HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Anyone ready to discuss the seder menu?

I am in the process of planning my seder menu which is largely governed by what can be prepared in advance, what can be frozen, and how I will manage my kitchen on the day-of. We're kosher but not shomer shabbos - so I'll cook on Sat Apr 19 as well. I'm trying to feed the traditionalists as well as those of us who would like a little something new and different. I think we have 45 or 50 ppl invited and expect about 35. Here's the menu to date:

Salad (outsourced)
Chopped liver (outsourced)
Gefilte fish (might be outsourced)
Mock gefilte fish?
breakfast-beef wrapped mini hot dogs baked w/ brown sugar
Chicken soup w/ matzoh balls.

Brisket (love the Sara Moulton recipe!)
Chicken Marbella from Silver Palate
Sweet & sour meatballs (outsourced)
Chicken breast baked in parchment

Sides / Vegetarian
Farfel kugel
Spinach/broccoli something
Steamed carrots & cauliflower

Flourless choc cake
choc-pecan cookies from Maida Heatter (Savannah Chocolate Chewies)
Some non-choc dessert
Candied nuts

Here are my questions: How does this sound? What's missing? and most important... what can I freeze in advance?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you have kashered the kitchen for pesach and set up an area for it (sorry, I keep kosher-lite now but was a mashgiach) then you can freeze the soup (without matzoh balls) and the brisket - they taste better once the flavors get a chance to meld.
    What are you going to have for the actual seder? I would suggest making the charoset the day before to let the wine and spices to flavor the fruit fully. I love grating fresh horseradish - it makes such a difference! Do you have your bitter herbs picked yet?

    5 Replies
    1. re: TampaAurora

      thank you to my mother-in-law.. who is handling charoset and horseradish! I've never made my own horseradish but it's certainly worth a try. I'm kashering the kitchen at the beginning of April - there'd be a riot in my house if I did it now! but still plenty of time to cook. Have you frozen matzoh balls with success? I thought mine were not so great last year.

      1. re: doc_k55

        I freeze matzo balls very successfully and have great recipe if you need it. Lay drained balls individually in one layer on large cookie sheet coated with plastic. Freeze in freezer till solid, pop in ziploc bag or Food Saver them. This way you can grav individual balls.

        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          I'd love your recipe. I've never frozen matzo balls in advance. What school of matzo balls do you belong to - no, not orthodox, conservative or reform! - soft or hard? What is the texture like for the frozen matzo balls.

          1. re: KingsKetz

            These are fluffy matzo balls, which is what we prefer. I also add dill weed which gives a unique flavor, this is optional. Many recipes call for chicken fat (schmaltz) but canola oil works well and is much healthier.

            8 eggs
            1/2 cup club soda or seltzer water
            1/2 cup canola oil
            2 cups matzo meal
            1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp white pepper
            3 T dried dill weed (optional)

            Beat eggs with oil and water till fluffy, add seasoning. Gradually add matzo meal till incorporated. Refrigrate bowl for 30-45 minutes. When ready to make, bring 8 qt pot of water to boil with 2T salt (very important to cook in salted water, as this adds flavor). Rinse hands in cold water, shake excess water off very well. Make golf ball size balls, drop in boiling, salted water. Should get 25-30 matzo balls. When all balls are in pot, lower to light simmer, cover and time 30 minutes. When you think balls should be done, uncover, remove one, stick toothpick in to middle, should be cooked all the way through. If not, cook a few minutes more. Drain very well in one layer in colander. When thoroughly drained, freeze as described above or refrigerate.

            This makes medium size matzo balls. I don't care for large ones, but I assume you can make those, just allow additional cooking time. When making soup, heat soup first, then add defrosted balls at last minute, just long enough to warm, so the soup won't be too starchy. Good Luck!

            1. re: KingsKetz

              Creole Matzo Balls
              Yield: 12 matzo balls

              Recipe from "Matzah Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South" by Marcie Cohen Ferris.


