Passover, the Jewish religion's biggest food holiday starts this Monday night with the traditional Seder dinner. To aide you in your celebration I've come up with a wonderful menu based on the customary foods of the Seder. To start things off serve a few dishes that will please guests with their accordance to the traditions of Passover and their flavor packed deliciousness. Matzo, the cracker like flat-bread is incorporated into a classic soup, the haroset's sweetness mirrors the sweetness of freedom, and the maror - or bitter herbs that represent the sorrow of slavery - is seen in the green horseradish sauce that is paired with the fish cakes (gefilte fish). For the recipes,
4 Tablespoons schmaltz (chicken fat)
1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), cut up [in 8 pieces]
10 cups mineral or filtered water
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves chopped and stems reserved
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups fresh shelled green peas
½ cup dry vermouth
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 ½ cups mineral or filtered water
3/4 cup schmaltz (chicken fat), or vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 cups matzoh meal
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon ground ginger
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Add the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, reserve the poaching liquid, and when cool enough to handle remove the meat from the bones and set aside. Strain the poaching liquid to remove solids, reserving 8 cups, and set aside.*
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and sweat for 4 minutes, until tender.
- Tie the thyme stems together and add them to the pot with the bay leaves, salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken and reserved poaching liquid and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the matzoh balls, combine the water, schmaltz, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
- Gradually add the matzoh meal and stir with a wire whisk until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.
- Stir in the parsley and ginger and mix well.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Drop the matzoh dough by heaping spoonfuls into the simmering soup.
- Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped thyme, vermouth, and garlic and heat through.
- To serve, remove the bay leaves and thyme stems, ladle the soup into bowls, and top with the chopped parsley.
* To de-fat the stock, refrigerate for 1 hour, until a fat layer forms on the surface. Skim the layer of fat off the top and discard.
6 apples - peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon white sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/3 cup sweet red wine
- Place the apples and walnuts into a large bowl.
- Mix together the cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle over the apples.
- Stir in the honey and sweet wine.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving.
1 3/4 to 2 pounds skinless striped bass fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup (generous) minced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for frying
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Green Horseradish Sauce, recipe below
- Line rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Using/on off turns, finely chop 1/2 of fish in processor (do not puree to paste); transfer to bowl. Repeat with remaining fish.
- Mix in onion, parsley, cilantro, 3 1/2 tablespoons oil, salt, and pepper.
- Using wet hands and generous 1/4 cupful for each, shape mixture into 3x2x1/2-inch cakes. Arrange on prepared baking sheet. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, sauté cakes until opaque in center, adding more oil to skillet by tablespoonfuls as needed, about 4 minutes per side.
- Transfer to platter. Serve warm or at room temperature with horseradish sauce.
Green Horseradish Sauce
From Bon Appetit magazine
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/4 cup chopped arugula leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 tablespoons drained prepared white horseradish
2 1/2 tablespoons (or more) dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Place spinach in sieve and press very dry. Place 1/4 cup firmly packed spinach in processor (reserve remainder for another use). Add arugula and parsley; chop finely.
- Add remaining ingredients; blend. Add more wine by tablespoonfuls to thin to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)
Check back later today for the second course and dessert of this scrumptious Seder dinner.