Walking through the grocery store I saw that the Passover displays had gone up, I just wished they also posted the date of the first night. Since my mother’s death I have no one to remind that a holiday is coming. I no longer have someone who calls three months out, 2 months out, one month out, just so I don’t book work on the night I need to attend the Seder. I grow up in a reformed household, holidays were observed but Friday night dinner was not ritually preformed. As an adult, I would qualify as a cultural Jew – I love the flavors and smells of my mother’s kitchen; Borscht-belt shtick is definitely not lost on me, and I serve up a healthy portion of guilty as quickly as a fast-food joint can get your order out. As for the religious side of things, I would say I am more of a Universalist – enjoying the love and comfort of knowing we are all connected.
Food is one of the things that connects us and expresses love and honor. There is no kinder, gentler way of acknowledging a person then by asking them to sit at your table to break bread. Except on this occasion bread will be nowhere to be found, and in lieu of the staff of life you’ll find oversized water crackers. I will confess, I like matzo and happily eat it throughout the year; smeared with cream cheese sprinkled with chunks of kosher salt. I hated the tuna sandwiches that were packed for our lunches that week -- soggy bread may have stuck to the roof of your mouth the matzo sandwich just fell apart. Everything during Passover is matzo based, some for the good, and much for the bad. I warn all to steer away from the dessert table, only allowing the macaroons to tempt you. While the Passover table might not be the most glamorous meal of the year, in my family, there clearly was a celebration of spring. The first asparagus of the year were served and mushrooms where found in numerous dishes. And, lets not forgot the ubiquitous dipping of parsley, which this year could come from right out my back door. Unfortunately, I have booked a gig on that first night I will be neither attending or hosting a Seder – maybe, next year I can get Siri to start reminding me in February.
Mushroom Matzo Kugel – 6 servings (3x3 per serving)
4 sheets whole-wheat matzoh
½-cup chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-tablespoon canola oil
Chop the onions, celery, garlic and mushrooms and place in a 10-inch sauté pan. Add the salt and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes – the onions and celery will lose their raw look, and mushroom should leach out its liquid. Remove from the heat, and allow it to cool.
Pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees.
In a large work bowl crumble the matzoh, and toss with the parsley and egg whites. Once the onion mixture has cooled mix into the matzoh to combine along with balck pepper to taste.
Drizzle the canola oil on the bottom of an 11x7 Pyrex baking dish. Add the onion/matzoh mixture and gently pack it down.
Cook in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving.