’nuff said
    Entrée is always hard because everyone is getting full already. My grandmother at this point would serve two meats, one beef and one chicken or capon. I have done something similar, but I have regained my sanity in recent years. With a few folks in the family no longer eating red meat, I will do the Silver Palate’s Chicken Marbella, much beloved by my son, and a great dish to do ahead that can reheat. I’m thinking simple steamed asparagus, although other suggestions very welcome, for something green and spring like that I can do quickly. Finally, I must do a potato because there are those who would miss it too much if I don’t. I usually do roasted, but the timing is difficult because I never know what time we will get to start eating—it depends on how long we take doing the non-meal portion. Any thoughts? My stove has only 4 burners and one oven, plus I have the microwave, a toaster oven, and a large electric skillet, if need be.
    Dessert is my hazelnut torte plus various dark chocolate-covered fruit thingies sold at Passover. I’d love to have the time to make my own chocolate-covered orange peel, which I did for holiday gifts in December, but I don’t think I’ll get to it. My sister-in-law will bring a flourless chocolate cake because we can never have too much chocolate in my family.

    Questions, suggestions, corrections, and shared menus, please!
  • Post #2 - March 16th, 2009, 2:30 pm
    Post #2 - March 16th, 2009, 2:30 pm Post #2 - March 16th, 2009, 2:30 pm
    EvA wrote:Aunt Louise’s gefilte fish paté (recipe to be posted soon—absolutely awesome and way better than virtually all other g.f.)


    An extraordinary claim! ;) I look forward to the recipe!
  • Post #3 - March 16th, 2009, 2:41 pm
    Post #3 - March 16th, 2009, 2:41 pm Post #3 - March 16th, 2009, 2:41 pm
    This cauliflower leek kugel is awesome and really surprising, and has been in my rotation since it appeared in Bon Appetit in 2005:
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/ ... ust-231889
  • Post #4 - March 16th, 2009, 2:55 pm
    Post #4 - March 16th, 2009, 2:55 pm Post #4 - March 16th, 2009, 2:55 pm
    eatchicago wrote:
    EvA wrote:Aunt Louise’s gefilte fish paté (recipe to be posted soon—absolutely awesome and way better than virtually all other g.f.)


    An extraordinary claim! ;) I look forward to the recipe!

    I stand by that claim, sir! But the recipe is at home and I am at work--though you wouldn't know it for all the time I'm spending here today....
  • Post #5 - March 16th, 2009, 2:58 pm
    Post #5 - March 16th, 2009, 2:58 pm Post #5 - March 16th, 2009, 2:58 pm
    annak wrote:This cauliflower leek kugel is awesome and really surprising, and has been in my rotation since it appeared in Bon Appetit in 2005:
    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/ ... ust-231889

    It sounds delicious. How necessary are the almonds (one of my brothers is allergic), and how heavy do you find the dish? Leeks make us think of spring, but cauliflower... not so much.
  • Post #6 - March 16th, 2009, 3:33 pm
    Post #6 - March 16th, 2009, 3:33 pm Post #6 - March 16th, 2009, 3:33 pm
    One of our most favorite ways to cook potatoes is pan-roasted. My recipe calls for small new potatoes, in a large flat skillet, with chicken broth and olive oil and herbs (generally I use rosemary, but you could use whatever you wanted). When the potatoes are getting soft, but not fully cooked, take the back of a fork and smush them just slightly, so they are cracked and will absorb some delicious broth. Add a bit more oil and/or butter if needed. Turn up the heat and if necessary take off the lid, so that most of the broth evaporates and the bottoms of the potatoes (slightly flattened by fork) fries a bit; flip the potatoes once so the the second side also gets a bit crispy and flavorful. Add S&P. These can sit in the pan without suffering for awhile until you are ready for them; you can also turn the heat up higher or less high, to rush or slow. I do not have a pan big enough to make the quantity of these that my family is capable of eating (though as part of a Seder, you don't need as many!)

