8 Best Kitchen Gadgets for Passover
By Jason Hewett, Lubicom Staff
Sometimes I feel like I learned as much from Passover helping out in the kitchen as I did at the Seder. At the table, I learned about the history of Jewish people, and from my mother’s cooking I learned the history of our family. There are hints of influence in mom’s recipes that likely come from all the different places our ancestors have lived, from medieval Spain to the Pale of Settlement and all the way up to the present day, when modern gadgets make Pesach prepping easier. Here are some of my favorite gadgets that are especially useful.
1. Food Processor- The Seder Prepper’s Savior
In the old country, my great-greats would grate vegetables by hand. I don’t know how they did it, because one onion was all it took for my hand to feel like it was about to fall off. If you don’t already have a food processor I can’t recommend one enough, especially for kugel, carrot slaw and my favorite Passover essential, charoset. Nothing I’ve ever had can beat my grandmother’s recipe, which combines the best of Ashkenazi and Sephardic styles, making it fruity, sweet, and vibrant.
For the best charoset you’ll ever have you will need:
- 3 apples, cored (peeling optional)
- 1/4 cup each of raisins and pitted dates
- 1/2 cup each of whole walnuts and almonds
- 1/4 cup sweet red wine (my grandmother always used Manischewitz)
- 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg
- the zest of 1 orange
Quarter and core your apples and add them to the food processor. Chop to desired size and then add in the other ingredients. If you run out of room in your food processor, you can stir ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Make it Easier with a Mixer
A stand mixer is essential, of course, for that 14-egg Passover cake, but it’s useful for so many more recipes! You can still use a mixer to make easy work and cleanup for gefilte fish recipes. My great-grandmom Tillie Klein always made it by hand a day in advance, because she wouldn’t want to come to the Seder with hands that smelled like fish. But you can also use a stand mixer to combine your ingredients, dump the mixture onto parchment paper and use that to form your gefilte fish, and then in the pot it goes.
Just because I’m not fleeing persecution doesn’t mean I always have time for dough to rise... or for pizza to be delivered. Thankfully there’s matzo pizza, which in its simplest form is just a sheet of matzo, tomato sauce, cheese, and something like this Betty Crocker Pizza maker.
1. Quarter one sheet of matzo.
2. Spread about a teaspoon of tomato sauce on each piece of matzo and sprinkle with cheese
3. Toss them in the Betty Crocker and they’ll be ready in minutes.
This device is also great for regular pizza of course, but what makes it perfect for matzo pizza is that it’s so quick and doesn’t make the matzo soggy like a microwave would. I wish I had one of these as a kid when I was learning to make omelets. This gadget is ideal for making anything that you would have to flip in a pan, or small oven-baked dishes. In addition to pizza, it’s also popular to use the Betty Crocker for kugel, lasagna, cakes, tortillas, casseroles, and especially brownies.
4. Immerse Yourself in the Amazing Immersion Blender
Ever tried pureeing a hot soup in a blender? Rather than worrying about all that lifting, spilling, and cracking glass, do yourself a favor and get an immersion blender instead. My dad first learned to love matzo by sprinkling it in creamy butternut squash soup. And if you really want to get creative with adding matzo to soup, check out this recipe for tomato soup and cheddar matzo balls.
I love immersion blenders for all kinds of soups and sauces, especially this kosher for Passover mayonnaise. I love to spread gefilte fish salad on matzo. If that sounds too fishy, you can always use that mayonnaise for egg salad, cucumber salad, or with a sprig of dill and lettuce and tomato.
5. Picking the Perfect Potato Peeler
I like my potatoes with or without the skin. But when it comes to making things like kugel, you want to go skinless so that the potato cooks evenly. A good peeler has a comfortable grip and a blade that can glide through any groves on your potato or vegetable.
I especially like this peeler because it catches the peelings for you, which means less mess, but also because I like to use vegetable peelings to make stock and potato peelings for a special dish.
I lightly salt potato skins and fry them in a touch of oil until they get crispy, then eat them with scrambled eggs.
6. A Crockpot for Portable Passover Brisket
I think everyone asks my mom to host Passover Seders because of her brisket. Sweet and tender, it’s perfect with carrots and roasted potatoes or kugel. Her secret is using a sweet red wine, particularly Manischewitz, but you can use any liquid you like for your brisket. Usually, Mom cooks a huge brisket in the oven, but if we go anywhere else she can use a portable crockpot to take a small brisket with her for sampling
You can also use a crockpot like this to cook and transport kneidlach, gefilte fish, or anything you like!
Be sure to check out this delicious recipe for non-gebrocht gluten-free kneidlach.
7. Waffle Maker for Matzo and More
I love matzo brei so much that I eat it year-round. My family always made it one of two ways: either sweet with a dash of cinnamon and honey, or savory with a few dashes of garlic and onion powder. Growing up it never occurred to me to make matzo brei with a waffle maker, but I started seeing online recipes for hash browns in a waffle maker and got inspired. Just make your batter the same way you would for matzo brei, but instead of cooking it in oil pour it into your waffle maker.
One of the must-try recipes for Passover I’ve seen is this waffled latkes with matzo fried chicken.
8. Microplane, Macro Shred
There are a lot of recipes that call for citrus zest, and for good reason. Citrus zest is a great way to freshen up any dish. I used to use a box grater, but that only worked well for shredding semi-soft cheeses.
The problem with box graters is I can never get the zest out. I felt like a caveman using them--trying to bang my grater against the cutting board or trying to jam a knife up there to dig out the zest. Even brand-new ones get clogged pretty quickly, so I knew it was time for a change. Enter the microplane. Able to zest citrus, grate hard cheese – even ginger, coconut, and bars of chocolate.
1. Hold the citrus or cheese in your dominant hand and the microplane steady over the dish in your non-dominant hand
2. Run the object over the rough edge of the microplane at a slight angle. Try to let the blades do the work; if you apply too much pressure, that could also clog things up.
3. It’s normal for some zest to gather on the surface of your microplane. Simply brush it off with the back of a knife or spoon.
Which Gadgets Do You Find Most Useful?
While traditional food and recipes will likely be served at the Seder for all of time, I’m grateful to have so many gadgets that make preparing them easier. My grandmother loved to combine tradition with the innovation she found in cookbooks, and now with the internet there’s no shortage of creative ways to keep kosher for Passover. Chag kasher v’sameach!