We went to my parents' house for Pesach and as usual, I did a lot of the cooking. This year my mom was pretty good about letting me take part in the meal planning. Probably if I had planned the meals myself I wouldn't have chosen a list of vegetables I knew my father didn't like. I even said, "You know, Daddy doesn't like any of those vegetables" and my mom replied, "Your father never eats any vegetables at the seder anyway." I thought that was hilarious.
Anyway, we arrived Thursday and this is what we made:
artichokes (1st night--this recipe is from Joan Kekst, a Passover maven who writes for the Cleveland Jewish News)
gefilte fish (not homemade, just plated!)
chicken soup for matzah balls
vegetarian vegetable soup for matzah balls
asparagus (steamed plain)
Chicken—two kinds (made by my mom)
Stuffed eggplant Provençal (adapted from Sundays at Moosewood--2nd night)
Sweet potato kugel (from No Cholesterol Passover Recipes by Debra Wasserman)
sweet and sour leeks (from Claudia Roden New Middle Eastern Cookbook)
two savory matzah kugels (2)
apple matzah kugel
Tzimmes (from Nira Rousso The Passover Gourmet, one of my mom's favorite books)
Cut vegetable platter
Glazed beets (which my mom makes, yucky feh)
Fruit compote (my mom's)
Meringues (my mom made these from a new recipe that I don't know)
Brownies (two varieties, my great-aunt's recipe)
Sponge cake (my great-aunt's chocolate-wine cake recipe)
For Shabbat, I made some roasted cauliflower and potatoes with garlic and some steamed spinach, and we ate one of the savory matzah kugels. My mom also served soup chicken to the meat eaters.
We served the artichokes at karpas, when we handed around the saltwater, boiled potatoes and parsley. I thought this was my original idea, until my mom said that Joan Kekst had suggested artichokes in her column. My sister helped me pare them, which was fun--we cut each one in half and removed the choke, peeled the stem so we could leave it intact, and then snipped off the thorns at the tops of the leaves. I love artichokes and this was a good recipe. What was even more fun was that my son learned to say "artichoke." I think that karpas is a vestige of some Hellenistic salad course, so it makes sense to me to serve a healthy portion of appetizers then. That way, people can sit through more of the seder service without whining.
Though I am apparently not the first person to think of using this recipe in my seder (which I didn't know until I googled) I am going to give you my adaptation of the eggplant recipe from Sundays at Moosewood, with the caveat that you really should get this book for yourself because it is so wonderful.
Stuffed Eggplant Provençal
from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant (Simon and Schuster, 1990)p. 551-553.
Adapted for Pesach
3 medium or large eggplants (I used 4 small)
1/4 cup olive oil
Slice the eggplants, in half brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in a 500 degree oven for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 350.
2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup diced zucchini
(original recipe also calls for 1/4 cup mushrooms)
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons currants or other raisins
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Sauté onions first for 10 minutes until translucent, then garlic and carrots for another 10 minutes, and then add the rest of stuffing ingredients and cook another 15 minutes.
Sauté 2 garlic gloves in 1/2 cup olive oil and then add 2 cups matzah meal. I add salt because since the original recipe calls for bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, it needs salt when you make it with matzah meal.
Push the flesh of the cooked eggplant with a spoon, creating hollows to stuff. Stuff the eggplant generously until all the stuffing is evenly distributed among the eggplants. Pat the topping firmly on top of the stuffing so it doesn’t fall out and bake eggplants for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
I made the horseradish by soaking the whole root in water for a couple of hours. Then I peeled it with a vegetable peeler and grated it on the smallest holes of a box grater while wearing super-duper rubber gloves. The fumes were so strong that my father could feel them blast him as he entered the kitchen. The key to very strong horseradish is to keep it moist, and it's best to grate it as finely as you can. I added cider vinegar, sugar and salt according to the instructions of one of my mom's many community cookbooks. I can't tell you proportions, but I added enough vinegar to make it moist, a teaspoon of sugar and a half teaspoon salt. It was very good.
Another reason to miss my grandmother: I think I'm the only one left at the table who really loves horseradish. The second night, my second cousin came with her husband, who is from Venezuela, and he was completely smitten with the horseradish, so that was nice.
Perhaps I will put some more recipes in another post. I think my posts get a bit unwieldy to read, and this was a very long cooking session! To close, let me say that if you like sweet things at all, you had better make that Epicurious apple-matzah kugel because it is so delicious that you could faint, and it's especially good if you use green and red apples together.
Okay, I love you! I hope you are having a wonderful Pesach and being liberated!