Amy Kritzer is a personal chef and recipe developer in Austin, Texas and is the founder of the modern Jewish cooking blog, What Jew Wanna Eat. In her spare time, she enjoys theme parties and finding the tastiest queso in town.
Passover is one of my favorite Jewish holidays (a big meal, suspenseful story of the Jews escaping slavery in ancient Egypt, lots of wine) but the preparation can be stressful. Between the Seder plate, symbolic meal, and staying within the kosher for Passover rules, by the time I sit down to that first bite of gefilte fish, I let out a big sigh of relief. But this doesn’t have to be the case! Whether you are serving a meal for 4 or 40, planning ahead and picking delicious recipes can ensure an enjoyable experience. Here are a few tips to Seder success.
Invite Guests — and Put Them to Work!
Of course no Passover Seder is complete without Bubbe, but I like to mix up the guest list every year. I love inviting a few gentile friends over for their first Seder; it’s fun to experience the meal through a newcomer’s eyes, and they bring new questions to the table too. When your guests offer to bring something, take them up on it! Suggest something simple like Matzoh Bark so they don’t feel overwhelmed. People like to feel included and helpful. Plus, you can always use more wine, right?
Make a List
Once you know who you’re inviting, writing down everything you have to do ahead of time takes a lot of the worry out of Passover. Make a list of any food prep, serving supplies and special Passover items like Haggadot or matzah you need. Then you know to ask people to bring extra chairs, silverware, or chopped liver.
The food can be the most stressful part. It’s pretty much like Thanksgiving all over again, but with Roasted Brisket with Parsley Mint and Thyme instead of turkey and Potato and Carrot Kugel instead of mashed potatoes. Luckily, lots of Passover food can be made ahead of time.
Matzah Ball Soup: after you make your matzo ball soup, separate the balls from the broth and let them cool. Freeze the broth and matzah balls separately in plastic bags. Try Spinach and Matzoh Ball Soup for a lighter spring recipe. Or Matzo Ball Potato Chowder for something not traditional!
Brisket such as Roasted Beef Brisket with Carrots and Tomatoes is actually even better once the flavors have had a chance to settle. So make it 1-2 days ahead of time using an oven or slow cooker and refrigerate, or freeze for up to two months.
Potato Kugel like Vegetable Kugel with Caramelized Leeks can be made ahead of time, cut into squares, and frozen. Reheat in the oven.
Flourless Chocolate Cake can be frozen as well. Defrost before serving, and garnish with fresh raspberries.
Have Lots of Wine!
Guests 21 years and older are required to drink at least four glasses of wine during the Seder. So estimate one bottle per person.
Make a Seder Plate
The day of your Seder, don’t forget to make the Seder plate: Ashank bone (roast ahead of time), or if you’re a vegetarian you can use a beet, roasted egg, charoset (make the day before and try Apple Beet Charoset for a twist!), bitter herbs like horseradish, greens such as parsley, and salt water.
It’s Go Time!
Have the soup warm when guests arrive, and the gefilte fish or other appetizers ready to go. It’s a commandment to recline on Passover, so lean back and enjoy.
What are your best tips to prep ahead for your Seder?