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Did anyone say HOME for Pesach this year? Highlights of your meals?

  • m

I've been saying home for Pesach ever since that program in Palm Springs a number of years ago where half the guests got sick (I won't mention the me). I didn't want to try another program, preferring instead to do my own cleaning and cooking. I also found that the overbbundance of food wasvsuch a waste. Lavish 24 hour tea rooms with non stop cakes and gourmet candy! So much of it was thrown in the garbage. It's total Baal tashchis (wasteful) and it made me sick to see.

So for those of you who stayed home, what did you make and was there anything that really stood out?

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  1. I stayed home but I didn't make anything. I bought from Park East Kosher on the Upper East Side/NYC. *Everything* was great, but I had some minor complications with my order which caused a delayed delivery and the wrong product being delivered. Thankfully, they made up for both when I reordered for the last days.

    1. I love to stay home and cook. It's a bit stressful trying to prepare all the meals, given that I also work, but I do have chol ha'moed off, so preparing for the last days is a bit easier.

      Here is what I made this year:
      Almond Butter Cookies
      Apple-Apricot Kugel
      Apple Matzoh Pudding
      Arthur Schwartz’s Apple Cake
      Butternut Squash Ratatouille
      Cauliflower-Leek Kugel with Almond-Herb Crust
      Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls
      Chilled Tropical Soup
      Chocolate and Olive Oil Mousse
      Chocolate Mint Cookies
      Chocolate Sorbet
      Creole Farfel Kugel
      Double Fudge Olive Oil Brownies
      Israeli Couscous
      Meringues: plain, chocolate chip, coffee chip, coconut
      Persian Charoset (Hallaq)
      Quinoa Butternut Squash Pilaf/Salad with Citrus Dressing
      Sorbet: strawberry and strawberry-orange
      Sweet & Sour Brisket
      Sweet & Sour Meatballs
      Thai Carrot Salad

      I hate to sound immodest, but we really thought everything turned out quite well. The Apple Matzoh Kugel was a new recipe for me, and it was really good, but quite a potchke. If I do it again next year, I'll probably wait until chol ha'moed when I have more time, rather than do it for the first days. The Creole Kugel was also new for me. The DH really liked it, but I don't like peppers, so the strong taste of them was a bit much for me. And the Persian Charoset was a third new recipe, and was also excellent. And though I have made it before, the mousse is always a treat; it's good I don't make it more often, rich as it is.

      I could not see going away; if the food was good, I'd overdo it, and if it weren't, I'd be too upset about the waste of money to enjoy myself fully. Anyway, I like being in my own shul, and in my own home,

      1 Reply
      1. re: queenscook

        We stay home, but really dont buy anything. My wife likes to try new recipes, and I prefer to stick to the tried and true. I'm not a fan of the pesach pasta, rolls, pizza, etc. I rather prefer the matza pizza from scratch, meat matza lasagna, etc. I look forward to eating food that I only get once a year. Aside from all the other great things my wife makes, the one real highlight is a wine (grape juice) spice cake that we all go nuts for. 9/10 eggs, 3 bowls and it is the fluffiest sponge cake you will find.
        Also kashered my BBQ this year (took a while), so had BBQ the 3 nights of chol hamoed which was nice.

      2. Also stayed home and hosted the seders (first time hosting!) It was tough (we have a tiny apartment kitchen), so I understand why many people choose to go to a hotel. But I made an awesome brisket and matzo stuffing that really made it special!

        1. I stayed home and through a complicated chain of events, found myself with only a (fleischig) toaster oven to cook with. Did not host a seder, but I did very nicely for the rest of the holiday.
          Some highlights:
          Meat-stuffed peppers
          Chicken legs baked with orange juice and minced garlic
          Apple kugel that was about 95% Yonatan apples, with just enough eggs & potato starch to hold together
          Fish baked with canned crushed tomatoes, turmeric and fresh coriander (my favorite of all the "Pesach" dishes I prepared, although it was for this past Friday night, so no longer technically Pesach by me)
          Grilled eggplant salad
          Oven-baked pot roast in red wine
          Date-almond cake

          1. For years I went away for pesach until the year that the Tamarack Lodge cancelled their program one day before erev pesach(!!!) and I lost all my money (moral, pay by charge card or pay at the end of the program!).

