Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fun Playing With Passover Food 2009

We are in the midst of the Passover holiday. I have always loved Passover, because of the special food memories that go with it. Many foods eaten during Passover are made and consumed just this once a year. Since moving to Cleveland 13 years ago, I usually make the traditional two Seders (unless we go to NY to visit the family). This year was a Cleveland Seder year.

The week before Passover turned out to be exceptionally hectic - as a result, I was too exhausted to take any Seder photos. However, you can see a wonderful narrative of our first Seder on my friend Tom's Blog, Breads My Way. Seder: Part 1, Part 2. Also, if you have a Facebook account, you can see the gorgeous photography of my friend Chris here.

So this year, I can offer you some photos of prep steps from some different perspectives than in my previous posts (I hope), and photos of some items in "leftover" mode.

We begin with the creation of one of the best pots of chicken soup I've ever made. I was lucky to have a Breychak Farms pullet in the freezer. This young lady still had her feet and neck intact:

In these two photos (above and below) - she has one food manicured - I realized after I snipped off the first set of toenails that I should take a picture before continuing!

By this point, I've finished the manicure, removed the feet, and removed the neck. Unfortunately, the neck was the only giblet - no poopick (gizzard), liver or heart. I did have an extra supply of feet and the back and bones from a recently cooked Breychak chicken, so I wasn't worried.

My secret weapon for skimming.

Soup Greens

Carrots, Onion, Celery, Parsnip. Flat and curly parsley will be added later.

I start with just the chicken and parts - remembering how long the feet take to give their all, I decide to leave the pullet whole.

That amazing alchemy happens - and after skimming and simmering (NEVER allow it to come to a boil) - the soup clears.

Everything is in the Pot!

While the soup simmers, I prepare the matzoh ball mixture. Since Kathy is no longer in the egg business, I needed to locate a new source for farm fresh eggs. I am very fond of Aaron Miller's eggs, but I was advised that they were in short supply.

None other than Hank Kornblutt at Mister Brisket supplied my answer! He pointed me to Hensbury Farm, where I hooked up with the owner, Jennifer. She agreed to meet me and provided me with all of the many dozen fresh eggs I needed - and these are truly wonderful eggs!

These eggs dated 3/15/09 were deliberately a little older, for making hard-cooked eggs. They peeled like a dream!

Yolks for Matzoh Balls

Some of these eggs are not Kosher, because of the bloody specks. Jews who keep Kosher are not permitted to consume any blood from any animal. I, however, have never let a blood speck get in the way of enjoying a farm fresh egg, so into the Matzoh Balls they went.

Whipped Yolks

Whites - Beaten to a Stiff Peak

The soup, meanwhile, simmers for many hours, until the feet have given up all of their collagen. Once chilled, the soup shimmers and shimmys like Jello.

The Final Product - Matzoh Ball Soup

Next up was the Gefilte Fish. As usual, I sourced my fish from Mister Brisket. Hank made sure I got some heads this time!

Bag 1 contains the stock making parts:

These are rinsed, put in a pot with onion, covered with water and brought to a simmer. As with the chicken soup, the fumet begins cloudy:

But through the magic that comes from the stove - it clears.

Skimming helps!

In the meantime, I beat several Hensbury Farm eggs in the bottom of a pot, then add my fish mixture. Hank has ground 1 part Pike, 1 part Whitefish and .5 part Carp fillets with onion, which looks like this:

My seasonings are simple - salt, white pepper and sugar. And a little matzoh meal to hold it together.

I form the mixture into quinelles (ovals) and poach them in the fish stock. After the first hour, I add carrot sections. I then poach for another 1.5-2 hours. I scoop the cooked fish out into one pan, and the carrots into a dish. Everything else, I'm sad to say, becomes compost - we never have the energy to save the fish fumet.

Bob makes horseradish from a root dug up from our garden, a little salt and vinegar:

The fish is eaten with carrots and horseradish - and, after the Seders - accompanied by buttered matzoh. Yum!

Another Seder delight is the Charosis - a mixture of walnuts, apples, Passover sweet wine and seasonings. Although I am always tempted by descriptions of exotic Sephardic preparations including dried fruits, dates, other kinds of nuts and seasonings - I can't bring myself to change this - because I LIKE it so much. We eat the leftovers as matzoh spread (since we don't eat peanut butter during Passover).

I have started adding a little cardamom and tumeric in recent years - but it's still mostly seasoned with cinnamon and Ohio Honey.

Looks like mortar, but tastes delicious!

Another Seder item that is just as yummy cold is the Sweet Farfel Pudding with Apricots; the Hensbury Farm eggs really kicked this up:

Finally, the "Day After" plate:

Brisket with Gravy & Onions, Potato Kugel, Sauteed Asparagus with Lemon-Grapeseed Oil Spritz

I hope that you are also playing with the Holiday foods of your choice - or if you do not celebrate a Spring holiday, that you playing with the bounty of the burgeoning Spring!


  1. thanks for the pictures, I am interested in the matzaballs, what happens after the egg whites? Pesach is almost over but I will have a year to practice before next year! Cheers

  2. Fold the egg mixture into the whites, then gradually add matzoh meal (a couple of Tbs at a time) - up to 1 cup per six eggs used. Chill the mixture for at least an hour. Boil water, wet hands with either water or oil, form balls the size of walnuts (or larger) and drop into the water; reduce the heat to a hard simmer and cover; cook for 1 hour.

  3. thanks for the recipe, that's alot of eggs for just one cup of matza meal.I never bought a chicken with feet, it is thrown out here. I knew a Chinese overseas student who obtained entire bag for free at the shuk, he was ecstatic because he considered them a delicacy. cheers