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A Passover Seder: An Ancient Menu

While the historical event of God's deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt occured in millenia past, the Bible records God's command to His people to continue celebrating the Passover as a remembrance of His mercy and power. From that time until today, Jewish families have celebrated the Passover and have developed rich traditions throughout the centuries. Jesus also celebrated the Passover with His disciples before His crucifixion. Christians remember this occasion as "The Last Supper," and have also continued to celebrate this event. Our special "Passover Seder" menu has both traditional and modern offerings.


Charoset

Charoset is a sweet paste that is an important part of the traditional Passover Seder. Its mortar-like consistency is said to symbolize the brick and mortar used by the Israelites when they were slaves in Egypt. Do not use a blender for mincing the walnuts and apples, or the mixture will turn into apple sauce!

3 ounces (75 grams or 3/4 cup) walnuts
1/4 large cooking apple
Kosher wine
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar

1. Mince the walnuts and the apple.
2. Moisten with the kosher wine and flavor with cinnamon and sugar.


Matzoh Ball Soup

Although Matzoh Ball Soup is a popular dish for modern day Jewish Americans, its origins stretches back to Ancient times when Jews celebrating Passover enjoyed a dry, cracker-like, substitute for bread. On a very basic level, matzoh ball soup is chicken stock, oil, eggs and broken up matzoh.

3 eggs
3 tablespoons chicken fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons hot water or chicken soup
3/4 cup matzoh meal

1. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks until light-colored and thick.
2. Add the chicken fat, which should be at room temperature, and the salt and water or soup.
3. Beat the whites until stiff but not too dry, and fold in.
4. Fold in the matzoh meal.
5. Refrigerate the batter for about I hour, or until batter is thick enough to form balls.
6. Drop the balls carefully into 2 quarts of boiling salted water or hot soup. Cover and cook for 25 minutes.
7. Add matzoh balls to soup. Cook for another 15 or 20 minutes in the soup.


Carp Gelfite Fish

Gelfite fish is a ground fish recipe, popular with people of Jewish heritage. The fish is first deboned, often while still at the market. Next, the fish is ground into a fine paste and boiled with carrots and onions. It is often stuffed into a whole fish, giving it the name gefilte or "stuffed." It is often served with a horseradish and beet mixture, known as chrain. Gefilte fish can be either sweet (generally among Jews of German and Austro-Hungarian descent) or seasoned with salt and pepper (common among Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian Jews). Traditionally, cheap fish such as carp were used to make gefilte fish, but more recently other fish with white flesh have been used, and there is even a pink variation using salmon. Our recipe yields 12-18 portions and is intended to be served cold.

4 pounds carp, ground
2 carrots, or 1 medium raw beet, peeled and grated
1 onion, ground
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons horseradish, white or red
1 cooked egg, mashed
1 teaspoon salt
Basic fish sauce

1. In blender, whip up onion, eggs, and vegetables.
2. Combine with ground fish and all seasonings. Mix well and set aside.
3. Prepare Basic Fish Sauce (water, onions, carrots, celery, and seasonings to taste) and heat to boiling.
4. Form fish mixture into balls (wet hands with cold water), and drop carefully into 8 quart pot one at a time. When broth returns to a boil, lower flame, cover and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on size of balls.
5. Remove balls from liquid, arrange on a large serving platter with a slice of carrot on each, and pour on a bit of the sauce if you want an aspic.
6. Chill.


Meaty Borscht

Borscht is soup made mostly from beets. It is/was a specialty of eastern European/Russian cuisine, primarily of the poorer people (beets were cheap). The soup dates at least to Medieval times, and was most likely enjoyed as early as the Ancient era. Our recipe serves six. Note that the meat can be removed from the soup and served separately or with another meal. You can also vary the recipe by leaving out meat and bones and serving cold.

Beets, 1 bunch, peeled
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 pounds meat
4 onions
Marrow bones
6 tablespoons of lemon juice
Salt to taste

1. Wash, peel and grate or dice beets. Place in large pot and simmer slowly in water with bones, meat and onions (approximately 45 minutes.)
2. Add sugar, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Continue cooking 1/2 hour.
3. Serve hot.


Coconut Macaroons

The macaroon is a cookie with universal appeal. Although its origins actually date after the Ancient era, we have included in our Passover menu because it is considered a staple for many Jewish families during the eight-day observation of Passover. (Sweetened ground nuts, coconut or a combination of both are leavened by egg whites, they meet the dietary requirements of the spring holiday.) In fact, macaroons have a chronicled history that has Christian origins. Although it was n Almond macaroons originated in an Italian monastery around 1792. The name comes from the Italian word for paste, "maccarone", which refers to almond paste. (Macaroni means flour paste.) A little later, two Carmelite nuns, seeking refuge in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution, paid for their housing by baking and selling macaroon cookies. They became known as "Macaroon Sisters." As the story goes, the nuns followed the principle: "Almonds are good for girls who do not eat meat." Italian Jews transmitted this flourless cookie to the Ashkenazim (Eastern European Jews), who added it to both their Passover and everyday pantries.

8 egg whites
2 teaspoons lemon juice and a little grated rind
2 2/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons matzah meal
a pinch of salt
6 cups coconut

1. Separate out yolks from eggs.
2. Beat whites well, adding sugar gradually.
3. Add remaining ingredients.
4. Drop by tablespoons on cookie sheet, greased and sprinkled with matzah meal.
5. Bake in 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 15 minutes.