            Anyway, I had:

            Brisket - Costco (Meal Mart)
            Turkey breast - Costco (Meal Mart)
            BBQ Chicken - Brachs
            Stuffed cabbage - Costco (Meal Mart)
            Meatballs - homemade
            Chicken cutlets (fried using eggs & matzo meal coating)
            Chicken soup - home made (still have a half a gallon left over)
            Chopped liver/ liver saute - homemade
            Potato kugel - Brachs, half steamer sized $19 - delicious and great value
            cranberry apple crisp - homemade
            Gefilta fish - A & B loafs
            Matzo cheese lasagna - homemade
            Zucchini souffle - homemade
            Cole slaw - MAJOR rip off from Chap-a-nash 2lbs $15! and not even that good
            Kishka - Costco (Meal Mart)
            Brownies - homemade
            frozen chocolate pudding pie - homemade

            salads, soda, fruits etc

            3 Replies
            1. re: MartyB

              costco had cole slaw and potato salad that were pretty good, also something called jalapeno dip that i thought was kinda mayonaissey, but everyone else liked

              and fairway had lasagna tin size kugels made by meal amrt in the freezer case for between 15 and 20 depending on the kugel

              i did not get, bc i went in with cash for a specific item, but it certainly looked interesting and was fairly priced

              1. re: MartyB

                Cancellation the day before Pesach? Is that even legal to hold your money for nondelivery of services? Why did they do that?

                How'd you like the Meal Mart stuff? I saw them on display but I was too afraid to get anything.

                1. re: tamarw

                  They had violations and were not allowed to open. I found it suspicious that they would close them up right before pesach - smacked of anti-semitism. As they say, you can't fight city hall especially two days before pesach.

                  I found the Meal Mart items not bad. I have been buying the turkey breasts for quite a while. The brisket was not bad but I am not a big eater of red meat (except for rib steaks). The kishka was tasty, stuffed cabbage was ok - sweet sauce and the meat dense - I guess it really needed the rice to lighten it up. My meatballs were made using Costco bought chopped meat.

              2. I enjoy the creative challenge of Passover cooking. I love being in my own home and shul for yom tov. And it is so beautiful here in the spring, why would I want to go away?

                That said, I try to focus on dishes that are naturally Pesachdik, i.e. that involve no chametz or kitniyot so that nothing has to be substituted.

                Grilled and roasted vegetables. Vegetable fritters - latkes by another name, but made with other vegetables, leek fitters are wonderful. Meat accompanied by homemade fruit sauces. Like homemade apple sauce (it's not at all the same dish as the stuff in jars) Ginger peach sauce (you have to remember to freeze peaches in ziploc in June) with roasted poultry.

                Stews that incorporate flavorful fruits or vegetables are very good. Tagines made with dried fruits. Leek, carrot and chicken stew. Everything Moroccan - cumin is OUP.

                And, go wild with salads. They make the table so appealing, no one misses rice and noodles when there is an array of dazzling salads on the table. Moroccan carrot salad is a good start. I have a really good mandoline that can reduce cucumbers to paper-thin round; sprinkle with a mild white wine vinegar and a tiny bit of sugar. Shave raw asparagus paper thin with a potato peeler (you know the guest who asks what they can do to help? - hand him the peeler and a stack of asparagus) - dressed with a light vinaigrette, shaved asparagus is one of the world's great salads.

                In general, what you want to do is keep a file of great salad ideas. and use them on Pesach. Buy the finest balsamic vinegars and olive oils you can find.

                Also, mash up veggies on beyond potatoes. Mashed cauliflower soaks up gravies nicely. If you haven't tried plantains, Pesach is the moment. And don't just mash, roast. if you haven't tried simple oven-roasted parsnips, you have a treat in store.

                You can also do things luxurious and high-fat. I welcomed the gang home with fresh gribines eruv chag. It was a big hit.

                1. We stayed home for the first time in 5 years (new baby!) and the best thing we did was buy a new crock pot. We made matzah ball soup and then constantly had something going in the crock for each meal. Meatballs, ribs, duck sauce chicken, and brisket in wine sauce. For friday night we would transfer whatever we cooked before shabbos to a metal tin and then put up whstever we needed for shabbos lunch. It was delicious and easy! We bought some kugels and stuffed cabbage at Costco to supplement. We loved the apple matzah kugel in particular.

