Hosting a successful and delicious Seder is no small feat. Luckily, there are many steps you can take in advance to help shed some of the Passover planning stress.
The following tips and tricks will help you get started now, so that when March 30 and 31 arrive, mealtime can feel (almost) as simple as everyone's favorite two-ingredient matzo.
To help plan, we've also included several recipes from some of the area's top Jewish chefs, ranging from a make-ahead cheesecake to a parsnip matzo ball soup to an easy paprika- and sea salt-smothered chicken.
Each chef has provided some key planning words of wisdom to heed before diving into menu planning, your first pre-Seder step.
"Don't leave the small tasks for the day of the Seder, like boiling eggs or washing herbs," said Tova du Plessis, owner of Essen Bakery in East Passyunk. "And buy the Gefilteria gefilte fish — it's frozen and just needs to be placed in the fridge the night before to thaw. It's the best gefilte fish your guests will have ever tasted."
Chef Yehuda Sichel of Abe Fisher agreed that not all culinary tasks, especially when it comes to starter courses, need to be reserved for the day of.
"I always recommend serving premade appetizers, like roasted eggplant or carrot salad, dishes that are perfect when served at room temperature," Yehuda said. "Make them the day before and finish with fresh lemon juice, herbs, and maybe a drizzle of olive oil right before Seder begins."
The planning doesn't need to stop in the kitchen, either, according to Marci Gropper Schindler, owner of Moish & Itzy's Deli-Restaurant & Catering.
"I do my floral arrangements, and set my table a couple of days beforehand," Schindler said. "I'll also order anything I need for ingredients or linens on Amazon three to five days before the Seder."
As you start to think about your own Seder, take a look at the recipes below to get those inspirational juices flowing. Then peruse through the rest of the schedule, designed to help you fit a different preparatory piece into each day leading up to the feast. By breaking the work into a series of smaller tasks, the experience becomes significantly more relaxed — especially on the big day.
Good luck, and chag Pesach sameach!