A Homemade Passover

This is the first year I have ever held a Passover dinner myself, and I had my family over to celebrate it with me.  A little bit of wine, a lot of food, and a nice, relaxing meal made for a good time.  Well, it was a relaxing end to a stressful and complicated day, as I handmade everything, and I mean everything, for our seder and our meal.  Below – and this is going to be a pretty long post – find everything I did yesterday.

Matzoh (makes 4 pieces of matzoh)

Recipe from Apartment Therapy.  I had better luck with whole-wheat flour, but I still found it difficult to bake to the correct texture.  The recipe says to bake 3-4 minutes, until crisp, but at 3-4 minutes, my matzoh was still pretty tender.  I baked almost twice this long, and when they cooled, they were not just crisp like commercial matzoh, but a little difficult to break into pieces.  The good news is, the recipe is so simple, there’s plenty of room for experimentation.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white flour, whole wheat flour, or a mix
  • 1/2 c. water
  • salt, olive oil, spices, etc. if desired

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick liner.
  2. Mix flour and water, then knead briefly until smooth.  If sticky, add flour, a teaspoon or so at a time, until no longer sticky.
  3. Working one small piece of dough at a time, roll out as thinly as possible on a lightly floured surface.  Transfer to baking sheet and prick all over with a fork.  When the baking sheet is full, place in the oven.
  4. Bake 3-4 minutes, or until crisp.  Watch carefully to avoid burning.

Charoset (makes about 1 cup)

Charoset, one of the six traditional elements of the seder plate, is meant to represent the mortar with which our Jewish ancestors built the pyramids while slaves in Egypt.  In more modern interpretations, it could be said to represent the strength that holds our families together throughout the centuries.  In Ashkenazi groups, it is a relatively simple mixture of apples, walnuts, sweet red wine, and sugar or honey.  In other Jewish communities, it traditionally may also include dates (Sephardic), spices such as cinnamon and cardamom (Yemenite), bananas (Israeli), pears (Persian), or other fruits, nuts, and spices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. white wine
  • 1 tbsp. applesauce

Directions:

  1. Place walnuts and 2 tbsp. sugar in the food processor and process until in fine crumbs.  Empty into a bowl.
  2. Place the grater attachment onto the food processor, and grate the apple into it (peel first if you desire).
  3. Replace the regular blade, and add the walnuts back to the bowl.  Pulse several times to combine.  Return to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, creating a mixture of the taste and texture you desire.

Gefilte Fish (makes 4-8 appetizer-sized servings)

A staple of the Passover meal at our house, and at other times, occasionally, just for snacking, we are generally the jar of jellied broth type, but this year I wanted to try making it by hand, similar to the stuff I had in New York City last April.  There was way too much water in this, so I think my proportions were a little off.  Also, I couldn’t find whitefish or pike, so I used haddock.  I think it came out really well!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. haddock, flesh removed from skin and deboned
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 2 tbsp. matzoh meal
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Fit food processor with grater attachment.  Grate onion and carrot into food processor bowl.  Put regular blade into the food processor, and add fish to bowl.  Pulse several times until well combined.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and pulse several times until well combined.
  4. Place mixture in a loaf pan – I used a regular 9×5, and the mixture only came up about an inch or two.  You could use a smaller loaf pan if you wanted a regular loaf shape.
  5. Put loaf pan in a larger container, pour in water until it comes 2 inches up the sides of the loaf pan.  Place in oven and bake 30 minutes.   Cover with foil, and bake another 30 minutes, or until mixture feels solid when toothpick is inserted.
  6. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.  Invert onto serving plate and refrigerate overnight – I refrigerated for two hours, then stuck in the freezer, and pulled it out again about a half hour before serving.

Horseradish with Beets (makes about 1 cup or so)

Holy crap, is all I can say.  When I was cautioned to mind the fumes, that wasn’t a joke!  If you want to grate your own horseradish, do exercise some care.  I wore a latex glove while peeling, and please, for your own self-preservation, DO NOT hold your head over the food processor or breathe in through your nose.  In addition, unless you are very sure you can handle it, do not eat this mixture raw out of the food processor.  After 30-60 minutes, when we sat down to eat it, the raw mixture had mellowed out a lot, and it may not have even been necessary to add the sour cream.  However, it was definitely delicious that way.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb. horseradish root
  • 1 small beet
  • sugar, salt, and cider vinegar to taste – I used about 1 tbsp. of each
  • 1/2 c. sour cream

Directions:

  1. Fit food processor with grater attachment.  Peel horseradish root and beet, and run both through the grater.  Keeping your face well away from the food processor bowl, replace with the regular blade, and then pulse several times to get a well-minced mixture.
  2. Add sugar, salt, and vinegar, and pulse to combine.  Add several spoonfuls to sour cream, to taste.

Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Onions, and Carrots (serves 5-6)

This was our main dish.  Very simple to prepare, baked throughout the seder portion, and delicious.  I highly recommend it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. or 2-3 chicken thighs per person
  • 6-7 yellow-fleshed potatoes, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp. each paprika, cumin, and turmeric, more or less if you like
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a roasting pan (mine was about 9×13), or spray with non-stick spray.  Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with salt.
  • Spread potato slices on the bottom of the pan, overlapping – you should have enough to cover the bottom of the pan in about one single layer.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over potatoes.
  • Arrange chicken thighs on top of potatoes, and place carrots in and around chicken.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and spices, as evenly as possible.
  • Spread onion slices on top of chicken and carrots.  Cover with foil.  Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours, then uncover and serve.

Now, I know, you’re all really waiting to see, what did I serve for dessert?  Here is your answer:

Chocolate Sponge Cake (6-8 servings)

I followed Deb’s recipe from Smitten Kitchen to the letter, so I won’t repeat it here.  Despite breaking one egg on the floor and two egg yolks while separating and STILL getting a little egg yolk in the egg whites, the cake whipped up beautifully, folded beautifully, and tasted like the richest, most incredible chocolate mousse before I baked it.  After I baked it, still delicious, but I had a problem rolling it out.  Even though I used the time-tested technique of rolling the cake up with a tea towel and letting it cool, it cracked completely apart.  So, I broke up the pieces and made a little layered dessert in a loaf pan instead.  Below, the recipe for the frosting.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1 c. powdered sugar, plus more for taste and texture if desired
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 1/2 c. sour cream

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add zest and juice and beat until combined, then beat in sour cream.

Coconut Macaroons (makes about 24)

Again, I’m not going to repeat the recipe, since I followed it exactly from David Lebovitz’s blog.  I just wanted to post the picture and the link, and the assertion that they are very tasty.  Enjoy!

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    phyllis chiosso liu said,

    Amanda – you amaze me!! Really enjoy your blog- although it always leaves me feeling hungry. I’m surprised you are not interested in being a chef – you seem so talented and creative – and passionate! I am definitely going to make the chocolate cake.

    • 2

      Amanda said,

      Thank you, that’s such a compliment! To be honest, I always thought I probably wouldn’t enjoy the lifestyle of a chef – long hours – and I’d rather share my hobby with friends and family 🙂


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