Making the Most out of Manischewitz


Once again, I am home for Passover. When I was younger I never understood why so many foods were off limits. Sure, bread is bad. No toast, bagels, challah. I get it. But gum? Peanut butter? Mustard? I knew that corn syrup was off limits, whatever the hell corn syrup was. No one, however, could really tell me why some of the other foods were off limits.

I guess it’s kinda like religion in general. It can’t all be explained.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t look for special holiday recipes. Or get excited to cook dishes for the first time. I’d never contributed to the sedar plate before. But with only 20 minutes til the sedar, I jumped on the chance to make this traditional dish my own.

Apple Two Way Charoset

I diced two apples, let my cinnamon obsessed sister sprinkle some of the sweet brown powder over top, then stirred it around with fresh lemon juice and just a pinch of salt.

Boring. And wrong.

My nursery school teacher mother came over and sang me a charoset song, making sure to annunciate the ingredients. I forgot to add nuts so I carefully chopped up a few salted almonds and cashews. I had also forgotten that notoriously sweet (and fucking gross) Passover wine, simply known as Manischewitz.

My sister, tired from cleaning dishes, came and sat at the kitchen table. The cinnamon was set so she was mostly happy. But the consistency was off. She remembered a charoset so smooth that it resembled apple sauce.

With about 15 minutes left to finish the dish, I dumped half of the apple mixture into a small pan with melted butter and poured Manischewitz until the wine came up to half the height of the apples. I brought that to a boil and then to a simmer. After 10 minutes I gently pressed on the soften apples. They weren’t completely turned into a saucy texture, but they surely smoothed out. I sprinkled a bit more salt to taste. The end result was part crunch, part soft, part sweet and part salt. And you could barely tell I used Manischewitz. Phew.

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