I’ve catered many seders and the biggest challenge has been to come up with creative and delicious menus without using any chometz: barley, wheat, rye, oats and spelt, except for matzoh; while also keeping with some of the other long time traditions of this very important Jewish holiday. There are many other food restrictions depending on each clients religious background. For instance, American Jews who are Ashkenazim do not use kitniot, or legumes (such as soy, peanuts, and peas), corn and rice. Most Israeli Jews are Sephardim, so these food items are acceptable as long as they are kosher for Passover.
I’ve put together what are my favorite recipes for this holiday. I am very picky about flavors, textures, the ying and yang (sweet and sour; hot and cold; smooth and crunchy; sweet and savory) so keep in mind that these are all exceptional recipes. Enjoy!!
Mini Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Shallot-Dill Crème Frâiche- serves 4-8 guests
This is an old catering favorite. These little latkes come out nice and crispy and are very addictive.
Double the recipe so you have extras for the kids. Serve with some nice applesauce.
1/2 c. sour cream (or crème fraiche)
6 T. minced shallot or red onion
4 T. fresh dill, chopped
3 T. fresh lemon juice
Small package Smoked Salmon- about ¼ lb.
Fresh chives- optional
Freshly ground black pepper
Mini Potato Pancakes – recipe follows
Mix sour cream, shallot or red onion, dill and lemon juice. Season with pepper. (Potatoes and sour cream mixture can be made 1 day ahead)
Place 1/2 t. sour cream mixture on each warmed (not hot or will melt the mixture) pancake followed by a small slice of smoked salmon, some chopped chives and freshly ground
Mini Potato Pancakes
8 medium Yukon Gold or Idaho potatoes, peeled and halved
Canola or Vegetable Oil for Frying
Salt and Pepper
Heat canola oil in 1/2 inch of oil in large frying pan or in deep fryer.
Grate potatoes in food processor with grater attachment or grate by hand. Put the grated potatoes in a colander that is set inside a bowl. Press on the potatoes to squeeze out the excess water. Let the liquid stand for a few minutes; the starch will settle at the bottom of the bowl. Pour off the liquid and add the grated potatoes to the potato starch. Add the salt and pepper and mix well. Form flat patties in your hand.
Place up to 4 patties in fryer and turn after about 3 minutes depending on how hot your stove or fryer is. They should be golden brown in color (or lighter if you will be freezing them to be reheated at a later time). Fry second side 2-3 more minutes, checking constantly to prevent over browning them. Remove from pan or fryer and place on several sheets of paper towel. Put several more paper towels on top of pancakes to remove excess oil. They are ready to be served at this point or to freeze or refrigerate on baking sheet in between layers of wax paper. To reheat, place pancakes on new baking sheet and bake at 350 for 6 minutes. Let cool slightly before adding remaining ingredients.
This is one of my favorite cocktails. Well worth the effort. You will wow your guests with this one.
2 oz “Rain” Vodka – (organic vodka made with corn, thicker than other vodka’s)
1 oz tarragon simple syrup (recipe below)
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
Shake with ice and strain into martini glass.
Garnish with asian toothpick with cranberry
Tarragon Simple Syrup
16 cups sugar
16 cups water
2 good sized bundles tarragon
Combine 3 ingredients in pan and just before it comes to a boil, take off heat and let steep for 15-20 minutes. Strain the syrup and discard tarragon.
( Be very careful. The tarragon can be overwhelming. You want the sweet essence of the tarragon. While steeping, continue to taste the syrup every five minutes and make sure it doesn’t taste dirty or bitter. Once it does, strain the syrup immediately and get rid of tarragon.)
Celery and Parsnip Soup with Green Onion-Dill Matzo Balls- serves 8– adapted from Bon Appetit April 2000
We made this soup for a seder a few years back and it was a huge hit. The celery and parsnips add a wonderful complex flavor to the soup and the matzo balls are to die for.