              • 2 Tablespoons chicken fat or vegetable oil
              • ¼ cup onion, chopped fine
              • ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
              • 2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
              • 2 large eggs
              • 1 packet (2 ½ ounces) Matzo ball mix
              • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
              • 2½ quarts cold water


              1. In a small nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over medium heat.
              2. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
              3. Stir in the parsley and Creole Seasoning and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
              4. Scrape the onion mixture into a medium bowl and let cool slightly.
              5. Add the eggs and remaining 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil.
              6. Mix with a fork until the eggs are well broken up. Add the matzo ball mix and stir until blended.
              7. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
              8. Meanwhile, fill a 4 quart pot with 2½ quarts water.
              9. Cover and bring to a boil.
              10. Moisten your hands and form the matzo ball mixture into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter, using a heaping Tablespoon mixture for each one.
              11. Add a teaspoon of salt to the boiling water and drop the matzo balls in.
              12. Cover pot tightly, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
              13. Serve soon or, with a slotted spoon, transfer to a container.
              14. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
              15. Reheat matzo balls in chicken soup.

      2. mmmmm charosis - we have to make huge batches of it in my family because everyone loves it so much.

        1. I make the horseradish every year. It's easy, if a little time consuming....but not that time consuming. I boil a couple of beets, rinse and peel the horseradish roots. (The extra step of rinsing is important because of all the soil that clings to the peel. If you don't wash before peeling, you'll be washing a lot after peeling anyway.) I borrow my daughter's biology lab goggles, crank open all the windows near the food processor, and start processing chunks of horseradish root. After that, I add the beet (strictly a matter of preference) and then salt, sugar and white vinegar to taste. I use Joan Nathan's recipe from Jewish Holiday Kitchen as a starting point. If anyone ever wants to blackmail me, all they need are the photos my kids have taken of me wearing those goggles, holding a horseradish root. Yes, I look demented, but everyone in the family loves that horseradish!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: karenqltr

            I'm in charge of the horseradish too. I buy around 5 lbs of root and add a couple of fresh raw beets. Run it all through the meat grinder and then add the vinegar and salt. The beets add a little sweetness. I've learned to work under the ventalation hood turned on high. The fumes are killer.

            My cousins and aunts get together and cook a month before. We will do two sessions over the next two weeks. We prepare and freeze most all the dishes before hand. Our family seders typically have between 40-60 people so it's not something we can do at the last minute. The menu is almost always the same. Stuffed vine leaves, squash (yellow and green) and veal breast all stuffed with a rice/meat mixture, white rice, roast chicken, roasted potatoes which are cooked with the veal breast, mushrooms, keftes meatballs in a tomato based sauce. The cooking sessions are a great time to connect with family while we work together. We have around a dozen people that do the preperation and a few that do the final cooking/reheating and a lot that show up to eat. Look forward to it every year.

          2. Doc, menu sounds great, what time should we be there?? The only suggestion I would make is to serve some fruit along with dessert. I like strawberries, blueberries & blackberries with lemon curd (optional). The Passover Seder foods are very heavy and sometimes you just don't want a heavy dessert. You can make the lemon curd up to a week in advance and store in fridge.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Diane in Bexley

              thanks! I totally forgot the fruit tray on my menu....it is coming. I made lemon curd last year but used Mother's and a combo of the recipe from Joy of Cooking & Gourmet; and I thought it came out quite poorly. Do you have a good recipe?

              1. re: doc_k55

                Butter gives this superior taste, but I have successfully made with unsalted Fleischmann's margarine. You can also substitute lime juice and lime zest for a really unusual taste.

                1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
                2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
                1/2 cup sugar
                3 large eggs
                3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into bits or unsalted Fleischmann's
                Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.
                Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.
                • Curd can be chilled up to 1 week

                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                  If you can get good fresh strawberries now, they go awesome with lemon curd. Blueberries are a great combo with lime curd. If you feel like going to the bother, you can make individual meringue nests for the curd and berries. You could even do a meringue "pie shell" for a lower labor alternative. Meringues freeze acceptably.