    I always like to make brisket for Seder. It's not spring-like at all, but I love brisket so much, I take any excuse to make it.
  • Post #7 - March 16th, 2009, 4:23 pm
    Post #7 - March 16th, 2009, 4:23 pm Post #7 - March 16th, 2009, 4:23 pm
    Thanks, Judy. They sound great but don't know if I have a big enough pan or stovetop. Also I'd have to use vegetable stock, which may be less delicious. I've got one vegetarian sister-in-law. But I think I'll try them at home just for the old nuclear family!
  • Post #8 - March 16th, 2009, 4:33 pm
    Post #8 - March 16th, 2009, 4:33 pm Post #8 - March 16th, 2009, 4:33 pm
    We don't keep Kosher either. One of our Passover favorites is a marinated roast leg of lamb. We often save the bone for use on next years Sedar plate.
  • Post #9 - March 16th, 2009, 5:00 pm
    Post #9 - March 16th, 2009, 5:00 pm Post #9 - March 16th, 2009, 5:00 pm
    EvA wrote:
    eatchicago wrote:
    EvA wrote:Aunt Louise’s gefilte fish paté (recipe to be posted soon—absolutely awesome and way better than virtually all other g.f.)


    An extraordinary claim! ;) I look forward to the recipe!

    I stand by that claim, sir! But the recipe is at home and I am at work--though you wouldn't know it for all the time I'm spending here today....


    I tried Suzie Fishbein's "Passover by Design" gefilte fish torte recipe last year with great success (and with the frozen gefilte fish as a base). Simple but very nice presentation. In a springform pan layer regular gefilte fish, salmon gefilte fish and regular gefilte fish mixed with fresh dill. Unmold and cut into slices.
  • Post #10 - March 16th, 2009, 7:23 pm
    Post #10 - March 16th, 2009, 7:23 pm Post #10 - March 16th, 2009, 7:23 pm
    I will be making gefilte fish and horseradish and bringing them to my brothers' house. I look forward to your recipe. I make these practically every year and just look at the most promising recipe I find on the net. I always get my ground fish at Sunset. Is there a reason to get it anywhere else?
  • Post #11 - March 16th, 2009, 7:35 pm
    Post #11 - March 16th, 2009, 7:35 pm Post #11 - March 16th, 2009, 7:35 pm
    lougord99 wrote:I will be making gefilte fish and horseradish and bringing them to my brothers' house. I look forward to your recipe. I make these practically every year and just look at the most promising recipe I find on the net. I always get my ground fish at Sunset. Is there a reason to get it anywhere else?

    Ask, and ye shall receive! I'm far from Sunset so don't go there. I've got two kosher fish stores on Devon (very pricey) and have had good luck some years with Dominick's and the "kosher" Jewel at Howard and Kedzie. If you make the recipe, let me know what you think, please.

    Aunt Louise’s Gefilte Fish Paté
    My aunt has been making this for years, and she’s very proud of it and rightfully so. It was published in a slightly different form in There’s Always Room for More, a cookbook compiled and published by the Jewish Big Sisters of Chicago, of which she was a leading light for many, many years.

    For those doubters among you who question my praise of this dish, I say: try it!

    Paté
    1 ½ lbs. boned and skinned pike
    1 ½ lbs. boned and skinned whitefish or trout
    1 large onion
    1 large carrot
    3 eggs, slightly beaten
    ½ cup matzah meal (or fine, dry breadcrumbs)
    2 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
    1 ½ teaspoons pepper, or to taste

    Sauce
    1 cup mayonnaise
    ¾ cup yogurt or sour cream
    4 tablespoons capers
    2 tablespoons minced onion

    Have the fish ground after weighing so that you have about 3 lbs. (or grind yourself if you wish). If you do it yourself, you can grind the onion and carrot with the fish. If you have the fishmonger do the grinding, grate the onion and carrot fine and mix into the fish. Add the beaten eggs, matzah meal, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

    Pat the mixture into a large (9x5) loaf pan and cover it with foil. Put the loaf pan in a hot water bath inside a larger baking pan. A large foil baking pan works well. Bake covered for 1 hour at 350º and then remove the foil and bake an additional 30 minutes. The fish should not be wet on top but not dried out either. Allow to cool and then refrigerate.

    To serve, take the fish out of the fridge at least 30 minutes ahead and slice. You can get about 12 slices out of the loaf. Aunt L. always serves it with the sauce (just combine the ingredients listed above and let mellow for a few hours), resting the fish temptingly on a pristine lettuce leaf. But the fish is terrific with prepared horseradish too; we eat it with both the sauce and horseradish at our house. A slice on matzah for lunch later in the week makes avoiding bread and other leavened food during Passover a whole lot easier!

