Just wanted to brag/share my dinner menu from last night's early Passover dinner. My husband is leaving for Chicago (business trip) in a few hours so we decided to have my family over last night, a few days earlier than the real holiday.
I suprised myself with how fabulous everything turned out. The members of my extended family are ultra picky eaters and they all cleaned their plates and told me how lovely everything was. Just thought I'd share what I made and send some kudos for the recipes - each one of them came from chowhound folks.
I started the night before by making chicken stock. I bought a nice sized chicken and some extra backs and wings. I tore off the fat from the backs and wings, diced that and put it in a container and into the fridge. I threw the bird and extra pieces into a stock pot and covered with cold water and a few roughly chopped carrots and celery. I brought it up to almost a boil, skimmed some of the icky stuff from the top and then lowered the heat to a simmer and covered. I cooked it for two hours or so and then skimmed again. I removed the carrots and celery and discarded. Next I removed the chicken and put it on a large plate. I removed all the meat from the bird (once it cooled off a bit) and pulled it into tiny pieces and put it all into a container. I wasn't sure if I wanted to add it to the soup or not (I didn't...I wound up using it to make some chicken salad - yum - this afternoon). After everything was removed I let the stock cool on the stove.
I took the fat I had previously diced and put it into a fry pan to make schmaltz and gribenes.
I had never made it before and it turned out so delicious. My husband and toddler have been munching on the gribenes like candy. It also made my kitchen smell heavenly.
Once the stock had cooled I strained it into containers and put it into the fridge.
Yesterday morning I woke up and strained the stock again and put it back into the stock pot. I diced some carrots and celery and added those. Brought it all up to a boil and then let it simmer. I removed the schmaltz from the fridge because I wanted it to come to room temperature. I was going to make matzoh balls for later on in the day and the schmaltz needed to be room temp. Here is the recipe for the matzoh balls...actually, this is the only thing that didn't come directly/indirectly from chowhound:
I had a few lbs of ground meat in the fridge that needed to be used so I decided to make some sweet and sour meatballs in the crock pot to use as an appetizer. They're super simple to make and a huge hit...but they need to cook in the crock for several hours. This time I actually used ground beef, pork and veal (I'm such a bad Jew) and they turned out even tastier than they have with just plain beef. I'd venture to guess that they'd also taste good with ground turkey. This recipe came from chowhound many months ago:
Next I started on the brisket (thanks, Renee!!). I had been a little nervous since the piece of meat I found at Whole Foods seemed to be lacking enough fat. That said, I was thrilled that I was able to fit the whole thing (several lbs) into my Le Creuset. That pot just makes everything taste so moist and fabulous, no matter if it's meat or veggies.
[Note: I wound up not chilling and then reheating the brisket as suggested in the recipe - I just removed the fat once it was done and then cut it up right in the pot. The meat was incredibly tender and the flavor absolutely delicious. Best Brisket Ever. Make sure you buy a large enough piece to serve all your guests plus leftovers. You'll want more for the next day.]
Next I got to work on veggie kishka (thanks Miss Claudy!!). The schmaltz also came in handy for this recipe. I was a bit worried that these wouldn't taste as good as I hoped, but they turned out rather yummy, especially if you dip them into the sauce from the brisket.
When there was about 30 minutes of cooking time left on my brisket I got my Orange Vinagrette Roasted Asparagus (thanks JRL!!) ready. I tweaked the recipe a bit, though, by omitting the orange juice. I simply roasted the asparagus with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for about 5 minutes then removed them from the oven and covered them with orange slices. I put it all back into the oven and roasted until fork tender, about 7 minutes. After I removed it from the oven I drizzled it with a whisked dressing containing olive oil, salt, pepper and (a MUST HAVE) Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar. Everyone RAVED about this dish. Turned out incredible.
The dessert was the piece de resistance - Caramel Matzoh Crunch (thank you Dizzied!!), or as I will now refer to it, Passover Skor Bar (it tastes almost identical). Be careful with your teeth as this dessert is rather sticky. But, it is so good it almost brought tears to my eyes. How can something so simple be so utterly decadent??
So, everything was just fantastic and I ended up getting lots of kudos. Thanks Hounds!!