I know, I know. I meant to blog about Passover while it was happening, but I was so busy and stressed out, I didn’t have time, and since then, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. So here’s the breakdown of my Passover :)
Wednesday morning, I drove to Syracuse in order to catch a direct flight to Chicago (SUCH a treat!!!! I love direct flights!). We immediately headed for the grocery store – we shop at Woodman’s in Kenosha, WI because the selection is so much better than the little store by Rob’s house. Now, we knew that Rob would be running out to the store more than once for little things I’d forgotten, plus we were planning for his son’s 19th birthday as well, so unexpected things were bound to crop up :) Before bed, I took the chicken out to thaw for the Matzo Ball Soup, and chopped the onion, carrots, celery, parsnips and parsley that were going to be used the next morning.
The next morning, I got the soup boiling and then we went to Rob’s mom’s house to learn to make Brisket! (Next year, that’s going to be my job too – can’t wait to experiment!!!) Back to Rob’s house to get cooking. I cooked the green beans for the green bean casserole (Campbell’s recipe here). I will freely admit, I don’t GET green bean casserole. It’s gloppy and heavy and a bit gross. But the excitement I encountered when I set it out on the buffet counter was unbelievable. People actually HUGGED me because there was a huge pile of the stuff. I dunno. Must be an American thing. Personally, I think it’s an affront to green beans LOL
I also made the fruit salad (I base mine on Martha Stewart’s Recipe) – this year, we used orange/pineapple juice and fresh mint (couldn’t find fresh mint last year, so we had used dried – fresh is SO MUCH BETTER). And this year’s fruit list: a whole pineapple, four half-pints of blackberries, two quarts of strawberries, four black plums, three nectarines and a few MacIntosh apples. I had wanted to include cherries, but they’re not in season and there were none to be found under Gold Standard prices, so I left them out. BIG hit, every year, and a lot of people even take some as a side for their dinner.
I decided to try this Smoky Roasted Sweet Potato recipe from Budget Bytes this year, and it was SO good. People were picking at it before dinner! I had twice the amount of sweet potatoes, so I doubled the spice mixture too… Next year I think I’ll leave the spice mixture as-is. Very tasty though, and it’s going to come back next year.
A few months ago when I was visiting, I made Rob a pan of Cabbage and Apples. He loved it, so I thought I’d try it. It didn’t go over as well at Passover, but it’s a distinctly German/Polish/Ukranian dish that I served cold (and likely would have been more popular, had I served it hot). I love it, but I don’t think I’ll make it next year. Too much left over. My favorite variation has home-smoked bacon my friend Sue’s husband makes for us, but I figured that would not be appropriate at the Passover table… The recipe was sort of made up on the spur of the moment. One head red cabbage, roughly chopped. One onion, roughly chopped. Three Granny Smith apples, roughly chopped (NOT PEELED). Heat 1-2 Tbsp butter in a wide, deep skillet with a lid. Add the onions and sautee over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage and apples, stir to coat with butter and leave to simmer, covered, for about 10-15 minutes or until cabbage is completely wilted. Add 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp celery seed and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Cover and cook 2-3 more minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve cold later on.
On the spur of the moment, I decided to make some Roasted Mushrooms. OH MY WORD. So good. I used this recipe from Serious Eats, except with Parsley instead of the other herbs (and some dried basil). Unfortunately, the nature of the beast with Passover is that dinner sits there while you go through the Haggadah (we use a rather extensive collection of Maxwell House ones that Rob’s mother has collected over the years) and perform the rituals. So everything pretty much gets cold. Especially in a kitchen like Rob’s which only has one undersized oven. We used the leftover mushrooms for Ray’s birthday dinner (steak, sauteed onions & mushrooms and raspberry/chocolate swirl cheesecake).
I’m still working on my stock recipe for the Matzo Ball Soup, but for the Matzo Balls themselves, I use the recipe on the side of the Manischewitz Matzo Meal can and add whatever herbs and spices I think sound good (this year was black pepper and thyme). My goal is usually to have the soup made ahead of time, and cooled. Then when guests start arriving, I put it on to boil and drop in the matzo balls to cook, and the soup is perfectly done when we finally start “The Festive Meal” (Page 28, I believe…)
A couple of other things I put on the table… this Apple Horseradish Conserve from Food in Jars. It’s SO DELICIOUS!!!! I’ll confess, I’m Marisa’s biggest fan. I have her cookbooks, I read her blog religiously, and she is my hero. I want to be her (or a slightly less uptight Martha Stewart) when I grow up. Because I still firmly believe that one day I will grow up :P I feel silly including a how-to for Charoset, because everybody makes it differently, and it’s all according to taste anyway. But this year, I used 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely diced, one bag of crushed walnut pieces, 1 cup Manischewitz Passover wine, 2 Tbsp honey and 1 tsp cinnamon. I dilute the honey in the wine before adding it to the apples, and stir the whole thing repeatedly until Haggadah time.
I think I dirtied every single dish Rob owns, although we did use paper plates for the meal itself :) I made two casserole dishes of Green Bean Casserole, two dishes of Smoky Roasted Sweet Potato, a VERY large serving bowl of Cabbage and Apples, TWO huge serving bowls of fruit salad…. there was a lot of food :) Rob had a good amount of leftover Matzo Ball Soup to put in his freezer. I’ll confess that yes, we do serve Gefilte Fish as well, but as it comes out of a jar, I don’t tend to mention it because I didn’t make it. I’m already making some plans for next year’s dinner. I’m thinking of making my aunt Heather’s famous Wild Rice casserole, but you’ll have to wait for that recipe!
Happy Passover, everyone!