    I usually make a double batch and would make it more often if the fish weren’t so expensive. By the time you pay for all those bones, heads, and skin, it gets pricey. Unlike “true” gefilte fish, my recipe doesn’t call for those to make a stock.
  • Post #12 - March 18th, 2009, 11:58 pm
    Post #12 - March 18th, 2009, 11:58 pm Post #12 - March 18th, 2009, 11:58 pm
    In case anyone is needing gluten-free matzoh ball recipe, let me know. My friend Sara has crafted a recipe that is indeed edible AND gluten free, not an easy combination. They are middle of road in terms of the fluff factor. Not as dense as some, not light as air, either.
  • Post #13 - March 19th, 2009, 6:22 am
    Post #13 - March 19th, 2009, 6:22 am Post #13 - March 19th, 2009, 6:22 am
    Somewhat off topic but still Passover related...

    We're in the far NW suburbs, in the Algonquin / Carpentersville area near the Randall Rd corridor. I'm looking for a store that carries more Kosher for Passover stuff than the neighborhood Jewel, which seems to be limited to one small end cap of matzo, gefilte fish, and soup mix.

    In the past we've schlepped all the way to the Jewel in Buffalo Grove on Lake Cook, which has an entire aisle of Kosher food, and a huge KfP display, but that's almost 25 miles, and I'm really hoping to find something a bit closer. Any suggestions?
  • Post #14 - March 19th, 2009, 3:14 pm
    Post #14 - March 19th, 2009, 3:14 pm Post #14 - March 19th, 2009, 3:14 pm
    Dream on. The products are where the observant Jews are. The Jewel on Howard in Evanston and the nearby Hungarian Kosher are where our observant friends from Wisconsin end up. You're lucky the Buffalo Grove Jewel has more than a token box of matzah and kiddush wine.
  • Post #15 - March 21st, 2009, 8:11 am
    Post #15 - March 21st, 2009, 8:11 am Post #15 - March 21st, 2009, 8:11 am
    There is also the Jewel on Deerfield in Highland Park and Garden Fresh in Northbrook both also have extensive kosher food sections
  • Post #16 - March 21st, 2009, 10:31 am
    Post #16 - March 21st, 2009, 10:31 am Post #16 - March 21st, 2009, 10:31 am
    I'm trying to think of some kind of baked dish that would approach the leathery crispness of Matzoh Brei. I'm not sure it can be done, but I can't feed 30 people matzoh brei as a side dish -- just too much work. Perhaps layer in thin slices of artichoke or other veggie?
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #17 - March 21st, 2009, 11:58 am
    Post #17 - March 21st, 2009, 11:58 am Post #17 - March 21st, 2009, 11:58 am
    JoelF wrote:I'm trying to think of some kind of baked dish that would approach the leathery crispness of Matzoh Brei. I'm not sure it can be done, but I can't feed 30 people matzoh brei as a side dish -- just too much work. Perhaps layer in thin slices of artichoke or other veggie?

    I have been curious about this dish from Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America but haven't made it: a Matzah Scacchi, a Roman layered vegetable casserole. Nathan describes it as a sort of matzah lasagna or Turkish mina. You might have to make two if you've got, gulp, 30 people for Seder. If you try it, I'd be very interested to know what you think of it.
  • Post #18 - March 21st, 2009, 9:13 pm
    Post #18 - March 21st, 2009, 9:13 pm Post #18 - March 21st, 2009, 9:13 pm
    OK, so many things to add tonight! LOL

    I tried to make matzoh balls with matzoh sheets once, rather than meal, and I LOVED them but no one else did. LOL I think I used a recipe from epicurious. Now that my mom chooses to use the "mix" instead of the straight matzoh meal, her sinkers don't sink much and they don't have much character.

    My must-have side dish is a Carrot "Souffle" that i got from a kosher website years ago and is DEMANDED by my daughter. It is light, sweet and could be a dessert but goes great on the plate. I usually make 2, one with walnuts, another without. This can be made night before and reheated with topping while seder is going on.

    My mom makes a savory matzoh kugel (we don't love the apple ones) that is virtually identical to her Thanksgiving stuffing except that it uses matzoh instead of challah. We like it soft inside and crunchy out....I think someone above was looking for something similar.

    I love making Passover.
  • Post #19 - March 22nd, 2009, 7:08 am
    Post #19 - March 22nd, 2009, 7:08 am Post #19 - March 22nd, 2009, 7:08 am
    Yes to the GF matzoh balls!

