Pesach 2013: Post-mortem

By | April 2, 2013

This was our third Pesach, and in many ways, it was the easiest yet. Of course, Pesach is never easy — not unless you spend it in a hotel — but it went more smoothly than it did the first two times around. Practice makes perfect? Maybe one day. But check back with me next year, by which time our baby will have gone from a little gurgling guy who lies in his pram for long stretches of time to a mobile, crumb-spreading creature.

In the meantime, I’m making notes for myself on which recipes worked and which ones didn’t. Care for a peek? Read on.

Old favorite: Zucchini latkes

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I make latkes all year, and since they’re easy to adapt for Pesach, they always make at least one appearance on our Pesach menu. I’m sans food processor for the duration of the chag, so zucchini latkes were bumped to the top of the list. The reason? They’re the easiest to grate by hand. We had them with tzatziki, which is always worth the extra few minutes.

New favorite: Savory blintzes

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Speaking of tzatziki, we also had some on top of these potato blintzes. This was my first time using my standard Pesach blintz wrappers for a savory dish, and I adjusted the batter by adding salt and fresh parsley and dill. The filling was a typical take on dairy mashed potatoes: a splash of milk, a handful of shredded cheese, little bits of butter, and salt and pepper. They were flavorful and fun, and also really filling. Definitely a keeper!

Won’t make again: Chocolate chip bars

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So I really, really don’t mean to bash someone else’s recipe — these just didn’t work for me. You know how when you make blondies, you combine flour, sugar, butter, and eggs, and you get something greater than the sum of its parts? With these chocolate chip bars, what I tasted in the end product was baked egg whites, almond flour, and chocolate chips.

Also, it took me 28 minutes to beat my egg whites into peaks with my hand mixer. Twenty-eight minutes! It just wasn’t worth the effort. Next year, I’ll try these. And if you have other suggestions (for this particular recipe or otherwise), please fork them over.

Needs work: Roasted vegetable pie in a potato crust

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I was pretty excited about this one. I love potato kugel, I love roasted vegetables, and this looked like such a creative way to combine them. Once I spread the potato crust over the bottom and sides of my pan, though, I saw I wasn’t going to have enough for the top. I slid it in the oven to start baking anyway, and in a flash of inspiration, “folded” the sides inward after I filled it with the vegetables. Kind of like a galette, right?

It wasn’t all it cracked up to be, though. The roasted vegetables were a bit too well-done, and while they were still good, I think it would have been better to roast them for a shorter period of time before adding them to the crust. The bigger problem, though, was that the pie completely fell apart when I tried to serve it. Maybe the bottom should be thicker? I’m going to have to play around with this one.

Best surprise: Vegetable kugel

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Whenever I make my utterly perfect potato kugel, I wish I had thought to make a second one for snacking. For Pesach, I decided to mix things up by replacing half the potatoes with a zucchini and a couple of carrots. Was it as good as the original? It was actually even better. Plus, I left out the sauteed onion and didn’t even miss it — not the flavor, and not the extra step.

It was too bad I didn’t make a second one for snacking.

Prettiest dish: Two-ingredient chocolate mousse

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After last year’s disastrous mousse, I was loathe to try anything but the eaiest mousse recipe I could find. And this is it. You melt chocolate, whip up some Rich’s whip, and gently mix them together. It was a great close to our shulchan orech, especially all dressed up like this, piped into little cups and topped with chocolate curls. And it was perfect straight out of the freezer.

One note: Mixing hot melted chocolate with cold whip topping = seized chocolate. The effect is that it looks and tastes like there are tiny chocolate chips in the mousse, which I don’t think is a bad thing. If you want perfectly smooth mousse, though, let the chocolate cool before you mix.

New trick: Crispy potato roast

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When I made this for dinner on one of the days between kashering the kitchen and the actual start of Pesach, I took a risk: I prepped it nearly 12 hours in advance. That’s when I snapped this photo — something like 7:30 a.m.

When I pulled it out of the fridge two hours before I wanted to sit down for dinner, there was some (expected) discoloration and it was in dire need of a draining. I managed to do that without much difficulty (and without ruining the shape of the dish), and then cooked it without adding oil or butter, even though I suspected some of each had just gone down the drain with the potato juice.

The happy conclusion to this story is that it came out just as delicious as if I had started it at 5 p.m. Try it!

What were the best and worst things that came out of your Pesach kitchen this year?


7 Comments

emily on April 2, 2013 at 11:17 am.

regarding your difficulty with the egg whites-
I always beat egg whites with a hand mixer- it only takes minutes- the trick is to only use a glass or metal bowl. It will take hours in a plastic one as I found out the first time I tried! also the bowl has to be very clean- any grease in it will prevent the eggs from whipping.

Reply

Tali Simon on April 2, 2013 at 11:26 am.

OH. Thank you!

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Woolfairy on April 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm.

Our postmortem? The crispy potato roast was super popular for us this year. It is a nice thing to know that it can be prepped so far in advance. It was kind of a pareve year for us, unexpectedly with a standard but ridiculous number of farfel muffins. I had your blintzes and your crustless mushroom quiche on deck but they never did get made because we ended up getting invited out for yom tov. I definitely made a note of them though because I think the quiche would be a great addition to our post seder brunch. I usually make tortilla espagnola but I didn’t have time to potchke with the potatoes for that this year.

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Tali Simon on April 3, 2013 at 11:11 pm.

That happened to us last year — getting invited out for several meals and then not trying half the things I’d planned to make. Hard to complain, right?

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Leah on April 3, 2013 at 8:03 am.

Oy vey. Did you really try making Pesach cake with a hand beater? I have a mixer and I still will only make one bowl cakes for Pesach. Chocolate cake, blondies, and brownies.

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Tali Simon on April 3, 2013 at 11:12 pm.

Nothing beats a stand mixer, no question about that.

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avigail on April 4, 2013 at 3:33 am.

if your going to make a new investment next year I highly recommend the nesting set of pyrex bowls with lids- the do double duty as mixing bowls- work great with egg whites and a hand mixer and also can be used for storage, and even serving as they are glass and look nice- for salads, poached salmon and the like- the set is about 27 on amazon and made my life much easier- I’m even planning on getting a second set next year.

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