Seder Plate Challenge 2011 Roundup

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:

A charoset duo: traditional apple charoset and a nutty apple slaw
Green vegetables: matzoh-crusted asparagus and a kale salad

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 (cara@carascravings.com) when you get your post up!

Additional roundups and pictures of the Seder Plate Challenge can be found on these blogs:
Beantown Baker
Tales From a Kitchen Misfit
Cooking Whims
Foodies at Work
Healty and Sane
Eat.Live.Blog
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29 Responses to “Seder Plate Challenge 2011 Roundup”

  1. 1

    Melissa — April 11, 2011 @ 2:04 pm Reply

    Beautiful photos! Thanks for hosting, this was a lot of fun! I don't like celery either and we used to use parsley as our token green vegetable, but we don't really like that either so we use cucumber now.

  2. 2

    Kathryn Day — April 11, 2011 @ 2:06 pm Reply

    I still made my flourless chocolate cake! Recipe coming soon! I'll email you, and try to get it up this week! Sorry I miss it, it looks like you all had a fantastic time – full of good eats!

  3. 3

    Shannon — April 11, 2011 @ 2:54 pm Reply

    Thanks for hosting, it was certainly a delicious seder :) Lovely recap, too, to refresh my memory about what everything represents. Looking forward to that lamb shank recipe…

  4. 4

    Lizzy — April 11, 2011 @ 3:20 pm Reply

    Such an impressive menu and beautiful photos. I'm sad I missed it, but I will definitely be at the next event with you Cara!!!

  5. 5

    Jen — April 11, 2011 @ 3:31 pm Reply

    Thanks again for hosting us – it was such a fun and delicious afternoon. I can't wait to see your lamb recipe so I can make it for Hubby.

  6. 6

    d.liff @ yelleBELLYboo — April 11, 2011 @ 4:16 pm Reply

    I'm hosting the first night this year – thanks so much for the inspiration! I will definitely make the apple slaw and I need a good charoset recipe (without walnuts, I'm allergic!)

  7. 7

    Kelly — April 11, 2011 @ 4:30 pm Reply

    How fun! I'm a little slow to the party so it took me a little while to realize this was an in real life party and not a virtual one. I was wondering how you had so many bloggers' dishes on one plate. So fun!

  8. 8

    Kaytorade — April 11, 2011 @ 4:42 pm Reply

    I'm with Kelly, I thought you made all the recipes! We're just slow on Mondays.

  9. 9

    Cara — April 11, 2011 @ 5:03 pm Reply

    Haha, it's partially my fault. I should have taken pictures of people too,not just food!

  10. 10

    Ashley Marie Armstrong — April 11, 2011 @ 5:22 pm Reply

    Such an awesome meal. Everything sounds so delicious! I come from a large family of Christian Spaniards from the "Jewish" regions of Spain. I have always had a large Easter dinner that incorporated many of the Seder plate traditions. It is somewhat like you and the other bloggers have done, but for Easter! This year I am planning the big meal and these dishes have been a huge inspiration!

  11. 11

    Cara — April 11, 2011 @ 5:28 pm Reply

    Ashley, that's fascinating! I would love to know more about your family'straditions. Perhaps you have some Jewish roots! Ironically I was insynagogue this weekend and the cantor taught us a song that was a Spanishtranslation of a traditional Passover song. It turns out that a friend ofhers heard this song on an album, and realized that the words were the sameas the Passover song. She got in touch with the singer who said she simplyknew the song as one her family has always sung on Christmas! It isdefinitely a Passover song though, so her family probably has Jewish rootsand they just never knew it.

  12. 12

    Joanne — April 11, 2011 @ 5:35 pm Reply

    Ahhh! So so so much fun! I know lots of people who always complain about passover food, but I need to point them in the direction of this dinner because every element looks amazing!

  13. 13

    Lora — April 11, 2011 @ 5:39 pm Reply

    Wow oh wow. So many creative recipes for many seders to come. Thanks for including me. This was a fun and creative challenge.

  14. 14

    cookingwhims — April 12, 2011 @ 12:31 am Reply

    Amazing seder! Thanks again for hosting us! I always love meeting my fellow bloggers in person :)

  15. 15

    Bridget — April 12, 2011 @ 2:26 am Reply

    Everything looks beautiful! I bet you all had a fantastic time…so bummed I missed it!! I hope I'll see you soon! Can't wait to see some recipes :)

  16. 16

    Ashley Marie Armstrong — April 12, 2011 @ 5:54 am Reply

    My mother's great grandparents on her father's side moved to Northern California from Spain in the early 1900's and had an almond orchard and a ranch. Easter has always been a huge party/family get together at that ranch, where we would have dishes running the gambit of Spanish, Moorish, and Jewish influence. Almost all of the dishes on Easter had some tie with the Seder plate and we were taught the importance when we could understand the meaning. This always surprises my Jewish and Catholic friends, but for me, knowing the various ethnic and religious backgrounds of Spain, I am not so surprised. My mom's mother(whose family is primarily Italian) always made dinner on Good Friday. That dinner included Lamb shank, Moussaka, horseradish latke and stuffed grape leaves. Not as closely related to Seder but it we still read the Passover story and other scripture, and lots of prayer and blessing. I think that it is so cool about the song!

  17. 17

    Cara — April 12, 2011 @ 11:41 am Reply

    That is so cool! I would love to be part of an Easter celebration like that:)

  18. 18

    lisa — April 12, 2011 @ 12:24 pm Reply

    Wow, everything looks fabulous! This was so fun to read and get ideas!

  19. 19

    Amanda L. — April 12, 2011 @ 3:54 pm Reply

    This was so much fun! This needs to happen again!

  20. 20

    Dawn Hutchins — April 13, 2011 @ 6:24 pm Reply

    Everything looks so delicious I don't even know where to start commenting!

  21. 21

    julia cantor — April 16, 2011 @ 12:59 am Reply

    What a good idea!!!

  22. 22

    Kerstin — April 16, 2011 @ 2:06 am Reply

    I'm so sad I missed this, everything looks so tasty and I really enjoyed reading more about the tradition. And, your lamb crepes are making my mouth water!

  23. 23

    Sam — April 17, 2011 @ 6:27 pm Reply

    What a wonderful idea- Chag Sameach!

  24. 24

    Elina (Healthy and Sane) — April 20, 2011 @ 9:04 pm Reply

    Thanks again for the invite. I had a great time… and even went home to do a bit more research on the holiday. Delicious and informative :)

  25. 25

    Cara — April 20, 2011 @ 9:06 pm Reply

    You are so very welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the slew ofcomments – I need to do all my catch-up tonight!And yes, go ahead and have matzoh balls next week, I approve :)

  26. 26

    Jen — June 1, 2011 @ 2:01 am Reply

    Thanks again for hosting us – it was such a fun and delicious afternoon. I can't wait to see your lamb recipe so I can make it for Hubby.

  27. 27

    kim/reluctant renovator — March 1, 2012 @ 7:49 pm Reply

    Are you planning to do this again? This is fabulous!

    • 27.1

      Cara — March 1, 2012 @ 7:56 pm

      I haven’t planned anything yet, but I’m glad you like the idea!

  28. Pingback: Cafe Liz » Happy Passover on Cafe Liz » the kosher vegetarian Israeli food blog

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