Haroset, Ashkenazi-Style חֲרֽוֹסֶת

haroset, passover

Haroset
חֲרֽוֹסֶת

Welcome to our Seder! In the next few posts I plan to share customs of the Passover Seder. The Hebrew word seder means order. The Seder tells the story of how we were slaves in Egypt before God led us to freedom. Each year at Passover we go on a journey in our hearts from slavery to freedom, from sadness to joy.

Haroset is a mixture of chopped apples, walnuts, wine, cinnamon, and a touch of honey. Its texture and color remind us of the bricks and mortar Jewish slaves had to make when we built cities for Pharaoh. And the sweetness of haroset reminds us of the sweet taste of freedom…

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How to Make the Fluffiest, Most Delicious Matzoh Balls


Matzoh Balls

Over the last decade, I have made in excess of one thousand Matzoh Balls. We make about one hundred every Passover and enjoy them throughout the year as well. As the self-proclaimed Queen of The Matzoh Ball, with Passover around the corner, I’m sharing my tips on preparing the fluffiest and tastiest of matzoh balls!

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Tradition! The Brisket! Tradition!

Tomato Onion Brisket

It’s been a decade since I cooked my first Passover brisket. I had been tweaking the recipe by adding more red wine, and substituting wheat-free tamari, caramelizing the meat under the broiler, and lowering the cooking temperature. In recent years there are no more changes! If you come to our Passover dinner this is the brisket that you’ll be served. Now it’s tradition! And it’s gooooooooooood!

When I first looked at this recipe years ago, I was skeptical. Garlic powder and ground ginger weren’t esteemed ingredients in my kitchen. And I didn’t remember the last time I used onion soup mix. Was it to make dip in college? But the combination of the brisket from Paulina Meat Market and canned tomato sauce mixture produced, well, a miracle of sorts.

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Can We Talk Matzoh Balls?


Matzoh Balls – They’re Not Just for Passover!


Over the last decade, I have made in excess of 1000 Matzoh Balls. We make about 100 every Passover. We make them the day before, the day we call “Cooking Day.” We make 2 per person 34 X 2 for Passover dinner, plus we have them for lunch on cooking day, for a midnight snack, and lunch the following day. And matzoh balls are not just for Passover, we enjoy them throughout the year when we get the the urge to liven up the chicken soup. As the self-proclaimed Queen of The Matzoh Ball, I’m going to share my tips on producing the fluffiest and tastiest of matzoh balls!

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Passover Menu 2010

Matzoh & Karpas

Karpas – A green vegetable such as parsley, a springtime crop representative of rebirth and redemption is dipped in salt water.  The salt water reminds us of the tears our ancestors shed as slaves in Egypt.

Matzoh – We eat matzoh on Passover to remind us that our ancestors left Egypt in such haste, they could not wait for the bread to rise. Additionally, matzoh is the “bread of affliction” – the food of slavery, it reminds us to be humble and to appreciate our freedoms.


OUR SEDER

My brother, Don, is the leader. Everyone participates. We read from the Haggadah. We recite the blessings. We tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. My nephew, Stone, 7, asks The Four Questions. We sing. We drink. We eat. We laugh. We get teary-eyed. Our story is being retold all over the world on this day.

Here I share our Passover menu and some scenes from the Seder along with the significance of each ritual. And new this year: Come take a peek into our Seder. Watch a 45 second video clip of one of our Seder songs!

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Passover Seder & The Kids

The tables are set early in the day.
Passover begins after sundown.
And there is much to prepare!

The kids have their own table. Stone is six years old and Jett is four.
They have their own Seder plate, just like the adults.

Passover Seder Plate contains symbolic foods having special significance in retelling the Passover story: z’roa (roasted shankbone), charoset, chazeret (romaine lettuce), karpas (parsley), beitzah (roasted egg), maror (horseradish).

What is the significance of all these frogs?

