Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Perfect Pesach

This past week is the celebration of Pesach (Passover), and it is a holiday I look forward to each year. Although I celebrate Easter, my best friend and her family celebrate Pesach. Since I consider her my sister in addition to my best friend, her family is also my second family. This year marks what I think is my 23rd or 24th seder with them! As always, it was perfect. Not because of the deliciously good food, but because of the deliciously good company and generous blessings we have. My best friend and her mom did all of the cooking, but I made a flourless chocolate orange cake for dessert. The Pesach meal is one of my favorite meals from start to finish...

The matzoh ball soup recipe comes from my best friend's great grandmother. It is, by far, the best matzoh ball soup I have ever had...and I have tried many! There are some years that when I take home leftovers, I eat it for breakfast the next morning. The matzoh balls (knaidlach) are light, airy, and perfectly textured. Here you see them swimming in a homemade chicken broth with lots of carrots, celery, fresh parsley, and fresh dill!
Gefilte fish gets a bad rap because most people have tasted it out of a jar. Well, not my best friend's mom! She makes hers homemade! It is phenomenal and there is not one iota of fishy taste to it! The horseradish (morror - bitter herbs) is a great accompaniment. I love dipping matzoh into the extra jelly that remains on the plate.
Green bean salad is something I also look forward to each year. It is also referred to as the "vegetarian chopped liver" and it is quite addictive. I try not to fill up on it before the seder meal, but that is impossible. Trust me.
Usually my best friend's mom makes a delicious brisket, but this year she decided to make a leg-of-lamb. Being Armenian, I admit that as much as I love brisket, I didn't miss it this year! My best friend's mom did the usual garlic and rosemary, but basted it as her mother would have: with beer! Let me tell you, that worked!
Here is the traditional seder place. Please read here to learn more about the beautiful symbols that mark this holy plate on the evening of seder.
And here is my dinner plate! The lamb, potato kugel, and roasted asparagus with red onion. Oh, and of course a glass of Manischewitz wine! If you have not tried it, you are not missing much! Its grape juice with a kick! I enjoy many other Kosher wines now after years of B.Y.O.M. (Bring Your Own Manischewitz).
The flourless orange chocolate cake is one I apparently have to make again. I do not consider myself a baker, but this came out well and not one crumb was left. I also candied my own orange slices from a Food and Wine recipe here. Enjoy!

Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake (courtesy of Epicurious)

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
flour, for dusting
6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
1 cup of sugar (I used a tad less and it worked perfectly)
zest of one large orange
4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
10x sugar/powdered sugar for dusting (I omitted this and made candied orange slices)

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter and flour a 10-inch (25-cm) round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment paper. Gently melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Stir the butter into the chocolate to melt, and stir until smooth. Remove from the double boiler and whisk the sugar and orange zest into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk well. Sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and whisk the batter until totally smooth. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top has formed a good crust. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.


  1. wow, great food, and this chocolate cake looks delicious, I need to try it :)..happy easter

  2. I am really fascinated by the Seder meal...and am glad you get to experience it as an "outsider" and write about it! I'll have to click your link to read more on the symbols, since it's been a few years since I've read about it. Your chocolate cake looks very nice, and sounds like it was a hit! I love chocolate and orange, and should take your cue and candy some orange slices - I've never done it before!

  3. What a wonderful experience for you. We are heavily Catholic down here though there is a very small Jewish population also. I've never had the pleasure of experiencing the Pesach meal, so you are truly blessed.

    Thanks for stopping by Deep South Dish and leaving a comment on my Spring Sangria. It will be a perfect addition to your brunch! I hope you enjoy it.

    Happy Easter from the Deep South!

  4. Potato kugel!! I am drooling. I love it! And also love matzoh ball soup. Never have made it, but we some fabulous Jewish delis in Florida and they have divine matzoh ball soup.
    How fortunate to be able to celebrate two holidays and all the different foods associated with them!
    Happy Easter, Aimee, and Happy Passover in honor of your "second" family.

  5. It looks like you had a fabulous meal in the company of good friends. Your cake looks fantastic and I'll give it a try on your recommendation.

  6. What a fabulous meal! Yum. I want a piece of that cake! Happy Pass Over!

  7. How cool that you have such a longstanding tradition with your friend. The meal looks amazing (that lamb! Yum) and your cake looks gorgeous. Happy Passover and Easter to you :D

  8. Wow!That looks incredible! And I'm a big fan of traditions!

  9. Oh i love everyhting that happens at PEsach and its all so exciting ...u took it a step further with some super delicious goodies...
    have a super sparkling day and fantastic easter !!!

  10. bonjour Aimée
    first I love your name wht a luck to have it !!
    second congratulations for your blog !! and third thanks for the flourless choco cake i was looking for ages !! CHeers de Paris

  11. What a wonderful meal! I'd love to steal a big slice of that chocolate cake! ;)

  12. I never heard of a flourless cake and it turns out great. I would love to trade cake :)

  13. What a gorgeous meal to share with friends. The lamb and the cake definitely would have had me hooked!

  14. Aren't you quite the lucky one to enjoy the best of both worlds. I'm so envious. Everything looks so fantastic.

  15. I'd love to be invited to a meal like that one year. I celebrate Easter, but I'm not that keen on "traditional" Easter foods. (Except peeps, obviously!)

  16. What a spectacular looking meal! I think I might have to start celebrating Pesach!!

  17. At this point you are basically an honorary Jew. Every part of that meal looks delicious, but your chocolate cake would be my favorite part!

  18. I have sat in on a few of my friends passover meals and seder's and love the food, and you are right the Gefilte gets a bad rap. Now that cake, you bet I will make that, I love orange, or any citrus cake!

  19. That chocolate cake is amazing! I will have to give that a try.
    Thanks for visiting~

  20. Any chance you can get you friend's mom's gefilte fish recipe and post it? Sounds good.

    My grandmother's was amazing but she passed without teaching anyone.

    I am collecting recipes to try to recreate it.


    Or you can email it to me at