                  1. re: rockycat

                    I am from the no-corn school of thought for pesach - so Fleischmann's is a no-no. Have you tried this w/ Mother's or with very cold oil?

            2. Sounds great! You can make and freeze the soup, brisket, brownies, and probably the farfel kugel (or at least make it the day before and just re-heat).

              Just wondering, since you have the Chicken Marbella, do you really need the chicken in parchment? Seems like a lot of work, and Chicken Marbella is so good!

              1 Reply
              1. re: valerie

                unfortunately we have a family member on a totally fat-free diet... so I think it's either baked chicken (plain) for that person or chicken in parchment, which is just tidier & easier at the last minute. I do agree with you, though.

              2. Jfood serves a hard boiled egg on the same plate as the fil-tees.

                love the Marbella idea, may have to give that one a try since it's an away game at MIL and jfood thinks she may be overwhelmed, so he can surprise her.

                1. My daughter is vegan....so I try to make at least one vegan dish that everyone can eat...So I make a eggplant lasagna...using whole wheat matzo instead of pasta..And I use the shredded soy cheese that ( there is no getting around soy during passover if you are vegan) trader joes sells.Its very good melts well and no one knows...

                  I also make a mock chicken soup with home made veggie stock...I add lemon grass and make matzo balls

                  1. you can make the chicken marbella ahead. I often make 3 at once. Just marinate the chicken in zip top bags (I think it is the entire recipe up to the brown sugar/white wine). Freeze. Defrost in teh fridge a day or 2 before you need to cook. Also, you can cook it in advance and reheat. I have even frozen cooked chicken marbella (while we were doing a kitchen remodel) but I prefer to freeze the uncooked chicken.

                    1. I have only decided on dessert so far: I am planning on making the Chocolate Olive Oil Mousse and the Orange Almond Flan from the (?) NY Times last year. These were mentioned in CH posts about Passover last year. Has anyone had success with these?

                      Both of these require being cooked the day before and refrigerated. Will probably also make some macaroons - need to find good recipe first!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jaykat

                        I have been making these Martha Stewart macaroons for years. You can make them in advance and freeze. Take them out the morning of your seder and they will be perfect.


                        1. re: valerie

                          I made Martha's macaroons last year and they were great. Will make again.

                          Though the idea of macaroon "nests" for the lemon curd is starting to sound appealing.

                      2. I freeze chicken soup ahead of time. I also usually make a meatball appetizer and freeze that. I make chicken, hard boiled eggs, and charoset the day before, matzo balls the day of. (I think I have frozen matzo balls in the past w/o any problems, but they are relatively easy to make the day of and pop in the soup as you're warming it). I also make a dessert the day before- usually matzo crackle (that chocolate covered matzo stuff that some people refer to as crack b/c it's so addictive) and then do all prep work for fruit and veggies the day before. I'm thinking of making mini salmon patties this year instead of gefilte fish. I like your idea of ratatouille. I usually do asparagus and mushrooms b/c people don't seem to mind eating them at room temperature, so I can make them a few hours before we start and just have them ready to go.

                        1. Our family seder will be much smaller this year than in past, oldes DD is staying at Brandeis and some friends won't be there. There will be 8 of us.

                          Gefilte Fish (purchased)
                          Gefilte Chicken/False Fish (see recipe elsewhere on CH)
                          Chopped Liver
                          Deviled Eggs

                          1st Seder - homemade chicken soup with matzo balls
                          2nd Seder - homemade beef broth with Pesach noodles

                          1st Seder - rib roast w/ oven browned potatoes, baked salmon, roasted asparagus w/ lemon, zucchini, carrot & spinach kugel
                          2nd Seder - roast capon w/ citrus glaze, matzo farfel stuffing, candied baby carrots, ratatouille, roasted red snapper

                          1st Seder - flourless choc cake, lemon curd with assorted berries, choc covered matzo (crack)
                          2nd Seder - meringues with lime curd and melon, apricot Pesach cookies, berry sorbet

                          any recipes for fish entrees? not 100% tied in to fish selections, don't really do a lot with fish, but several family members don't eat meat or chix and need to serve them some fish. hate how fish cooking always smells up the house. Thanks!

