Tag Archives: Passover

Passover seder meal

How the Passover Dinner (and Passover Story) Are Becoming More Progressive in 2021

For generations, Jews across the world have gathered to scoop fluffy matzo balls from chicken soup and slice piping hot beef brisket — but before they dig into their festive Passover seder meal, they must read a Haggadah. “Basically the Haggadah is… a guidebook, it’s a workbook, it’s a resource all at once. If anything, it’s a lot like a zine,” explained Rabbi Andrea Myers who serves queer Jewish communities in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. In sum: the Haggadah is where you talk about the Passover seder plate, sing songs, ask questions and talk about struggles.

Passover seder plate from above

The Book of Exodus in the Torah (or the Old Testament) tells the Passover story of how the Hebrews escaped slave labour at the hands of the Egyptian Pharaoh (spoiler alert: Moses parts the Red Sea and they get away). But while the Exodus text is always the same, there are hundreds, if not thousands of versions of Haggadot (plural of Haggadah), all meant to spark discussion about what we can learn from this collective historical trauma. “It’s not necessarily about the freedom per se, it’s really so much about the struggle,” Myers said. “And in our world today, we understand that we’re not the only ones that struggle.”

Rabbi Andrea Myers

Over time, Haggadot have gone beyond the Exodus tale, reflecting the struggles facing Jews and the communities they share the world with. For instance, the ornate Szyk Haggadah drawn in the mid-1930s highlighted links between Nazi persecution of the Jews and the Pharaoh. In 1997, the Stonewall Seder brought the plight of LGBTQ2+ communities to the forefront.

Lately, there are more and more progressive Haggadot being shared online about a plethora of progressive issues from food justice to refugee rights to incarceration to Black Lives Matter. There’s even a seder for the BDSM community.

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

“The world is a very complex and fraught and grieving place and we need to just be real about that, which is what I think that these Haggadot are saying,” Myers said. “That’s why I love Passover so much because it’s an opportunity for us in our own communities and families or core groups or whatever constellations people have for each other to have these conversations.”

Different foods or cutlery are also now commonly added to the seder meal in order to ignite mindful discussion. “I use a blood orange to represent missing and murdered Indigenous women and it’s not something that people would know unless they’re asked about it,” Myers said.

Pile of blood oranges

Having Your Own Progressive Seder

Ahead of the meal, Myers suggests having a frank conversation with those gathering around your table, virtual or not, about the issues most important to everyone. You don’t need to focus on just one struggle since many Haggadot online are short (Haggadot.com is a helpful tool that lets you customize your own Haggadah).

The idea isn’t to start a fierce mandlen (soup nuts) fight but to show solidarity with other people’s struggles. “Are we going to be people who sit back and say, ‘Oh well, we got ours.’ Or are we going to follow the ethical imperative to look and say, ‘Hey, here’s what we learned, how can we help you?’” Myers asked. “I think [this] is a very valid conversation to have, particularly when there are kids involved when we’re trying to role model what it means to repair the world.”

Did you enjoy this interview? Read more! Here’s our chat with Joshna Maharaj (on food insecurity and inclusion in Canada’s hospitality industry).

Photo of Andrea Myers courtesy of Andrea Myers; food photos courtesy of Getty Images

Moroccon-style stuffed artichokes

You Will *Heart* These Moroccan Stuffed Artichokes

These stuffed artichoke hearts take me back to festive Shabbat dinners and Passover seders with my family. My Moroccan mother makes this dish with frozen artichoke hearts (found at Middle Eastern grocery stores), but you can also use fresh artichokes if you’re up to the task of peeling and cutting them. If you’re short on time, skip the step of dredging and frying — both ways are classic — but I like the texture it adds. If you’re making this dish for Passover, you can swap regular flour for matzo meal. For a gluten-free option, you can also use chickpea flour.

