Monday, April 2, 2007


The 48 hour frenzy of cooking and cleaning is over and I won't have to cook again for days.

The first Passover seder was tonight. We were 14 all together which is accomplished in my house by putting two 6-foot tables together to make one large (not long) table, filling up the dining room. We pull dishes from two sets of china and use every wine and drinking glass in the house. It's a tight fit around the table and once everyone's in there's not a lot of up and down.

We had the following for dinner:

blanched vegetables with yogurt-dill dip
matzah balls in roasted vegetable stock
gefilte fish
apple-walnut charoset and cherry-pear-ginger charoset
sweet potato and carrot tzimmes
potato kugel
green salad
fruit salad
steamed asparagus

lighter-than-air chocolate cake
coconut macaroons

I cooked everything but the kugel, green salad, and macaroons (all of which were made by Fran and were absolutely delicious).

For those unfamiliar with the names, charoset is a paste of fruit, nuts, and sweet wine that is served at the seder in memory of the mortar used by the Israelite slaves in Egypt. Tzimmes is a stew made of sweet potatoes, carrots, prunes, and dried apricots simmered in orange juice with cinnamon. Matazakopita has no real history. I created it last year while looking for a new variation on the classic soggy matzoh and cheese genre. I make up a filling of spinach, feta, ricotta, and eggs like I'd put between layers of filo the rest of the year but instead I layer it with damp matzoh. It sounds horrid but tastes surprisingly good. The soggy matzoh is kind of like a delicate fresh pasta if you let just yourself believe.

It was a lot of cooking and by the middle of this afternoon my refrigerator looked like this, with barely an inch of space to spare:

The most fun was making the Lighter Than Air Chocolate Cake that I found recently over at Smitten Kitchen. It's four layers of flourless chocolate cake sandwiching a sweetened cream filling. It was a little bit fussy and the tiniest bit stressful when it came to getting the layers out of the pans but it was worth every minute of work and a perfect ending to a grand family meal. I didn't get any great photos to show how gorgeous it was but I like his photo because it shows the half-eaten cake with a marvelous, magical halo underneath.

That's kind of how I feel after pulling off one of these super meals, when everything goes right and everyone is well fed and well behaved--kind of glowy and warm and deliciously tired.

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