Happy holiday to all celebrating this week – whether it’s Passover or Easter.
I am feeling fantastic today. My house is starting to come together 3 weeks (today!) after we moved in. We’re starting to really feel at home. Monday night was a big contributing factor: we hosted 34 of our closest family and friends for our first ever Passover Seder.
I went food shopping on Thursday and started cooking on Saturday morning. I cooked and baked for 15 hours the first day. On Sunday, I spent 9 hours in the kitchen. Then, three hours were spent ironing napkins, setting the table, making place cards and making floral arrangements. By Monday, I had less to do than normal (which is usually half the cooking and setting up!!!). It is quite incredible how much easier it is to prepare a feast in a large kitchen with multiple ovens. Wow.
I’m really starting to appreciate the positive difference between city apartment living and the spaciousness of a house. I didn’t feel stressed out or cramped. I didn’t have to put things out in every room because the kitchen could barely hold a cookie sheet. Seriously, in our last kitchen, my counter was the size of a jelly roll pan and my oven was pretty small. Here’s the new kitchen:
I can’t tell you how much I love this kitchen!!! First of all, the wood floors are so kind to my legs and back. Although I was standing on them for three days straight, my legs were no where as bad as they have been in the past when I’ve worked on harder surfaces like marble or ceramic tiles. Second, the space. I’m not the neatest cook (yeah, I make a total mess) so this kitchen enables me to spread out and NOT have to constantly do the dishes. The sink is the size of a trough, so I can stack quite a ridiculous amount of dishes before it needs to be cleared out.
But, as usual, I digress.
I made a lot of food. I got so excited at the grocery store that I made waaaaaaaay too many side dishes! Here’s the menu:
For the cocktail hour, we served cooked salami, chopped liver (I love making it because it’s so easy and soooooooo gooooooood) and an egg and onion salad that my aunt makes which always brings me back to childhood.
During the Seder: charoset, homemade horseradish (my aunt made the red, I made the white), potatoes and eggs in salt water.
Gefilte fish (my aunt makes the most incredible gefilte. It melts in your mouth and has the perfect flavor profile)
Chicken soup with parsley-dill-garlic-pepper Matza balls
Coffee rubbed Brisket with caramelized onions
Sweet and sour chicken (my cousin Debbie made an amazingly delicious chicken that disappeared due to it’s yumminess. I was lucky to save a piece for my midnight snack that night)
Pistachio and parsley crusted cod
Roasted sweet potatoes with figs, scallions, cherry peppers and garlic in a pomegranate glaze
Mashed potatoes with schmaltz and chives
Potato leek kugel
Tsimmes (Zack’s aunt Marsha uses a fantastic mix of carrots, sweet potatoes and fruit to create a sweet, salty and heavenly concoction)
Mushrooms with pine nuts, onions, garlic and zaatar
String beans with crushed salted almonds and garlic
Eggplant roasted with garlic and red pepper flakes (This one was all Zack – start to finish – and it was delish)
Meringue kisses with hidden chocolate
Orange cake (thanks, again, to cousin Debbie: she cooks, she bakes and she rocks)
Jelly thumbprint cookies
Matza almond toffee crunch (this stuff may be more addicting than crack)
Needless to say, there was a ton of food. I could have fed another 20 people, easy. Luckily, we love this food, so we’ve been eating it ALL week.
Now, I’m giving you my absolute favorite recipe because it really shocked me with its goodness. I love carrot cake. I always give people and restaurants the benefit of the doubt and try their carrot cake. In my many years of tasting the stuff, I have had too many dry, brittle and tasteless carrot cakes. I have also had plenty of Kosher for Passover cakes.
WARNING: I’m about to toot my own horn here. I have never had a Kosher for Passover cake this good and that I will be making all year round because it was so amazingly delicious. This is a moist, flavorful and scrumptious cake. You can’t just have one slice. At least I couldn’t. I ate about 1/3 of the cake. I am dreaming of the cake right now and may have to make it again this weekend. Yes, it’s just that great.
So, here is the recipe:
Best Carrot Cake Ever – for Passover and All Year Round
- 1/2 pound carrots
6 eggs separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup matza meal
1/4 cup matza cake meal
1 1/4 cup ground walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
- zest of 1 lemon