If you're hosting family and friends for the first Seder of Passover (Monday, March 25), shake off winter with this fresh new menu, provided by San Francisco-based kosher caterer Rebecca Joseph of 12 Tribes Kosher Foods. Wine Spectator's editors have tasted and scored 15 new kosher wines, listed below, to serve with a range of Passover fare.
Wine-Braised Lamb Shoulder with Spinach
"We use wine in the kitchen for braising meat and poaching poultry, as well as in sauces and desserts," says Joseph. "I love to take classic ingredient combinations and do something fresh with them. Here, it's lamb, spinach, garlic, rosemary, oregano and lemon zest in a rich sauce made with Merlot." If there is any leftover lamb the following day, pile it on a matzo with a dab of horseradish and perhaps some dressed greens tucked underneath to make a fine, kosher-for-Passover open-faced sandwich.
• 1 boned lamb shoulder, about 4 1/2 pounds
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 large onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
• 2 bunches spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
• Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
• 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
• 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
• 1/2 cup matzo meal
• 1 1/2 cups kosher-for-Passover Merlot
• 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1. Preheat the oven to 300° F. Untie the lamb shoulder and lay it out flat on a clean work surface. Season all over with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until simmering, then brown the meat on both sides. Remove the meat from the pan and reserve on a platter. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan and reserve separately from the lamb, in a bowl. Add the spinach to the pan and cook until just wilted. Stir in the lemon zest, rosemary and oregano, then remove from heat.
3. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together one cup of the onion and garlic mixture, the spinach and the matzo meal to form a thick batter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the batter in an even layer over the inside of the lamb shoulder and roll it up to form a nicely shaped roast. You may either tie it with cotton butcher's twine to hold this shape, or place the roast cut side down in a roasting pan. Arrange the remaining onions around the meat. Pour the wine and stock over lamb. Tent the pan with aluminum foil.
4. Cook the lamb in the oven for three hours, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat reaches 135° F (medium rare). Remove from the oven and allow to rest before slicing. While the meat rests, transfer the braising liquid to a clean pot, along with any of the onion-spinach batter that has fallen into it. Bring to a boil and reduce by about half, until the sauce is thickened.
5. Ladle some of the sauce onto a large serving platter. Slice the meat and arrange the slices on top of the sauce. Additional sauce may be served alongside the meat. Garnish with rosemary sprigs. Serves 10.
Potato and Celeriac Kugelettes
"These kugelettes go well with the lamb," Joseph says. "They're a variation on a recipe we make for Hanukkah, when we fry spoonsful of a similar batter in peanut oil. For your Seder guests, serve these and the lamb along with a simple salad of baby greens with a lemon and olive oil dressing."
• Vegetable oil for greasing the muffin tin
• 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
• 1/2 pound peeled and coarsely shredded celery root
• 3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
• 1 cup matzo meal
• 4 eggs, lightly beaten
• 3 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Use the oil to grease an 18-cup round or square muffin tin.
2. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the onions and potatoes.
3. In a large bowl, mix the onions, potatoes, celery root and 1/2 cup parsley to combine. Add the matzo meal and mix to distribute evenly. Season the eggs with the salt and pepper, then add the eggs to the vegetable and parsley mixture. Stir well to evenly distribute the eggs.
4. Place 1/2 cup of the mixture into each muffin cup, smoothing the tops. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the bottom and side are golden and the kugelettes are cooked through. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then invert the kugelettes onto individual plates or a serving platter. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve warm. Makes 18 kugelettes.
"This is probably the most requested of all our Passover desserts," says Joseph. "It takes a little time to get the pan prepared, but then the recipe goes quickly and is close to disaster-proof. I like to serve it warm and a little runny at the end of the Seder, then cold for lunch the next day, when it has a more trufflelike consistency." Joseph also notes that this recipe can be made with butter and dairy chocolate if you're serving it with a non-meat meal.
• 18 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate
• 8 ounces parve margarine
• 8 eggs, separated
• 6 ounces sugar, divided in half
• Pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 275° F. Line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
2. Break up the chocolate and margarine into small pieces. Melt them together in a double boiler. Keep warm.
3. In a large bowl, whip the eggs yolks with half of the sugar until thick. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the remaining sugar and salt until they form soft peaks.
4. Using a large, flexible spatula, fold the yolk mixture into the warm chocolate. Working in three batches, fold the whites into the yolk and chocolate mixture.
5. Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until completely set in the center. Serve warm or chilled. This cake will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to two days. Serves 12 to 15.
RECOMMENDED KOSHER WINES
Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding, very good and good wines from recently rated releases. More kosher wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.
Rich and well-structured, with a tight core of currant, black licorice, cedar and pencil lead, ending with loamy earth, good length and drying tannins. Kosher. From California. Drink now through 2022. 250 cases made. —J.L.
A jammy and ripe red, with blackberry, dark plum and blueberry flavors, featuring notes of black licorice. The dense finish shows hints of chocolate. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now through 2017. 1,080 cases made. —K.M.
Providing immediate gratification, this is ripe to the edge of sweet, brimming with blackberry and wild berry fruit that some may find borderline cloying. Kosher. From California. Drink now through 2019. 1,200 cases made. —J.L.
Presents an elegant beam of lime- and citrus-laced green apple and pear flavors. Clean and pure, with hints of fig and hazelnut. Kosher. From California. Drink now through 2018. 500 cases made. —J.L.
Dense, with good structure behind the lively red currant and dried raspberry flavors, featuring a minerally component. Displays hints of cardamom and dried sage on the finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now through 2017. 410 cases made. —K.M.
A ripe and spicy red, with concentrated blueberry, dark plum and blackberry flavors, displaying generous creamy accents. Milk chocolate and almond notes grace the finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now through 2016. 500 cases made. —K.M.
Jammy and zesty, with black currant and licorice aromas complemented by dried cherry, tar and pepper flavors. Kosher. From California. Drink now through 2017. 606 cases made. —T.F.
Soft and supple, with easygoing raspberry, cinnamon and spice flavors. Kosher. From California. Drink now through 2016. 6,015 cases made. —T.F.
Touches of richness define this well-crafted white, with ripe apple, pear and buttery flavors that are generously spiced. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 2,000 cases made. —K.M.
Features notes of Asian spices, with cedar hints to the blueberry and dried raspberry flavors. Iron and wet stone elements appear on the finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 5,000 cases made.—K.M.
A medium-bodied red, with plum and dried berry flavors that take on lively notes of tobacco. Offers a light and juicy finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 17,000 cases made. —K.M.
Features dark plum fruit, with well-defined notes of tobacco, tar and black olive. Hints of chocolate and mint linger on the finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 12,000 cases made. —K.M.
Medium-bodied, with some marzipan notes to the ripe apple, butterscotch and vanilla flavors. Soft finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 1,000 cases made. —K.M.
Fruity, with supple peach and mango flavors, delivering lively spice notes. Soft finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 1,500 cases made. —K.M.
The tropical fruit flavors are a touch decadent, with some candied notes. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 1,000 cases made.—K.M.