    Also, where to buy GF matzoh?

    I saw a post on GF by the Bay, but both options were for handmade $30 a box versions. Being of Reform extraction and also cheap, I'd like a less expensive option. I saw a recipe somewhere, but it'd be nice to buy it somewhere.
  • Post #20 - March 22nd, 2009, 2:45 pm
    Post #20 - March 22nd, 2009, 2:45 pm Post #20 - March 22nd, 2009, 2:45 pm
    You can get the GF matzohs locally, but there are pricey. Most people I know just buy one box for the holiday and suffer without them the rest of the year.

    The GF matzoh balls do not use any matzoh meal. That's why they are GF and inexpensive. And, surprisingly OK.

    Not sure if Sara made this up, or if she got it somewhere. She's pretty good about attribution, so I imagine she would have told me if she got it somewhere. Here is her recipe to me, and my notes about it beneath:

    4 TBSP rendered chicken fat
    4 eggs
    1 tsp salt
    2/3 scant cup GF bread crumbs
    1 cup dried potato flakes
    pinch of onion powder

    Directions:

    1. Blend eggs and chicken fat (with fork, or with cuisinart)
    2. Add dry ingredients, and mix
    3. Cover and let sit in fridge for at least 30 minutes
    4. Have briskly boiling water ready
    5. Roll 1 1/2 inch balls from mixture using wet hands, drop into boiling water
    6. When all balls are in water, use a long spoon to make sure none of the balls are stuck to the bottom of the pot
    7. Cover pot with lid, and cook over low heat for 35 minutes.
    8. Using slotted spoon, transfer balls directly to soup, or to freeze for later use, transfer to waxpaper lined cookie sheet and freeze until hard, then transfer into ziplock freezer bags.

    Makes about 11 matzo balls. Recipe can be easily doubled or halved.
    Sara, Chicago

    First time, I used ½ cup plus 2 T bread crumbs, 1 cup of potato flakes, and the rest the same (based on what I had on hand). They were surprisingly good - could be that we hadn't had any in years, but we were very pleased. Second time, used grated onion instead of powder and canola oil instead of chicken fat (didn't have any rendered and didn't have time to render). Not sure that I need all the chicken fat based on the second time. Maybe use just 1 T chicken fat and 3 T other oil next time. Oh, they totally need the full cooking time and do fluff up quite a bit.
  • Post #21 - March 23rd, 2009, 11:42 am
    Post #21 - March 23rd, 2009, 11:42 am Post #21 - March 23rd, 2009, 11:42 am
    I'm not providing anything for the actual meal, but I'm making David Lebowitz's matzoh candy as a gift for the hosts:
    http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2 ... overe.html
  • Post #22 - March 23rd, 2009, 11:57 am
    Post #22 - March 23rd, 2009, 11:57 am Post #22 - March 23rd, 2009, 11:57 am
    I assume the gluten-free matzo you're referring to are the spelt variety? They had single-pound boxes at the Jewel on Howard yesterday. Manischewitz-brand, I believe.
  • Post #23 - March 23rd, 2009, 12:22 pm
    Post #23 - March 23rd, 2009, 12:22 pm Post #23 - March 23rd, 2009, 12:22 pm
    And one other suggestion for all. I made a killer quinoa tabbouleh last year. It was a very popular side dish.
  • Post #24 - March 23rd, 2009, 7:00 pm
    Post #24 - March 23rd, 2009, 7:00 pm Post #24 - March 23rd, 2009, 7:00 pm
    spinynorman99 wrote:I assume the gluten-free matzo you're referring to are the spelt variety? They had single-pound boxes at the Jewel on Howard yesterday. Manischewitz-brand, I believe.


    Spelt is not gluten free. Only the oat ones are, IIRC. Spelt is a strain of wheat that some people with a wheat intolerance can eat without problem, but someone who was gluten intolerant or a celiac could not.
  • Post #25 - March 29th, 2009, 7:43 pm
    Post #25 - March 29th, 2009, 7:43 pm Post #25 - March 29th, 2009, 7:43 pm
    I just received my Passover "assignments" for the sedar at my parents house. I need to make charosets, some type of vegetable and a dessert, all for 24 people.

