IT’S TIME TO COOK FOR PESACH.
Finally, the work of kashering our kitchen is complete. I’ve had a kind of bittersweet feeling in the weeks leading up to Passover this year, as this will be the first Pesach without my mother, a”h. She will be sorely missed at the Seders, just as she is missed by all of us who loved her and were fortunate to be so well loved by her. I’m so glad we will honor her life and carry on her legacy and love of Pesach by continuing the amazing traditions she bought into our lives. She took great pride and enjoyment from this holiday- both the meticulous care she took to render our home Kosher for Passover and the two amazing Seders she made every year.
It’s time for me to stop reminiscing and think about the naches it will bring her to know I’m busy with Pesach cooking after all that laborious cleaning. So the question is, now that it’s time to cook, what will I be eating at my Seder meals?
I want to share all of this in case it can help someone else who is looking for ideas, recipes, encouragement, or inspiration. Good results in the kitchen at Passover requires a lot of planning. Especially true since I’ll be preparing both a vegan, gluten free kosher seder menu for me, and a traditional Yuntif meal for everyone else.
When I began exploring a vegan lifestyle five years ago, Passover was approaching, and I really had no clue what I’d eat during the Seder meal or during the rest of the holiday. Then, the emphasis of my time was firmly focused on the soup, fish, entrees, and desserts for everyone else. I ate gluten then, but that didn’t give me many more options. I recall I felt mystified about how my festive meal would be special, and luckily, a friend suggested I speak to a Rebbetzin in Philadelphia who is also a vegan.
I got some great advice and ideas from the Rebbetzin, even though I didn’t even know her personally. She understood my dilemma and encouraged me so much. With her help, I made it through the Seders and the holiday, and though my repertoire was very limited, it made me want to learn more about how I could improve both the variety and quality of what I’ll eat at this time of year.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been brainstorming and experimenting and hopefully you’ve seen some recent posts for entrees, side dishes, appetizers, and desserts that I’ve either created, revised, or repurposed, and found to be easy to prepare and delicious to eat. They’ll be great additions to our Seder meals, and most, if not all of our family and guests will enjoy them as much as the traditional foods they’ll consume.
I wanted to share a few great things that I learned from the wonderful and always helpful folks at Star K and The OU. This year, two Coconut Secret items I use a lot are Kosher for Passover with just the Star K hechshur: Coconut Secret Sugar Crystals and the Liquid Aminos. From the folks at The OU, I found I can use Spectrum Brand Unrefined Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, just marked Kosher with the OU. I’m happy about both of these findings. And, here’s another exciting item for someone like me who loves to cook and bake, and wants it all to be as nutritious as possible. While shopping in Lakewood, I picked up the five pound bag of WellBees Almond Flour, because it’s a healthier option when baking.
So here is the menu for The First Night’s Seder, which occurs this year, Friday, April 3rd, 2015. Wishing everyone a Chag Kasher V’Sameach. Lori aka Princess Leah
When our guest arrive, an assortment of delicious appetizers will be waiting. Mock Chopped Liver (previously posted), will be surrounded by platters of fresh veggies and pesto (previously posted with two varieties). A fruit platter will also be on hand. Crunchy sweet and tangy marinated cabbage (also previously posted), will round out this pre-seder munching, because it would be a shonda to ruin anyone’s appetite by overfeeding them at this early stage of the game. Still, I want to give them something to tide them over til dinner.
And now, The Complete Menu for The First Seder……
While my family and our guests are eating their Gefilte, I’ll be eating Crispy Quinoa Cakes (with sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms).
While they’re eating Lemon Sorbet as a palate cleanser, I’ll be eating Emily’s Lemon Sorbet, because it’s so good; and why shouldn’t I clean my palate while I’ve got the chance?!?
While everyone else enjoys c. soup with fluffy gluten free Kneidlach, I’ll be enjoying Vegetable Broth with delicious fluffy gluten free Kneidlach, because my son David makes the best Kneidlach for us for Passover and Rosh Hashanah. By the way, the pre-main course items are really my favorite part of the meal.
Salad with slivered almonds and blueberry vinegrette will be had by all.
My main entree at the first Seder will be Mushroom Marbella, (* the recipe and more pictures of the demo will follow at the bottom of this post). This is one of my favorite do-overs, what my son Isaac calls, a creative repurposing of the classic dish that uses chicken. It requires marinating overnight, and is really delicious. My daughter Emily suggested poking holes in the mushrooms before marinating, to really soak up the special combination of tastes and seasoning. I used the large stuffing mushrooms that I found at Produce Junction. I also created another version of this repurposed dish, a do-over that uses chunks of eggplant, which I call Eggplant Marbella, but I didn’t want the menu to be too eggplant heavy. There will also be fricassee, meatballs, wings, and chicken available for everyone who wants to partake.
