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The Seder Plate

OK, I know everything about family traditions, but how about taking them for a spin. Some items on the seder plate are open for suggestions. I would like to hear your preferences for Karpas, maybe a new recipe for Charoset, is freshly grated wasabi a choice for maror? (oops! am I stretching it to far). Love to hear ideas.

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  1. I do ask guests and in-laws to bring the haroset their family made. and sometimes we add one or more charoset recipe from an "exotic" jewish community (Persia, Algeria - these recipes easily googled) I put our family recipe on the plate, but on the table, sort of a charoset smorg. We let guests choose and sample.

    We also provide different "grates" of horseradish. Some like it thick...

    We have the minchag of using both celery and little boiled new potatoes for karpas. You can use the leeway available here. You could study up on the options for maror; I admit that I haven't really learned that ever.

    the other thing I vary is the eggs. I like tiny quail eggs best, but got a laugh last year serving enormous goose eggs,. Another year I did Sephardi eggs (slow cooked in onion skins)

    20 Replies
    1. re: AdinaA

      where do you find these interesting eggs adina?

      1. re: PotatoPuff

        Fancy food stores often carry them, but it is easy to google up farms that ship them. Goose is harder to get, but I did find a farmer who mailed them to me.

        1. re: AdinaA

          Our local Whole Foods usually has interesting eggs. Crazy prices of course. It is unfortunate that emu is not kosher because emu eggs are so dramatically beautiful.

          1. re: DeisCane

            Which kosher bird lays really pretty eggs?

            Many quail eggs are speckled, which I like.

            But, does any kosher bird lay colored eggs, say, robin's egg blue?

            1. re: AdinaA

              Blue eggs from Aracouna chickens. See this OU article http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/art...

              You can also dye them. Some Jewish communities hold to a tradition of dyeing the seder eggs by boiling them with onion skins so they come out an orange-brown color.

              1. re: mamaleh

                Thank you, Mamaleh,

                i am totally going to order and serve blue eggs!

                Now I just have to find a Chilean farmer....

                1. re: AdinaA

                  They are a favorite of Martha Stewart. She raises them on her farm in Connecticut. I don't have any connections, but maybe a fellow Chowhounder does.

                2. re: mamaleh

                  Blue eggs are also produced by the Americouna Chickens, they are very popular with those of us who have back yard chickens, and you might be able to find someone close to you who may be willing to share a few eggs. Our Americona hen lays very large eggs and because of this we don't use them in baking and usually have extras around.

                  1. re: mamaleh

                    Thank you Mameleh.

                    the blue eggs were a big hit!

              2. re: AdinaA

                Our local whole foods carry emu eggs. They are huge - and green!

                1. re: mrsphud

                  And not kosher! Only the eggs from kosher birds are kosher, unfortunately.

                  Seriously, I've wondered who's buying them. Somehow, the idea of an egg that big is frankly unappealing to me.

                  1. re: GilaB

                    I think people buy these and ostrich for novelty, but also because they use the shells for craft projects.

                    1. re: AdinaA

                      Emu eggs make a hell of an omelet, apparently. They don't have much taste but are very fluffy and each one is about a dozen regular eggs.

                      1. re: DeisCane

                        Just be sure to pronounce it correctly; it's "EE-myoo", not "EE-moo".

                        1. re: zsero

                          ::Sigh:: Yes, EE-moo would be my nickname around the house. Seems that "someone" thought it was much funnier to call me "Ee-moo" rather than Ima. Well, it's distinctive, I suppose.

            2. re: AdinaA

              Horseradish chemistry is pretty interesting. You can bite into a horseradish root without getting a strong flavor reaction. The act of grating breaks down the cell walls and releases the oils that create the "heat", however, the heat will quickly develop and then dissipate unless you stabilize the reaction with an acid like vinegar.

              So the hottest horseradish is grated fresh and then has vinegar added shortly (but not immediately) after grating. Best to do a little "trial and error" testing beforehand. Grate your root and separate into three portions. Add vinegar at the minute mark to the first portion, and to the other portions at 1-minute intervals. Then check for "heat' of each to determine which timing is optimal.

