Rarely do we get to spend much time with our families except for holidays, birthdays or, sadly, funerals, so it’s been a treat this week to see my immediate and extended family members and close friends in celebration of the Passover holiday.
It’s my family’s tradition to host a dinner for the first two nights of the eight-day holiday, and for the last few years attendance has grown. This year we had 35 people at our home on the first night, but with some re-arranging and crafty space saving we were able to fit in everyone — although it was a very tight squeeze.
Well, as you can imagine, cooking for over 50 people combined for the two nights is a lot of work. Sure, we could have had it catered, but that’s no fun. It’s all about working together and using family recipes — like “Mom-mom’s” chicken soup or chopped liver (for those who enjoy that dish).
Typically my grandparents, Albert (“Baba,” age 86) and Elaine (“Mom-mom,” 84) come a day or two before to help us prepare. But as you can imagine, when there are too many chefs in the kitchen there can be a lot of tension, especially because Mom-mom, as I always say, doesn’t discriminate — she’ll yell at anyone. But that’s why we love her.
Anyway, to avoid the hustle and bustle of trying to get everything done all at once, I try to use my time more wisely and utilize some tricks that Mom-mom taught me throughout the years.
When my grandparents arrived, the first thing I told Mom-mom was that the “de-shelling of the egg” trick she taught me has come in so handy, so she suggested I share it will you. I was not excited about de-shelling eight dozen hard-boiled eggs, but I remembered this great technique that is so simple, yet so awesome! And with Easter coming up, this should serve as a great tip for many.
First, fill a pot with water one inch over the eggs. Bring to a boil, and let it boil for five minutes. Then remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. In the interim, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. After the 10 minutes, scoop out the eggs and plunge them in the ice-cold water. The shell comes right off. I’m telling you this is genius.
Here’s another trick — although I’m not allowed to give away Mom-mom’s secret recipe for her chicken soup. Once you are finished making your own version of chicken soup and are storing it overnight in the fridge, put a piece of Saran wrap on the top of the pot. The next day, when you take out the pot, you’ll see that all of the fat stuck to the Saran wrap (I prefer the press-and-seal method), and — voila! — no more fat!
I hope that these tips help you in your future cooking endeavors. Happy holidays and happy cooking!
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The South Jersey Italian-Americans group is celebrating its members’ roots Friday, April 22, at the Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point. This four-hour mini festival called “Everybody Loves Italian” is a family-style feast and Italian fiesta that will include cooking demonstrations, conversations with Italian-American “celebrities” from our community, a four-course feast from antipasti to Formica Brothers’ famous cannolis and biscottis, Italian gelato and, of course, the main attraction — an orchestra with local arranger, composer and band leader Carl Granieri. Plus, you’ll get to meet event producer Frank Granieri, Frank Formica of Formica Brothers Bakery and Cafe, and the man behind Tony Mart’s Presents, Carmen Marotta. For more information, see everybodylovesitalian.us, or contact Frank Granieri at 432-4567.
As a freelance writer, Whitney's columns were published in multiple press outlets including: GoJaneNews.com The Atlantic City Weekly New Jersey Lifestyle Magazine & The Boardwalk Journal just to name a few.
She is the former host of the Entertainment Minute which aired on the NBC40 News and was featured twice on FOX's Chasing New Jersey.