Jewish cuisine tasty for all seasons

Joe Bugbee and Joe Bugbee

Passover is mostly thought of as the Jewish holiday celebrating their liberation from the Egyptians, but what about the delicacies that are celebrated? There are hundreds of different kinds of dishes, ranging from soups to hard-boiled eggs, to spongecake. The heart of the Passover table, is the Seder plate. The plate holds six symbolic foods that are eaten during the ritual meal on the first night of Passover, also telling the story of the Jewish’ exodus from slavery to freedom.

Called betza in Hebrew, the egg, usually hard boiled, is representative of the sacrificial offering to God in the Temple. Some people begin the Passover meal that follows the Seder plate by dipping the egg in salt water.

The lettuce and bitter herbs (which symbolizes the bitterness of slavery) are next on the Seder plate, which can be dipped in the haroseth, a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices and wine. The haroset represents the mortar the Jewish slaves used to make bricks for the pyramids.

A little parsley, which symbolizes springtime and rebirth, brings a touch of mildness to the Seder. It’s dipped into salt water near the beginning of the Seder in memory of the tears of slavery. Contrasting the mild texture of the parsley is freshly grated horseradish, another symbol of the bitterness of slavery.

Rounding out the Seder is a cut piece of lamb shank, representing the slaves’ offering of the lamb on the eve of the Exodus. For those who are vegetarians, some rabbis suggest using a roasted beet.

There are restrictions, how-ever to the feasting during Passover. Jews are prohibited from eating any food that is leavened–foods that have yeast in them, like breads or noodles. In place of breads, matzos, a cracker-like food is eaten instead. “It’s a basic kosher rule,” said Lynn Nusbaum, the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo. “We also stay away from green beans too.”

Other popular dishes eaten during Passover are matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, and stewed zucchini. For those who enjoy dessert, there’s apple spongecake and banana drops.

Mom’s Chicken Soup With Matzo Balls, Carrots, and Dill

1 cup matzo meal

1/4 cup chicken fat

4 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

4 quarts chicken soup, homemade

2 cups thinly sliced carrots

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

In a bowl, mix together matzo meal, chicken fat and seltzer. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl until frothy. Stir into matzo meal mix with 1 teaspoon salt. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Bring 2 quarts of chicken soup to a simmer. Take a small spoonful of the mixture and using two small spoons, shape the mixture into small balls (about the size of a large marble) and place in simmering soup. Cook for 35 minutes.

Bring remaining 2 quarts of chicken stock to a boil. Cook carrots until al dente. Lower to a simmer, add cooked matzo balls and dill. Serve very hot.

Recipe from