Welcome to the Nosher’s Communal Seder. Pull up a chair, and we hope you came hungry, because we’ve got a full seder’s worth of recipes for you, from bitter herbs that will make your eyes tear up all the way to chocolate mousse two ways, we’re here for you. We promise not to make you say the Four Questions, but we do ask that you try everything—and we promise it’s all delicious. We tapped our favorite food bloggers and writers, and they are all ready to present you with some of their favorite Passover recipes. Starting on Monday we’ll be posting a few recipes per day, and by April 2nd (also known as t-minus four days til Seder #1) you’ll have two whole seder menus ready for you, right here. We’ll also give you some great recipes for the rest of the week of Passover, and point you towards some wines we love.
For now, sit back, relax, and get salivating. We’re kicking things off with a main course that will knock your guests right over (even if they haven’t been taking the four cups of wine really seriously).
P.S. You can see all the recipes we’ve published so far by clicking here.
Passover is a-coming, and that means it’s time to start choosing recipes, planning menus, and writing shopping lists. Next week on the Nosher we’re going to inundate you with amazing Pesach recipes from our favorite food bloggers. Everyone from Olga at Sassy Radish to Rivka at Not Derby Pie, plus our own Shannon Sarna, and lots and lots of others. But this week we’re getting a head start, featuring some amazing recipes to get your Passover juices flowing.
Brisket may be the quintessential Jewish food. Many families have the tradition of serving brisket at both Rosh Hashanah dinner, and at the Pesach seder, and it’s no wonder—this wonderfully tender meat gets better over time, so it’s easy to make it before the holiday starts, and know that it will be delectable for your guests when you reheat it one or two days later. If oven space is a problem, making a brisket a few days ahead can be a real life saver. And brisket is remarkable because it’s so incredibly easy to make. Our recipe calls for sweet wine, chili sauce and barbeque sauce, but you can get away with basically just seasoning it and cooking it if you need to.
The biggest challenge for your brisket making might be ensuring you have a big enough roasting pan for your meat. If you’re cooking for a crowd I recommend measuring your pan, and measuring your meat before you purchase it. And that reminds me, you need to head to your butcher pronto if you want to order the best cuts of meat for your holiday.
Now, without further ado, check out the amazing Holiday Brisket recipe on MyJewishLearning, or Cranberry Brisket and Passover Brisket from Kveller. For more Brisket ideas check out Baked Bree, big girls small kitchen, and Cooking with Grandma Irma.
This week on the Nosher we’re highlighting some of our favorite Pesach recipes. Next week we’ll be bringing you many exciting new ones, but for now we’re get reacquainted with some of our old standards, and today is the day to talk about something that never fails to bring tears to my eyes—horseradish, also known as chrein.
In fourth grade I had a teacher who told us that in her family her mother would take a massive piece of horseradish and carve a picture into it—usually the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Meanwhile, another large piece of horseradish would have been set aside to use as bitter herbs, and as a garnish for the traditional gefilte fish. You may not be interested in honing your horseradish sculpting skills, but you really should be making your own chrein. It’s easy, and about a thousand times better than the frightening fuchsia stuff that comes in jars. One suggestion for a fun seder—the macho dudes and ladies can have a chrein-eating competition. Get a fun prize for the winner, and have plenty of honey and matzah on hand to cool the burning throats…
For years I lived a dark Potato Kugel-less existence. For some reason my mom never made it when I was a kid, and it wasn’t until high school that I experienced the true starchy joy of potato kugel. It’s a great side dish for any Shabbat meal, particularly in the winter, but for some reason it tastes particularly good on Pesach. And like the best Pesach foods, potato kugel has a simple but very rich flavor. Should you eat it every day? Definitely not. Should you have it right next to brisket on your plate during the seder? Absolutely.
And now, the only Potato Kugel recipe you’ll ever need…
For me, February is prime comfort food month, so this Shabbat I’m thinking about yummy comfort foods I can serve to my guests.
And then for dessert, these Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl have stolen my heart, and I don’t think I’ll be able to recover until I make them and wallow in them for a nice long time. Amiright?
Happy Tu Bishvat! Today we celebrate the birthday of the trees by eating fruit, nuts, grains, and other things that grow from the ground. Some people like to plant a tree on Tu Bishvat, but personally, I just like to eat cake. For instance, this morning I had a piece of our scandalously delicious Banana Cake for Tu Bishvat. As some people have pointed out, bananas don’t grow on trees, but this cake is also packed with nuts, dates, figs and raisins, and I added some chocolate to my version, too. I cannot stress enough how unbelievably good this is. Definitely the best Tu Bishvat dish I’ve ever made.
But if you’re still looking, we have a lemon lavender cake I can recommend, and a lemon and almond semolina cake that will knock your socks off. Combine any of these with a hot cup of tea and you are guaranteed a sweet and happy Tu Bishvat.
Perhaps you’re one of the lucky people who went to a Tu Bishvat seder last night, where you drank delicious wine and sangria, maybe got to eat fruit salad, orange and maple baked tofu, granola, Israeli salad, or persimmon cupcakes, all which are yummy Tu Bishvat foods. There’s still time to make any of these recipes today if you missed them yesterday.
