Surviving Passover

Well, I made it. What an epic. This year my schedule was very tight because I was up at the Culinary Insititure of America for the Harvard Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives conference and my fish for the gefilte fish was flying in on Saturday and I was up in Napa. So my daughter Rachel volunteered to go to Monterey Fish to pick up the white fish and Lake Trout ( no Pike this year for some reason)  and to get my green garlic at the Farmer’s Market for my Turkish lamb stew.  Brilliant team planning. Only she got a flat tire.  Eventually AAA got her on her way, just in time to get to the fish market before it closed. And the green garlic came from Whole Foods, near where she was having her tire repaired. Crisis number one averted.

I came home and on Sunday started the fish stock and the grinding of the fish. Only as I was cleaning my pots and pans and the ktichen semlled of fish, and the phone was ringing, the disposal jammed and the sink stopped up and a geyser of filthy water spewed up.  The last time this happened was at Thanksgiving. My sink seems to know when a holiday is on hand . After a few minutes of cursing and panic, my son in law came over and unjammed the disposal, I mopped up the mess and I was back in business. Crisis number two  averted.  Gefilte fish made and delicious, all 45 pieces, and stock reduced to a perfect gel. Before I left for Napa I had put up the pickled salmon as it needs a week to cure. So the fish course was done.  

The next day  I did the rest of my marketing, picking up the preordered chicken fat, chicken livers,lamb for the stw and a million other items to make this the Seder of Seders. I had 14 coming for dinner and lots of work ahead. I had to find room in the refrigerators for all this food! Sort of like sedeing how how many clowns you can fit in the Volkswagen. A tight fit.  I dug out the  4 gallons of home made chicken soup and a container of lamb stock for the stew from the freezer. 

Next  I had to opening the table to its maximum dimensions and find extra chairs in the basement. Standing on a ladder to get to the upper reaches of my cabinets I brought down 5 sets of plates for all the courses and all those wine classes. I unearthed the Seder plate and the Haggadahs. I made the Sephardic dried fruit haroset. Really good this year.  Finally, pooped, I made the prep list for the next few days.  The  Passover count down had begun. 

The next day  was the 12 onion day.  6 chopped and 6 sliced. I did this before I put on my mascara, tired of streaks.  I cut up the chicken fat and started it rendering on the stove. I trimmed all of the chicken livers. I boiled eggs.  Finally I added the sliced onions to the fat and made our favorite forbidden treat, the gribines ( crispy browned fat cracklings and onions. )Yum. I have to hide them so I don’t eat too much. I made the chopped liver.   I only make these once a year as they are  not really good for you. But delicious. Only once a year do we indulge.   

Now it was stew time. I trimmed the lamb and browned it. Green onions and green garlic were trimmed and blanched.  While the stew simmered I made the flourless hazelnut cake. Another 10 eggs.

I set the table and did the flowers. I was ready for a glass of wine.  One more day of cooking ahead .

Seder day was upon me! Vegetables to prep, horseradish to grate, and matzo balls to prepare. All 70 of them as they are very very popular with the family . I make floaters, not sinkers and  everyone wants more than 2 or 3. The last items on my to-do list were to chop herbs, assemble the Seder plate, slice the berries and pour blood orange juice over them.  I also pulled wine from the cellar. A big crowd called for big bottles.

One of our guests was wine maker Bob Long so I pulled a double magnum of his 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon from the cellar to go with the lamb. The cork was old but Bob and my son Evan managed to get it out without breaking it and they poured it carefully into 4  decanters. Crisis averted. My neighbor Jon Bonne who is the wine editor at the San Francisco Chronicle brought a magnum of 2004 Vouvray Brut to go with the gefilte fish. And we had some other wines as backup for the intervening courses  Finally I chilled some Brachetto for the berries and cake.

Everyone arrived on time. The grandkids asked the 4 questions and answered them. We took turns reading  from the Haggadah and cheers went up when the meal was announced. We had a great evening.

I ran the dishwasher twice before going to bed and ran it again this morning.  Dishes and glassware put away. All I can say is thank goodness fo leftovers. I am going  to enjoy the whole meal again tonight, with the last of the wine.  And maybe eat some more the next day  A successful Seder and no crisis today. So far.

3 thoughts on “Surviving Passover

  1. Hi Joyce,
    I used many of your recipes from Sephardic Cooking for my Passover celebration for 16 this year! I do some work with your son Evan in teh wine industry and I wanted to let you know how much I LOVE THAT cookbook. It’s the closest thing to my families Sephardic Cooking than anything I’ve encountered. Made the Leek and Cheese Matzoh Pie and the Artichokes out of your book. DELICIOUS! Out of 16 (5 were not Jewish) all food writers or cookbook authos and everyone was so wowed by the food and the whole Passover Sedar, just wanted to share with you. Best, Jamie Peha/Peha Promotions/Seattle magazine


  2. Hi Joyce,

    This relates more to your presentations in Napa at the CIA in April. I am a physician who attended the conference in early April. I found your presentations(as well as the whole course) fantastic. My wife and I have made just about all the recipes you presented and we love them all. We’ve also purchased Mediterreanan Fresh and have made a number of the salads(Grapefruit Avocado one is a favorite!). Your recipes and book have helped change the way we cook and really added alot of flavor.
    I’m hoping to pass some of the cooking tips on to my patients and would like to develop a cooking/ nutrition program at some point. I look forward to reading your other books as well!


  3. Hi webmaster – This is by far the best looking site I’ve seen. It was completely easy to navigate and it was easy to look for the information I needed. Fantastic layout and great content! Every site should have that. Awesome job


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s