There’s still a week to go, but my Passover Seder Plate is already set. It’s full of things like crispy asparagus, deviled eggs, and white chocolate wasabi truffles. This ain’t your bubbe’s Seder plate. Instead, this is what happens when a bunch of fabulous food bloggers take over the Seder plate and use it’s traditional symbolic foods as inspiration for tasty new dishes. My Seder Plate Challenge 2011 was an idea to bring my local food blogging friends together and enjoy a holiday inspired meal, and it turned out to be a delicious and fun afternoon.
The Seder Plate is the traditional centerpiece of the Passover meal, during which Jews gather and recall the story of our ancestors’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. The foods on the Seder Plate help us tell this story. They are, in no particular order: green vegetables, an egg, bitter herbs (usually horseradish), charoset, a lamb shank bone, and matzoh (more on the meaning of each later!). For the challenge, I asked each blogger to choose one of these items and use it in a dish to share. Not unexpectedly, they stepped up with plenty of creativity.
We started out by arranging all of the food on the Seder plate. Here are a few close-ups:
I know you want the full-size food shots, so let’s move on!
The egg on the Seder plate represents life and rebirth. Its reminds us that spring is here and new life is hatching. It’s roundness makes us think about the “circle of life” of our connection to our ancestors who were slaves (little fact: when retelling the Passover story, we always say “We were slaves in Egypt”). Today, we are thankful for our freedom. Usually we are served a hard boiled egg, but Megan of Cooking Whims made this seder extra-special by bringing deviled eggs. Much more enjoyable!
|Deviled Eggs by Megan, Cooking Whims|
On most Seder Plates you will see some celery sticks or a sprig of parsley as the green vegetable. This food symbolizes the coming of spring and reminds us of the livelihood of the Jews in Egypt, despite our suffering. Personally, I can’t stand celery. I honestly dread having to buy it for a recipe because I know the six remaining stalks will rot in my fridge. Bloggers to the rescue! Elina of Healthy and Sane and Russian Bites brought this massaged kale salad (you know us bloggers love massaged kale!) with goat cheese, roasted beets, walnuts, and prunes. I think she knows my favorite foods
|Massaged Kale Salad by Elina, Healthy and Sane and Russian Bites|
I’m all for having seasonal veggies, so I’ll officially motion for asparagus to replace that pesky celery on the table. Specifically, this crunchy matzoh-crusted asparagus from Amanda of Kitchen Misfit. For this clever prepatation, the asparagus was coated in egg whites and dipped in crushed matzoh, parmesan, and oregano, and served with a side of hollandaise – which Amanda just happens to be an expert in
|Matzoh and Parmesan-crusted Asparagus with Horseradish Hollandaise by Amanda, Kitchen Misfit|
No Passover table is complete with a side-dish sized serving of charoset. This mixture of fruits and nuts varies from family to family, and ethnic roots. Ashkenazic Jews, or those of Eastern European descent, usually make charoset with chopped apples, nuts, and a drizzle of wine and honey. It is delicious! Renee of Eat Live Blog brought her family’s favorite recipe. If you scroll back to the second picture, you’ll see that we enjoyed it on a matzoh cracker with a touch of horseradish – otherwise known as a “Hillel sandwich.” If you’re ever invited to a Seder, just go with the flow and try it – trust me on this one! On a side note, if you’d like to see an example of a Sephardic charoset, check out the one I made last year.
|Charoset by Renee, Eat Live Blog|
The fruit and nuts which charoset is based upon lend themselves to all kinds of other salads and side dishes, and Jen of Beantown Baker played with this combination a tangy, fresh coleslaw. It had plenty of bright flavor and crunch from the crisp apples and almonds.
|Crunchy Apple Slaw by Jen, Beantown Baker|
To remind us of the sorrow our ancestors experienced as slaves in Egypt, we eat a bitter herb during the Seder. Usually, this appears as horseradish on the Seder Plate. Melissa of The Foodies at Work uses horseradish in a favorite family recipe, that is not at all bitter and every bit delicious: Horseradish Cauliflower Latkes.
|Horseradish Cauliflower Latkes by Melissa, The Foodies at Work|
There was another bitter herb to be had – but we waited for dessert!
For my contribution to the Seder Plate Challenge, I tackled the lamb shank bone. On the Seder plate we point to the shank bone to remember the ritual sacrifice in the days of the Holy Temple, and we recall how G-d instructed the Jews to paint lamb’s blood on their door posts so that the Angel of Death would pass over (get it?) their homes when claiming the first born children of the Egyptians (otherwise known as the tenth plague.) Today, we got to eat lamb instead of just looking at the bone. I made matzoh crepes filled with Moroccan spiced braised lamb and a sweet and spicy eggplant relish. (Sit tight – recipe will follow tomorrow!)
|Spiced Lamb and Eggplant filled Matzoh Crepes by Cara, Cara’s Cravings|
For our second serving of bitter herbs, I had a specific request from Shannon. One I had seen on her blog before, Tri2Cook. The girl recently became a master of fresh wasabi, and came up with these wasabi white chocolate truffles filled with crystallized ginger. Sounds like a mouthful, and it is – a mouthful of sweet and spice that goes amazingly well together.
|White Chocolate Wasabi Truffles by Shannon, Tri2Cook|
I also made some almond butter merengues. These had nothing to do with the Seder Plate, they were just a “me” challenge this weekend. (Stay tuned for the recipe later this week!)
I think it’s pretty clear that we ate well this afternoon. But just in case you need one more visual, here’s one last shot of our Seder Plate – I just thought it looked so pretty!
Thanks again to the ladies who took the time to make something creative for my challenge and for coming to spend the afternoon – it was a blast! I feel fortunate to live (fairly) close to so many great bloggers and it’s always a great time when we get together. That being said, there are so many bloggers who I’ve become “friends” with that I wish could have joined us at the table too. So, I extended the invitation to all of you to make something for the Seder Plate Challenge, and two of you were able to join us!
Lora of Diary of a Mad Hausfrau joined us all the way from Germany. Her exotic charoset, comprised of dried fruits and nuts, resembles my Sephardic recipe, but with a very tropical twist: her charoset truffles contain mango, brazil nuts, and crystallized ginger. And coconut, of course! Thank you, Lora!
|Exotic Charoset Truffles by Lora, Diary of Mad Hausfrau|
My Passover table would be incomplete without a visit from my friend Kate of Paved with Good Intentions. A girl after my own heart, Kate braised lamb shanks too. In her recipe, lemon is used in the braising liquid – simple and delicious, I’m sure!
|Braised Lamb Shanks by Kate, Paved with Good Intentions|
Here is another fabulous addition to the Seder Plate Challenge. Actually, three! I spotted these fancy shmancy deviled eggs on CuisinEats and begged Chrysta let me include them – I thought they’d be perfect for our moden Seder plate!
|Buffalo Wing Deviled Eggs|
|Tomato Basil Deviled Eggs|
|Guacamole Deviled Eggs|
All three deviled egg recipes can be found here on CuisinEats. Thanks for letting me “borrow” them!
If you thought you missed your chance to participate in the challenge, you’re in luck – I’ll keep it open to Friday. I plan to feature a few more Passover recipes this week, so I will gladly work you in. You can read the rules here. Just shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) when you get your post up!
Bloggers Bake for Hope!