6 tbsp. butter
9 cups thinly sliced celery stalks (about 2 bunches)
2 cups finely peeled and chopped parsnips (about 12 ounces)
1 ½ cups chopped scallions
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 thick slice ginger
6 cups chicken stock- low sodium
½ cup finely chopped celery leaves
Green Onion-Dill Matzo Balls
Melt butter in heavy pot over med. Heat. Add next 5 ingredients. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add 6 cups stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are very tender, around 15 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in blender or with hand held burr mixer until very smooth, adding celery leaves to every batch. Return to pot and season with salt and pepper. You can make the soup up to 2 days ahead.
Reheat with matzo balls and serve.
Green Onion-Dill Matzo Balls- makes 16
6 tbsp. chicken fat (schmaltz) or butter
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 large eggs
¼ cup fresh dill, minced
2 tbsp. seltzer
1 tbsp. sugar
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup unsalted matzo meal
Melt schmaltz or butter in small skillet over med. Low heat. Add the scallions and sauté for a few seconds. Set aside. Whisk eggs and remaining ingredients in medium bowl until well blended and then stir in the onion mixture. Cover and chill at least 6 hours.
Bring large pot of well salted water (like the ocean!) to a boil. Form matzo balls out of the mixture (about 16) with wet hands and drop them into the pot. Cover and boil matzo balls until very tender, about an hour. Transfer to shallow dish and chill.
Beef Brisket with Caramelized Vegetables- serves 8-10
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups Spanish sherry
Dissolve this mixture in pan over medium heat.
6-7 lb. brisket seasoned with salt and pepper
1 quart beef stock
10 carrots- sliced into 1” rounds
6 medium onions- cut into quarters
6 stalks celery- cut into 1” pieces
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic
Preheat oven to 350.
Place brisket in large dutch oven (like a Le Creuset). Surround with veggies, beef stock, bay leaf and garlic. Pour sherry mixture over the top. Cover and bake for 3 – 4 hours or until very tender. Take veggies out and place them on a baking sheet. Continue to cook them in oven at 450 degrees or until caramelized. Meanwhile, on stove top bring meat to simmer over low heat to keep warm.
Slice the meat and serve with leftover strained juices and caramelized veggies.
Chicken Pandora with sun-dried Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts- from Joan Nathan, The New American Cooking (Joan Nathan is an authority on Jewish-American cooking). This reminds me of a Chicken Marbella, the famous chicken dish from The Silver Palate.
1/2 cup good quality red wine vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh oregano
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 head fresh garlic, peeled and pureed
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
3 bay leaves
1 cup pitted green olives, halved
5 lbs. boneless, skinned chicken breasts, halved
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup good red wine
8 shallots chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 16-ounce cans artichoke hearts, drained
In pyrex baking dish, 9 x 12″, combine vinegar, 1/2 cup of the oil, the oregano, parsley, salt and pepper, bay leaves, and olives. Add the chicken breasts, turning a few times and marinate, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, sprinkle with the brown sugar and red wine. Bake for 1 hour, covered in a preheated 350 degree degree oven. Cool.
While the chicken is cooking, in frying pan, saute the shallots in the butter and remaining tbsp. of oil over med. high heat. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
Just before serving, pour the sun-dried tomato mixture over the chicken and reheat in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and serve.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes- serves 10
1 head of garlic
3.5 lbs. Idaho Potatoes- peeled and cut into 8ths
2 cups half and half
1/2 stick of butter
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Put garlic bulb on piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil. On baking sheet,
In large pan place potatoes, a tablespoon of kosher salt and enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until pierced easily with a fork. Drain in a colander.
Add garlic cream to potatoes and whip well. Season with salt and pepper and dash of cayenne.
2 lbs. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Banana chunks- don’t cut until ready to use
Dried apricots or mango
Matzoh, nuts and raisins- dipped all together, they make a nice crunchy bite
Long wooden skewers
Melt all but ½ lb. of the chocolate in top of a double boiler (or metal mixing bowl set over, not in simmering water). Remove chocolate from heat when it is melted or between 110 and 115 degrees on a candy thermometer. Add in the remaining chocolate pieces to temper the chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until melted. Can reheat a little again, but very slowly. Place chocolate in serving bowl or in a fondue pot over a flame and start dipping!