Some of my fondest memories are from the Passovers of my youth. My sister and I would help my mother drag the Passover dishes, glasses, pots and pans up from the basement. My mother’s Passover dishes were the old Fiestaware–red, green, yellow and blue, and my sister and I used to fight over the blue dish every night at dinner. It makes me smile to think about it now. (She usually won.)
Some of my favorite foods are from this holiday, as well–matzah meal cereal with just the right number of lumps, and matzah brei (fried matzie to us)! I can almost taste them in anticipation.
Holiday dinners are my favorite to prepare. I get to be creative and try new things.
We start with the traditional seder plate and Elijah’s cup. A few years ago, I added Miriam’s cup to the table. I have not yet included anything as controversial as an orange or tangerine, but there’s always next year!
The one thing I always make, no matter the holiday, is soup–Chicken with Matzah Balls, of course, made in my Aunt Mary’s pot. Aunt Mary was my great aunt, and the closest thing I knew to a grandmother in my youth. Oh, the things she would do with us when we were kids, but that is another story for another day. She has been gone for 23 years, but using her soup pot is my way of keeping her with me during the holidays. When I reach for that pot, it brings a smile to my face and I know I’m in good hands.
One of these years, I will make Aunt Mary’s gefilte fish. It’s different than any I have seen anywhere else and I do miss it. Perhaps that will be next year’s experiment. Without the huckers and wooden bowl, though, I know it won’t taste exactly the same.
This year I know I will make a brisket–my mother’s recipe, which will make my sister very happy. The chicken, I think, will be my experiment. Whatever I make, it will be something that will provide me with a lot of leftovers, one of the things I love about big dinners. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
The side dishes will round out my dinner. I know I will make a salad and kugel or two. My family loves my vegetable farfel kugel, and I am partial to the Cauliflower Kugel. It’s a nice break from potatoes but still warm and homey. The recipes are below. Let me know if you like them.
CHICKEN TAGINE WITH LEMONS AND OLIVES
2 chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds), skinned
4 thighs (about 1 pound), skinned
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup pitted whole green olives
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chicken, broth, olives, cinnamon, and ginger; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes. Turn chicken over; cook, uncovered, 15 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan with a slotted spoon; place 1 chicken piece on each of 4 plates. Add lemon rind, juice, cilantro, and parsley to pan; cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Spoon sauce over chicken.
VEGETABLE FARFEL KUGEL
1 tablespoon oil
1 green pepper, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cups coarsely grated carrots
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
10 ounce package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
4 cups boiling water
6 ounces matzah farfel
7 large eggs, whites only
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ cup toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 inch oven proof dish.
In large, non-stick skillet, sauté fresh vegetables in oil 3-5 minutes. Add drained spinach. Pour boiling water over farfel (in strainer) to moisten. Add farfel, vegetables, salt, pepper, and nuts. Cool. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into farfel mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake 45 minutes or longer until browned.
Serves 12 – 14.
Freezes and rebakes well.
1 large head cauliflower
2 large onions
4 tablespoons oil
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons matzah meal
Thoroughly wash cauliflower. Separate into large florets. Cook cauliflower in 3-quart saucepan with small amount of water for 20 minutes, until tender.
Preheat oven to 350.
While cauliflower is cooking, sauté onions in oil in a 7-inch skillet. Cook until soft and very lightly browned. When cauliflower is tender, drain and mash. Add sautéed onions and remaining ingredients. Mix well.
Place cauliflower mixture in a greased 9-inch square pan. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.