We have new people at our Seder every year, and they ask, what can I bring? Since the food is already planned, we say, please bring a frog. Our frog community has grown over the years.It is very important that children are involved in the Seder. The frogs, the place mats for coloring, helping with the washing of the hands, and ultimately the hunting for the afikomen help to keep even very young kids engaged and excited about Passover. My nephews are two energetic little boys who are well-behaved and respectful throughout the evening. I am a proud Aunt, can you tell?

My favorite, the Chef Frog (bottom left). Is he holding a brisket?
When Pharaoh refused to set the Israelites free, God punished the Egyptians with Ten Plagues. Frogs are one of the Ten Plagues.

We recognize guests who are attending their first Seder. Lena, Kim and Viktoria are from Germany and are working in Chicago for a year as au pairs.

Everyone is seated. There is Stone at the kids table by the window. Everyone gives him their attention as he welcomed everyone to our Seder with his own poem.
My brother, Don, is the leader. Everyone participates. We read from the haggadah. We recite the blessings. We tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. We sing. We drink. We eat. We laugh. We get teary-eyed. Our story is being retold all over the world on this day.
Seder means order. Here is the order of the Seder:

  • Kaddesh – Saying a blessing over the first cup of wine in honor of the holiday.
  • Urechatz – Washing the hands, no blessing is said, prepare to eat karpas.
  • Karpas – Eating parsley dipped in salt water, representing the tears of our ancestors.
  • Yachatz – The middle of the three matzohs on the table is broken, the larger piece becomes the afikomen.
  • Maggid – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold. It starts with asking of the Four Questions by the youngest at the table.
  • Rachtzah – Hands are washed for the second time with a blessing, prepare to eat the matzoh.
  • Motzi – A blessing for bread or grain products is recited over the matzoh.
  • Matzah – Blessing specific to matzoh is recited and then matzoh is eaten.
  • Maror – Blessing is recited over a bitter vegetable such as horseradish, symbolizing the bitterness of slavery.
  • Korekh – Another set of bitter herbs known as Chazeret is eaten as the sandwich to replace the paschal offering. We make a matzoh sandwich with maror and charoset.
  • Shulchan Orech – A festive meal is eaten.
  • Tzafun – Piece of Matzoh hidden for the children to find and is eaten as the ‘dessert’ or the last food of the meal.
  • Barech -Grace is recited over the third cup of wine and then it is drunk. The fourth cup is poured along with the cup set aside for the Prophet Elijah. The door is opened to invite him in.
  • Hallel – Several psalms are recited followed by a blessing over the last cup of wine.
  • Nirtzah – A wish is made that Jews may celebrate next Pesach in Jerusalem or that the Messiah may come again next year.

Jett is ready to help with The First Washing of the Hands.

Lena and Stone assist with the washing of the hands, here, with Cousin Vicki. Vicki had been the youngest in our family until Stone and Jett were born. The youngest is the one to ask the Four Questions. This year, for the first time in almost three decades, Vicki did not ask the Four Questions. Stone did. (Maybe you remember Cousin Vicki from my posting about her beautiful wedding to Jonah in the Sonoma wine country last Fall here).

We eat matzoh on Passover to remind us that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste, they could not wait for the bread to rise. Additionally, matzoh is the “bread of affliction” – the food of slavery, it reminds us to be humble and to appreciate our freedoms. Don places 3 matzohs in a special cloth. The middle matzoh will be broken in half, the larger piece placed in a little bag and hidden. The kids hunt for this piece of matzoh called the afikomen after dinner and receive a cash reward for “returning” the afikomen to the adults.
Stone asks in English and Hebrew:
Why is this night different from all other nights?
Mah nishtanah halyla hazeh mikol halaylot
1) On all nights we need not dip even once, on this night we do so twice.
2) On all nights we eat chametz or matzoh, and on this night only matzoh.
3) On all nights we eat any kind of vegetables, and on this night maror.
4) On all nights we eat sitting upright or reclining, and on this night we all recline.

