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Pesach Cook-Along

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I staggered home from work yesterday afternoon and began to Kosher my kitchen for Passover. Cleaned out the fridge, and cleaned all chametz (leavened food) out of the kitchen pantry (pasta, breads, crackers, cereals, etc). Later that evening I did the ritual sweeping up of chametz crumbs with a feather and spoon, and burned them. I certainly don't do everything completely--I don't change over my dishes and cookware, my chametz just goes to the basement instead of being temporarily "sold" to a non-Jew during Pesach, and during the end of the week we tend to eat more Sephardic (allowing rice) than Ashkenazi.

I adore Pesach. I like how ritual serves the purpose of being a constant reminder of the story we're told to tell our children every year--that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, how God followed through on four promises to free us. It was during that 40 year walk through the desert to Israel that the Jewish people formed community, and wrestled with rules to bind themselves to each other. I love using my Great-Grandmother's shissel to wash hands, my grandmother's stained matzoh cover, the seder plate I got as a wedding gift, the place cards my sons made in preschool.

And the food's pretty good. Without bread or pasta, you need to be creative.

I'm only making the first Seder this year, and going to a friend's house for the second. I haven't had the chance to do any cooking yet, so I figured I'd document it as I go.

Here's my menu, for 18 people: It's largely Sephardic, although since the year I didn't make matzoh ball soup and gefilte fish and there was Great Wailing, I have relented to some Ashkenazi capitulation.

Passed appetizers during the Seder--
Gefilte fish
crudetes with hummus
matzoh and Sephardic charoset (mixture of ground pistachios, dates, figs, apricots, wine)

Chicken soup with Matzoh balls

Roasted Salmon with Herb Vinaigrette
Moroccan Chicken meatballs in onion-tomato sauce
Roasted Potatoes (or maybe mashed if I run out of oven space)
Leek Minha (sort of like a vegetable frittata)
Sauteed Spinach
Artichoke-Orange salad with mint
Mixed Green Salad (Kristi))

Sliced strawberries
Flourless Chocolate Cake (Mom)
Almond-Amaretto Spongecake (Jon)

As I cook today and tomorrow, I'll be posting my progress. Recipes will follow as time allows.
7:15 am--two pots of chicken soup on the stove. chickens, carrots, leeks, parsnips, onions, celery, parsley, dill, water.

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Comments (4)

Kim:

Man - you're good. One nice thing about us heading up to your neck of the woods this year, I don't have to cook for Passover. Unlike you, it is so not one of my favorite holidays. And I think it's crazy 1) We have an extra day - come on, it's modern times 2) The sephardic Jews get better grub!

sandrac:

Wow, Amy that all sounds wonderful.... although I didn't know one could use "Kosher" as a verb! And I like the description of the Great Wailing....I hear that at my family gatherings if anyone tries to tamper with a ritual.

Thanks for letting us cook along! I really enjoy learning about your traditions and holidays (from Kim, too.)Is the Sephardic food better because it is more mediterranean/middle eastern/north african, i.e. tastier? Less eastern european?

What a beautiful table and that soup looks so delicious! I loved my grandma's chicken soup!

I think I had Gefilte fish once but I may be mixing that up with a Norwegian fish - I don't think I liked it though. I am not sure if I have ever had matzoh balls or matzoh ball soup before. If I did, I was probably little.

I also love reading about the rituals. How interesting that you switch dishes (glad you don't have to give them away or sell them) and burn the crumbs.

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