Moroccon-style stuffed artichokes

Moroccan Stuffed Artichokes

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Servings: 16 stuffed artichokes

Ingredients:

Sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp turmeric
1 lemon, halved and juiced, reserving both juice and peel
3 cups chicken broth
½ cup chopped cilantro
4 or 5 inner celery stalks, cut into 3-inch chunks (can substitute with cardoon stalks or anise)

Stuffed Artichokes

½ lb of ground beef (can substitute with chicken, turkey, lamb or a mix)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp cracked black pepper (or ground white pepper)
1 egg, beaten
1 potato, grated (with peel if it’s thin-skinned)
1 onion, grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp ras el hanout
½ tsp turmeric
2 14-oz bags of frozen artichoke hearts (also known as artichoke bottoms), defrosted or 16 fresh artichokes (peeled and cleaned into hearts by removing leaves, fuzzy choke and stem)

Dredging (optional)
3 eggs, beaten, seasoned with sea salt
1 cup flour, seasoned with sea salt (can substitute flour with matzo meal or gluten-free chickpea flour)
Canola oil

Moroccon-style stuffed artichokes ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Make the sauce. You’ll need an extra-large saute pan with a lid or a tagine. Heat olive oil on medium heat, add garlic, sauteing for about 30 seconds, then add turmeric right before adding lemon juice and chicken broth. Add lemon peels and cilantro. Reduce to simmer. (Keep celery chunks aside to be added later).

Related: Traditional Jewish Comfort Food Recipes to Try

2. Make the meat filling for the artichokes. In a bowl, mix the meat with the cilantro, sea salt, black pepper, egg, potato, onion, garlic, ras el hanout and turmeric. Mound mixture into artichoke hearts.

Moroccon-style stuffed artichokes ready to stuff

3. Prepare for dredging and frying (optional). Place beaten eggs in one bowl and flour in another. Lightly cover the stuffed artichokes in flour, dusting off excess and then dip in egg mixture and set aside. When you’re done coating half of them, heat a large skillet with about an inch of canola oil on medium to medium-high. Finish coating the remainder of the stuffed artichokes and then begin frying, handling gently with a large slotted spoon. The stuffed artichokes should be golden on both sides, about one minute per side. Work in batches so you don’t overcrowd them.

Moroccon-style stuffed artichokes ready to cook

4. Place the celery chunks in the sauce pan, covering most of the bottom of the pan. Place the stuffed artichokes, meat side up, over the celery pieces and the sauce. (If your pan isn’t large enough to fit all 16 stuffed artichokes side by side, divide sauce and celery between two medium-sized pans).

5. Cover and simmer for one hour until artichokes are tender, meat is fully cooked and sauce is reduced. Serve with the sauce and enjoy with crusty bread, rice or matzah.

Moroccon-style stuffed artichokes

Like Claire’s stuffed artichokes recipe? Try her comforting mujadara or sfenj AKA Moroccan doughnuts.

Rainbow latkes on serving platter

Celebrate Hanukkah at Home With These Vibrant Rainbow Latkes

Although we might not be surrounded by friends and family as we light the Hanukkah candles this year, that doesn’t mean all traditions have to go out the window. Rather, they can be updated with a new vibrant spin: like making rainbow latkes. Step aside boring russet potatoes — your friends the beet, sweet potato, carrot, zucchini and blue potato are ready to steal the latke show. Rainbow latkes are strikingly gorgeous, taste sweet and crisp and are quite nutritious for you too. If you want to connect with friends and family this holiday season but aren’t quite sure how, consider dropping off a box of beautiful, colourful, homemade latkes to brighten their spirits.

Rainbow latkes on serving platter

Vibrant Rainbow Latkes

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 9 latkes

Ingredients:

Beet Apple Latkes
¾ lb beets (about 3 medium beets)
1 gala apple
2 Tbsp yellow onion
2 whisked eggs
2 Tbsp spelt flour
½ tsp sea salt

Sweet Potato Carrot Latkes
¾ lb sweet potato (about 2 small sweet potatoes)
2 carrots
3 Tbsp yellow onion
2 whisked eggs
2 Tbsp spelt flour
¼ tsp sea salt

