Spring is here, Purim is over, and Passover is just weeks away. For the third year in a row, we are going back East to celebrate Passover with our children at the home of our older son and daughter-in-law, a home where we have always felt welcomed and included, to a seder that is open to so many. As my part of the planning begins, various family members have gently reminded me that “less is more”, have informed me that a Seder meal doesn’t need both chicken and beef, have encouraged me to cook larger quantities of fewer dishes, and have suggested to me that a good model to follow is something apparently common in restaurants in Williamsburg, where they often specialize in a dish or two that they make really well (does that sound like a hint?). Appreciative of everyone’s wish to make the entire process less labor intensive, easier on me, healthier, less costly, etc. I understand and hear the words in my head, but they don’t resonate in my heart. The dictionary definition of feast is to eat and drink sumptuously.
Last night I went to bed with a plan for a stream-lined menu that felt a little bit as if the “feasting” part of Passover, as we knew it, may be a thing of the past. This morning I thought of my mom, a woman who knew what hunger was, what deprivation meant, and who, more, than many of us, understood the importance of Passover. When the time came for her to serve the meal, there was no doubt that you were not sitting down to a typical dinner, but to a Passover feast. She knew that less is not more, it is just less. That when a family gathers together to celebrate, we should celebrate to the fullest, the wine should pour freely, and the food should be plentiful and varied. Let all who are hungry come and eat.
Ode to Fried Potatoes by Pablo Neruda
Translated from the Spanish by Maria Jacketti
The world’s joy
sizzling in olive oil.
to be fried
enter the skillet,
of a morning swan –
and they leave
half-braised in gold,
gift of the crackling amber
embellishes the potato
with its earthy perfume,
and the pepper
is pollen that has traveled
beyond the reefs,
in a marbled suit,
plates are filled
with the echoes of potatoey abundance:
delicious simplicity of the earth
20, thin-skinned, new white potatoes, smallish and round, about 2″ in diameter
1 tablespoon olive oil (for turkey or chicken which needs a little extra fat)
Chopped leftover potatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground chicken, beef or turkey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
additional olive oil for frying
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 Tb Telma chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups water
To make the sauce, add olive oil to a medium-sized saucepan. Add minced garlic and sauté for a minute or two over a low flame, just till fragrant. Add diced tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes before adding remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place potatoes on a sturdy service and carefully cut off a small slice from both the bottom and top. Stand potato on one end and using a small sharp knife, grapefruit cutter, or melon baller, hollow out almost all of the sides and the center of the potato.
Finely chop leftover potato pieces in food processor, and add to a large bowl with the other ingredients for the filling. Mix well. Using a small spoon, stuff filling into hollowed out potatoes. Gently sauté stuffed potatoes in olive oil till golden on all sides. Place in oven proof casserole. Pour the sauce over the stuffed potatoes, cover, and bake in a preheated oven for about 2-3 hours. Serves 15-20 as a side dish.
Note: Number of potatoes and amount of filling varies depending on size. Any leftover meat can be made shaped into small ktzizot (burgers), sautéed in same olive oil and added to pot. We did that and they were great! This is a dish that is better when it has a chance to sit so make it the day before you are planning to serve it.
March 24, 2014 at 10:06 AM
My mother thanks you and I thank you. Luckily we will be there to enjoy the Seder with the family and all the wonderful food. The recipe sounds really delicious.
Love, your shvester
March 24, 2014 at 5:50 PM
Your Mother????????? Mommy will be there too?? You are funny and I love you!
March 24, 2014 at 8:47 AM
Hi Irene, You are lucky to have your kids and they are lucky to have you!!!!!! The potatoes sound amazing, the poem tantalizing and the story about your mom gave me goosebumps, xo, Barbie
March 24, 2014 at 5:48 PM
Thank you Barbie!!! You are very supportive and I appreciate it!!!!
March 23, 2014 at 10:36 PM
This looks like WAY too much work for lazy me ….. so can you please mail me some from New York? Or make me some when you get back?
March 24, 2014 at 7:48 AM
How about Steve?? Fredda suggested making it in frozen artichoke bottoms which you can buy at the Persian markets. Norm loved just the plain ones in the sauce too!!
Will I ever see you again?????
March 23, 2014 at 9:23 PM
I love your recipes! So if you are making less, what is your menu for this year? Keep these recipes coming. If interested I will share my mothers chocolate meringue cookies. Jessica
March 24, 2014 at 7:45 AM
Thanks Jessica!!! I still feel badly that you all didn’t like the Israeli chopped cabbage salad from those chefs who came over! I have to make it for you one time!
Yes, and attach a story and I will put it as a guest post!! I would love that!
Yes, later this week I will link all the recipes I am making for seder.
Thanks, always nice to see your name pop up here!!! Don’t forget to send me recipe and story, no pressure, it can be as long or short as you like!
March 23, 2014 at 8:50 PM
This sounds delicious, I’m going to make it for Rob and my Dad. I can’t wait to see you and Norm for Passover!
March 24, 2014 at 7:42 AM
My friend said we could stuff frozen artichoke bottoms or little round pattypan squash with the same stuffing. I would double the sauce because it was so good. I always look forward to seeing you!!
March 23, 2014 at 5:20 PM
I love the potatoes , i can smell it !!! Irene i do very similar way red peppers !
March 23, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Thanks Anna!! I love stuffed peppers!
March 23, 2014 at 2:10 PM
What a terrific post Irene. Boy would I love to be at your Passover feast! (or any feast you are cooking for). I adore this line: “She knew that less is not more, it is just less.”
Three cheers for feasting!
March 23, 2014 at 3:51 PM
Thank you so much Beth! Let’s hope the rest of my gang feels that way!!
March 23, 2014 at 11:53 AM
How kind of your kids to try and make the yontiff easier for you. But less is certainly not in your DNA. So glad that you will all be together. Question: do you boil the potatoes first or use raw?
March 23, 2014 at 4:01 PM
How right you are!! Impossible. I already texted you the about the potato but in case any one else wants to know, yes, they are raw potatoes.
Thanks Estelle, you are so nice to comment all the time!!!!
March 23, 2014 at 11:19 AM
Can’t wait to try it!
March 23, 2014 at 3:53 PM
Let me know how it comes out Esther! Also Fredda suggested using the same filling for mushroom caps and frozen artichoke caps!!!