Or if you’re looking for a very low maintenance way to celebrate, how about just stopping by your local grocery and picking up a nice bag of trail mix. As you enjoy the dried fruits and nuts, you can think about all of the great things trees bring to your life. L’chaim! To trees!
Sometimes at the end of a long day I just want to go home and watch a nice looking man make me a kugel. My boyfriend’s out of town tonight, so I guess it’s just me and Dave Lieberman and some egg noodles. I might even go crazy and try making this.
When I was a kid I was only aware of one cookbook. Not the Joy of Cooking. Not Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Not Kosher By Design. No, for me it was Alphabet Soup, the cookbook published by my Solomon Schechter school and featuring the recipes of my teachers and my friends’ parents. Later, when I was in college, my minyan put together a cookbook that I still use all the time. I still own both of these cookbooks and they are covered in flour and stains and have notes written in the margins the way any good cookbook should.
I don’t want to knock professionally published cookbooks. I just got Plenty and it’s divine. You’ve already heard me wax poetic about Leah’s Koenig’s Hadassah Everyday Cookbook. It’s drop dead gorgeous and chock full of deliciousness. The Book of New Israeli Food will make you drool. But, there is something so wonderful and authentic about a cookbook full of tried and true recipes from people you trust and maybe even love. That’s why whenever I am at a used bookstore I go to the food section and look for Bnai Brith cookbooks, and recipes collected by the Junior League of Cleveland or what have you.
For years now, the most used recipe source in my life has been a cookbook my sister’s and I made for my mom before she died. It’s called Vixens in the Kitchen (get it? Cuz we’re foxes) and it’s full of recipes that we love and have made hundreds of times. We included pictures, and notes, and used the fancy program at tastebook.com to create something really beautiful. Something that I still use to plan my Shabbat menu pretty much every week.
So what’s your favorite cookbook? And what cookbook taught you to cook?
I grew up in Chicago, and my mother shopped at a variety of kosher butchers. That said, in Chicago, the understood rule is that all kosher hotdogs need to come from Romanian, an old style kosher butcher. Today Romanian is the only kosher butcher left in Chicago (there are lots of places to buy kosher meat, but Romanian is the only real butcher). Watch this fun video about Romanian. I’m not sure if my favorite part is when he admits they have bad service, or looking at the random boxes piled around the store.
Recently I saw a recipe online that looked delicious…but it called for gelatin. One of my all-time favorite Passover dessert recipes calls for several different kinds of dairy, which is problematic when you’ve just finished an enormous meat meal. And then there’s the problem of being a vegetarian, and constantly inundated with beautiful recipes for chicken, Turkey, and even ham.
The number one way to get around the problem is to choose a different recipe, or just leave out the non-kosher ingredient. Google is your friend, and will help you if you need to find, say, a non-dairy turkey recipe, or a recipe for chocolate mousse that you can serve after a meat meal. Alternately, if the non-kosher ingredient is minor, you can just opt to roll the dice and try the recipe without that ingredient. (Ultimately, that’s what I decided to do with the gelatin recipe. Results pending.)
2. Margarine and Butter
When I was growing up, we never kept butter in the house. We only ever had margarine, and that was what we cooked with for all desserts. It wasn’t until I was in grad school that it occurred to me that margarine probably wasn’t any better for me than butter, and that since I was a vegetarian, I should try some butter. What followed was nothing short of a revelation. Butter is amazing. It’s completely fabulous. BUT I had learned growing up that you can make many fabulous desserts using margarine, and while some snobs will adamantly refuse to use a butter substitute under any circumstances, I respectfully disagree. Should you be eating tons of margarine every day? No. But if you’re trying to make a nice dessert (or a Thanksgiving turkey) and you can’t use dairy, it’s okay to get on the margarine train every once in a while. As margarines go, Earth Balance is the best. If you really can’t abide margarine, it’s usually okay to substitute canola or olive oil, about ¼ cup for every ½ cup of butter instructed in the recipe.
3. Milk Substitutes
Many a fine dessert recipe call for milk, buttermilk, or cream. Happily, we live in the days of soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and many many other alternative “milks.” I freely substitute these for milk in recipes where I need to make something pareve. I have friends who say that they won’t ever substitute anything for cream, but I’m not that classy—I will use some vanilla soymilk and call it a day.
4. Meat Substitutes
There are so many delicious meat substitutes out there I don’t even know where to start. I love Morningstar Farms, particularly their chicken substitues, and their ground beef substitutes. Many of my fellow vegetarians swear by tofu, but personally, I find it usually kind of unfulfilling. That said, I still use it in a pinch, and if properly marinated and cooked it can be lovely. My favorite, though, is a new discovery—Field Roast vegan sausages. Not yet certified kosher, these sausages are shockingly fantastic. I love them with eggs in the morning, in veggie pies for dinner, and roasted as a side dish. Seitan is also a fantastic meat substitute with a more substantial texture than tofu. The thing is, even though some meat substitutes are great tasting, they don’t really taste like meat, and I don’t think I’d serve any of them solo as a main course the way one could serve a chicken. I say limit meat substitutes to dishes where the meal is part of something greater. And experiment to see which of these you like the most.
5. Cheese substitutes
So, these exist, but I can’t really recommend them. If you’re looking at a meat recipe that calls for cheese, I would just use another recipe. That said, there are some people who love vegan cheese, so it’s worth it to try and see how you feel.