It’s a few weeks before the first seder and I am sitting at my kitchen table studying recipe books and on-line resources, creating my menus, and making my shopping list. When I was young, shopping was a highlight of the holiday preparations. Roaming the aisle (back then there was just one kosher-for-Passover aisle in the store — if we were lucky) with my sister, brother, and parents, searching for our must-haves: chocolate-covered matzah, Elite candy bars, bags of potato sticks, jellied fruit slices, and Wissotzky and Swee-Touch-Nee tea.
As I always do, I will call my kids to ask what they want me to put on our holiday menu. But I know what they will answer. No matter what novel and creative additions to the standard fare I come up with, they always want the basics: chicken soup, sweet-and-sour meatballs, carrot souffle, gefilte fish, apple kugel, flourless chocolate cake, and mandel bread. (I can also anticipate their response to the kitniyot question. No matter that for us, the rabbis have relaxed the formerly stringent legumes prohibition, my kids believe that it is part of our family tradition to “suffer” by refraining from eating corn, rice, peas, and peanuts during the holiday.)
I will scrub every inch of my kitchen and pantry, bake for days, shlep the contents of an entire Passover “kitchen” from the depths of my basement to prepare eight days of meals (including plenty to send home with my guests). But I know our best memories will be made over the simple pleasure of a piece of crispy matzah topped with lots of cream cheese and a glass (no, not a cup or mug) of Swee-Touch-Nee tea.
In the end, I will stick with our traditional recipes (like the two below) but add a few new ones just to feed my need to be creative.
For your enjoyment, and with no divine inspiration, I offer you my Ten Plagues of the Passover Kitchen:
1. Expensive holiday — the finer the matzah is ground, the higher the price you pay.
2. Never enough pareve margarine in the store.
3. Smartphone “Sit or Squat” app is mandatory.
4. Egg overload — wait, is that even possible?
5. What’s a salad?
6. Jelly Rings or Marshmallow Twists, the choice of kings!
7. I’d rather have a French macaron than a Manischewitz macaroon.
8. Recipe-sharing with friends means discovering you all have the exact same recipes even though they originated from different synagogue cookbooks.
9. Can you say leftover matzah?
10. Expensive holiday — did I already say that?
Enjoy these simple recipes with your family this holiday. Maybe they will become staples on your holiday table, too.
PASSOVER BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE
1 12-oz. box kosher-for-Passover yellow cake mix (I recommend Manischewitz Yellow Cake Mix, not “Extra Moist”)
1/4 cup water
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup semisweet pareve chocolate chips
Kosher-for-Passover confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
Spray an eight- or nine-inch square or round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Beat together (by hand or with electric mixer) cake mix, water, eggs, and bananas one-two minutes, until smooth.
Pour batter into pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Bake 25-35 minutes until cake springs back when gently pressed.
Remove from oven and let cake cool. Prepare frosting according to directions on the box. Frost cake and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
1 lb. zucchini, peeled and grated
1 onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup matzah meal
3 Tbsps. margarine, melted
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix matzah meal and margarine. Add eggs and mix. Add sugar, salt, pepper, and mix. Add zucchini and onion.
Pour into greased eight-inch baking pan. Bake for one hour.