Saturday, March 27, 2010
Pass (the charoset) Over (to me!)
We're getting ready for Passover here at our place, holding our first seder in our own house. I'm putting together a secular haggadah since our guests are a mixed bag of Jews and friends-of-Jews (and we are, ourselves, an interfaith couple). I still need to scrub the house clean and clear all the chametz out of the kitchen - that's everything made with wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt. I also need to finish the grocery shopping, though I did quite a bit of it at the farmers' market today.
Tonight I may go ahead and make the spiced hazelnuts, to be served in a bowl on the table for snacking during the haggadah reading. (We have a couple of young children attending and I know how people need to nibble, plus we'll all want something to get the taste out after the Bitter Herbs.) I planned the rest of the menu this morning...
Garlicky Leek & Artichoke Soup
Chicken Cutlets with Preserved Meyer Lemon & Parsley
Greens & Quinoa Pie
Cabbage with Cucumber & Caraway
Matzah & Charoset
(My friend is bringing dessert.)
Got the cabbage recipe from FabFrugalFood (thanks, Anne!), the chicken recipe from the book Well Preserved (as an example of what to do with Meyer lemons preserved in salt), and the soup, pie, and carrot recipe from last month's Vegetarian Times. (If you're not a subscriber to Vegetarian Times, you really should be, whether you're a vegetarian or not. It's a really terrific magazine with lots of interesting, delicious, and usually healthy recipes.)
As for the charoset... well, let's face it, that's what makes it Passover! For those who've never had it, charoset is a coarse paste meant to resemble the building mortar that the Israelites used as slaves. It is, however, far more delicious. It goes on the seder plate during the reading, and a polite nibble is consumed as we go through the ritual, but everyone always goes back for a helping of it later after dinner. It also makes a FABULOUS breakfast the next morning, and makes it much easier to eat tasteless matzah all week. So we tend to make lots of it. Here's my recipe:
5 cups apples, cored and diced
3/4 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries*
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
* You can use raisins instead of dried cherries if you want. Keith and I hate raisins and are blessed to live in Oregon where dried cherries are reasonably cheap. I haven't tried this with dried cranberries but I bet it would be good if you wanted to try it - let me know if you do!
Throw the apples, hazelnuts, and cherries into the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. (Or, if you don't have a food processor, chop it all very finely.) You want it chopped, mind you, not pureed, so pulse gently and don't overdo it. Transfer the chopped goods to a bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients, mixing well until blended. Refrigerate until time to prepare the seder plate. Try not to eat it all before then.
Everyone who's celebrating Passover this year, have a happy and kosher one!