Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Seder dinner recipes

I am committed (or perhaps should be committed) to making a Seder dinner for 30-ish people tomorrow night. I did a test run of the recipes at home, so I am feeling pretty confident that it should all turn out well. Not being Jewish (or is that being not-Jewish?), I really had no idea what I was doing in putting together the menu, so I did a little internet research. It seems lamb is not the meat of choice for a Seder meal as there is not a temple to make proper sacrifice; however, there is a lamb bone present in the liturgy of the meal. Of all the menus I read, there was some sort of citrus chicken, kosher potato dish and carrots. The meal is a balance of spice, sweet, and savory - balanced in that truly none of those is dominant.

Here is the menu:
Chicken soup with matzo balls
Orange spiced roast Cornish hens
Potato kugel
Balsamic glazed carrots
Coconut macaroons
Fruit salad with mint and honey

Here are some recipes:

Spiced orange roast Cornish hens
Serves 6
3 Cornish game hens, backbone and keel bone removed, then halved
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
6 thin orange slices
Thinly sliced chives

Preheat to 375 degrees
Combine all but oranges slices and chives and marinate for at least 1 hour. Remove from marinade and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on baking sheet and top with each with an orange slice. Roast at 375 for 35 - 45 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Garnish with sliced chives. I lined the baking sheet with foil since I was not making a sauce from the drippings and the honey can get rather sticky and hard to clean up!

Potato Kugel
Serves 10
1/4 cup canola oil
6 large russet potatoes, peeled and left in cold water
3 medium onions, halved
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Matzo meal
3 teaspoons kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Set the oven at 350 degrees. Pour the oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
With the grating blade of a food processor, grate the potatoes and onions, alternating one with the other. When the processor is filled, transfer the mixture to a bowl and continue with the next batch. Work quickly so the potatoes don't turn brown.
Remove the grater blade from the machine and insert the metal blade. Working in batches, return the grated potatoes and onions to the processor and pulse three times to chop the shreds. Transfer the mixture to a colander and press down firmly to remove excess liquid. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Stir in the eggs, matzo meal, salt, and pepper.
Set the baking dish in the oven and heat it for 2 to 3 minutes or until it is very hot. Remove the dish from the oven and swirl the oil so it coats the bottom and sides of the dish.
Carefully transfer the potato mixture to the hot dish (the oil may splatter). Smooth the top. Bake for 50 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes (total cooking time is 60 to 65 minutes) or until the kugel is golden and cooked through. Cool slightly before cutting into squares.

I must admit that I have never made anything like this, even in culinary school. Honestly, the recipe and procedure are a little counter intuitive to everything I know about cooking and I was therefore a little skeptical. I am happy to say that it came out rather lovely. Crispy on the outside, creamy and lacy on the inside. I worked quickly so the potatoes would not turn grey. The flavor is delicate and simple. Goes well with the chicken above.

I will try to post the other recipes later today!

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