              1. re: ferret

                Thank you. I've always wondered why the horseradish was eyewatering when first grated, and when we'd have it for the seder, it was "eh."
                And my family uses black radish for Karpas....married 30 years and my husband still needs his little boiled potato instead!

                1. re: ferret

                  Do not add vinegar for the seder, though!

                2. re: AdinaA

                  The law for karpas is that you can use anything that is a) ha'adama, and b) not kosher for maror. Interesting fact: Rabbi Teitz of Elizabeth uses bananas! This unusual custom was started by his grandfather, Rabbi Preil, in order to reinforce the lesson that they are ha'adama.

                  1. re: zsero

                    I used to babysit for R. Teitz's grandkids, and I once flipped through a kindergarten art project of one of them, in which he illustrated each step of the seder. For karpas, the stick-figure boy was holding a little yellow circle :)

                3. so I have a seder plate shaped like a pomegranate tree branch - each cup is a pomegranate with a branch connecting them all - i wish there was some way to incorporate pomegranate, maybe into the charoset?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PotatoPuff

                    I use pomegranate juice in my Charoset. I have never seen it kosher for pesach, so I usually put a couple of fresh pomegranate in my freezer at Rosh Hashanah, and then defrost in a bowl, and squeeze all the juice.

                  2. To spark conversation and in because I had guests who were vegetarian I replaced the roast shank bone with a roasted beet - definitely sparked discussion about the Paschal sacrifice -

                    1. At around $100/lb fresh wasabi is near fresh truffle pricing.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ferret

                        LOL... with the prices of everything during pesach, $100/lb is just about the average for a pound of anything kosher for pesach. Is it a valid maror alternative, though?

                      2. I was at a milchig seder once where we used bananas and sour cream for karpas!

                        1. We use both parsley and potatoes for karpas, and both horseradish and and romaine lettuce for the marror. Our seder plate has room for 2 marrors. We dip the romaine in the charoseth and use the horseradish for the Hillel sandwich. We also have olive as a wish for peace, an orange to honor women's place in our history and practice as well as a Mirriam cup.

                          1. I grew up on the apple charoset, but as an adult became more adventurous. I love the Moroccan charoset in Claudia Roden's "The Book of Jewish Food". Other books have similar recipes. It has dates, sweet wine, cinnamon, cloves and walnuts (although I like roasted chopped almonds) which are cooked together. It is more pasty than the apple one and I think the flavor rules! I also like to use sliced daikon for maror.

                            1. Sorry for the intrusion but I thought the discussion about Emus was interesting. Having no particular interest in Kosher I never realized that some types of birds were not allowed.

                              The list on wikipedia made sense to me in some ways but some of the excluded birds did not. Like the emu, or guinea fowl or for that matter why chickens were kosher since they are scavengers and somewhat of carnivores.

                              I promise I'm not trying to challenge anyone's beliefs. Just thought it interesting. Carry on.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: kengk

                                The list of non-kosher birds is given in Leviticus. Any bird that is not on the list is kosher. The only problem is that a list of bird names in the Hebrew of 3300 years ago is not very useful today. Language shifts, names change, and we have no way of knowing for sure what bird was called "tachmas" then. So the rule is reversed, and only birds known to be kosher may be eaten. Since there were no Jews in Australia until the late 18th century, there is no living tradition that emus are kosher, and therefore they aren't.

                                That said, they're probably not kosher anyway; most kosher birds have a few common attributes, such as a crop, an easily peelable gizzard, and three toes that go forward and one that goes back; I doubt emus have these traits.

                                1. Our seder plate is fairly traditional. Parsley for the karpas, romaine lettuce for the chazeros, hard boiled chicken egg (scored with a flame from a match to appear roasted). Our charoses is fairly standard, chopped walnuts, chopped apple, cinnamon, wine. A local grocery store sells kosher shank bones (usually for less than a buck), I get one and roast it in the oven while the rest of the meal is cooking. For the maror on the seder plate, I save the tops of the horseradish root (I make the horseradish from scratch).