A second washing of the hands, this time with a blessing, in preparation for eating the matzoh.
As Lena and Stone help with the hand washing at one table, Kristy and Jett assist the other table. One of the objectives of the Seder is to retell our story and teach the next generation about the rituals, symbols, and meaning of the holiday. Next, we recite a blessing for matzoh and maror, eat a Hillel sandwich of charoset and maror, then serve the meal.
Please stop by on April 17 to see the food from this Seder and others!

Later that night:

“I found the Afikomen!”

Happy Easter & Eggs

Passover Seder Plate
Which Includes The Beitzah (Roasted Egg)
I would like to wish a very Happy Easter to all of you who are celebrating tomorrow! May it be a glorious day for you and your families, full of blessings and love.
For our family, Passover began at sundown this past Wednesday. Needless to say, I had been quite busy shopping, cooking and preparing for Passover. I look forward to sharing more about our Passover meal in an upcoming post. Today, in honor of Passover and Easter, I thought it might be neat to put together a compilation of some of the egg dishes that have been featured on Taste With The Eyes.

My nephew, Stone, peels the hard-boiled eggs for Passover.
Passover
The Beitzah (roasted egg) on the Seder Plate reminds us of the the festival offering brought by our ancestors to the Temple in Jerusalem. It is a symbol of life and the perpetuation of existence. At the Seder in our home, we serve hard-boiled eggs with the first course, which can be dipped in salt water, representative of the Israelites’ tears over suffering and slavery.
Easter
Throughout history, eggs have been associated with Easter celebrations. The egg is seen as symbolic of the grave and life renewed or resurrected by breaking out of it. A red colored-egg symbolizes the blood of Christ redeeming the world and human redemption through the blood shed in the sacrifice of the crucifixion. The egg itself is a symbol of resurrection: while being dormant it contains a new life sealed within it. (from Wikipedia)
If you have something to share regarding the symbolism of the egg in your religion or culture please leave a comment, it would be very interesting to hear about it.


PASSOVER ROUND-UP 2009

It’s not too late to join in the Passover Round-up 2009! It will post on April 17th. If you participated in a Seder this year, I hope you will join us. Please send me a photo of your Seder plate, Passover dish(es), or your Passover table. There are no rules to take part, just email your photo to tastewiththeeyes AT cox DOT net, and tell me a little about you and your Seder photo.
Wishing you a very special Easter.
“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.”
– S.D. Gordon

P.S. In honor of Easter, you might enjoy the beautiful photos and interesting text on the blog of my dear friend of many years, Father Adam. It’s called Monastery Daily Photo: Views From and Within a Roman Catholic Monastery in Northern California.

Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha Varnishkes
Kasha & Bows

One cup of kasha (granulated roasted whole grain buckwheat) is toasted in a dry non-stick pan for a few minutes, then cooled. A beaten egg is added, stir to coat all the grains. Cook briefly over medium heat until the egg has dried. Add 2 c. seasoned hot chicken stock plus 1 T. vegetable oil, stir, cover and cook on low heat until the liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile sauté a chopped yellow onion in  2 T. vegetable oil, or in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), as my Aunt Edythe did. When the onion is nice and browned, toss with al dente bowtie pasta and then add the kasha. This is usually served as a side dish but along with a salad, makes a tasty weeknight meal as well.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my father’s passing, 38 years ago. I always light a Yahrzeit candle in his memory on this day, say a personal prayer, and spend a few moments “in conversation” with my Dad.

This year I made Kasha Varnishkes, like my Aunt Edythe (his sister) used to make and served it on my parents’ old china, Franciscan Apple. Also known as Kasha & Bows, this is a traditional Russian Jewish dish, one no doubt taught to my Aunt by my Nana, who was from Kiev.
I find the annual act of lighting the Yahrzeit candle on this anniversary very comforting, and along with the cooking of traditional Jewish foods, it helps to keep the memory of my Dad, Aunt, Nana and Papa alive.
Now, Passover is just around the corner, starting at sundown on April 8. And like last year, I am excited to host a Round-up of Passover Photos. If you are participating in a Seder this year, I hope you will join in. Please send me a photo of your Seder plate, Passover dish(es), or your Passover table. If you would like to use my Passover Round-up badge in your blog post, please feel free. There are no rules to take part, just email your photo to tastewiththeeyes AT cox DOT net, and tell me a little about you and your Seder photo. I am hoping that those readers without a blog will participate as well. Let’s share! I will post the round-up after the eighth day of Passover. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Pesach.

