Whether you celebrated Easter or Passover this weekend, I know there was lots of food! And while the holidays are over and all that’s left are some yummy leftovers, I wanted to share some of what was on our menu and some other delish dishes from some of my favorite chefs. But, of course, just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these selections throughout the year!
I’m not going to lie – nothing beats my mom’s brisket, and lucky YOU, she said it would be alright if I shared it here.
So ready, set, let’s cook!
But First… A Little About Passover & The Seder Plate
During Passover, we commemorate the story of Exodus, when the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. During this week-long celebration, one of our most beloved rituals is the seder, a traditional Passover meal. We don’t eat leavened food (no yeast allowed) during Passover so that you won’t find fluffy loaves of bread or pasta at the table. But what you will find is plenty of matzo – no rising required, lol!
The seder plate plays a vital role in the experience and helps tell the story of the Exodus (if you want to learn more about the seder plate, here’s a thorough article). The seder is a sensory-heavy experience, and the tastes and smells of foods help bring the story to life. For our seder, besides the main plate, which I use as a centerpiece, I always do individual seder plates as well.
Here’s what’s on a traditional seder plate:
- Karpas – A green vegetable (usually parsley)
- Haroset – A sweet fruit paste that symbolizes the mortar (actually, we make it with apples, nuts, cinnamon, sweet wine, and honey!)
- Maror – A bitter herb (horseradish is a popular choice)
- Hazeret – A second bitter herb (such as Romaine lettuce)
- Zeroa – Shank bone (vegetarians use a roasted beet)
- Betizah – Egg (roasted or hard-boiled)
Each item on the plate symbolizes different parts of the Exodus story, as does the little bowl of salt water, representing the salty tears that the Jews shed in their slavery in Egypt.
What’s that? Enough with the history lesson? Fine! Prepare to unzip your pants!
Here Are Some Past & Present Passover Recipes We Love!
Of course, like any other holiday, there is plenty of feasting during Passover. So I want to share what’s on my family’s Passover menu this year and some recipes for you to try.
- My mom’s brisket, below (and above), and this brisket recipe from chef Jeremy Gross (which also happens to be his mom’s!).
- Gefilte fish. (Not pictured.) Here’s a great recipe to try from MyJewishLearning.com. It’s a little bit of work, but so worth it. The truth is, I rarely make it – I buy it pre-made to save time and concentrate on the other dishes.
- Tzimmes. In Yiddish, tzimmes means “a big fuss,” which you’ll be doing when making this dish. There’s the chopping, and the simmering, and the stewing. But you’re happy to make it because it’s worth every minute. We made the tzimmes recipe from Taste of Home this year. Fabulous! Pictured above.
- Matzo ball soup. No Passover is complete without matzo ball soup. Joan Nathan has a delicious recipe.
- Nothing is better than a sweet noodle kugel for Passover. Passover egg noodles, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter, raisins, and cinnamon – all the good stuff!. We make the Food Network’s Dave Liebman’s kugel every year.
- Sautéed asparagus with apricot and lemon (from Jake Cohen’s Jew-ish cookbook). I love the combination of sweet, sour, and savory. That’s the dish I’m holding above.
And Now for Mom’s Brisket
There are so many delicious versions of brisket that would make a terrific post all its own (I’m sure it’s been done many times), but here’s my mom’s recipe. You’re welcome! Oh – BTW, we were six (plus grandbaby Jack) for Seder, but this size brisket easily feeds 12 or more. What can I say – we love our leftovers!
- One 5-6 lb brisket
- 2 packages of onion soup mix
- Six garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup (you can also use no-sugar ketchup)
- 1 1/2 lbs carrots
- 1 cup Marsala wine or any sweet Passover wine
- In a preheated 350-degree oven, sprinkle the onion soup mix over the meat.
- Cover with ketchup and two cups of water.
- Crush garlic cloves and add to the brisket.
- Add carrots.
- Cover with foil and bake for 3 1/2 hours.
- Remove the brisket when cool and set aside, and puree (I use my blender) whatever is left in the pan – carrots, juices, garlic, etc.
- Slice the brisket when it’s cool.
- Put some gravy in the bottom of the pan, and alternate layers of meat and gravy, finishing with the gravy.
- Cover with foil and keep in the fridge till dinnertime, and when ready to serve, reheat at 350 degrees, covered, for an hour.
Pro Tip: Make it the day ahead and reheat the next day. Even better!!
Did Someone Say Dessert?
No Passover meal (or any Jewish meal!) would be complete without dessert. We opted for a store-bought almond cake (sweet and incredible) and chocolate-covered macaroons this year. Of course, there’s always fresh fruit – but let’s face it, after the brisket, tzimmes, matzo ball soup, and kugel, are you going to start counting calories at dessert? Here are some other faves we’ve indulged in at past Passover seders:
- Chocolate-matzo layer cake. It’s matzo dipped in coffee and topped with chocolate ganache – need I say more?
- Passover apple cake. This cake tastes like any other traditional apple cake, but it’s kosher for Passover.
Jack and I Wish You a Happy Passover and Happy Easter!
Did I make you hungry yet? Bet I did! I would love to hear what you prepared for Passover or Easter.
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Jodie FilogomoApril 17, 2022 at 6:22 pm
Now you share the brisket recipe. I needed that two weeks ago, haha!! But thanks because I’ll keep this for next time,
Gwen GottliebApril 17, 2022 at 6:59 pm
I know! Believe it or not, I’m sharing my favorite St. Paddy’s recipes next week! What can I say, I’ll get it right eventually, lol! xoxo
Rosemary DavisApril 18, 2022 at 7:28 am
What a beautiful table, Gwen!
And the food looks and sounds delicious.
Thanks for sharing the secret of your Mom’s recipe.
Cooking together makes the holidays so special.
Jessica A JannengaApril 18, 2022 at 11:18 am
I love your table setting and the Seder plates. Beautiful presentation! I love to learn and I didn’t know about these foods that are served, so interesting. I know of Gifelte fish, but never had it. I don’t eat red meat, but I am sure my hubby would love the brisket.
Everything looks delicious!
Have a great week!
MicheleApril 19, 2022 at 9:05 am
Gwen, the brisket recipe sounds delicious! I make mine with ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar. It’s gobbled up so fast! Brisket is definitely comfort food. Hope you had a wonderful Passover. I had almost my entire family together for the first time in 23 years!! Just amazing.
Len RichelleApril 19, 2022 at 9:07 am
Wow, this all sounds so delicious! And thanks for sharing your Mom’s recipe and enlightening us with such important history!
Nancy WeissApril 19, 2022 at 9:22 am
Wait a minute chocolate layer cake! That version sounds delicious dipping the crackers in coffee then layering with chocolate! What a beautiful celebration Gwen I enjoyed reading about your family tradition and seeing pictures of your family.
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