Our family has served two kinds of charoset for the past decade — while nothing can take the place of my aunt’s Eastern European charoset, with apples and walnuts cut in the same wooden bowl with a mezzeluna and put in the same green-tinted glass jar with cinnamon and Manischewitz to marinade overnight — the Sefardi/Mizrahi charoset has made a place for itself.
Charoset, regardless of ethnicity, is made of layers of flavor and constant taste-testing. Not such a bad plan during your potentially hectic holiday prep.
1 cup dried figs
1 cup raisins
1 cup pitted medjool dates
1 cup almonds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon allspice
2-3 Tablespoons pomegranate juice
Put the figs, raisins, dates and almonds into a food processor. Let it pulse until you have a thick and sticky paste.
Using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the food process and transfer contents to a large bowl.
In a small bowl mix the pomegranate juice and spices together and pour over fruit-nut mixture. Begin mixing everything together with your hands. If the mixture is too dry, add more pomegranate juice.
Pinch of a piece of the mixture and roll into a ball, the size of 1-1.5 bites. Keep a bowl of tepid water on hand, as your hands will get covered.
There are many different varieties of Charoset – from Bubbe’s traditional apple and Manishewitz to various Sephardi styles with dates and other dried fruit. I know each family has their own recipe, but I think its nice to change things up every now and then during the holidays.
The first time I made Seder for my family, I tried this recipe and adapted it over time to the recipe below. If you don’t want to make your own candied walnuts, go ahead and buy them! Fairway, Trader Joes and other major supermarkets will carry candied walnuts or pecans which you can certainly substitute.
4 gala apples, peeled and diced
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup Manischewitz
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest (optional)
1 cup walnut halves
4 cups vegetable oil
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl.
In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil to 350°F. Fry walnuts until golden brown, about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn. Using a slotted spoon, transfer walnuts from skillet to bowl containing sugar mixture. Toss walnuts in sugar, then spread on baking sheet. Cool 15 minutes, then chop roughly.
Combine nuts, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, apples, pomegranate seeds, zest, wine and pomegranate juice. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Though I am a big supporter of a kosher-for-Passover ice cream maker, I realize that it’s a completely unnecessary expense. So, in the absence of an ice cream maker, you might be left with a dearth of good dessert ideas.
Enter the granita. Originally created in Italy, the granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and flavoring. It requires absolutely no special equipment, and the beautiful thing about this granita is that it can be served as a dessert (perhaps with some fresh berries on the side) or as an intermezzo (or, as I prefer, an intermatzoh) to cleanse the palette between courses at the Seder. It’s your choice…and whatever you decide, you won’t be disappointed.
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Juice from 2 lemons (approximately 4 Tablespoons)
Zest from 1 lemon
3 cups strawberries, hulled
1 Tablespoons potato vodka (optional)
Normally simple syrup is made with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, in other words, a 1:1 ratio. However, this recipe cuts down on the sugar.
Prepare the simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking often to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 4 minutes, while continuing to whisk until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool, then transfer to a bowl or container, cover, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
While the mixture is cooling, place the strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vodka into a blender and mix until smooth.
Pour the cool simple syrup into the strawberry/lemon puree and blend until mixed.
Pour into an 8x8 square glass pan and freeze. After approximately 2 hours, check the granita. Once it has started to freeze run a fork through the entire pan and begin breaking up the ice to make little icicles. Return the dish to the freezer, then check the mixture every 30 minutes afterward, stirring each time and breaking up any large chunks into small pieces with a fork, until you have fine crystals of homemade granita!
If by mistake, you forget about the granita and it freezes solid, run a very sharp knife through frozen mixture from one side of the pan to the other to loosen the ice crystals. Then scrape a fork back and forth to create fine crystals. Scoop into a cup and enjoy!
While this makes a quart of granita, it doesn’t actually serve as many people as a quart of ice cream. Expect to serve four people with this, especially because they’ll definitely come back for seconds!
Serve with fresh strawberries and a lemon wedge to enhance the presentation. Enjoy!
The lamb shank (Zeroa) is a crucial component of the seder plate, a reminder of the Korban Pesah (Paschal Lamb) sacrificed when the Israelites left Egypt, and for generations to follow, as long as the Temple was standing. Families gathered the first night of Passover to feast on the sacrifice of roasted lamb. Most Jews place a shank bone on the seder plate, to fulfill the memory of the sacrifice, which itself is forbidden in the absence of a Temple. Many take care to omit all roasted fare from their meal, in the spirit of the prohibition against the Paschal lamb in the Diaspora.
Syrian Jews have a fascinating custom that seems to defy Passover conventions. We start off our Seder meal (Shulhan Arukh) with lamb! In keeping with the interdiction, the lamb must be boiled, and not roasted, as the primary method of cooking, and may not be noted as being eaten in remembrance of the Paschal Lamb (Yalkut Yosef Volume 5: pp. 406- 7).