Zucchini Spinach Latkes
2 medium zucchinis
1 cup baby spinach or spinach leaves
¼ cup yellow onion
2 whisked eggs
2 Tbsp spelt flour
½ tsp sea salt

Blue/Purple Potato Latkes
1 lb blue potatoes
½ cup yellow onion
2 whisked eggs
2 Tbsp spelt flour
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Rainbow latkes ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Using the shredding attachment on your food processor, shred one veggie or fruit at a time and wipe out the food processor before moving onto the next item. For example, shred the beets, place them in a bowl, lightly wipe out the food processor, then shred the apples. Place all shredded vegetables or fruit in their own separate bowls: beets, apple, sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, potatoes and onion. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a box grater. For the spinach, chop finely or blitz using “S” blade on your food processor.

Rainbow latkes shredded veggies

2. You will have to wring out the excess water from the zucchini and blue potatoes, otherwise those latkes will be too mushy and won’t stick together. You can do this by placing the zucchini and blue potatoes, separately, in kitchen towels or cheese cloth and squeezing the moisture out. Or you can also push the veggies down in your French press or ricer to remove excess liquid.

3. Now you can begin assembling the latkes. Within each of the veggie bowls add the correct amount of shredded onion, whisked eggs, flour, salt, pepper and any other ingredient it may call for.

Rainbow latkes ingredients in bowl

4. Combine the ingredients with your hands and then begin shaping them into latkes. We used a ¼ measuring cup — we like ours the size of a hockey puck, about 3-4 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

Related: Traditional Jewish Comfort Food Recipes to Try This Winter

5. If you’re baking them, preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and pour some oil on the parchment paper and spread it around. This will make the latkes crispy without actually frying them. At the 7-minute mark, flip the latkes, brush the other side with extra virgin olive oil and bake for another 8 minutes.

6. Alternatively, if you are frying them, place a pan over medium heat and add some oil. If you don’t like the olive oil taste, you can use a more neutral one. Slowly put the latkes onto the pan, but don’t crowd them, work in batches. Hear the sizzle and after about 4-5 minutes, flip and continue to fry on the other side until crisp.

7. Place the latkes on a towel or paper towel to sop up the excess oil.

8. Eat as is or serve with applesauce, labneh, Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s rainbow latkes recipe? Try their easy spatchcock chicken recipe or sumac-spiced roasted delicata.

Zane Caplansky’s Passover Traditions

Toronto restaurant owner and Food Network Canada judge Zane Caplansky conducts his Seder dinner just as his father did, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather before him. “Jewish families have celebrated Passover this way all over the world, for thousands of years,” he says. “The word ‘Seder’ means order. It’s a very unifying tradition because whenever I am with my family or other people on Passover, I always reflect that families all over the world are sitting doing this exact same thing and have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years.”

For more than a hundred of those years, the Caplansky family has celebrated Passover in Toronto. Caplansky’s great-grandfather Benjamin emigrated from Poland in 1896, promptly changing his surname to Caplan. “I’ve never met the man, but I always imagined one of the reasons he might have changed the name was to try and fit in better,” says Caplansky. “At the time the idea among the immigrant class was ‘be Yiddish, look British.’”

Caplansky Family Passover, Toronto, 1932

“The couple directly in the centre, seated at the table are my great-grandparents Benjamin and Rose Caplansky,” says Zane Caplansky. “My Zaidy Jack Caplan is on the far left (hair parted). My Nana, (Thunderin’) Thelma Goodman is in the centre, back row (the tallest woman with the bow). “

Now Caplansky, who legally changed his name back to the original when he opened his restaurant, Caplansky’s Deli, embraces his roots. “In Toronto, we celebrate our diversity,” he says. “So, the idea of being different and being from somewhere else is part of my authenticity.”

Lucky for hungry Torontonians and tourists who can’t get enough of his celebrated smoked meats, Zane Caplansky is driven to share his culinary heritage.

Caplansky's Deli Seder

On Passover in particular, his family’s recipes are a focal point at the restaurant’s public Seders, when his bubbie’s brisket and other family favourites take centre stage. The same dishes are available through Caplansky’s Deli’s Passover catering service, or you can make them your own with this menu from Zane Caplansky.

