How I Modernize My Passover Table (Without Betraying My Bubbie)

Passover is a Jewish holiday that’s been celebrated for thousands of years. Needless to say, the traditions we observe for it are… also old. To celebrate, Jewish families like mine have a big feast called a Seder on the first two nights of the 8-day ho…

Passover is a Jewish holiday that’s been celebrated for thousands of years. Needless to say, the traditions we observe for it are… also old. To celebrate, Jewish families like mine have a big feast called a Seder on the first two nights of the 8-day holiday. It’s a ceremony that has carefully prescribed rituals, including several special dishes and foods that need to be placed on the table in order to properly perform the Passover Seder. The most important is the Seder plate, which is the ceremonial centerpiece that contains six symbolic ingredients (more on those later). A festive kosher-for-Passover meal follows the ceremony, and although you can really serve anything that’s kosher-for-Passover (or free of chametz—this typically includes leavened foods, but can also include corn, rice, peanuts, lentils, and more, depending on who you ask), there are a few traditional recipes you can expect to see. In my family, the same dishes are served the very same way year after year—gefilte fish that sits on a single leaf of curly lettuce garnished with a boiled carrot coin, matzo balls swimming in golden chicken soup, potato kugel, boiled eggs, carrot tzimmes, and brisket. Everything is relatively beige, but delicious nonetheless.

When I was a kid, my mother held my siblings and I hostage for three days before we hosted the Passover seder. We’d have to polish the silverware, press the linens, set the table, help prep vegetables, and lay out our clothes. My mother’s stress was palpable and for good reason: We’d usually have at least 20 people over for dinner, and she wanted everything to be perfect.

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The Viral Miso & Banana Cake That Taught Me to Love Upside-Down Desserts

The pineapple upside-down cake went viral long before social media. The concept first appeared in the 1920s as an elegant, sophisticated dessert that took home the gold medal in a now-famous Dole recipe contest, and after that the recipe was passed fro…

The pineapple upside-down cake went viral long before social media. The concept first appeared in the 1920s as an elegant, sophisticated dessert that took home the gold medal in a now-famous Dole recipe contest, and after that the recipe was passed from housewife to housewife. Even to this day, its popularity hasn’t waned. Now considered a retro classic, it still makes appearances at potlucks, picnics, and barbecues, and its trendiness is easily explained: It’s super delicious, easy to make, and truly a work of art.

Classic versions of this dessert features pineapple rings and maraschino cherries that are arranged in the bottom of a cake pan with butter and sugar, then topped with batter and placed in the oven. Once the cake is baked, it’s inverted to reveal the gem-like fruit. And while the pineapple version made the upside-down cake widely known in North America, the concept was around long before then. Upside-down cakes used to be known as skillet cakes, which pre-date the modern oven, going all the way back to the Middle Ages. They were made in—you guessed it—a skillet over a fire or stovetop in which you’d first caramelize the fruit and sugar, then cover it with a batter. Once cooked, it was flipped to expose the beautiful self-saucing cake. For centuries, chefs and home cooks alike have experimented with different fruit and cake combinations to create a world of endless upside-down cake possibilities.

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