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What are your Passover crowd pleasers?

With a toddler and full time job I'm trying to simplify (no grinding fish to make gefilte fish when only two people eat it!). The menu looks like this so far:

appetizers: selection of pates, marinated olives

first course: matzoh ball soup, though I'm thinking about losing the soup course

second course: poached salmon with dill mustard sauce

main course: brisket, thyme roasted carrots, a tbd potato dish, and a tbd green vegetable

dessert: honey nut cake, macaroons

Okay so any tried and true crowd pleasers on your menu? Suggestions for a potato and a green veg are esp. appreciated as I'm not feeling to inspired this year. TIA

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  1. I, too, work full time and have a toddler and a 6 month old, so I'm all about simple!

    For the green vegetable, I recommend Ina Garten's asparagus with shallot sauce. (The recipe is actually for string beans with shallot sauce, but since you can't use string beans on Passover, I've made it with asparagus.) It's delicious and you can blanch the asparagus and make the sauce in advance and just put it together and heat it up for the seder.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

    For the potato dish, for the last 2 years (and this year too), I've made potato kugelettes. Basically, potato kugel made in mini muffin tins. Very easy and you can make them ahead and freeze them. I just take them out the day before and let them thaw in the refrigerator and then heat them in the toaster oven (I have a large toaster oven and I can't spare any valuable oven space!).

    My guests would stage a riot if I skipped the soup, but I am skipping the gefilte fish. I decided that we just don't need it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: valerie

      I decided several years ago to move the gefilte fish from the meal to appetizer status. That avoids the extra plates (and time) at the table, and provides a nosh when folks arrive. Cut it into bite sized pieces, and serve with toothpicks (and, of course, horseradish).

      1. re: Marion Morgenthal

        That's a good idea. I'm not having a huge crowd (7 adults and 3 children) so I was planning to skip appetizers altogether and just get down to business when people arrive, but maybe I will put the gefilte fish out. I, like you, was also trying to cut down on dishes to be cleaned!

        1. re: Marion Morgenthal

          The little ones really love the gefilte fish tidbits with toothpicks it; it makes them feel like they are eating canapes. I have been serving it that way for years frequently on Friday nights. BTW, if you don't want to make your own gefilte fish, the A&B frozen loaf is great (I use the one with sugar). Obviously, home-made is so superior, but this is acceptable. I boil a pot of water with cloves, cinnamon and lemon beside it to mask the smell.

        2. re: valerie

          Someone was wondring about a macaroon recipe.... I've been making the "King David Hotel" Coconut Macaroon recipe for a few years now. dipped in parve chocolate...
          YUM. Jews and non Jews rave about them. I think i got the details from the Boston globe one year. Easy. Fast. No margarine. But, its getting really hard to find unsweetened coconut, which is the base ingredient..I used to get it at TJ's now i must go to Whole Foods...

          1. re: cheesehead in recovery

            don't know where you live, but I bought unsweetened coconut (in kosher for passover packaging, no less) at ShopRite in Brooklyn today.

            1. re: cheesehead in recovery

              I bought unsweetened coconut today at Whole Foods, but I've bought it in the past at Fairway.

              1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                Would love the recipe for the King David macaroons....
                TIA

                1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                  If you are in LA, Surfas has unsweetened coconut!

              2. I'd be run out of town if I didn't serve matzoh ball soup....

                13 Replies
                1. re: susancinsf

                  We will do alot of cooking because my wife is on vacation that week. SO-matzah ball soup, veggie and regular chopped liver, gefilte fish from a roll-wife refuses to let me cook fish in the house, brisket, tzimmes, fruit chicken with dried fruit like prunes, apricots, matzah farfel muffins with celery, garlic and red peppers (my all time favorite since I am married) asparagus, dessert is store bought macaroons, sponge cake with strawberries and whipped cream, coffee tea and a long long nap. Happy Passover everyone!

                  1. re: SIMIHOUND

                    Simihound,
                    Your farfel muffins sound interesting, and seeing as how they are your all-time favorite, could you please post the recipe?

                    We always have asparagus, which I plan to roast ahead of time this year.
                    Also roasted sweet potatoes for those of us who are trying not to gain weight over Pesach. They are moist and delicious with the addition of only salt and pepper.

                    Thanks, p.j.

                    1. re: p.j.

                      PJ-Sorry for the late reply. This is an old Manischewitz recipe my wife has had for a long time. As I said it has become a Passover comfort food for me.

                      1c minced onion
                      1c finely chopped celery
                      1/2c diced green pepper-eliminate if green pepper doesn't agree with you
                      1/3lb chopped mushrooms
                      6 tbsp oil
                      6 matzo
                      1 tea.salt
                      1/2 tea pepper
                      1/2 tea paprika
                      1/2 tea garlic powder (I am a garlic lover and much prefer to add about 1/4 tea. chopped garlic from the jar-adjust amount to your liking) but it will make the mixture strong if you use too much garlic.
                      2 eggs slightly beaten
                      1 can clear chicken soup (or use boullion cubes to make 1 cup of soup by using two cubes and 1 1/3 cups boiling water)
                      1 1/4 hot water

                      Saute onion celery pepper and mushroom in oil until onion is soft
                      Mix sauteed veggies with remainder of ingredients

                      pour it all into well greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish, 9x13 pan or individual muffin pan -We do the muffins and love it that way-it's easier to serve at the seder that way

                      bake in 375 oven for 30 minutes or until top of mix is firm

                      Have a wonderful happy Passover.
                      Serves 8-10

                      1. re: SIMIHOUND

                        Thanks, Simihound.
                        You have a wonderful, happy, and delicious Passover, too!
                        p.j.