                  1. I concur with AdinaA about making things that are not full of matzah and would taste good any time of the year. I always make Israeli salad and a tabbouli salad out of quinoa. I also make a caribbean chicken reminiscent of jerk chicken (baked not grilled though) that I got from my Jamaican bubbe :) The recipe is from Bon Appetit and is titled roasted spiced chicken with cinnamon and honey glazed sweet potatoes. I also make tostones (a fried plantain) because my kids won't eat sweet potatoes. I also used a gnocchi recipe from this April's issue of Bon Appetit. In the magazine the gnocchi were part of a soup recipe. I just made the gnocchi, boiled them and tossed them with a homemade basil pesto. It was rather labor intensive, but tasted great.

                    1. Stayed home and made our favorite stand-byy. I had very ambitios plans, but just didn't have the time to try out new things once it was time to actually do the work.
                      Gefilte fish
                      Eggs and sauteed onions
                      Delicious chicken soup and knaidlach
                      Cabbage soup with lots of meat in it
                      Brisket, same recipe i always use, onions, cranberry sauce, tomato sauce, came out great and got polished off even though I was counting on to serve the leftovers for another meal
                      Lots of breaded schnitzel, which I then made Mexican style in a cilantro lime sauce
                      Surprisingly tasty chicken marinated in Dougie's BBQ sauce & baked for 50 minutes.
                      Chocolate walnut cake which really does not taste pesachdik at all
                      Strawberry mousse
                      Stir-fried bok choy with ginger and garlic
                      Zucchini, stewed with onions, to which I added lots of fresh mango in the lst few minutes of cookingof cooking.
                      Red cabbage slaw with an orange vinagrette
                      Israeli salad, which i make all the time now since I bought one of those "vidalia onion slicers" and I use the small dice blade.
                      Also seved the Broccoli Kugel (classic?) from costco. Very good.
                      The one only so-so food was the boneless chicken marinated in some sort of hone lime juice that someone on the boards, recommended with a link from somewhere, Not a big hit.

                      I was exhausted, but now I've got a nice clean house and we all had a great time. We wnt to the Granit one year and it was so horrible I vowed never to do it again, and that memory keeps me focused whenever I feel like we should go away for pesach. The food was OK, as I recall, but I just loathed the whole scene, and felt like a prisoner there.

                      1. seventh year staying home for pesach. aside from the culinary aspects (i admit, i love cooking and i love the opportunities for creativity that pesach gives) my family really enjoys being together for the meals, doing things on our own schedule, without having other people (waiters, caterers, other hotel-goers) around. for the sedarim i always have little toys to keep the kids entertained and i buy the illinois nuts company passover chocolates (four sons chocolate lollipops, makkos chocolate tablets) for dessert.

                        1. Did my usuals of matzah ball soup, chopped liver, brisket, and stuffed veal breast. Other than the butcher giving me a really lousy piece of veal, all came out well and since we're a small family the leftovers lasted most of the week. I still have chopped liver, btw.

                          My favorite new things this year were the desserts. The strawberry-rhubarb crumble was only just okay ( the topping needed more texture) but the cookies were very good. I did an assorted cookie plate with

                          Francois Payard's flourless chocolate walnut cookies - I'll try hazelnuts next time
                          Smitten Kitchen's raspberry macaroons - not as pretty as the picture, but very tasty
                          Smitten Kitchen's chewy amaretti cookies - filled with a parve ganache, very, very good
                          tiny lemon meringues

                          I also made the fudgy brownies touted on the Home Cooking board. Not my absolute favorite brownies (those would be Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies) but these could pass for decent year-round brownies, even when made with cake meal. Added plus, they're pareve.

                          The big flop was the Mango Kugel. The recipe writer just substituted mango for apple in a standard matzah apple kugel and the result was just "eh." I'd have been better off just slicing and serving the mangos by themselves.

                          1. We usually travel during Pesach (not to programs), but this year we were home the whole time, and it was really great. We did not host any seders, and kashered our kitchen dairy-only for Pesach, which ended up working out well. We tried to keep it really simple during hol hamoed (we had work and kids had school), and even during the last days.

                            - Vegetarian soup and matzo balls (brought to first seder)
                            - Meyer lemon raspberry tart (brought to first seder)
                            - Chocolate almond torte (brought to first seder)
                            - Chocolate Featherbed Cake (brought to second seder)
                            - Matzo lasagne
                            - Matzo pizza
                            - Lots of green salads
                            - Baked salmon
                            - Roasted veggies like asparagus, brocolli, cauliflower
                            - Quinoa, plain and mixed with veggies for salad
                            - Baked potato bar with veggies, cheese, sour cream, etc.
                            - matzo brei
                            - frittata
                            - lots of matzo sandwiches with cheese, cream cheese, turkish salad, almond butter, etc.
                            - Chocolate chip cookies (great in kids' lunches)
                            - Chocolate matzo crunch
                            - Flourless chocolate hazelnut cookies

                            The desserts, especially, turned out great. Dairy really works wonders!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: milklady

                              Would you share this your recipe for Meyer lemon raspberry tart?

