Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pesach - Passover Catering .............. Pesach in Manhattan's Hells Kitchen

I recently had the pleasure of meeting
and working with Rabbi Jill Hausman
of the Actors Temple in Hell's Kitchen New York City
on the westside of Manhattan
(real estate agents call Hells Kitchen "Clinton" or Clinton Heights
but the traditional new york city name
is Hells Kitchen and we are proud of it) -

so off the culinary team here at cuisinEtc
embarks on our latest culinary adventure
passover seder catering for a wonderful historic temple
or as my kosher frum friends would say
That may be a pesach seder - but it's certainly not kosher
of course given the right circumstances, access to a kosher kitchen and kosher cooking utensils, we have produced fully kosher meals under rabbinical supervision, but in this case, it's modern judiasm at it's best, confirming to the ideas of the tradition, although not to the letter of the halaca law.

The Actor's Temple
Hells Kitchen New York City
Sunday, April 20th at 6 PM:
Dairy/Fish/Vegetable Dinner
catered by Creative Cuisinetc,
with reservations required.

Funny enough the small historic synagogue
is housed right next door to a previous home away from home,
our son Ben's elementary school - for those of you who don't know
he is presently a sophmore at SUNY Binghamton upstate New York,
so this is also a walk down memory lane for us, to an "old neigborhood"

In any case, Rabbi Jill challenged CuisinEtc
to come up with a selection
of fish dairy menus featuring fresh salmon
that would be kosher style -
for the temples second night seder service and dinner.
following along with kosher style,
since we are serving dairy items, no meat, chicken or poultry
(like chicken soup, chopped liver, or pot roast)
can be served with this meal.

Here's what we will be serving next month -

I'll post some of the other menus later and
hopefully will have time to take some photos
during the seder dinner. But thought you would all
enjoy looking at the ecclectic NYC Manhattan style passover seder menu
we finally came up with.

Many thanks to my kosher catering
friends for their assistance and patience
in guiding me through this process.
For anyone looking for kosher caterers throughout the United States
please don't hesitate to contact me
and I can probably hook you up from coast to coast
via my networking contacts and good friends
in the kosher and non kosher catering business.

As always the challenge for the culinary team here at CuisinEtc, is

as boutique caterers we don't follow set menus but customize every event,

and we want to offer food that is

**healthy yet delicious and nutritious**,

**appropriate to the occasion**
(in this case lots of restrictions
because of "kosher for passover style"
which I'll address shortly)

**not too way out **
- appealing to a variety of sophisticated New York palates,

but also to folks who want the comfort food that holiday meals often provide

Menu A,
The Actors Temple
Second Night Pesach Seder Buffet

Buffet Dinner Service to start by 8pm

…Sassy Sephardic Salmon
– filet of salmon seared in a Med Rim spice rub,
nestled in a bed of caramelized onions and carrots
and finished with a honey-lemon reduction sauce

…Vegetarian Alternative:
Gruyere Mushroom Lasagne

Yellow & Green Zucchini “Noodles”
layered with fresh spinach, gruyere cheese sauce,
caramelized onions & mushrooms

…Med Rim Spinach Salad
baby spinach leaves, chiffonade of fresh basil
and watercress with marinated artichokes,
teardrop cherry tomatoes
& fresh marinated mozzarella
tossed with a citrus white balsamic vinaigrette

…Thai Inspired Broccoli Salad Fresh Broccoli
with Sweet & Tangy Apple Cider Vinaigrette,
Colorful Bell Peppers & Roasted Cashews (not spicy)

…Southwestern Sweet Potato Anna
- slices of sweet potato cooked in a chipotle pepper
enhanced cream sauce

Included in the menu at no extra charge, Creative CuisinEtc Inc. will provide following: (available upon our arrival at 4:30) · a hard boiled egg per guest

in addition:
a family style plate to be placed
on each of the guest tables: around 7:15-7:30

of Med Rim Olive & Artichoke Tapenade
surrounded by fancy cut carrot petals

and our Fabulous Signature Dessert Finale:

“Rivers of Sweets”

A bountiful display of flowing rivers
of chocolate ** dark Belgium **
and buttery caramel sauce
Surrounded by dippable goodies
such as coconut macaroons, meringue cookies,
fresh fruit and berries and dried fruit

**we will have to switch to kosher for passover chocolate
and we had to take out marshmellows
which have meat product in the gelatin

so the mandate was "kosher style" and
"kosher for passover style" but not actually kosher
and the menu needed to offer a fish and dairy meal
- no meat or chicken.

what does that mean for this congregation?

according to my helpful consultants and good friends
who are kosher caterers in other parts of the country
as well as personally kosher observant Jews

**thank you Dawn, Mimi and Chani **
- many of the foods that one is allowed to eat during
passover are based on tradition not biblical law
(other than the normal kosher rules)

so some conservative and reform temples
allow their members to eat what is called

kitniyot (kit- KNEE- oat) which translates to "small things", such as grains and various legumes/beans. Since this is based on tradition the variations from community to community - rabbi to rabbi is mind boggling and often confusing for a no observed like me. Read up on wikipedia link provided if you want to know more. I am certainly not qualified to explain this

"Among traditional Ashkenazi Jews, the custom during Passover is to refrain from not only products of the five grains but also kitniyot. Literally "small things," such as other grains and legumes. Traditions of what is considered kitniyot vary from community to community but generally include maize (North American corn), as well as rice, peas, lentils, and beans. Many also include peanuts in this prohibition, and one source, the Chayei Adam, also includes potatoes in his list, although his opinion is not followed by any large or major groups. Sephardi Jews typically do not observe the ban on kitniyot, albeit some groups do abstain from the use of dried pulses during Passover.


kitniyot = corn and maize, rice, soybeans, peanuts, grains like quinoa, to name a few.

but Rabbi Jills members at the Actors Temple
are more traditional
in the Ashkenazi tradition when it comes to passover foods, and do not allow the use of kitniyot

hence CuisinEtc was given the following restrictions
when designing the seder menu for April 20th at the Actors Temple.

no flour or wheat products except matzah and matzah meal
no rice
no beans
no soy
no corn
no beef, lamb, (pork - duh), sheep, goat
no chicken, duck, poultry

What they wanted was a med-rim and middle eastern menu
featuring a nice salmon dish, a vegetarian alternative with eclectic side dishes
and semi traditional desserts.

I think we did pretty well. and all this on a tight budget.

as always what we love about our business and our life's work is the ability to interact with such a diversity of people - to learn more about life daily and put healthy delicious food on the table for everyone's enjoyment.

recipe for coconut chocolate macaroons
adapted from one passed on to me by my good friend and catering buddy
Susan from Splendid Affaire in Akron Ohio.

Makes 5 doz chocolate coconut macaroons

2 oz unsweetened chocolate or bittersweet chocolate
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups finely shredded sweetened coconut

1 T espresso (from dried but liquid form) or 1 t. dried powder
1 teaspoon. almond extract
pinch of salt

preheat 350

in large heavy sauce pan
combine chocolate and condensed milk over med. Heat
stir briskly with whisk until thick and glossy
(that is key other wise dry looking

remove from heat
stir in rest of ingredients with WOODen spoon to blend

drop mixture by small teaspoons on parchment
don’t spread

bake 10 minutes or until bottoms are set
don’t over bake will soft but set up later

note can substitute one cup of coconut for 1 cup of finely chopped nuts
almonds, walnuts or pecans