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April 11, 2011 11:40 AM   Subscribe

My ultra-orthodox parents are coming for passover, what can I make that tastes good and adheres to their incredibly strict rules?

My parents are spending passover at us children this year and have agreed to let us prepare the food as long as we promise to completely maintain their standards. Fair enough, but it's proving to be a real challenge.

Please help us serve food over the 8 days that will make both the parents and kids happy. We don't mind the traditional foods (gefilte fish, chicken soup etc.) but we get sick of eating the same thing every day so we're looking to mix things up a bit. An example would be salmon tartare (made without the seasoning and toast).

Here's the criteria:

- Nothing leavened, no gebrochts so nothing made with matza or matza meal, no grains or legumes (includes rice, beans, soy, peas), no spices or herbs.
- Nothing that is processed or prepared already, unless we can observe the preparation process ourselves. e.g. we watched olive oil being pressed, made sure nothing got mixed in with it, so that's fine. The only exceptions to this is sugar, wine and salt.
- All fresh fruits and vegetables are allowed provided the skin can be removed. All nuts that can be shelled are allowed. Any kosher fish, meat and poultry is fine and eggs are ok too.

I think that covers it. Thanks!
posted by rochi to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
No grains or legumes - google "paleo recipes." Those are two of the main issues (the other being no dairy, which you don't mention, but if they keep strict kosher may also be useful.) There are a million good recipes out there with those restrictions.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:51 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

As long as you think along the lines of fresh ingredients--vegetables, fish, meat--the holiday is not really that restrictive. You can peel and chop up equal portions of onion, carrot and celery, then (a) sautée the combination in olive oil (adding salt pepper and chopped garlic) or (b) simmer the combination in water (not too much, just enough to cover the vegetables, again adding salt, pepper, and garlic to taste). When the base has sautéed/simmered for about 40 minutes, turn the heat down low and add a fillet of any kind of fish on top--trout, salmon, cod--cover and let simmer on very low heat for 20 minutes. For variations, use meat instead of fish or add spinach, or tomatoes, to the mix of vegetables. Serve the vegetables as a side dish, the fish or meat as the main dish, and the broth, if you've used water, as a soup before the main.
posted by Paquda at 11:56 AM on April 11, 2011

Oy. We lived on matzah pizza the week of Pesach growing up. I guess with the water in the tomatoes, it counts as gebrochts though...

If you have access to a kashered grill, I would say get some tri-tip, chicken and fish from your kosher butcher and go to town. I'm assuming you're not doing any kitniyot either, so no corn... hmm. I might do some potato kugels in advance. These are always well-loved in my family just to have on hand. Epicurious actually has some decent Pesach recipes that you could adapt if they're a little liberal with kitniyot or gebrochts.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:03 PM on April 11, 2011

We often fix for dinner what we generally call "meat salad", which is some sort of simply-prepared (usually grilled) atop greens and fresh vegetables.

Be mindful of getting enough fiber without grains or legumes! Fruits like bananas and oranges are good snacks.
posted by mkultra at 12:04 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Would asking your mom for some recipes defeat the purpose of you doing this yourself?
posted by elizardbits at 12:36 PM on April 11, 2011

Seconding Sophie's suggestion for kugels.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:57 PM on April 11, 2011

Perennial favorites in orthodox households of my youth included:

  • chopped smoked salmon mixed with KP cream cheese, spread celery stalks or cucumber slices

  • grilled asparagus, squirted with fresh lemon or lime juice, then rolled in thin-sliced deli meat

  • stuffed tomatoes or peppers, with stuffings of sauteed veggies like spinach or chicken salad

  • meringues made from scratch, with just egg whites and sugar and a little lemon juice

  • schnitzel from scratch, made by pounding veal cutlets flat and pan-frying in nyafat

  • hard-boiled eggs, chopped liver, olives

  • fresh chopped salad of cabbage, beets, and fennel

  • chicken with chopped fresh mint and apricots

  • posted by juniperesque at 1:28 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

    If you mix a beaten egg with some salt and a bit (rounded teaspoon?) of potato starch and then fry it up pretty thin like a crepe, you can either use it kind of like a crepe or tortilla for any sort of sauteed veggies, cheese, mashed potatoes (holy crap I eat a lot of eggs and potatoes during Pesach) or do what you're "supposed to" with these, which is roll em up, slice em, unroll and, poof, non-gebrocht soup noodles. Surprisingly delish. The potato starch toughens them up in a good way. I like em bc I'm a veggie who keeps K for P and doesn't eat kitniyot-adds variety. I'm all about gebrocht, though, since my family didn't come from that one little village blah blah blah (yours probably didn't either, but isn't unnecessary stricture fun?! Yea, Jews!). Also, usually non-gebroct people do eat that stuff on the last day or so so be sure to live it up in mazah ball territory then!
    posted by atomicstone at 1:36 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

    This month's Martha Stewart Living has a passover menu in it, it might be worth looking for? The recipes looked really tasty.
    posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 3:07 PM on April 11, 2011

    atomicstone's crêpe/noodle recipe works well -- my family makes those all the time -- though if it were up to me, I'd just eat charoses/t/th 24/7.
    posted by greatgefilte at 3:07 PM on April 11, 2011

    I'm not Jewish, but your restrictions outlined above made me think of this recipe which I find flavorful and LOVE. It is a Hungarian recipe for a sour red cabbage. There are a few changes you may need to make to the recipe for it to pass your parents' approval, but I think you could easily make those changes without a significant impact to the dish.

