Passover is my favorite holiday. I love the Seder, I love the stories, I love the spirit of the holiday. At Passover, we retell the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. What I love most is that Passover is about remembering, about fighting against tyranny, and helping anyone and everyone in need. From Elie Wiesel’s foreword in the Haggadah I used this year, “I love Passover because for me it is a cry against indifference, a cry for compassion.”
Side note about Elie Wiesel- I had the opportunity to see him speak about 15 years ago. My father got to meet him- the picture of the two of them still hangs on my wall. He is an astounding, beautiful human being. Read his books, if you haven’t.
Growing up, we always had Seder at my Nana’s house. We sit at this long table in their dining room and everyone sits in the same spot every year. My Papa sits at the head of the table, I sit to his right. He is the leader, but pretty much everyone reads. He just goes around the table one by one. My favorite thing to read is this poem… I think it’s called “G-d’s Greatest Riddle”. I almost never actually get to read this- it depends on the number of guests and the order in which people read and all that. Even as a grown woman, I still skip ahead to makes sure the section I get to read is cool. It usually isn’t.
At the end of dinner, we all look for the afikoman (a hidden piece of matzah) and one of us (not me, since I am genetically unable to find things that are hidden) leaves about $20 richer. There are always chocolate covered marshmallows, fruit jellies, and angel food cake for dessert. And wine. Served in tiny glasses for the grandkids. Note: all the grandkids are now in our 20s and 30s so we also get a grown-up glass. We’re not dumb.
Since I can’t always go back to my family for Passover, I’ve started the tradition of doing it at my house. I am usually the only Jew or at the least, we are certainly in the minority. I love having my friends over- I appreciate their generosity, their willingness to participate in a tradition that is not theirs, for their compliments on the food, even if I think it wasn’t so hot…..
Last night we had a small gathering. Mr. Butterpants made the traditional brisket and I made kugel, matzah stuffing, and for the vegetarians, spinach and matzah pie. Oh yeah, there were also some vegetables- oven roasted carrots and asparagus. So here are some pictures and a couple recipes at the bottom.
I’ve used Deb’s recipes twice in a row now- I love them!
This was a repeater. It was so popular last year, I brought it back! I mostly use Amy Sedaris’ recipe for Spanakopita and replace all the phyllo with matzah. All the cheeses I used came from the farmers’ market. I really recommend this when you can. Everything tasted so fresh and was so creamy. Really excellent. Even better the second day.
For me, it’s not Passover without Matzah Stuffing. This is a bit different from my grandmother’s and it was minorly improvised, but it came out well.
Another recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I had raspberries on hand from the farmers’ market (yeah, I’m a fan) so I made the frosting with Chambord instead of Grand Marnier and topped the cake with raspberries just before serving. I served the leftover whipped cream with strawberries. I’ll be dreaming about that whipped cream. The cake was good, but I prefer another one I made last year.
Spinach and Matzah Pie
Adapted from Amy Sedaris’ I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
3 10-ounce packages of frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted (make sure you get rid of all the excess water)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese (I bought this in a block and crumbled it myself- save a bit so you top the pie with it)
2 bunches of chopped green onions, sauteed
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Dill, fennel (optional) – I went with dill here.
3 tbsp of Parmesan cheese
Dash of nutmeg
8-10 pieces of matzah
1/2 cup butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a mixer or food processor, beat the eggs until fluffy. Add all ingredients, except matzah and butter.
3. Butter a 9 x 13 x 3 inch pan. Lay down enough matzah to cover the bottom of the pan. I like them to overlap a bit so the spinach mixture doesn’t seep through. Brush the matzah with butter. Spoon about half the spinach mixture on top of the matzah. Lay some more matzah down, butter it and top with the rest of your spinach mixture. Top with the remaining matzah, brush with butter, and top with a bit of crumbled feta.
4. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is brown and crispy.
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
8-10 pieces of matzah
2 eggs, beaten
1. Preheat your oven to 350.
2. Saute your onions, celery and garlic in the olive oil until light brown.
3. Break up the matzah and dump it on top of your vegetable mixture.
4. Pour your broth over the top and let the matzah get soft.
5. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the eggs.
6. Dump it all in casserole dish (mine was 8×8) and bake for about 30 minutes or until brown on top.
Whatever holiday you may or may not be celebrating this week, I hope you have a good one.
Be excellent to each other,