I’m not sure if I can technically throw a proper Seder dinner when I’m not Jewish.
But I’ll sure try!
Like most of the regional cuisines I attempt, these aren’t quick and easy recipes. Also, it helps to read the full recipe ahead of time so you know if something has to sit overnight or cool or whatever. Let’s just say this dinner took 40 days and 40 nights to prepare.
I decided to make four things:
Matzo Ball Soup
Cranberry Noodle Kugel
I’ve never made any of this stuff before. Was I ready for the challenge?
I decided to spread these dishes over a few days to lessen the load. My week has included multiple trips to the kosher grocery store and kosher butcher. Lots of Google searches, and letting things sit overnight and more trips to the kosher grocery store.
Latkes and Kugel are super simple to make. Rugelach and Matzo Balls take a bit more work but are worth it!
*Kosher foods are those that conform to the regulations of kashrut (Jewish dietary law).
*Any animal which chews it’s cud and has a cloven hoof can be eaten (as long as it’s killed in a kosher manner – meaning it’s throat properly slit. This is widely known as the most humane way).
*Some forbidden animals: Pig, Rabbit, Reptiles, Camel, Shellfish
*No mixing of meat and dairy.
*No cross contamination of cooking utencils. If you use a pan to boil some milk, consider it your permanent dairy pan.
*Fish is not considered meat, so it can be eaten with dairy (ie: lox and cream cheese)
*All fruits and vegetables are kosher but grape products (wine and juice) fall under stricter guidelines.
*60% of all products on the grocery store’s shelves are kosher.
*You can tell if a product is kosher if it has a symbol of “U” or “K” on it. That tells you which company has inspected it.
*Letters of the alphabet cannot be trademarked so many companies (like Jell-O) deceptively put a “K” on the box even though it’s not kosher (the gelatin contains non-kosher meat by-products)
*Food companies pay organizations like OU Kosher and KOF-K to inspect their facilities, products and practices and give them the go ahead to place their certification on the products.
*Kosher foods have not been blessed. They’ve been inspected. And it’s not like a Rabbi is sitting in the factory watching every jar of Gefilte fish go by.
*Pareve means the item contains neither meat nor dairy.
*Glatt refers to meat that has been inspected post mortem to make sure there are no lung impurities. Extra kosher, if you will.
*Only 21% of American Jews keep kosher in the home.
*During Passover, the foods that can be eaten fall under even more strict guidelines. No leavened bread. In some cases, no rice or beans. It’s basically an Atkins diet.
*Manischewitz, the best known Kosher food company was founded in 1888. Famous for their sweet wines with a super high sugar content, even corn syrup!
*If you’re a Jew, you’re probably a Sephardic or an Ashkenazi, the two largest subcultures.
*Sephardics originate from Spain, North Africa or the Middle East.
*Ashkenazis originate from France, Germany and Eastern Europe.
*During Passover, Ashkenazis cannot eat rice, corn, peanuts or beans but Sephardic Jews can.
*Kosher beer is really delicious.
1 pound potatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 large 1gg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander.
Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed.
MATZO BALL SOUP:
If you don’t want to buy schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) you can always use the fat from making the stock, there’s plenty of it available after the cooling process.
Time: For broth, 2 hours plus chilling; for matzo balls, 2 hours
FOR THE BROTH:
1 3-to-4-pound chicken
4 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped and thoroughly rinsed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
3 sprigs dill
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE MATZO BALLS:
1 cup matzo meal
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered seasoned chicken fat, sold at butcher shops) at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup seltzer
1 carrot, peeled, thinly sliced and blanched until soft
2 tablespoons chopped dill.
1. For broth: Rub chicken inside and out with about 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Allow to stand for 15 minutes, then rinse well under cold water. Place in a large stock pot and add cold water to cover by 3 inches. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Skim off impurities that rise during the first 15 minutes of boiling, then add celery, carrots, onion, leeks, garlic, parsley, dill, peppercorns and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 45 more minutes.
2. Carefully remove chicken from pot and take meat from bones, reserving meat for another use. Return bones to pot of broth, and simmer for 1 hour more. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Cool broth, then refrigerate until fat rises to top and solidifies, at least several hours. Skim off and discard fat.
3. For matzo balls: In a large mixing bowl, combine matzo meal, eggs, schmaltz, kosher salt and baking powder. Mix well. Add seltzer and mix again. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a simmer. With wet hands, roll out 1-ounce balls (about the size of a walnut). Add balls to water and simmer until tender, light and fluffy in the center, 45 to 60 minutes. (To test centers, insert a toothpick, which should slide easily all the way through.) Drain, allow to cool, and transfer to a flat covered container. Refrigerate until needed.
5. To serve, place broth over medium-low heat. Add matzo balls, blanched carrot slices and chopped dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until matzo balls are thoroughly heated, and serve.
6. I added some kosher noodles as well
Yield: 10 to 12 servings (or 4 Giant Balls)
CRANBERRY NOODLE KUGEL:
■1 cup dried cranberries
■12 oz wide egg noodles
■6 large eggs
■1 lb sour cream (2 cups)
■8 oz cottage cheese (1 cup)
■8 oz cream cheese, softened (1 cup)
■1 cup sugar
■1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
■1/4 tsp salt
■Cinnamon and sugar for dusting
■Nonstick cooking oil spray
Two Cups Cornflakes – for topping
Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Cover the dried cranberries with hot water and let them soak to plump while you prepare the other ingredients.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles to the pot, bring back to a boil, and let them cook till tender (not overly soft), about 5 minutes. Drain and return the cooked noodles to the pot.
In a food processor or blender, mix together the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sugar, melted butter, and salt.
Pour the egg mixture over the cooked noodles in the pot and stir till well combined.
Drain the cranberries and pat dry. Stir them into the noodles.
Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking oil. Pour the noodle mixture into the dish.
Top the kugel by sprinkling generously with the cornflakes rolled in melted butter. Then dust with sugar and lightly with cinnamon. Alternatively, you can use your favorite kugel topping (streusel, crushed graham crackers, cornflakes, etc.).
Bake the kugel for about 60 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking, till the center of the kugel is set and the tips of the noodles turn golden brown. Remove from the oven.
Let the kugel rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Kugel can be served warm or cold.
•2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
•8 oz cream cheese, cut into chunks
•⅓ cup Greek yogurt
•½ cup of sugar, plus more for sprinkling
•2 cups all-purpose flour
•2 tsps vanilla
•½ cup hazelnuts
•1 can Nutella
1.Cream together butter, cream cheese and yogurt.
2.Add in sugar, flour and vanilla. Mix it up again to form a sticky dough and all ingredients are combined.
3.Divide the dough into four balls. Wrap in saran wrap and chill for two hours or overnight.
4.Pre heat oven to 350.
5.Roll out each ball on a floured surface into a circle, keeping the other balls in the fridge until you are ready for them.
6.Eat a spoonful of Nutella.
7.Spread a thin layer of Nutella on the circle, sprinkle with sugar and hazelnuts.
8.Cut the circle into 12 triangles. Roll up each triangle from the wide end, and secure the tip into the cookie so you have a little spiral. Place cookies on a sheet, sprinkle with more sugar and bake for 25 minutes or until golden