    Gul Baba Almas Kaposztaja (Apple Cabbage Gul Baba)

    2 1/2 lbs red cabbage
    1 small onion, minced
    2 tablespoons butter (I frequently leave out the butter)
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 cup chicken broth (you can easily make this yourself)
    2 lbs sour apples
    2 tablespoons flour (I frequently forget add the flour)
    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    1. Slice the cabbage to a fine slaw. Mix with 1 tablespoon salt, cover and let stand for 2 to 3 hours.

    2. Squeeze cabbage well, a little at a time and set it aside.

    3. Wilt the onion for about 10 minutes. Add sugar and brown carefully so as not to burn it. (When I omit the butter, I just keep the heat very low on the onions)

    4. Mix in the cabbage and pour in 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

    5. Peel the apples and cut into fine pieces (matchsticks). Add to the cabbage. Cook until both apples and cabbage are properly done.

    6. Mix the flour with the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth. Add lemon juice and pour into cabbage. (When I omit the flour, I just add the liquid in earlier so it has time to cook down.)

    7. Simmer cabbage for another 5 minutes. Adjust salt, sugar and lemon juice to your sweet-and-sour liking.

    posted by onhazier at 3:43 PM on April 11, 2011

    Roast Chicken? With roast potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots. Actually, roast anything that's kosher or peeled.
    posted by kjs4 at 5:06 PM on April 11, 2011

    My mother makes a nice roast chicken for seder and then the next day we make chicken salad. We cheat but you can make your own mayo, throw in some dried cranberries and some fair-game nuts. Great spread on matza or by itself.
    posted by alygator at 5:08 PM on April 11, 2011

    Oh, also- potato latkes! Good for more than just Hanukkah!
    posted by alygator at 5:29 PM on April 11, 2011

    This orange-almond cake is DELICIOUS (not passover delicious, like honestly delicious). Omitting the baking powder makes it kosher for passover and has very little impact on the recipe. (Its especially good if you drizzle some melted dark chocolate over the top.)
    posted by Kololo at 5:37 PM on April 11, 2011

    I've spent a couple of Pesachs with a Lubavitch family, whose restrictions are similar to your parents' except no sugar and no oil (they render their own schmaltz), and I used to think of it as an annual insanely strict macrobiotic cleanse. So there's a positive spin to try out.

    But anyway, beef stew is a staple: fry beef, remove; fry onions; add beef back with water/wine/broth to cover and any other root vegetables (turnips and parsnips are nice and less boring than carrots and potatoes, but you can also add a shredded potato to thicken it up, since there's no flour); maybe add a peeled, diced tomato or two?; then put it in a 300-degree oven for a few hours.

    Potato/tomato/onion frittata: Fry onions, with a hearty amount of salt/pepper; add tomatoes, fry until the liquid is mostly gone; add boiled, diced potatoes; fry until golden; add about 6 beaten eggs and heat on med-low until mostly set, then put under broiler until the top is set, too.

    Cucumber/tomato/avocado salad: This one is very important, because the avocados have fiber even without the peel: dice equal amounts of all three vegetables, peeled; dress with lemon juice and a decent amount of salt and pepper (I like this aggressively seasoned, but you may prefer it differently).

    Pears poached in wine (just peel and core pears, then put in a roasting pan with about 1/2-inch of white wine; bake at 300 until they're soft but not falling apart).

    Sabayon! (I know that recipe calls for it to be used as a sauce (on poached pears, actually, which would be yummy and would work for you, incidentally), but I eat it with a spoon.)
    posted by palliser at 5:45 AM on April 12, 2011

    Make one of those flourless chocolate cakes for dessert.
    posted by callmejay at 10:34 AM on April 12, 2011

    I just remembered a Moosewood Cookbook recipe where you make a crust for a savory pie with shredded potato and onion and salt, held together with a little egg. You could make chicken pot pie with a shingled-potato lid; thicken the sauce with pureed yam.
    posted by palliser at 5:27 PM on April 12, 2011

    Oh! you can also make schnitzel with ground walnuts as a substitute for the breading. Just grind or chop the walnuts up fine and salt them; dredge the pounded chicken breasts in egg and then in the walnuts; fry. It's FANTASTIC, better than regular schnitzel, in my opinion. It's nice to make a whole bunch and put them in the fridge for people to grab whenever.
    posted by palliser at 5:34 PM on April 12, 2011

    I can heartily recommend palliser's recipes based on personal experience.
    posted by chinston at 8:38 AM on April 13, 2011

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