Passover is (finally) over and that means that…it’s time to start preparing for next Passover.
Okay, now before you kill me for saying that, I just mean that now is the time to evaluate how your food prep held up this year, so you’ll be able to ensure that you’re better prepared next year.
As you’re putting away your Passover pots and pan, or simply throwing out half-used boxes of matzah farfel, here are some questions to jot down answers to. Email the answers to yourself, or put them in a google doc, and you’ll be able to plan next year with the full knowledge that came with this year’s celebration.
What was your shopping list this year? And what were your seder menus?
This will help you get a baseline of what you were shopping for, and how much you got. If you happened to keep receipts and know how much you spent, that is also helpful to know (and I commend you for being way more organized than I was).
What did you have left over at the end of the holiday? This will help you gauge if you need to buy less of something next year. I also personally feel fine saving, say, an unopened box of matzah meal, for next year. My mother was notorious for saving Pesach spices over decades, which I don’t personally plan to do, but it’s an option.
What was the best thing you made or ate this Pesach? Perhaps it was an old classic, that you make and love every year, or maybe it was something new or recently tweaked. For me, it was this no-bake chocolate mousse cake made with avocado. It’s pareve (vegan, even) and devastatingly delicious. I made it twice over Pesach, and the second time I added a teaspoon of cinnamon, which I highly recommend.
This brings me to What adaptations did you make to recipes, and how did they turn out? Besides the cinnamon to the cake, my friend Andrea and I did some major revamping of a stuffed onion recipe, and the results were fantastic. Thankfully, Andrea wrote up what she did after the seders and emailed it to me so that we can use it to go off of next year. I also remembered to write down that while making my aunt’s frozen mousse cake, there is a part where the batter starts to seize up, and while this is terrifying while it happens, it has no negative ramifications on the way the cake actually comes out.
What did you make that’s not worth making next year? Might as well cull the menu now, when you remember how disappointing that kugel was.
What kitchen utensils, pots or pans would you like to have for next year? Since this was my first year making Passover by myself, I bought a whole set of dishes, pots, pans, and utensils. I was thrilled with everything, but wish I had thought to get a colander, a rubber spatula, and a few wooden spoons. I’ve already added them to my shopping lists for next year, and can be on the lookout for those items at sales.
What are some recipes that you didn’t get a chance to try, but would like to try for next year? Did you not get a chance to try everything on our communal seder menu? Collect recipes and links in one place so you know where to start looking next year.
With all that done, and your dishes packed away, you can leave Pesach behind―for about another 10 months, before next year’s Pesach frenzy begins.
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…
Purim is over, and Passover is not only right around the corner, but truly almost upon us. This is the time of year when my anal retentive tendencies take over, and “planning-Shannon” (as my husband likes to call me) goes into full effect.
I know some people loathe Passover prep, and feel it’s completely overwhelming, but I actually enjoy the challenge! If you keep your menus simple, and take some steps ahead of time, Passover can be less of a chore than you might think.
Make your lists!
Are you hosting a seder and need to plan a menu? Visiting family and need to bring a dessert or side dish? Housing 4 of your son’s roommates from college? Make a list of items in the following categories to help you plan for the weeks leading up to the holiday.
- 1-3 months ahead: kitchen items such as extra pots and pans, gadgets, cutting boards and measuring cups. I love checking out TJ Maxx, Overstock or Crate and Barrel Outlet for great marked-down items.
- 2-3 weeks ahead: non-perishable and frozen items such as matzo meal, store-bought chicken broth, spices, shredded coconut, KP soda, gefilte fish rolls, potato starch and snacks.
- 1 week ahead: perishable items such as fruit, vegetables, fresh herbs, fish, eggs, milk and cheese.
Stock up on Staples
I tend to go through more cleaning supplies, more paper goods and just more stuff during the week of Passover when we are cooking and eating almost every meal in the house. Take a trip to Target or Amazing Savings to stock up on essential items you will need to make your Passover week more organized and bearable. I like to stokckpile paper goods, tupperware with lids, storage bags and cleaning supplies.
Visit the butcher EARLY
Ever notice how the weeks before Passover somehow meat prices surge? It’s the same as gas prices before the Christmas or Fourth of July holidays. If you have an extra freezer now is the time to stock up on extra chicken, beef, ground turkey and whatever other meat staples you will need to last the week before the butcher or supermarket is teeming with other Jews and higher prices.
Tackle little by little
Start cleaning out the pantry, freezer and fridge in the coming weeks so you don’t have to do it all at once. Start using up your bread products by making fresh bread crumbs, croutons or other chametz-heavy recipes – it will lighten your workload when its time to finish your Passover cleaning.