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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?