The traditional recipe, passed down to me by my grandmother, calls for boiling the lamb, then continuing to brown it in the oven. The tender meat is then stripped from the bone, which is reserved for the seder Plate. The delicate lamb morsels, gently warmed and served with lemon and allspice, disappear before the soup makes it to the table! In this recipe, pickled lemons add a kick that cuts through the richness of the lamb, and the addition of quinoa elevates it from an appetizer to a main dish (you can substitute rice for the quinoa if your custom is to eat rice on Passover). If your guests are not quite ready for lamb at the Seder table, this makes a delectable one dish meal for another Passover night!
2 small lamb shanks, or 1 large lamb shank
several garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cups quinoa
6 cups boiling water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4-5 lemons for pickling plus the juice of 1-2 lemons
Kosher salt for sprinkling (approx. 2-3 Tablespoons)
Canola oil (about 1/3 of a cup, depending on the size of the jar)
Paprika to taste
16oz glass jar with tight-fitting lid
Begin by pickling the lemons a few days before you want to serve the meat. Normally, the pickling process takes several weeks, and once properly preserved, the lemons can be kept in the refrigerator for about a year. To speed things up, cut your lemons into wedges, sprinkle them with Kosher salt, and freeze them for 3-4 hours. When they are frozen, you are ready to pickle.
Start with a very clean glass jar, with a 16oz capacity (equivalent to 2 cups). If your hands have any cuts, you might want to wear gloves. Begin layering the lemons into the jar, packing the lemons tightly together, and sprinkling some salt and paprika between the layers as you go. Press down firmly on the lemons, then pour enough fresh lemon juice to cover. Fill the remianing space in the jar with oil, and cover tightly. Leave the jaw on your counter for 3-4 days, shaking or turning the jar over every day or two. Once pickled, store in the refrigerator. Rinse off pickled lemons as you use them.
To make the shanks, place the shanks in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about twenty minutes. Occastionally skim the foam and impurities that form at the surface. Once cooked, gently remove shanks from the pot and rinse with cold water. Pat dry, and place in a deep metal pan.
Drizzle the shanks with the olive oil, and season with chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika to taste and rub the oil and spices into the surface of the shanks. Pour about 1 inch of water to cover the bottom of the pan, to prevent the lamb shanks from sticking. Place in the oven at 350F. Cook for about 45 minutes, until nicely browned and tender.
once cooled, de-bone the meat from the shanks. Reserve the shank bone for the seder plate, if using. Tear or cut the meat into bite-sized chunks. The lamb may be frozen at this point, if not using right away.
To make the quinoa, coat the bottom of a large oven-proof casserole with the olive oil. Add the quinoa, water, salt and spices, and stir well. Add the lamb pieces, cover, and bake at 350F for about 1 hour or until quinoa is tender. Serve hot, garnished with the pickled lemons.
Aviva Kanoff is an artiste extraordinaire. She paints, teaches a mixed media art class, and dabbles in photography. Her creative approach to life led her to artistic experimentation with food, and after years of creating her own recipes and working as a personal chef, she wrote The No-Potato Passover, an expression of her intuitive understanding of flavors, aromas, and colors.
1 lb of parsnips
1 large onion, diced
6 button mushrooms, diced
5 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
Bring large pot of water to boil, and cook the parsnips until soft and tender. Drain and set aside.
In a skillet, saute the onions and mushrooms in canola oil until brown.
In a mixing bowl, mash the parsnips and add butter or margarine, mushroom and onions.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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.
Lots of things taste better covered in chocolate. They taste even better when covered in chocolate and caramel with a sprinkling of sea salt! Use good chocolate to make this even more indulgent, and keep a candy thermometer on hand so that the caramel is Passover perfect!
Emily Pearl Goodstein is a photographer, sweatpants enthusiast, online organizer, and rabble rouser Washington, DC. She leverages her status as a native Washingtonian (and expert Googler) to recommend products, restaurants, recipes, and shops (in addition to other things she finds mildly diverting) on her blog, Wild and Crazy Pearl. She spends too much money on iTunes and her favorite possession is the cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer she used part of her Bat Mitzvah money to buy (it is still going strong). She also enjoys drinking grapefruit juice, photographing babies and baby bellies, and taking naps.
4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzah
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line the bottom of the sheet with matzah, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. The temperature on the thermometer should reach 120F. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzah, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
Put the pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it's not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven.
Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips.
Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
If you wish, sprinkle with cashews, pecans, or some flaky sea salt.
Let cool completely, cut into pieces (I like to make large diamonds for a dramatic presentation) and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.