Let all who are hungry….

Come and eat. This is a tradition of passover and I am happy to oblige by inviting our friends over for a Passover feast. Though we celebrate Passover with our families on the first two nights, it is really nice to be able to spend the holiday with our friends too. Unfortunately, with our families, it has gotten to a point where the meaning of the holiday and the preparation of the food is not given much attention. Ben and I are starting our own traditions – taking the time to set a pretty table, carefully selecting and preparing a wonderful menu, and going through the hagadah, telling the story of Passover. I think that deep down, everyone really appreciates it!

I had a lot of food to make, so I started the Thursday before, and made a matzoh apple kugel, my grandmother’s raspberry streusel squares and the Moroccan charoset. Kugel is one of my favorite things, but it is a very generic term referring to many types of casseroles or puddings. In my family, we love the sweet apple kugel – made with noodles for the High Holidays, and matzoh for Passover. It is kind of like a bread pudding, but served the main meal. Yes, we love the sweet stuff! My grandmother’s raspberry squares are a family tradition, it would not be passover without them. The crust consists of matzoh meal (finely ground up matzoh), oil, eggs, sugar, coconut, and walnuts. And a layer of raspberry jam in between. Here is a picture of some raspberry square “mush” – it was a little to hot to keep it’s form, but I couldn’t wait to eat some!

Charoset is a staple on the Passover seder plate mean to symbolize the mortar with which our ancestors bound the bricks in their time of slavery. For Ashkenazic Jewish (Jewish of eastern European decent, ie most American Jews) charoset is usually a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, a bit cinnamon, honey, and some sweet red Passover wine. While that kind of charoset has always been one of my favorite things about Passover, I decided to try some Moroccan charoset. This is more in the Sephardic (Jews from the Iberian peninsula and northern Africa) tradition. This consisted of ground dates, nuts, figs, apples, raisins, and some sweet wine. The mixture is then rolled into balls. I coated half of them in cinnamon and the other half in coconut.

Fast forward to Saturday. First thing I did when I woke up was go to the grocery store to finish getting everything I needed. Then I got to work on my flourless chocolate torte. This was a new recipe for me, and it was oh-so-good. See, I just love chocolate and to me there is no such thing as “too rich”. I used this recipe from epicurious.com for Dark Chocolate Torte with Spiked Blackberry Coulis, but I skipped the coulis and made my own blackberry sauce. I never knew how difficult it was to straing pureed berried to get rid of the seeds! But the resulting smooth sauce was well worth it. No more Passover brownies from now on, this recipe is a keeper! Totally dense and moist and rich, I was very impressed, if I do say so myself!

My fiance was out during the morning helping some friends move furniture, and I felt really bad because I knew he forgot to eat before he left, and that he probably wouldn’t be able to find anything Passover-friendly while he was out! So I fixed him some lunch – chicken salad, matzah, and apple kugel. I have to say, besides eating matzoh ball soup, I love to make it because it’s an excuse to have chicken for chicken salad! I always make some out of the leftover chicken after making the stock. I like to add finely chopped celery and onions, dried cranberries, chopped nuts (almonds today), salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, honey mustard, and just a little light mayo. Sounds like a lot, but it’s yummy! (the best! according to my fiance). Unfortunately, the foodie pics for Saturday evening stop here. I admit I got lazy (or rushed?) and didn’t get a chance to take pictures of everything, as I was just trying to get it all out on the table. I had some hungry friends! I made Spiced Braised Lamb Shanks, but I had to alter the recipe somewhat. I had too much meat to fit in a covered pot, so I just pan seared it in batches, then put it all in a roasting pan, covered with broth, and let it cook at 300 F for several hours. I added a whole bunch of carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini to the pan during the last half hour or so, and left out the tomato paste and flour. The spice combination was excellent and the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. I can’t wait to braise again! We also had roasted asparagus, the toasted almond quinoa I had tried earlier in the week, and my friend brought a sweet potato casserole (kugel?) loaded with butter and brown sugar and yummy pecan topping. I’ll leave you with a picture of my beautiful table setting!

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One Response to “Let all who are hungry….”

  1. 1

    Amber — April 10, 2007 @ 4:23 pm Reply

    Everything looks great! Your table looks really good.

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