Every year we gather to retell the story...
We always invite someone who has never been before. We clean the house and give away any “leavened” foods. We do not eat any leavened foods for 8 days to commemorate the escape from slavery. The only bread allowed is matzo – unleavened bread, the bread of affliction.
Set table with “Passover” china. Different…be different from every other night. Passover is special. It is a night to be different, to savor our freedom with our most beautiful possessions and a celebratory meal. Write a meaningful ceremony. Give everyone a part and put their page at their place setting. My ceremony is printed at the end of the section. There are about 30 pages. Every year I have 20 people or so. in addition to the ceremonial pages, I pick and choose the extra pages full of ideas and poems and readings so each year the ceremony is a little different.
Buy a Seder Plate, fill it up and place it on the center of the table:
The Seder plate
- Lamb shank bone
- Roasted egg
- (roast these two together in 325°oven for an hour )
- Charoses (walnuts and red wine)
I always get the “shmura” matzo…it is supposedly made from the “first” wheat harvest (I don’t really care about that) and it is whole wheat (I do care about that!) It is so much more delicious than boxed white matzo which truly tastes like cardboard. It is thinner and has more flavor. Sometimes Ralphs sells it. Usually I order it from Shotzer Hand Matzoh (718) 435-2873.
Set the table a few days before so the house looks beautiful – I always enjoy looking at the gorgeous table. I got this habit from mom (Bubbe).
How to set the table:
Set a small plate at each place setting at the table. Load it up with:
- 1 hardboiled egg
- 1 tsp. red horseradish
- 1 T “charoses” (see recipe below)
Put a little cup filled with salt water at each setting – I use sherry glasses (that way, when you’re doing the ceremony no one has to pass anything and it goes much faster).
Put a Passover Hagada, or a part from your written ceremony, at each place setting. My ceremony can be downloaded below.
You do not set out any appetizers on Passover. People come and expect to sit down to the ceremonial meal.
Sedar means “order”. You have the meal in the same order each year…
When done, don’t forget to leave the cup for Elijah on the table and open the door so the prophet of peace can enter your home.
Eat! Ess! Ess! Celebrate!
Passover - The Menu
I have a beautiful cookbook, called Passover Gourmet. The recipes are wonderful. I have been cooking from it for years. But my menu is not exclusively from that book. It has been perfected over the years to this:
Potato Latkes – which I make fresh as everyone arrives. I serve it as an appetizer for those who can’t wait. The remaining Latkes are put on these latke platters…goofy but fun. I make Latkes at Passover because potato kugel (potato casserole) is traditional but it tastes awful…
Gefitle Fish – Always the traditional Passover first course. My grandmother’s was light as a feather, fresh and delicious. I never took the time to learn, and now this is my approximation.
Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls – serve the broth, a few carrots and make the matzo balls ‘mini’ size.
Charoses – make it fresh from the recipe below. It is really delicious. People always ask for more. It goes on the big Seder Plate in the middle of the table and on the individual seder plates at each place setting
Platter of Asparagus or Green Beans Garnished with Chopped Tomatoes
Dessert: always a plate of sliced oranges, and a plate of flourless cookies, Passover Honey Cake, (which is made with matzo meal), chocolate covered matzo, and our newest family tradition - Nadia’s Flourless Chocolate Cake…
Passover – The Recipes
- 1 – 2 shredded red delicious apples
- Sweet Jewish concord grape wine
Measurements are less important than the result - use as many walnuts as you think you need. I need one quart so I use 3 cups of nuts, 2 apples, ½ - 1 t. cinnamon and 1 – 2 shredded apples. Put the walnuts into the Cuisinart and do a rough chop. Not too fine. I shred the apples in the Cuisinart with the shredder blade. Mix together. Add the cinnamon and wine to taste. Delicious. Make a lot. People like it. You need it for the Seder plates and the ceremony. It is best fresh and does not keep well.
Marcie’s (Edible) Stewed Prunes
- 2 pkg. dried prunes with or without the pits, we prefer the pits in our family
- 1 pkg. dried apricots
- 1 cinnamon stick
Put all ingredients in a small pot. Add water generously to cover. Simmer covered for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit in the pot until thickened a bit. Serve on buffet next to meat. The taste wonderful together. In our family it was a big joke that matzo is ‘binding’, so my grandparents always had to have the stewed fruit…now Uncle Mike’s favorite, we can’t have Passover without it.
The Latke Recipe
- 3-4 russet potatoes*
- 1 onion (extra for flavoring oil)
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 T Matzoh meal optional
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup chopped parsley
Peel potatoes, keep in cold water or they turn dark. Peel the onion; slice them to fit into the food processor tube. Using the shredding blade, feed the potatoes and onions alternately until all are shredded. Empty into colander suspended over a bowl. Change blade from shredder to chopping blade. Put back half of the potatoes and onions and process until coarsely chopped — not too fine. Do same with remaining potatoes and onions. Drain again in colander over a bowl. Press moisture out. Transfer drained potato and onion mixture into mixing bowl. Pour off the liquid from the drained potatoes and onions and scrape the thick starch back into the chopped mixture.
