Passover is upon us once again and, even though I have been dealing with the most arduous move of my life, I feel quite a lot more on top of my game than I have in previous years when the holiday and all of its foodie limitations have crept up on me like a sneaky creeper thing.
Not being Jewish, I shan’t pretend to actually know how to do Passover properly, but my mister is Jewish and observes as best as he can as a Jew in a community with a beautiful synagogue that has to rent a rabbi and make special arrangements to stay in matzah. As such, I observe Passover as a bit of a bystander seeking moments of participation from which to learn and grow to the aim of one day being a good little shiksa.
With all that is going on the world, I feel the holy days, and all of the symbolism of freedom and liberation that surround them, a little more poingnantly this year. Melanism and Judaism tend to agree on a lot and Passover reminds me of, and is a good time to reflect upon, the tenet “no one is free until we are all free”. Through Passovers past we often joked about all kinds of foods representing affliction, but it’s difficult to joke about that stuff when we have a US president who has just bombed a nation because it keeps bombing its own people who are there and dying because they’re brown and other countries, including the US, won’t have them.
I maybe have some highly romanticized notions about expression through food, but I also believe that the practice is a highly effective tool for education. I can’t think of a single Jew who can’t immediately explain what those little, gummy, citrus candy slices of affliction have to do with lamb’s blood over doorways and unleavened bread. That’s some mighty powerful gummies.
So, on top of being on top of my game, I really sought out expression in the first, big Passover meal of the year, opting to use local-ish, and therefore new world, ingredients and lots of old world flavours.
These are the recipes I did not follow:
I went with turkey instead of capon, swapped out the pistachios for pecans, the dried apricots for dried cranberries and the onions and scallions for one whole leek.
I also tossed in a heaping cup of Halkidiki olives instead of the half cup of green olives suggested.
I other also did not stuff the bird with it and cooked it in a stoneware crock on the side because I am just so over stuffing birds. It’s a gross job and so uneccessary with today’s culinary technology. I did add pan drippings from the turkey to it.
In hindsight, I should have added sumac to the turkey rub as it comes into play in another dish and would have married things together in such a lovely way.
Potato kugel cups. Now known as “latke cups” or “Jewrkshires” because Rob says so and he’s the Jew boss.
I actually followed this recipe almost to the T, except for adding in a heaping tablespoon of dried parsley, using veg oil for the pan lube (but still evoo for the mix) and cooking at 375 instead of 425 because the science didn’t make sense, especially when there’s a “cook it longer if not crispy” caveat. To that end, I blanched the potatoes first. I also spiralized instead of pulverizing them because pretty.
They were nice and crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. One cannot go wrong with greasy, potatoey goodness.
Last but not least, and totes because I needed to break up the brown, I made a side of roasted green beans and grape tomatoes with a sumac dressing.
I think I’ve mentioned that turkey dinners are not my favourite things ever, but I was so stoked to not only cook (like I was at thanksgiving because of the leftovers fiesta we’d planned), but also eat this one because it was a whole new spin on the tradition.
Oh right! I also made the daughter make a light gravy with the turkey schmaltz and potato water. “I need flour!” “Not allowed!” “Cornstarch, then!” “Not allowed!” “Worchestershire!” “Not allowed! Add lemon juice!” The gravy was delightful and the learning is a family affair.
One day, I’ll work up to a proper Seder and I’m going to carry this over into a slightly unconventional matzo ball soup later in the week and have three more Passover meals to create after that, but dudes, I am so chuffed with how all of this turned out I ain’t fussed in the least.