Here are the side dishes, all gluten free and vegan:
Sautéed Onions and Zucchini
Quinoa with sun dried tomatoes, green onions, and mushrooms
Braised Cabbage, Onions, and Apples
Baked Butternut Squash
Spaghetti Squash Kugel
Caponata, made with eggplant, peppers, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, vinegar, dash of sugar, and oregano. (Optional: chili pepper flakes, capers, and olives.) Serve with fresh veggies or gluten free matzo crackers.
Braised Onions, Cabbage, and Apples
Quinoa with chopped Mushrooms, Green Onions, and Sun Dried Tomatoes.
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Remember, I don’t do all of this by myself. I couldn’t possibly. Most of the work gets done quietly behind the scenes by a few people who prefer no credit. But tough. It’s my blog, so I can embarrass them without their ever knowing. My husband Eric is so predictable, and so humble, too… he’ll help beyond belief and be glad to do the small stuff no one else wants to do- the tasks upon which all the delicious entrees and side dishes are built. Which means hours of peeling and chopping onions and garlic! Seriously, it’s all about the veggies. He could be washing, peeling, and chopping vegetables for hours. If (when) I run out of organic potatoes or organic celery, he’ll be the first to offer to run back for the zillionth time to Shop Rite for more. Isaac does a lot more than incite me to write on this blog. He loves to cook, and can do just about anything in the kitchen, and lucky for us, is a whiz with a chopping board, knife and sauté pan, as well. David, when not making his light fluffy kneidlach, can be counted on to peel veggies, make mashed potatoes, or run to the store, yet again. And then there’s the dirty dishes. As often as possible, my husband will insist on washing the dishes when he sees them piling up. Our daughter Emily is an amazing baker and chef, and we are indeed fortunate to have her help, her energy, and her smiles to help us accomplish everything. She keeps us on course and allows us to be ambitious and successful at the same time. Who knows? If it weren’t for Emily, I might decide we’re only going to have soup, a nice salad, and then skip right to dessert.
Speaking of dessert, we will make my mother, obm,’s traditional Passover mandle bread. The gluten free desserts will include: macaroons, of course!, cinnamon cookies, Emily’s amazingly light and sweet key lime pie with chocolate date crust, maybe a flourless chocolate torte if we get around to it, and definitely a beautiful fresh fruit salad. My in-laws always bring amazing fresh fruit for us.
THE MENU for the SECOND SEDER on Saturday night, April 4th, after Shabbat….Everything will be the same for the meal at the second seder as the first night, except my main course on the second night will be Orange Peppers stuffed with Quinoa and Chopped Mushrooms- previously posted, and mashed potatoes. I love variety, and I say this half-heartedly, because we often fight over the leftovers!
Stuffed peppers with quinoa and chopped mushrooms
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WISHING YOU ALL A CHAG KASHER SAMEACH.
NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM.
- Large Mushrooms, about 18-20
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Vinegar
- 1/2 Cup Pitted Green Olives
- 1/2 Cup Capers with some of the juice
- 1 Cup Pitted Prunes, or more or less of this. I add more since my family likes them and the added sweetness they give
- 1/8 Cup dried oregano (if you really like oregano, as I do, you can use the whole 1/4 cup)
- 4 Large Bay Leaves
- 6-8 Garlic Cloves, peeled and finely minced, use more or less depending if you like a lot of garlic as we do.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Marinate mushrooms in above ingredients and allow to remain in refrigerator for hours, or better yet, overnight
Remove from refrigerator and sprinkle with:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white wine
- Large container for marinating mushrooms with a sealed lid
- Baking dish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Soak, check, and thoroughly clean mushrooms. Trim ends. Dry them with paper towels. (Option: use cubes or chunks of eggplant instead, or combine mushrooms and eggplant. Just be sure to sprinkle salt on the cubed eggplant to extract the bitterness, rinse thoroughly in colander, and pat dry with paper towels before proceeding to the next step.)
- In a large bowl combine the mushrooms, oil, vinegar, prunes, capers and juice, bay leaves, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, as long as possible, preferably, overnight.
- Arrange mushrooms in a single layer in a shallow baking pan and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle mushrooms with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
- Bake for 40 minutes or more, until desired, basting frequently with marinade. Before serving, moisten with a few spoonfuls of marinade, and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro, if desired. Delicious over mashed cauliflower, fluffy quinoa, or mashed potatoes.
Chag Kasher V’Sameach, and Bitayavon!