                    2. re: SIMIHOUND

                      Veggie chopped liver? Sounds interesting -- would you share the recipe? Thanks

                      1. re: debmom

                        My sister in law is making this recipe and wont tell me more then this;
                        Sauteed onions-amount unknown-how long to cook?????
                        frozen french cut string beans-cook them a little... how? She wont tell me.
                        walnuts
                        hb-eggs-use more whites than yolks

                        I hate people who wont share recipes or knowledge. I suggest that you Google it for many many recipes to be found. Some contain peas though.

                        "A gutten Pesach" to one and all. MAH NISTANA.......LOL!

                        1. re: debmom

                          Here's a recipe:

                          Vegetarian Chopped Liver

                          1 1/2 cups green beans, cooked, chopped
                          2 hard boiled eggs, grated
                          1/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
                          1/2 cup onion, sauteed in oil until soft and caramelized, finely minced
                          1 tablespoon dry white wine
                          salt, to taste
                          black pepper, to taste
                          1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
                          1 tablespoon mayonnaise (optional)

                          Combine everything and chill. Use on matzo, as vegetable dip, or on bed of lettuce.

                          Yield: 2 cups.

                          1. re: Nancy Berry

                            Thanks, Nancy, sounds interesting!

                      2. re: susancinsf

                        I plan on making matzoh ball soup for the first time and wondered if I could make the matzoh balls in advance and either refrigerate or freeze them. If so how far ahead can they be made?

                        1. re: ali123

                          I've never tried to freeze them,(It might have a effect on the texture) but I have made them a couple of days ahead and stored them in chicken stock in the fridge. Worked well.
                          Good luck!

                          1. re: ali123

                            I freeze make and keep matzoh balls in the freezer all the time. I make them take them out and put them on a paper towel to lose cool down. I them put in freezer baggie, take out as many as I need and put in soup, they plump up right away, no problems.. I try to make ahead as much as possible. Already got the brisket, farfel side dish and tongue done, just going to make gefilte fish this weekend. Happy Pesach.

                            1. re: ali123

                              I make frozen matzo balls all the time. After cooking and draining well, freeze them on plastic wrap lined cookie sheet for 6-8 hours. Pop into gallon freezer bags and remove then as needed.

                              1. re: ali123

                                i make the matzoh balls the night before. i put them in a large covered bowl and refrigerate them. the next night, i put them right into the pot of soup, which i am heating to serve. they are always fine.

                            2. Chocolate dipped strawberries - hands down! This year I may turn my small crock into a fondue pot and have other items skewered for easy and NO fuss dipping fun! Even the macaroons!

                              Easy vege: cut up a bunch of root veges or asparagus, sprinkle with EVOO, garlic, S & P on a cookie sheet and in the oven - DONE! and, very yummy. Simple garlic mashed potatoes to accompany and you've got dinner!

                              1. This is my favorite Passover potato dish:

                                Potato Kugelettes

                                1 1/2 cups Idaho potatoes (I use Russets), grated and drained
                                3/8 cup onions, grated
                                3 eggs, well beaten
                                1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
                                freshly ground pepper, to taste
                                3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat (NO substitutions), plus fat to grease the muffin tins
                                matzo meal, for dusting muffin tin

                                1. Preheat oven to 375~

                                2. Combine all ingredients

                                3. Grease a 24 cup mini-muffin tin with chicken fat and dust with matzo meal. Place 1 T of filling per muffin cup and bake for 25 min. until golden.

                                Yield 24 kugelettes

                                This recipe is from Patty Unterman, a San Francisco restaurant reviewer and restaurant owner (Hayes St. Grill.)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Nancy Berry

                                  Help! I'd love to make this recipe but don't know how to render chicken fat, nor am I making a chicken anytime soon. Is there something else I can substitute (even though you said not to!). Thanks.

                                  1. re: Mayner

                                    You can buy rendered chicken fat (it's usually in the frozen food section, but may be in the refrigerated section) in many supermarkets or Jewish delis. If you can't find that, then you can slowly fry some onions in olive oil until they caramelize and flavor the oil, and then drain and use the oil. Be careful not to burn the oil.

                                2. One of my favorite green vegetable dishes for the seder is Marlene Sorosky's Asparagus with Lemon Matzo Crumble. You can find the recipe here:

                                  http://homecooking.about.com/library/...

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Nancy Berry

                                    Nancy, this recipe does look interesting. I can't fathom using 8 tbsp (1/2 cup) of hydrogenated Passover margarine, though, so I'd substitute extra virgin olive oil for all of the margarine. There won't be a "buttery" flavour, but the first of the season's local asparagus should be able to stand on its own.

                                    1. re: FlavoursGal

                                      Passover wouldn't be the same without Marcy Goldman's chocolate covered matzo crunch. It is matzo baked with a toffee glaze and then drizzled with chocolate. It is addictive.

                                      1. re: lucyis

                                        That recipe IS amazing, isn't it. For those who are unfamiliar with Marcy Goldman, she is a Montreal pastry chef whose first book, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, is wonderful. I believe it's now available in paperback.

                                        Here's her website: http://www.betterbaking.com/main.php

                                        1. re: FlavoursGal

                                          I made my first batches last year, when my son's school had its spring musical during Pesach, and I wanted to provide intermission snacks that the Jewish attendees could eat (parents bake all the stuff sold). Wow. Sold out.

                                          I will dig out my Pesach brownie recipe and post....and I still need to find my carrot sponge cake recipe that I promised to post.
                                          p.j.

                                      2. re: FlavoursGal

                                        I agree, FlavoursGal. I actually use olive oil (often garlic-infused olive oil -- Consorzio) in Marlene Sorosky's recipe. I should have mentioned that substitution because, like you, I have taken all transfat-laden margarine out of my family's diet (at least what I cook for them.)