JewishBoston.com: Setting Your Seder Table

Originally published on JewishBoston.com.

created at: 2011-03-30

First and foremost, Passover is a holiday, so don’t be shy about using a nice tablecloth and fancy china. On the other hand, some people keep their Passover meals extra-safe from chametz (the dreaded, forbidden leavening) by plates they only have for Passover. So if you want to use fancy paper goods instead of china, feel free, whether in the name of being extra-kosher or just not wanting to wash a million dishes after the seder.

Because the seder is all about conversation, avoid tall centerpieces – everyone should be able to see one another across the table! Plus, there’s not likely to be room for elaborate flower arrangements, thanks to some special additions to our table: the seder plate, the plate of matzah, and Elijah’s cup. In some homes, they’ll also add a couple of condiments that come in handy during the seder, such as a cup of salt water and a dish of horseradish.

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JewishBoston.com: Cousin Ronnie’s Passover Potato Kugel

Originally published on JewishBoston.com.

Hosting a seder is hard work, especially if, like me, you are one person handling both the culinary and programmatic aspects of the dinner. That’s why in my family, many people help out by bringing their “specialties.” I’m sure many people have their own takes on Potato Kugel, but my cousin Ronnie’s is both delicious and easy, so I’m happy to share it with you. Of course, like many family recipes, there aren’t so many actual measurements in the version Ronnie sent me, so you may need to experiment a bit.

created at: 2011-03-253 lbs shredded potatoes [see note below]
4 large onions, chopped [ditto]
6 eggs
Olive Oil (or, if you’re feeling frisky, use rendered chicken fat, but then vegetarians can’t partake)
1/2 cup (or more) Whole Wheat Matzah Meal
Garlic
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 13″ x 9″ with olive oil or chicken fat. Beat eggs, and combine with shredded potatoes. Add enough Matzah Meal to thicken mixture. Add salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Cover with aluminum foil and cook about 90 minutes; uncover and continue cooking until top browns. May be prepared ahead and reheated for seder. Serves an army with leftovers to enjoy throughout the week.

Note: After I posted this recipe, I asked Ronnie to take a look to ensure I did justice to her creation. She wrote back, “You edited the hash brown potatoes and the onions, frozen for the working gal/guy – that’s what makes it so easy!” Her original recipe calls for three bags of Cascadian Farms pre-shredded potatoes and two, 12-oz bags of frozen chopped onions. I converted that to the recipe you see above because some people would not pre-cut vegetables on Passover (since the factories where they are packaged are likely not cleaned of hametz for Passover.) But if that’s not a concern for you, Ronnie is right — there’s no shame in taking shortcuts to make life easier for the working gal/guy!

JewishBoston.com: Aunt Lois’s Passover Cherry Nut Squares

Originally posted on JewishBoston.com.

Many of my favorite Passover recipes originated with my late Aunt Lois. This one isn’t only delicious — it’s super easy! The Cherry Nut Squares freeze well and make great desserts at seder and snacks throughout the week.

created at: 2011-03-256 eggs
2 cups sugar
1¼ cups cake meal
¼ cup potato starch
Pinch salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup oil
Nuts and Cherries

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and place in a 9×13 pan. Bake 30-45 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Enjoy!

Photo is under Creative Commons licenses; please click here for sources.

JewishBoston.com: Grandma Ida’s Passover Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Originally published on JewishBoston.com.

My Grandma Ida was famous in our family for two talents: her knitting and her baking. She passed away almost a decade ago, so I’m grateful that I can still snuggle up beneath the afghan she knitted for me when I was much younger. And I’m grateful that she taught my mother some of her best recipes, including thie Passover cake. I’ve never attempted this one myself, but my mother likes to tell the story of how she tried unsuccessfully for years to replicate her mother-in-law’s cake using the recipe… but it wasn’t until Grandma Ida stood with my mother and they made the cake together that it finally came out right. One of these days I’ll have to make sure my mother stands with me so I can learn to bake it.

created at: 2011-03-258 eggs separated (bring eggs to room temperature first)
¾ cup potato starch
¼ cup cake meal
sift potato starch and cake meal together
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
4 rounded teaspoons cocoa
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup sweet red wine
10 walnuts coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg whites until stiff; gradually add half of the sugar. Beat yolks with remaining sugar and salt; when yolks are thick and light in color add the oil, only a little at a time. Then add the wine and the cocoa, beating at a low level. Gently fold the cake meal/starch mixture into the whites, then fold in the yolk mixture throwing the nuts in at the same time. Bake in an ungreased tube pan for 50 minutes. Turn over and hang from a two-liter bottle until cooled.

Photo is under Creative Commons licenses; please click here for sources.

JewishBoston.com: Slacker Hamentashen – How to Make Purim Treats with Just Two Ingredients & a Toaster

Originally published on JewishBoston.com.

created at: 2011-03-11A week or two ago, I posted a recipe that foolishly claimed to be The Easiest Hamentashen Recipe on the Internet. Liz, our community manager, rightfully pointed out that any recipe with seven ingredients and nine steps can’t possibly be the easiest, and we challenged ourselves to concoct a new recipe that could be made in a dorm room without a kitchen.

Taking our inspiration from Sandra Lee, we decided to make “Slacker Hamentashen,” using only store-bought pie-crust and filling. That’s right–two ingredients. And we baked them in our office toaster over. Check out the video for our “recipe,” technique, and taste-test.

A big thank you to our intern, Michelle Goldberg, for her fine camerawork! And to jaycut.com for being a better video-editing tool than I ever expected to find for free on the web.

JewishBoston.com: The Easiest Hamentashen Recipe on the Internet

Originally posted on JewishBoston.com.

created at: 2011-03-02Ten years ago, I taught my very first Sunday school class, a group of awesome sixth-graders who came twice a month to the (late, lamented) Silverlake/Los Feliz Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. That particular JCC primarily served families with little other connection to the Jewish community, so we felt a special obligation during classes to give the kids the best possible taste of Judaism we could.

When Purim rolled around, I knew that meant we’d be making our own hamentashen, those triangular, fruit-filled cookies we trot out for Purim. However, as a recent college grad only starting to understand what to do in the kitchen, I needed to find the simplest recipe possible–and then make several batches of it together with a dozen 12-year-olds. I scoured the Internet and came up with this one, chosen primarily for its lack of overnight refrigeration or zesting of any citrus fruit. [Please note: I love citrus zest, but 23-year-old David wasn’t quite as savvy as the David who’s writing this today.]  Continue reading