Caplansky Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball Soup
“My matzo ball recipe came from my other grandmother, my bubbie Doris,” says Zane. “So the matzo balls are as classic a dish as a person could possibly have at Passover. Matzo is unleavened bread. The story is that the Jews were in such a hurry to leave Egypt that somebody forgot to either bring the yeast, or didn’t have time to let the bread rise. To commemorate that, we eat unleavened bread. Matzo ball is a chicken soup, and has really come to symbolize Jewish food.”

Carrot Tzimmes
“There is a wonderful cook named Phyllis Grossman, who — twice — has won our Latkepalooza competition for Toronto’s best potato latke. Phyllis is a former advertising executive, turned caterer. She’s an absolutely brilliant cook. She actually had me over at her house for dinner not too long ago. She served me her version of carrot tzimmes that has pineapple in it. I told her I was going to rip that off and she said go right ahead. So I have to give Phyllis due credit on the pineapple.”

Caplansky Family Brisket

Caplansky Family Brisket
The brisket recipe was passed down to me by my grandmother, my mother’s mother, who I named my truck after, Thunderin’ Thelma.”

Chocolate Matzah Crunch
“The matzo crunch was the brainchild of the talented Elspeth Copeland. Elspeth is a friend and also a product developer at the restaurant. She came up with the chocolate matzo crackle, or crunch, and it’s a great garnish that we put on all our desserts, all year round at the deli.”

Bubbie's Manichevitz and Chocolate Matzo Cake

Bubbie’s Manichevitz and Chocolate Matzo Cake

My Bubbie used to make this cake for my family every Passover. My siblings and I used to get so excited for the first Seder, so we could finally dig into the layers of chocolatey deliciousness.

To carry on the tradition, I started making this luscious cake using coconut between each layer for some crunch and nuttiness. Serve this no-bake treat chilled or right out of the freezer for a tasty Passover dessert.

Bubbie's Manichevitz and Chocolate Matzo Cake

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
4 oz. bitter sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs separated
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups Manischewitz wine
8 matzo sheets
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Bubbie's Manichevitz and Chocolate Matzo Cake

Directions:
1. Melt chocolate over a double boiler on the stovetop, or microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring until glossy and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, 1 at a time and then vanilla. Pour in melted chocolate and stir to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold into chocolate mixture.
4. Pour wine into an 8×8-inch baking dish. Soak 1 sheet of matzo in wine for 15 seconds then transfer to a cutting board or cake stand.
5. Smear 2-3 Tbsp of chocolate onto matzo. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of coconut over chocolate. Repeat with remaining 7 layers.
5. Use remaining chocolate to cover sides of the cake. Sprinkle with remaining coconut.
6. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes, or serve frozen.

Matzo cake

Looking for more ideas? Try our 15 Gluten-Free Desserts for Passover.

matzoh-brie

The Ultimate Cinnamon-Strawberry Matzo Brei for Passover

If you’re a pancake or French toast fanatic, it can be tough to find an equally delicious breakfast during Passover. Sweet matzo brei is the perfect solution. Similar to French toast, matzo is soaked in an egg mixture and fried in butter until golden and crispy. It’s super satisfying, delicious and comes together in a snap!

matzo brei strawberry

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
3 sheets matzo (you can use egg matzo, gluten-free or any other type)
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp butter
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
5 strawberries, sliced matzo brei berry

Directions:
1. Break matzo into mismatched pieces and place in a bowl. Run water over matzo for 20 seconds then drain.
2. Beat together eggs, milk, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Place wet matzo in mixture and let soak for 1 minute.
3. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium. Add matzo and pour in any residual egg mixture. Let cook for 1 minute, then stir using a rubber spatula, scraping the sides. The matzo will break apart. Cook, while stirring until egg is cooked through, about 2 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and divide between two plates. Top with strawberry preserves and fresh strawberries.

Looking for more delicious recipes? Try these 10 Delicious Things to Make with Matzo.