Monday, April 18, 2011

Passover Cooking: Seder 1 + Seder 2

For Passover this year I hosted both the 1st and 2nd seders at our apartment.  Dinner for 7 the 1st night and 6 the 2nd.  Needless to say, it was a lot of cooking, but wasn't too bad.  The turned out to be delicious...well, as delicious as food can be without eating bread.

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. And, by following the rituals of Passover, we have the ability to relive and experience the true freedom that our ancestors gained.
The first two days and last two days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea) are when we gather as a family to share our dinner meals.
To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, we don’t eat—or even retain in our possession—any chametz from midday of the day before Passover until the conclusion of the holiday. Chametz means leavened grain—any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta and most alcoholic beverages. Moreover, almost any processed food or drink can be assumed to be chametz unless certified otherwise.
*Following passage quoted from Chabad.Org.

Now what I just gave you here is a good amount of information on Passover which I know some of you will appreciate (whether you're just not Jewish...or you are Jewish and need a refresher).

I personally do not celebrate Passover following the strictest of rules as listed above.  To give up all of these foods, I'd have to drop dead.  So I just simply cut out bread.  Growing up my mother and Boobie would always tell me that I should celebrate our Jewish holidays the best way that I can and the big guy will understand.  And I agree, and think there is nothing wrong with studying and understanding why we are celebrating these holidays but taking the traditions and tweaking them to fit my family's needs.

With that said, I went through all of our snacks and sent all bread products such as pita, Ritz crackers and pretzels with my hubby to share in his office.  We stocked up on Matzo and got out the good ol' family Passover recipes.

It was time to cook and I did so all weekend long...through Tuesday at about 4pm.  Here was the menu:
Deviled eggs 
Boobie's gefilte fish
Boobie's chicken + matzo ball soup
Aunt Debi's meatballs
Aunt Sandy's brisket n' peaches
Steamed asparagus drizzled with EVOO and lemon zest (1st night); Peas (which A. Debi later told me are not Kosher for Passover - so see what I mean?  I don't follow all the rules...) and broccoli sauteed with onion.
This photo was taken on Seder night #2.  Low key version of Seder night #1 which was no joke...

To prepare for the seder table, I spent much time in the flower market located in the heart of Chelsea this week getting to know the quantities they sell in as well as their pricing.  In season right now:  peonies and cherry blossoms.  Two of my all time favorites.  So for Passover I wanted to go white.  Crisp, fresh, spring.  Monday morning I got a bundle of peonies and a bundle of hydrangeas (which were lush, large and beautiful).  Cold water for all as they were in full bloom.  I ordered a bundle of cherry blossoms for Thursday pick up (for my spring fling party on Friday which we'll get to in a later post...) and made my way home to cook.
I do apologize as I cannot give out these family recipes but I can tell you how I made the eggs since they are one of the dishes from where else but Martha!
Egg platter in photo is from Anthropologie.  One of my favorite stores for gifts.  And I love that our Aunt Knee gave this to us.  It's just so beautiful and I try make deviled eggs all the time just so I can use it.
Happy Passover to all, and I hope you had a wonderful holiday!  xo