Passover Seder and Charoset

 

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Passover begins this year on the evening of April 3rd. This year my friend, fellow blogger, and design maven, Brooke over at fireandflowers.com designed this amazing handmade chalkboard Seder plate. It is stunning. And you can do it too! Checkout Brooke’s how-to here.

Seder plate contains symbolic foods eaten or displayed at the Passover Seder.

Horseradish and bitter herbs

These symbolize the bitterness of the slavery of the Hebrews to the Egyptians

Parsley

The parsley is dipped in salt water before eating to symbolize symbolize the tears of the Hebrews

Lamb shank bone and hard-boiled egg

Both the egg and shank bone are roasted to represent the sacrifices made in the temple in Jerusalem.

Charoset

A traditionally a sweet mixture of apples, walnuts, honey, cinnamon and wine. It is meant to symbolize the mortar that the the enslaved Hebrews used in slavery to build for the Egyptians.

For me, even though charoset has a somber meaning, it is the star of the Seder. My mother’s was a very traditional mixture including the basic ingredients. Over the years I have added my own touches — toasting the walnuts, adding chopped dates, and using a dry red wine to elevate this charoset to a modern dish you crave throughout the year.

It is tradition to eat a charoset, matzah and horseradish sandwich during the Seder, but we always have extra charoset, which inspired my favorite Passover sandwich: a matzah spread with horseradish mayo, topped with smoked turkey and Charoset, served open faced. This is Passover’s version of Thanksgiving leftovers, so grab some bowls and lets start mixing!

To make the charoset

Grate apples

Passover seder food

Add finely chopped toasted walnuts and chopped dates

Passover seder food

Add honey, cinnamon and red wine and stir to combine.

Passover seder food

Passover seder food

Passover seder food

Let sit for a few hours before eating to develop the flavors–and try to save some for the Seder Plate!

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups toasted walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup dates, finely chopped
1 pound apples (about 3 small apples), peeled, cored, and grated (I love honeycrisp apples for Charoset but any firm sweet-tart apple will do)
1 TB honey
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Passover seder food

Jewish Comfort Bagel

Jewish food really is synonymous with comfort food. Most people know about old fashioned Jewish style chicken soup (with or without matzoh balls) and it’s moniker “Jewish Penicillin.” And of course Jews fondly reminisce about their favorite childhood foods, prepared by their Jewish mothers or grandmothers. These are the comfort foods for generations of Jews — their grandmother’s brisket or bubbe’s rugelach or mandel bread.

My Jewish comfort food is the “Jewish Comfort Bagel” or JCB. You’ll probably see me write a lot about bagels, as they are one of my favorite foods. The JCB is my favorite way to eat them.

A JCB harkens back to a time before bagels became a thing. The 80’s. Before chain “bagelries” started rolling out huge puffy hole-less disks of doughy bread. In flavors like cranberry orange, French toast and the irony-rich holiday favorite, the eggnog bagel.

Although she never called it that, my nanny, Vivian, is the reason for the comfort in my Jewish Comfort Bagel. She lived in Florida with a bunch of other retired Jewish snowbirds, so there were real bagel shops there in the 70’s when I was a girl. She was, by her own admission, a terrible cook, and I’m sure she did not invent the JCB. But she certainly made a pretty fantastic version!

A JCB bagel starts with a real bagel in a savory flavor. My favorite is sesame but salt and everything are great too!

You will also need butter, cream cheese,  kosher salt and the best tomatoes you can find, beefsteak or heirloom varieties.

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Choose your flavor and toast to a nice medium brown.

Comfort Bagel

Spread with a generous amount of butter. (Yes we are going to go there! Don’t skip this step to cut calories, you would rob yourself of the essence of the JCB.)

Comfort Bagel

Then top with a good schmear of cream cheese. Don’t skimp!

Comfort Bagel

Add your slice of thickly cut tomato.

Comfort Bagel

And sprinkle with salt.

Comfort Bagel

Cut (or don’t) and enjoy! And don’t blame me when you are compelled to eat another one.

Comfort Bagel

Comfort Bagel