Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Homemade Passover

I've always had a love/hate relationship to Passover, loving the part with all the family cooking and singing songs late into the night, followed by wanting to kill myself by the 5th day of matzoh hell, not to mention the 8th. My Passover experience has never been very typical-- as a kid it wasn't because my family is vegetarian, and now it isn't because I live in places where ingredients are hard to find so I end up making absolutely everything myself, even the matzoh. Can we call it a throwback seder, solidarity with my Yiddish-speaking, long-suffering foremothers? Although I (or Felipe) normally make the vast majority of what we eat at home, a 100% homemade passover really does push my limits to what I consider reasonable/sane.

But, in case you find yourself in a situation like mine, or if you just want some different ideas for this manic depressive time of year, here's what I'm thinking the menu is going to look like this year (obviously, this would be considered a dairy seder):

First/second/third courses (how do we count these??)

Sesame Matzoh (Julia Child! First they make pumpernickel bread, then the matzoh. Is watching the video considered chametz by proxy?)
Matzoh Ball Soup-- last year I made the matzoh balls with smashed up (homemade) matzoh instead of matzoh meal, and the resultant balls were really nice texturally, I definitely recommend giving it a try at least once.
Gefilte Fish-- I've done it in loaf form (recommended by my grandmother, not such a fan), in gefilte-fish form (with my grandmother, better), going to try boiled mini-sausage form this year a la Mile End cookbook.
Chrain-- from the Mile End cookbook. If I can find horseradish. If not, wasabi it is!
Apple Date Ginger Charoseth-- at my parent's house we normally make two kinds of charoseth: one apple-prune-cinnamon one, which is Ashkenazi, and one pear-date-ginger one, based on my Georgian cousin's recipe, but I'm lazy and prefer to combine what I like most about both of them into one.

Main course

Sweet and Sour Fish-- trying out the recipe from Yotam Ottolengui's amazing Jerusalem cookbook
Sweet Potatoes with Onions and Rosemary-- I don't think I've ever had a passover without this on the table. We don't go for tzimmes in my family (it's not just us, either, Ottolenghi says in his Jerusalem cookbook that tzimmes "in most of its local manifestation, is pretty gross," which made me laugh) but I think this fills a similar place in the meal.
Mixed Green Salad with Radishes and Avocado, Mustard Vinaigrette-- for much-needed freshness and acidity.


Marjolaine-- I've never made this before and it's not traditional for passover, but it's flour-less and looks fantastic, so we'll see how it turns out.
Marzipan-stuffed Dates-- in the past I've also made chocolate ganache-stuffed figs, which are another great option. Marzipan-stuffed dates are certainly more Sephardic in origin-- I first saw them in a Kitty Morse cookbook.
Matzoh Brittle with almonds-- essential.
Citrus Fruit Plate- it's nice to have something fresh and not super sweet to cool off with at the end of a long meal.

I find I have to regulate the chocolate, otherwise I end up with all chocolate desserts, but I almost always make chocolate meringues as well, and this flourless chocolate layer cake is fantastic. Another great option are caramel flans (if it's not a meat seder, obviously).

Other things I like to make when I'm in the states for Passover that I don't make in Brazil for lack of ingredients are wild rice pilafs (with roasted vegetables, dried fruit and parsley) and sauteed kale. Frittatas are another great option for vegetarian seders, as are escondidinhos. And yuca-based cheese breads are a lifesaver come the end of the week, when the sight of another sheet of matzoh makes you want to scream.

Thoughts? (Yes, I know this is insane.)


  1. Your seder was delightful and delicious, and I was very happy to be a part of it! Let's do our Ukrainian night soon :)

  2. I'm so glad you came too (unknown person)! And thanks for not commenting on the fact that NONE of the dessert got made...wishful thinking, this is what happens when I don't have my sister helping me.