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Passover a la Mexicana at The James Beard House

Passover a la Mexicana at The James Beard House

4 recipes
Gefilte Fish a la Veracruzana (Poached Gefilte in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Gefilte Fish a la Veracruzana (Poached Gefilte in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Ingredients

For the fish patties:

  • 1 pound red snapper fillets, skinned and deboned
  • 1 pound flounder fillets, skinned and deboned
  • ½ white onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup matzo meal
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • ½ cup white onion, chopped
  • 1  28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups fish broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 cup manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos, sliced
  • 8 pepperoncini peppers in vinegar brine
  • 2 tablespoons capers

Matzo Ball Soup a la Mexicana (Matzo Ball Soup With Serrano Chile)

Ingredients

For the stock:

  • 1 whole chicken, approximately 5 to 6 pounds
  • 1 ½ medium white onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced from tip to stem end with seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 stems cilantro
  • 1 leek, split lengthwise and sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 to 6 white peppercorns
  • 4 quarts water
  • sea salt to taste

For the matzoh balls:

  • 1 ¼  cups matzoh meal
  • 2 ½  teaspoons kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • ½  teaspoon baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 large eggs, 3 separated
  • ¼  cup schmaltz, bone marrow or vegetable oil
  • ¼  cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable

For serving

  • 1 small one onion, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano or 1 jalapeño chile, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 to 2 avocados, diced
  • 3 to 4 limes, cut in wedges
Boca Negra (Flourless Chocolate Cake With Sweet Tomatillo Sauce)

Boca Negra (Flourless Chocolate Cake With Sweet Tomatillo Sauce)

8 Servings2h

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 6 medium dried chipotle chiles 
  • 6 tablespoons fresh orange juice (preferably fresh)
  • 10 ounces high quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch or almond flour
  • 1 pinch salt

For the tomatillo sauce:

  • 1-pound small fresh tomatillos, husk-removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 8 ounces piloncillo 
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
Apple and Asian Pear Charoset

Apple and Asian Pear Charoset

Ingredients

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, minced
  • 2 honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 asian pear, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped (about 2 sprigs)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, separated (about 3 medium oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
  • fresh horseradish, grated
Recipes
1
Gefilte Fish a la Veracruzana (Poached Gefilte in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Gefilte Fish a la Veracruzana (Poached Gefilte in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Ingredients

For the fish patties:

  • 1 pound red snapper fillets, skinned and deboned
  • 1 pound flounder fillets, skinned and deboned
  • ½ white onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup matzo meal
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • ½ cup white onion, chopped
  • 1  28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups fish broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 cup manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos, sliced
  • 8 pepperoncini peppers in vinegar brine
  • 2 tablespoons capers
2

Matzo Ball Soup a la Mexicana (Matzo Ball Soup With Serrano Chile)

Ingredients

For the stock:

  • 1 whole chicken, approximately 5 to 6 pounds
  • 1 ½ medium white onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced from tip to stem end with seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 stems cilantro
  • 1 leek, split lengthwise and sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 to 6 white peppercorns
  • 4 quarts water
  • sea salt to taste

For the matzoh balls:

  • 1 ¼  cups matzoh meal
  • 2 ½  teaspoons kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • ½  teaspoon baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 large eggs, 3 separated
  • ¼  cup schmaltz, bone marrow or vegetable oil
  • ¼  cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable

For serving

  • 1 small one onion, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano or 1 jalapeño chile, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 to 2 avocados, diced
  • 3 to 4 limes, cut in wedges
3
Boca Negra (Flourless Chocolate Cake With Sweet Tomatillo Sauce)

Boca Negra (Flourless Chocolate Cake With Sweet Tomatillo Sauce)

8 Servings2h

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 6 medium dried chipotle chiles 
  • 6 tablespoons fresh orange juice (preferably fresh)
  • 10 ounces high quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch or almond flour
  • 1 pinch salt

For the tomatillo sauce:

  • 1-pound small fresh tomatillos, husk-removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 8 ounces piloncillo 
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
4
Apple and Asian Pear Charoset

Apple and Asian Pear Charoset

Ingredients

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, minced
  • 2 honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 asian pear, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped (about 2 sprigs)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, separated (about 3 medium oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
  • fresh horseradish, grated

Holidays are a unique opportunity to see how Jews celebrate all over the world, and the diverse foods that they eat. This year, The Jewish Food Society’s Passover seder, which takes place Tuesday, April 11 at the James Beard House in New York City, is all about Mexico. Chefs Fany Gerson (La New Yorkina), Rafa Zaga (Marea) and Pati Jinich (Pati’s Mexican Table) dug into their family archives for the recipes they will be cooking, which are all sourced from their grandmothers. 

At first glance, the menu looks like Passover’s greatest hits—gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, brisket. But each dish is a singular product of the Jewish diaspora. Gerson’s matzo ball soup, brightened with jalapeño peppers, is a reflection of her Eastern European meets Mexico City heritage. (A handful of lucky students got a preview at Fany Gerson’s Mexican Seder cooking class earlier this week, hosted by the JFS and Haven’s Kitchen.) Pati Jinich’s gefilte fish, a poached fish cake in a spicy tomato sauce, aka a la Veracruzana, is edible evidence of her family’s journey from Poland to the port city of Veracruz. And Rafa Zaga’s rice-stuffed lamb with tamarind is influenced by his Syrian grandmother, whose cooking changed forever when she began making Middle Eastern dishes using Mexican ingredients.

Though Tuesday’s seder is sold out, we’re happy to share several of the chefs’ family recipes and the stories of the women who inspired them below, including Mexican gefilte fish and matzo ball soup, and Rafa’s grandmother’s unique sweet-tart-savory haroset. It’s not too late to add one of them to your seder table, if not this year, then next.