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Diane in Bexley

                            En papillote... like my chicken breasts. No odor, low fat, low mess, low fuss!

                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                              I make the salmon/halibut gefilte fish ring in the NY Times Passover cookbook or you can get it on Epicurious too. It's the "chosen frozen" gefilte fish or "frozen chosen" I forget which. In any case it is delicious and everyone loves it so much they refuse to allow me to make a different one. I make a horseradish mayonnaise with it that everyone loves too. Try it...you'll like it! ;-)

                              1. re: KingsKetz

                                KingsKetz - that salmon/halibut gefilte fish ring sounds great. I just looked it up on Epicurious. Is there a good substitute for halibut? I am from Australia and not very familiar with that fish. I also dont have a bundt pan so am thinking of making a half quantity in a loaf pan.

                                Does anyone else have experience with this recipe?

                                1. re: jaykat

                                  I've made it a few times--it goes over well. I generally halve the recipe and use a 6 cup bundt pan, as I just don't have that many fish eaters. I'm guessing a loaf pan would work fine. I think any firm, white, mild fish would substitute for the halibut.

                                  1. re: Marion Morgenthal

                                    I've always used halibut which is available here. It has a somewhat meaty texture but it's not overly oily and it's not tremendously flaky. I don't know what's available in Australia but if you have a fish like cod or scrod I think that would work. I find that this recipe gives off a lot of water so give it enough time to rest and reabsorb and possibly reduce the liquids a bit esp if you're making a smaller size. Even non-fish eaters tend to like this one.The bundt pan just makes a pretty presentation. I've also made it in fish shaped tins. Any shape is pretty fine I think.

                                    I just googled 'substitutes for halibut' and I came up with cod, orange roughy, buffalofish. I don't know if any of these are sold in your area but perhaps these suggestions will help. Enjoy!

                              2. re: Diane in Bexley

                                I've been making Pickled Salmon (from Joan Nathan's "The Jewish Holiday Kitchen") for years. It's easy & delicious. Started as a substitute for gefilte fish, but now it's a main course, even on Rosh Hashanah or Thanksgiving!

                                Start ~3 or 4 days before you'll use...

                                Mix 2 cups white vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, 6 tbsps sugar, 2 tbsps kosher salt in a pot. Bring to boil, & let cool completely.

                                Cut 2 lbs salmon fillet (no skin or bones) into ~1x2 in. pieces. Place fish into a large ceramic or glass container, layered with 2 tbsps pickling spice, 6 bay leaves & 2 white or yellow onions, sliced in rounds. Pour pickling liquid over & cover. Store in the fridge or other cool place (I use my garage if it's cold enough).

                                I mix everything up ~ 2x per day, just to make sure it's all pickled.

                                I gave the measurements from the cookbook. I actually make around 3 lbs of fish & 1 1/2 times the amounts of everything else.

                              3. The only thing I would add is a fresh fruit, salad, platter or basket. Can you tell me what "breakfast-beef wrapped mini hot dogs baked w/ brown sugar" is? Sounds good.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: michele cindy

                                  These are great - I got the recipe from a friend whose mother makes the real deal (sausage+bacon) at Christmas. Since we're kosher, I've adapted it. I buy the kforp mini hot dogs and cured "breakfast beef", then wrap each mini hot dog in a piece of breakfast beef. You only really need 1/3 - 1/2 a slice per hot dog. Secure with a toothpick. Ideally these bake in a pan with room to drain (e.g. broiler pan), though I usually use foil pans w/ holes poked in the bottom for passover. Cover liberally w/ brown sugar. Bake at 350 until crispy. Sometimes I add more sugar midway through. I made 2lbs of these last year (35 guests) and they were literally gone in 15 minutes.

