DH and I are hosting our first Passover Seder this year and I am very excited! I think I have propoerly asked my sister-in-laws to make their appropriate items (charoses, chicken soup and stuffed cabbage so they feel they have contributed and I am working on figuring out the rest of the menu. I would love to read what others are doing for Passover Seder.
Here is my menu so far:
Matzo Kugel (will figure out the flavor later)
My husband's family does not enough of vegetables (in my opinion), so I will be making a lot of vegetable sides, but the exact sides are not finalize, although I am thinking braised string beans, roasted beets, sauteed kale, roasted potatoes -- would love to get more ideas.
Depending on how busy I am, I may try my hand at making matzo balls. I do know, however, I am too busy to make gefilte fish. BTW -- I am not Jewish; my husband is; I am of Chinese decent.
On a slight tangent -- how do you insist that relatives and friends NOT bring anything more than what they have been instructed to bring? Every year, my niece's boyfriend brings this awful kosher cake. Except for not mixing dairy and meat and not eating grains, our family does not observe all the kosher rules, so no need to bring a kosher cake made with margarine and shortening -- is there any way to say this politely? And I saw another post about what to do with leftover chocolate cupcakes -- what about a leftover kosher chocolate cake? Each year, everyone takes an obligatory sliver of the cake the 3/4 of it is left over! I'm not saying that ALL kosher cakes are not good -- just the one he brings.
There is nothing whatsoever you can do to stop people from bringing bad contributions to your home-cooked meal. You must learn to smile, say thank you in your nicest possible fake voice, and then either serve the cake or put it away for "later". If you already have your desserts covered, you can say you'd like to keep it for later in the week when it will be, er, so very much more appreciated. Or you can simply put it out on the table, say "...And this wonderful cake is from Cousin Fred!"
If by a stroke of good fortune, the cake or whatever horror you end up with is fully wrapped and you can set it aside for "later" you can take it to a Jewish senior's home or food bank, if there's one near you. There's often a Passover food drive during the holiday because K for Passover food is so hideously expensive.
If you are interested in feed back on "On a slight tangent -- how do you insist that relatives and friends NOT bring anything more than what they have been instructed to bring?", please post about it on the Not About Food board, since the Home Cooking board is limited to cooking/recipes, etc.
Roasted asparagus with a little olive oil, kosher salt and lemon juice is a great vegetable dish. It tastes just as good at room temperature as hot. Can help with brisket recipe if you need one, have lots of other recipes if you are looking for something specific.
Everyone's family has one member who refuses to listen to reason and marches to his/her own drummer. Very good suggestion about donating it to homeless shelter or nursing home. You are not obligated to serve the food, wine, candy or liquor guests bring.
We are Conservative, our seder is traditional, not necessarily glatt kosher. I would be careful with string beans. If your husband's family is Ashkenazi, they may object to string beans as not kosher for the holiday. Also, be careful if relative puts rice in stuffed cabbage filling. A lot of Ashekanazis won't eat rice, but Sephardim might. Just want to clear all this in advance so no headaches and stress day of event.
Here is a recipe for matzo balls:
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.
First of all, good luck, have fun & don't let the annoying relatives get to you. We all have them.:)
You've had some good advice so far. Remember, you don't know exactly when the meal will be served because the seder can run longer or shorter than you expect. So it's best to choose dishes that aren't time sensitive or need lots of last minute preparation. This can mean dishes that won't be hurt by keeping them warm in the oven. For example, I often serve ratatouille (sp?). Carrots are also traditional - look up recipes for tzimmes. Another option is something that can be served cold, such as a salad or marinated vegetables. Finally, you can cook asparagus, broccolli or most green vegetables most of the way, drain and add a little olive oil and seasonings. Then zap them in the microwave to finish cooking right before serving.
Don't forget the hard-boiled eggs. Didn't see that on your menu. That's a great thing to assign out if someone wants to be helpful.
I've found most Passover cakes aren't very good. One thing I often make that's easy and elegant for dessert is chocolate dipped fruit. Just melt semisweet chocolate and dip fresh and/or dried fruit in it. Put them on a Aluminum foil and refrigerate until firm. Strawberries and dried apricots are especially good.