Tips to help make your Pesach cooking experience a breeze.
The menu and quantity of food for the Seders are best kept simple. People who have had four cups of wine and the appropriate measurements of matzah and maror are pretty full.
But this is a holiday where it pays to be organized. Keep a notebook from year to year listing quantities (of matzah, wine, romaine lettuce etc.) you used so you don't have to start from scratch each year, and so you can avoid overbuying or underbuying.
Buy one new piece of equipment per year. Keep track of what you noticed was missing from the previous year. Then you won’t find yourself in the middle of a recipe running out to buy beaters.
Try to use recipes that are inherently kosher for Passover. And there are many wonderful Passover products out there. Trying to substitute ingredients into regular recipes gets tricky. For example, the Passover Dijon mustard does not work like regular Dijon. Better to skip it.
In general, avoid recipes with large amounts of matzah meal or potato starch (except the wonderful brownie recipe to follow). They tend to distort the texture and weigh down the food.
Keep track of recipes that worked well –- and reuse them! Also keep track of those that didn’t work so well. You don’t want to remember mid-bite that you didn’t like this item so much in the past.
Start buying any new items you need (dishes, glasses etc.) for Passover a few months in advance so you’re not hit with a large expense all at once.
If you have a large upright freezer, clean it early. You can then stock up on your meat and chicken and begin your cooking in good time, avoiding many lines.
Don’t buy too many tins of macaroons (no matter the price). Even though they are very good, I promise you that you and your family will be sick of them by the end of Passover. The above applies to many special for Passover items. Be careful with the quantities you purchase. You will not want to eat them once the holiday ends.
Many kosher for Passover items can be saved from year to year. Wrap them in ziploc bags and store in a clean, dry place. I even saved matzah once when I overbought, and it didn’t taste any different a year later!
Try to cook extra at the beginning of the holiday so you can enjoy the intermediate days and have less to do at the end.
My three favorite kitchen gadgets for Passover are:
- beaters -– many dessert recipes call for whipped egg whites (since you can’t use any leaven to give the cake body). You will get good use out of these.
- food processor –- you don’t need the fanciest kind but it is a very easy way to make many a kugel.
- hand blender –- this allows use to make many pureed soups for the holiday, vegetable and fruit and to puree them right in the pot, a real space and time saver.
Go to a Passover cooking class. It will get you in the spirit and help you feel connected.
Share recipes with friends. This is the time of year to turn to more experienced cooks. (Use Aish.com!)
One of the least needed pieces of Passover equipment is a hot water urn –- by the time the seder is over, no one has room for tea.
Don’t feel your Seder has to be the biggest on the block. Ask yourself what will be the most effective and the most pleasurable for and go for it?
Turn your kitchen over more than a day or two before the holiday so you can begin your cooking earlier.
A k’zayis/olive size of freshly grated horseradish is rough, especially on the uninitiated. Try the romaine instead.
Above all, keep your sense of humor. Figure out what works for you and stick with it no matter what others are doing.
After all your hard work preparing, make sure you get yourself a new outfit for Passover so you will feel physically and spiritually beautiful.