The Passover Seder Table

The Seder Plate: Roasted Egg, Maror (horseradish), Shankbone, Haroset (chopped apples, walnuts, cinnamon with red wine), Chazeret (romaine lettuce), and Karpas (parsley).

This year’s color scheme: a stunning royal purple and sky blue.

A Seder Plate on each table.

Flower arrangements: Blue Hydrangea and Purple Iris.


Frogs are hoppin’ all over the tables. Place cards are decorated with a little hydrangea bloom.

Passover Photography Round-Up

I would love to include a photo of your fabulous Passover dish, image or table setting.
Email to:

sweetbay AT cox DOT net
I will compile the photos after 4.27.08.

Do you prefer the gold/raspberry or the purple/sky blue color scheme?

PASSOVER – Let’s Share Our Culinary Traditions!

This is our Seder Table from last Passover. We have 2 long tables that seat a total of 32 people. Guests come from across the U.S. and abroad. This year Passover begins on April 19th.

You may notice the Haggadahs, salt water, karpas, maror, haroset, matzohs, Elijah’s cup, and the Seder plate already on the tables.
We tell the story, we eat, we drink, we sing, we laugh. I wanted to show Kristy’s beautiful modern-style table, complete with frogs (one of the plagues). All newcomers to the Seder ask, what can I bring, we say, bring a frog. She has quite a collection after all these years. Kristy designs the table while I cook with help from family and friends, of course.
The menu doesn’t change much from year to year now, as we’ve got it down to a science. For those of you who have never hosted a Seder, imagine that well before you ever serve the first course, just like Iron Chef, you must “walk-away!” and then have the food hot, tasty and ready to serve when it is time, at least an hour into the Seder. My fellow cooks who have done this can attest to the degree of difficulty.

First Course
Geri’s Gefilte Fish
Davida’s Chopped Liver with Pistachio
Kristy’s Haroset
Vicki’s Beet Salad, Fresh Horseradish & Matzohs
Hard Boiled Eggs

Second Course
Chicken Soup with Spring Vegetables & Herbed Matzoh Balls

Main Course
Chicken Breasts Roasted with Orange Ginger Glaze, Apricots and Lemons

Tomato Onion Beef Brisket. This recipe was submitted to the wonderful Tried, Tested, and True event hosted by Equal Opportunity Kitchen. 32 people a year for eight years have been giving this brisket the thumbs up.

Red Bliss Potatoes with Thyme and Meyer Lemon
Grilled Vegetable Kebabs with Dipping Sauce

Dessert
Passover Trifle
Passover Cakes
Chocolate Macaroons
Coffee

Our Four Cups of Wine will include:
Kristy’s Top Wine Pick This Year: Carmel, Petite Sirah, Judean Hills 2005 Israel
Gallil Mountain, Yiron, Cabernet/Merlot/Sirah Blend 2003 Israel
Ramon Cardova Rioja (100% Tempranillo) 2005 Spain
Do you have a Kosher wine recommendation?

ROUND-UP
I thought it would be fun to include photography from other Passover Seders on Taste With The Eyes, too! If you are so inclined, please email a photo of your fabulous Passover dish, image, or table setting and a link to your post.
Bloggers please include a link to this event announcement and feel free to use the icon.

Non-bloggers are encouraged to participate as well. It’s easy, just email your photo and tell me a little about it and where you’re from!
Email to: sweetbay AT cox DOT net
I will compile the photos after 4.27.08.
Wishing you and your family a Wonderful Pesach! Next year in Jerusalem!