                                2. I think kugel freezes fine - in fact you could probably freeze it in its unbaked state and stick it in the oven frozen to cook. You can certainly freeze ratatouille quite easily, as well as your brisket, which I would definitely freeze if I were you.

                                  Seder Night 1:

                                  chopped liver with pickles and those crispy puffy things (someone's bringing)
                                  olives, fennel, carrots and celery
                                  gefilte fish (someone's bringing)
                                  matzoh ball soup (we're in the floater camp)
                                  matzoh (boxed)

                                  seder plate

                                  cold poached salmon with a dill cream sauce
                                  grilled leg of lamb marinated in rosemary, lemon, worcestershire, vermouth, etc
                                  saffron rice (we're italkim - go rice!)
                                  some other type of vegetable

                                  macaroons (coconut and almond flavors)

                                  I think this is the exact same menu I posted last year. Tradition.

                                  1. We're not at all kosher. Here's what I like to make.
                                    Ideas, especially for more veggies are very welcome! I'm serving 8-10 people.

                                    chicken soup w/ matzoh balls
                                    hard boiled eggs in salt water (a tradition from my grandmother)
                                    gefilte fish (I get this terrific log frozen that you cook in stock)
                                    matzoh & charoset

                                    brisket w/ portobellos
                                    perhaps the amazing 4 hr roast duck
                                    salad w/ beets

                                    dessert: Martha's macaroons
                                    lemon curd w/ fruit
                                    apple cake (everyone asks for it)
                                    maybe sorbet

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: NYchowcook

                                      NY chow, I like roasted asparagus served at room temperature. Clean, cut off woody ends, lay asparagus in one layer on greased cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 425, if you have convection, be sure to use it. Springle asparagus with a little EVOO, kosher salt and lay slices of lemon and a little lemon juice on. Mix well. Roast for 5 min, turn over and roast another 5-7 min. Take out a little before you think they are done, they will continue to cook.

                                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                        sounds great -- maybe a splash of sesame oil and seeds on top?

                                    2. Second night Seder - based on menu developed for client
                                      will be serving 60 plus dairy fish menu

                                      seder plate to include empire state apple & walnut haroseth

                                      pre dinner nibbles
                                      olive and artichoke tapenade surrounded by fancy cut carrot petals, regular and whole wheat matzah

                                      buffet dinner
                                      ….Sassy Sephardic Salmon
                                      – filet of salmon seared in a Med Rim spice rub,
                                      nestled in a bed of caramelized onions and carrots
                                      and finished with a honey-lemon reduction sauce

                                      …Vegetarian Alternative: Gruyere Mushroom Lasagne (no matzah noodles)
                                      Yellow & Green Zucchini “Noodles” layered with fresh spinach,
                                      gruyere cheese sauce, caramelized onions & mushrooms

                                      …Med Rim Spinach Salad fresh spinach, f
                                      resh basil and watercress with marinated artichokes,
                                      cherry tomatoes & fresh marinated mozzarella tossed
                                      with a citrus white balsamic vinaigrette

                                      …Thai Inspired Broccoli Salad Fresh Broccoli
                                      with Sweet & Tangy Apple Cider Vinaigrette,
                                      Colorful Bell Peppers & Roasted Cashews (not spicy)

                                      …Sweet and Spicy Southwestern Sweet Potato - sweet potato cooked
                                      in a chipotle pepper enhanced cream sauce with fresh cilantro garnish

                                      (based on a recipe I found here on chowhound years ago for thanksgiving - loosely based on a Bobby Flay recipe)


                                      rivers of passover chocolate and gooey caramel sauce surrounded by dippable goodies such as
                                      housemade macaroons, meringues, kosher for passover marshmellows,
                                      fresh berries, melon, pineapple & dried fruits.