Mix in the egg yolks, salt and pepper, parsley and matzo meal if you are using it.
Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold in. Fry in corn oil. For old world original flavor, put ¼ cup chicken schmaltz and ¼ slice of onion into corn oil to flavor it while frying the latkes. Replace onion as it blackens, with a fresh piece.
Drain on brown paper bags. Serve with Sour Cream and Applesauce.
*Potatoes used to be small – the size of your palm. We used 7-8 in those days. If using today-sized potatoes, 3-4 equals 7-8 original size potatoes.
Recipe coming after I make them on Wed.
Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls (Passover Style)
Passover style is with a few soup vegetables and matzo balls. No chicken. You will have a heavy meal after the soup so save the chicken for other uses. I always keep stocks in my freezer saved from cooking meats and vegetables. But I use Manischewitz matzo ball mix to which I add my secret ingredients….They come out light as a feather and there are NO bad additives. Completely ok. Homemade matzo balls always come out leaden. Try it, you’ll see.
- 8 cups stock ( store bought is just fine )
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 carrots
- 6 stalks celery
- 1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
- Green onion
- Manischewitz matzo ball mix
Mix the matzo ball mixture according to the package directions. Add ½ cup finely chopped parsley and the chopped green ends from one bunch green onions.
Drop them into boiling water. Cook them for 45 minutes. DO NOT cook them in the soup. They do not come out well, and it ruins the soup.
Make the soup.
Take a ¼ cup of the stock and heat it in the bottom of the soup pot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and brown them in the stock. You don’t want added oil or fat in the soup. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the parsnip and parsley. Turn to simmer and cook 20 minutes. Drain the matzo balls and add to soup along with the sliced green onions.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs, each, fresh oregano and rosemary
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 1½ cups dry red wine (always cook with a wine that you would drink)
- 1 26-ounce jar tomato sauce with mushrooms
- 6 lamb shanks (always try to buy organic meat)
- 1 package large mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
Heat oil in large skillet and sauté onion until tender. Add carrots, celery, bay leaves, fresh herbs, and parsley, wine and tomato sauce. Simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Rinse lamb. Salt and pepper both sides. Place in a covered roaster with a loose fitting lid. I prefer granite ware.
Sauté mushrooms in hot oil in a separate skillet until golden brownand crusty. Combine with cooked sauce. Spoon over lamb.
Cover and cook for 2 hours at 375°. Uncover and cook additional 20 – 30 minutes until nice and caramelized on top.
- 1 5-6 lb. brisket
- 2 onions
- 4 stalks celery
- 2 bunches parsley
- 1 jar Heinz Chili Sauce (no substitutions)
Wash, trim, and rub brisket with salt and pepper and put in roasting pan fat side up. Chop 2 onions, 4 stalks celery and parsley and cover brisket with it. Mix 1 jar of Heinz Chile Sauce with one jar water and pour over on top of onions etc.
Bake 1 hour uncovered at 325° (yes, do it).
Remove from oven and add 1-10 oz. bottle of beer. Cover and cook 3 more hours. Cool and refrigerate. Slice when cold. Remove fat from juices. Then day of Passover reheat in juices. Incredible.
Platter of Asparagus or Green Beans garnished with Chopped Tomatoes
Choose Asparagus and or Green Beans of your choice. We like the thick Asparagus and the Haricot Verts. Chop up an heirloom tomato into small dice. Lightly steam the veggies for 3 minutes in simmering water. Drain and place onto a platter. Spoon the diced tomatoes on top with the juices. No need to add salt or pepper. The meat and side dishes have plenty. These veggies with the tart tomatoes create a perfect balance to the meats and latkes.
In addition to platters of sliced oranges, Passover honey cake with walnuts and macaroons, we always serve Nadia’s Flourless Chocolate Cake and cousin David Siegel’s Passover Brittle…
Siegel Brittle (for Passover…or Anytime)
I got this recipe from Cousin David Siegel
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Slivered almonds
Melt butter and sugar together. Pour over matzoh, spread evenly. Bake 5 minutes at 350°.
Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake 5 minutes more. Spread chocolate evenly.
Quickly spread slivered almonds over top.
Freeze. Break into pieces
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
- 7 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate
- 6 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 Cup sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 6 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 300°. Butter and sugar a spring form pan. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place egg yolks, whole egg and 2/3 cup of sugar in a bowl and beat until mixture is thick and pale yellow. Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add 1/3 cup of sugar and whisk until mixture is stiff.
Pour the chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture and whisk until well mixed. Gently fold in egg white mixture until just combined.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes to an hour. Cake will be set but jiggly. Test with knife. It will be coated but cooked.
Cool cake before unmolding.
An additional tip:
Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then unmold. you will see that the cake will hold it's shape better. Do not refrigerate. Before serving gently heat in microwave or oven for a few minutes. Serve warm. Center will be gooey.
Auntie Marcie's Passover Seder
Here you can download my Passover Seder. I vary it a little each year to apply to current events, but this gives you the essence which you can modify as you desire.