spring soirée

menu

The Menu

Seder: Matzo, Hard-boiled Eggs, Shank Bone, Charoset, Horseradish, and Parsley with Salt Water
First Course: Gefilte Fish
Second Course: Matzo-Ball Soup
Third Course: Brisket, Roasted Chicken, Vegetable Kugel
Desserts: Matzo Toffee, Almond-Coconut Macaroons, Chocolate Cake with Espresso Glaze, Flourless Chocolate Caramel Cake

 

A few weeks ago, I hosted a party of twelve friends for a Spring Soirée (slash Passover Seder… slash birthday party). It was such a enjoyable evening of food, wine, friends, and fun! Yes, I do realize that I’m probably the only person in the world who would cook for twelve other people on her own birthday… willingly. I may be crazy, but at least I make good food?

table

table setting

As it was a pretty large group, I moved my kitchen table so it would be angled out of my kitchen island (and therefore fit twelve without each of us accidentally elbowing the wine out of everybody else’s hands).

Do those plates look real to you? What about the glasses? That’s funny, because everything at the table was plastic (and therefore disposable thank goodness for that easy cleanup!). Even the napkins were disposable (they were synthetic linen).

seder plateThe Seder

Do you like my makeshift Seder plate? I am completely obsessed with that Big Bend towel (and I try to bring it out to show off as frequently as possible). Since I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in Texas, I’ve been to West Texas (and to Big Bend) a few times. If only Prada Marfa was more strongly featured on this lovely little towel!

So on to the “Seder Plate”: top left, we have the Karpas (parsley that you dip into salt water); top right, the charoset; bottom left, the horseradish; bottom right, the hard-boiled eggs. I couldn’t find a shank bone (and they smell anyways) so I just skipped that part of the Seder. As matzo and horseradish are much better bought than made (and I have no desire to make or knowledge of how to make either). However, I hard-boiled like a zillion (or just thirty) eggs and I made the charoset from scratch.

Charoset

Adapted from What Jew Wanna Eat’s Recipe

Ingredients

  •  6 red apples (I used Gala)
  • 1 cup of finely chopped walnuts (I used a food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (I used Truvia)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons of honey, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup of kosher for Passover wine (like Manischewitz)

Directions

Begin by coring the apples – be sure to keep the skins on. Finely chop the apples by hand – trust me, the charoset will come out so much better!

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the chopped apples with the walnuts. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix everything together until the contents of the mixing bowl are well-combined. If you accidentally added too much wine, dab the mixture with a paper towel to soak up the excess liquid and then add a bit more honey and cinnamon. Feel free to add more sugar, honey, cinnamon, or wine to taste.

Gefilte Fish

Made using What Jew Wanna Eat’s Recipe

 

Quick notes: I used cod as the whitefish and served the gefilte fish cold, on a bed of arugula.

I know, I know: gefilte fish? Eww. But seriously this was a great recipe and even the shiksas enjoyed it (a rarity for sure)! The only other gefilte fish recipe I’ve ever enjoyed takes hours upon hours of work (a family friend’s recipe), while this one only took about half of an hour! I don’t know about you, but I prefer a half hour’s worth of work to the alternative…

Matzo Ball Soup

Okay, you probably think that using the boxed matzo ball soup mix is cheating. But I promise, this is actually so much better than whatever you’re thinking. The trick is letting the matzo balls “poof” in regular boiling water instead of in the soup. That way, they turn out less salty… and more delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes of Manischewitz matzo ball soup mix
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • water

Directions

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the matzoh mix with the vegetable oil and the eggs until well-mixed. Set the bowl in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or so, so that the matzo mix can solidify a bit.

Fill two large pots with about a quart of water each. Add both soup mixes to one of the pots, and place both of the pots on the stove – each on high heat.

Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and form the matzo mix into small balls – each about 2-3 tablespoons in size. Once the water in the second pot is boiling (the one without the soup mix), place the balls, one by one [and gently!!], into the water to poof. After about 5 minutes or so, they should change from being dark beige colored to off-white. Once they’re at that stage, they can be moved into the soup pot to finish cooking. Repeat until all of the matzo balls are formed.

brisket

Brisket

Made using Martha Stewart’s Slow-Cooker Brisket and Onions Recipe

Normally, people shy away from brisket due to how labor-intensive it is. This recipe, by comparison, was seriously the easiest thing ever. Just place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker at the beginning of the day, place on high heat for 6 hours, and voilà!
chicken

Roasted Chicken

Made using Le Creuset’s Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Herbs Recipe

 

vegetable kugel

Vegetable Kugel

Made Using What Jew Wanna Eat’s Recipe for Vegetable Kugel with Caramelized Leeks – Found on Pinterest!

 

Such a great kosher-for-Passover alternative to one of my favorite Jewish holiday dishes! This kugel is made using sweet potatoes, onions, leeks, you name it! It was a huge hit of the evening.

matzoh toffee all

matzoh toffee

Matzo Toffee

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of coarsely crumbled matzo
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped almonds (I used a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of light, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of packed, light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 2 1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Begin by preheating the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray very well with cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss the matzo crumbles with the finely-chopped almonds.

In a saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, salt, and water over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once everything has melted and melded together, drizzle the matzo mixture with the hot syrup and mix well. Spread the mixture over the baking sheet evenly using a heatproof spatula. Place the sheet into the oven to bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden.

Once you remove the block of mixture from the oven, quickly sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the matzo mixture. Once the chocolate begins to melt, use the heatproof spatula to ensure that the entire block becomes evenly coated in chocolate (and feel free to add more chocolate chips!). Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to set (an hour is enough time), and then roughly break the toffee into pieces and serve.

macaroon all

Almond-Coconut Macaroons

Made using Martha Stewart’s Recipe

 

I love macaroons. It’s odd, seeing as I positively loathe coconut (especially coconut shavings…eww). Somehow though, I love macaroons… especially this recipe. So very easy – definitely on the list for next year.

cake close up 2

Chocolate Cake with Espresso Glaze

Made using Martha Stewart’s Recipe

Though the recipe claims that this cake is crumbly, I can assure you that it is essentially solid fudge. Delicious, rich, solid fudge. I would definitely recommend making this at your next event… but maybe serve it with milk (I’m telling you, it’s rich).
fudge cake caramel

Flourless Chocolate Caramel Cake

Made Using Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice’s Recipe

 

This fudgey flourless chocolate cake with a chocolate cream ganache and caramel drizzle was one of the biggest hits of the evening. And the next day at the office. And the day after that when I forced friends to come over to eat leftovers. And the following weekend when I brought it home for my friend to munch on. This cake was positively divine – definitely on my “to make” list for next year!

xo, Amanda

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