                                      very non traditional - but lots of fun ecclectic flavors

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: tigerwoman

                                        Would you share your salmon and lasagna recipe? They sound delicious.

                                      2. Wow, it's getting close. This Passover will be strange for me. Though neither my family nor I keep kosher, I try to prepare my meal as traditionally as possible.

                                        First night will be at my sister's. I'll figure out what to bring probably that week.

                                        I'm doing second night, but at my parents' apartment with only 7 people. Mom can't negotiate my stairs anymore, so I'll bring everything in, and my sister won't make it this year.

                                        My problem is that I love making stuff that's special to both Pesach & to our family, but it's way too much food for my parents, in-laws, husband, daughter & me. None of us are big eaters, though we all love left-overs. Also, since we have to bring it all in (including paper goods) & my mom can't sit with company very long, I don't want to carry too much. Have to bring in wine & drinks too. I planned the following, mostly home-made...

                                        Chicken soup & knaidlach (Manishevitz), chopped liver (in spite of it's calories & my losing weight, I make my own shmaltz), turkey (maybe chicken), brisket, a simple veggie, matzah farfel casserole (no recipe, I just wing it), mom's cranberry & pineapple jello, and a dessert or 2 (bought a brownie mix).

                                        I'm leaving out the eggs, fish (my recipe is somewhere in this subject) and extra desserts. Don't know if I'll bother with the seder plate. My husband found a good seder disscussion, I think from "Judaism 101", so I'll bring copies of that instead of hagaddahs. I hope it's not too little.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: amymsmom

                                          It's very nice of you to bring the Seder to your Mom. Sounds like a great dinner. What do you put in your matzah farfel casserole?

                                          None of my business, but you might want to include the seder plate. It isn't too much work and it might help you to feel that it's "not to little" which I don't think your plan is. Plus, it's always "fun" to roast the egg and hope you get it away from the heat before it explodes. I hope you and your family have a nice holiday.

                                          1. re: debby

                                            You noticed I left it out. This is the first seder I'm probably not doing a seder plate. We have so much to carry, including a coffee pot & paper goods, that I'l probably leave out all the traditional non-edible/potable stuff. I'm probably the most observant of our crew, and since I'm cooking, I'll also call the shots about what to bring. My teenage daughter (the only kid) will hopefully absorb a bit of a proper seder at my sister's house with her cousins, Sat nite.

                                            BTW, after the first time I exploded an egg, my mom gave me the secret to a perfect brown "roasted" egg. I take one of the hard boiled eggs, still in the shell, and make a cup of tea, with the egg in the cup. I leave the cup in the fridge overnight, just to get it as dark as possible.

                                            I don't have a formal recipe for the matzah farfel. I saute a bunch of veggies - mostly onion and celery, some carrot, some mushrooms - sometimes in veg oil, sometimes in shmaltz. Flavor everything with canned chicken broth and more shmaltz. Everything goes into a pyrex pan and bakes till it seems done (sorry, never timed it, though it's probably at least 1/2 hr.).

                                        2. I am feeling a little uninspired when it comes to side dishes. For 11 people, including 4 kids, this is what I am making:

                                          Chicken soup with matzoh balls
                                          Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (Alton Brown's version)
                                          Potato Kugelettes
                                          And something with either spinach or broccoli, but I can't seem to come up with anything.

                                          I saw this Spinach and Matzoh Pie recipe on Epicurious, but I can't decide if it sounds good -- any thoughts?


                                          My husband is making macaroons and my sister is making the rest of the desserts.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: valerie

                                            I don't personally love the cottage cheese inclusion, but that's just me. I would likely use fresh ricotta instead. We're kosher, so I stick with true vegetable side dishes. Last year it was steamed broccoli and honeyed carrots