April 2, 2010

Passover Seder

Posted in Family, Food, Friendships, Holidays, Traditions tagged , , , at 6:55 am by Liliana

Celebrating Passover

Celebrating Passover

For more than five years my family has been celebrating Passover with our friends, Martha, Ken and their children, Anna and Nick. It is always at their house and always a big event. This year, the tables stretched from the dining room to the edge of the living room. The sofa had to be moved to the side, extra tables and lots of chairs added to accommodate more than twenty guests. This is our group of family and friends, and we have a diverse crowd where various religions are represented – Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.

At 6:00 pm we all sit down with Ken at the head of the table. Each guest is given a copy of the Haggadah (the Jewish book containing the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the ritual of the Seder) so everyone can follow the proceedings. We fill the glasses with wine for adults, and grape juice for children. The celebration starts.

Ken reads from the Haggadah, and the guests are reminded of the preciousness of many concepts that we mostly take for granted: family, freedom, celebration, politics, practice of religion. We raise glasses in unison. We tell old stories, ask old and new questions. We sing. Jan reads to us in Hebrew. Every year it is the same, and every year it is different.

By the time dinner is served, the guests are very hungry. First course is matzo ball soup, golden and flavorful. We all know that Ken has spent most of the day simmering the broth. Next comes the main course: roast lamb with rosemary, caramelized carrots, steamed spring asparagus, matzo stuffing with gravy. And then, we have a lovely selection of fresh fruit, macaroons, and chocolate matzo brittle.

For a long time after dinner we sit and talk. Another year has gone by. All of us around the table have issues – with health, with children, with money, with big life transitions. But when I ask Ken how he is doing these days, we all understand what he means when he says, “Somewhere between very good and excellent.” When we are all together like this, how can it be any other way?

Here is the recipe for Jan’s delicious dessert.

Chocolate Matzo Brittle
Serves 10 to 12

  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 12-ounce box plain matzo
  • 8 ounces Passover margarine (Parve)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Cover the lined sheet with matzo. Break up the matzo and arrange in a solid layer in the pan.
Melt the margarine with salt and brown sugar, over medium heat, stirring until it begins to boil. Continue to stir and cook 6 minutes. Remove from heat and add cinnamon and vanilla.
Pour over matzo. Sprinkle with nuts.
Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.
Remove from oven. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of matzo. Spread melting chocolate with spatula to cover the matzo. Refrigerate for 1 hour. When hardened, break into pieces and serve. Enjoy!