    I'm good with the chorsets and will probably make a chocolate torte for dessert, and maybe an almond-pistachio cake. But I could use advice on the vegetable. At first I was thinking just roast some asparagus and maybe one or two other types and make life easy, but I also like the idea of doing something more interesting. Thoughts??
  • Post #26 - April 4th, 2009, 5:32 pm
    Post #26 - April 4th, 2009, 5:32 pm Post #26 - April 4th, 2009, 5:32 pm
    I have had many complements on these cumin spiced (aka Tunisian -style) carrot coins:

    1 lb carrots, cut into coins, (you can cheat and use frozen)
    4tsp fresh lemon juice
    1tsp sugar
    2t chili powder (I like chipotle, for the smoky flavor)
    you can use more or less depending on the spice tolerance of your guests.
    1T cumin
    1T white or cider vinegar
    pinch of salt
    2-3 T water as needed

    If you are using fresh carrots steam or boil them until they are tender.
    If frozen, thaw and drain.
    Mix the dressing ingredients, and pour over the carrots.
    May be served hot, warm, room temp or cold.
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #27 - April 8th, 2009, 11:44 am
    Post #27 - April 8th, 2009, 11:44 am Post #27 - April 8th, 2009, 11:44 am
    For those of you who are observing this food-centric holiday, have a wonderful seder!

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #28 - April 8th, 2009, 9:43 pm
    Post #28 - April 8th, 2009, 9:43 pm Post #28 - April 8th, 2009, 9:43 pm
    LTH,

    Kept it simple, gefilte fish* with beet horseradish, matzo, roast chicken, potato kugel, steamed broccoli. Ate at the dining room table, a very nice meal.

    Happy holidays to all.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    *Shamefully, especially in light of iblock9 efforts, and Evil doing thousands, I went GF from a jar. :oops:
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #29 - April 8th, 2009, 9:52 pm
    Post #29 - April 8th, 2009, 9:52 pm Post #29 - April 8th, 2009, 9:52 pm
    EvA wrote:
    JoelF wrote:I'm trying to think of some kind of baked dish that would approach the leathery crispness of Matzoh Brei. I'm not sure it can be done, but I can't feed 30 people matzoh brei as a side dish -- just too much work. Perhaps layer in thin slices of artichoke or other veggie?

    I have been curious about this dish from Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America but haven't made it: a Matzah Scacchi, a Roman layered vegetable casserole. Nathan describes it as a sort of matzah lasagna or Turkish mina. You might have to make two if you've got, gulp, 30 people for Seder. If you try it, I'd be very interested to know what you think of it.


    It was delicious, but a couple of caveats:
    1) It says to use a 9x13 pan, but they must be using units bigger than inches -- the ingredients completely filled the pan before adding the eggs, and that's without having the ground beef in the dish! I didn't use any broth, but it didn't need it. I'd use a deep lasagna pan if you have one, or something a bit larger than a 9x13.
    2) The onions were a bit heavy -- you could probably use about 1 to 1.25 lb instead of 1.5 lb (although the balance might be OK if you're including the beef)
    Perhaps the onions should have been cooked to caramelized -- I didn't go that far, so they had a lot of bulk too.

    Our full dinner for 20 (not 30 -- a few folks were out of town):
    Gefilte Fish (I hate the stuff, but it's expected)
    Matzoh ball soup (provided by my aunt)
    Salad with dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice and abundant garlic
    about 11 lbs of brisket (pre-cooked weight), using Nach Waxman's recipe with extra carrots and about 4 lbs of potatoes added after the first 1.5 hrs cooking (when you take it out for slicing)
    chicken breasts with a maztoh meal/lemon topping (for the few that don't eat red meat, provided by another aunt)
    Cauliflower/fennel mix (provided by a cousin)
    Platters of fruit (two provided by cousins)
    Matzoh Scacchi

    Dessert:
    Flourless Chocolate Cake and fresh whipped cream
    Forgotten cookies (meringues with chocolate chips) (Aunt #1)
    Apricot bars (Aunt #1)
    The fruit still left
    Fruit "slices"

    A fine time was had by all
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #30 - April 8th, 2009, 11:07 pm
    Post #30 - April 8th, 2009, 11:07 pm Post #30 - April 8th, 2009, 11:07 pm
    G Wiv wrote:Shamefully, especially in light of iblock9 efforts, and Evil doing thousands, I went GF from a jar. :oops:


    Did you at least go with the sweet gefilte fish from the jar?

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