Friday, March 30

Food Brings Families Together

by the JCC staff
I read an article recently about the Seder. It turns out that a Seder is the most celebrated Jewish holiday in North America as well as in Israel, even though no two families celebrate in the same way.

For our non-Jewish readers, Seder is a ritual feast held at the start of Pesach, or Passover. Specific foods help retell the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.
Times and families have changed much over the generations since the first Jewish immigrants came to the United States. Books such as MakeYour Own Passover Seder aim to help today’s blended families continue some traditions and create their own new ones.
Even the White House now celebrates the Seder, a relatively informal event meant to share in and respect the traditions of some of President Obama’s staff.
I found a tasty-sounding recipe for gefilte fish, one of the most well-known parts of the Seder meal. This one, called hraimeh, is popular in Israel.

Makes 6 servings
For the paste:
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper (or sweet paprika for a milder flavor) 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 large onion, finely diced 
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the fish:
  • 6 slices fish (1.5 fingers thick) and retain the head if you wish

Pilpelchuma sauce:
1. In a small bowl, blend the garlic, cayenne pepper and salt until you get a paste. This is the pilpelchuma mix.
2. Heat the oil in a wide saucepan, then add the onion, and saute until translucent.
3. Add the pilpelchuma mix and saute for an additional minute
4. Add the tomato paste and water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is reduced.
1. Place the fish slices on the sauce, pushing them down. Add water to almost the height of the fish (do not cover the fish – we’re not making soup). If you have room, add the fish head which gives some extra flavor.
2. Bring to the boil, and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through
3. To serve, put 2-3 tablespoons sauce in plate, add a fish slice, and spoon some more sauce on top.
4. Serve with crisp baguette or fresh challah for dipping in the sauce (not on Passover, of course).

What are your favorite Seder traditions – or, if you’re not Jewish, your best-loved family food traditions?

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