                              1. re: AdinaA

                                Sure. It was inspired by this recipe:

                                But, I could make it dairy, so I did!
                                I made lemon filling more like in this recipe:

                                I made a crust out of melted butter, a cup of matzo cake meal, sugar and grated dry (unsweeteened) coconut. I blind baked the crust, then put the raspberries on top, and then filled it with lemon curd. I baked it for quite a while, until it seemed set (like 30 min). It turned out delicious. People were saying that it didn't seem like the crust was K for P, which is always a compliment!

                            2. We've never been away for Pesach, and I can't see how we've missed anything. While the sedeim were excellent, that's hardly where we go for a great meal, after shoving down 3 kuseism of matsoh, 2 kuseism of marror, guzzling 2 kosos of wine, and having to leave room for 2 kuzeisim of matsoh at the end. But the lunches and last 2 days are where we hit our stride, with various stews, roast turkey and chicken, meatloaf, pineapple chicken, and salads of every sort, together with roasted cauliflower (one of my favorites) and a whole range of vegies. What's not to like? Oh, and the wine was good too, mass quantities of 2010 pre-bottling Agua Dulce reds, Four Gates 2007s and muscatos for those who wished.

                              1. We stayed home and hosted the family for Pesach as we do each year. We do not buy prepared Pesach foods, with the exception of jarred horseradish. Since I don't eat it, I don't make it and my wife and her relatives like the jarred stuff.

                                Sdarim were traditional meals with soup., my wife's homemade chopped liver (1/2 chicken 1/2 beef) gedemte fleisch (Brisket) sweet and sour chicken, regular, purple and sweet potato kugels, fresh salad and new kraut. My wife baked up a storm for desserts: flourless chocholate tortes, mandelbrot, cookies, jelly rolls and a parave mocha creme roll.

                                During the week, most fleischige meals were made out on the grill. Lots of freah steaks, chicken, lamb, veal, kebabs and hot dogs served with fresh grilled vegetables and potato fingers made on the grill.

                                Breakfast most mornings were nonstop matzo brei along with eggs and coffee. Wife made some wonderful milchige desserts this year the hit being her Tiramisu using sponge instead of lady fingers.

                                For the final days, I made a gantze tzimmes in memory of my paternal grandmother. The huge roasting pan had two deckle roasts, loads of carrots, sweet potatoes, dried apples, pears, pineapple, prunes, raisins cinnamon, honey and 48 large matzo balls, it was firmly covered in heavy foil and cooked 5 hours at 275 degrees. This was a really big hit with wife's family, as they don't make or eat tzimmes and have really only been exposed to the carrot/sweet potato/pineapple vegetarian excuse that none of them like.

                                Staying in the BBQ mode kept the kids happy and their was no need to make the matzo pizza/lasagne, etc that none of us adults care for. Not a single can of tuna was used, and this year for the first time in over 30 years we did not buy or serve soda during Pesach, only coffee, tea, water, wine and juice. The soda was not missed and not a maccaroon was to be seen or tasted.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  We always stay home for Pesach, one major reason is with my parents now gone, much of my family looks to us to host the seders. Yes, the cleaning is a pain, but I have a preparation schedule for Pesach that resembles a space shuttle launch schedule (yes, I work for NASA).

                                  We do a lot of cooking from scratch, I even make my own horseradish from scratch.

                                  I do agree that one major problem is the quantity of food we must buy. Many items only come in what we call the "mongo family of 20 size", so we are still using up Pesach stuff (like maragarine, ketchup, etc.) into the summer.

                                2. I like to highlight the spring foods that are just coming into season -- strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, artichokes and blueberries. I am not a fan of making dishes that substitute for something chometz; would much rather make things that are intrinsically KLP like strawberry rhubarb sauce, blueberry sorbet, roasted asparagus, etc. I do occasionally make a KLP flan -- bake a half recipe of KLP sponge cake in a silicon flan pan (for easy removal), spread with fruit puree or fruit only jam and top with berries arranged attractively. If I am having a dairy meal I use the other half of the sponge cake batter to make sponge cake fingers for a trifle -- vanilla custard, berries, pomegranate port... yum.