So I was really starting to freak out about how I was going to serve a full Passover Seder in my tiny apartment, with so few dishes and silverware to go around. Not to mention how was I going to make several hot dishes at once with two burners and a postage-stamp sized oven? But I had a brainstorm! Since Passover is all about dipping anyways (part of the tradition involves dipping vegetables into salt water), I would just make a variety of dips and finger food for everyone to share while relaxing and enjoying the conversation, which naturally revolved around the Haggadah (the story of the Jews flight from Egypt, which is traditionally read at the Seder.) Well, this ended up being a totally brilliant idea, and I'm pretty sure everyone had a good time and enjoyed the more casual atmosphere, more than they would have if I was freaking out.
-Curried Carrot Dip
-Red Pepper Dip
-Matzoh, fruits and veggies for dipping
-Eggplant and Potato casserole
- Macaroons and home-made chocolate dipped strawberries for dessert
Having just recovered Veganomicon when my brother brought it from the US, I whipped up the Curried Carrot Dip and the Mediterranean-Style Cashew Cucumber Dip. Both were incredible, both on matzoh and with veggies, but I have to say that the Cucumber dip was a huge hit. Really cooling and garlicky and just delicious- would be a nice alternative to hummus. I also made the Red Pepper Tapenade that I recently made for a pizza topping, and that was also great.
Naturally, I made charoset, a mortar-like mixture of apples, walnuts, dates, honey (or in my case, agave), cinnamon and kosher wine. However, the omnipresent sugary Manischewitz wine was not widely available in Bxl, so I had to go with a Israeli white wine, which might have improved the flavor, but didn't die the mixture the characteristic red I'm used to. (I'm acting like this is no big deal now, but the day of I was like, "No manischevitz? WHAT IS THIS COUNTRY!!!?")
As for the stuffed mushrooms, I've made these a few times now and they are always supremely awesome and open to variations. Just make sure to make plenty, because otherwise you won't get to have any. (Take it from one who knows.)
-15-20 largish mushrooms
-2 tbs. olive oil
-1 yellow onion, diced tiny
-2 shallots, diced tiny
-balsamic vinegar or red or white wine
-matzoh meal or vegan cheese for topping
1. Clean each mushroom by wiping with a damp towel. Cut off the stems of each, then using a small spoon or paring knife, pop out the inside part of the stem so that each mushroom has an indentation that would fit about a teaspoon. (This takes practice, but you'll get the hang of it after a few.) Reserve the stems and the inside portions, and chop into small pieces. Place de-capped mushrooms on a greased cookie sheet.
2. Preheat oven to 350 farenheit, or 200 celcius. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium. Add in onions and shallots and cook until fragrant, then add in mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized and mushrooms are browning.
3. Next, add in a goodly splash of balsamic (or wine or sherry) to deglaze the pan. Cook for 3 more minutes then turn off the heat.
4. Now, using a small spoon, scoop the onion mixture into each mushroom a little bit at a time. (You will probably have leftover filling for snacking on.) When each is full, sprinkle a bit of matzoh meal or cheese on top and stick in the oven. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until mushrooms have browned.
All in all, it was one of my favorite Passover Seder's yet, and a really good confidence builder: if I can do one here, I can do one anywhere!
Song of the Day: Mika- Relax (Take it Easy)