By Shani Silver

Published on April 14, 2016

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

text by SHANI SILVER 
photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK
styling by JENNY KAPLAN, owner of AN AESTHETIC PURSUIT
recipes by DAVE KAPLAN, Restaurant Creative Developer

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

The Passover Seder is an event rich with tradition, and tabletop decor rarely gets a refresh. We thought it was time to put a stylish, modern spin on the Seder, and brother/sister team Jenny and Dave Kaplan were just the creatives to call. Below, Jenny and Dave style a Seder that celebrates tradition, in style. They even manage to work in an heirloom or two while they’re at it, along with the most chic interpretation of a Seder plate, ever.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

WHAT WAS YOUR MAIN INSPIRATION FOR STYLING THIS SEDER TABLE?

We wanted to keep it modern, clean and fresh. Passover takes place in the height of the spring season. we wanted the table setting and menu to feel very true to this time of year. Lots of bright green and pinks were used in the food and flowers. Also, it was important to tie in a family heirloom, since the Passover tradition is something that is very important in our family. The blue and white floral dishes belonged to our Grandmother and felt very appropriate to use for this time of year.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

WHAT PASSOVER TRADITIONS DID YOU WANT TO HOLD ONTO HERE, AND WHICH ONES WERE IN NEED OF AN UPDATE?

The story of Passover is a celebration of freedom. Today, the message of the holiday is open to be interpreted however each individual likes. It does not have to be a stiff and rigid thing! The Seder plate, a special plate that contains symbolic foods eaten at the Passover Seder tells a story about freedom. This is a special part of the Seder that should be held on to.

As kids, we remember our Passover Seders going on for what seemed like forever at the time. Part of the tradition of Passover is reading from the Haggadah–a text recited during the Passover Seder. Part of the Haggadah incorporates ” The Four Questions,” a series of questions often recited by the youngest person at the table, that symbolize the quest for freedom. For our Seder, we made name cards that stated the Four Questions, rather than read the traditional Haggadah from start to finish. This served as a way to start the conversation at the dinner table about the meaning of Passover and what it means to each individual at the dinner table.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

WHAT IS ONE PASSOVER TABLE MISTAKE PEOPLE MAKE THAT’S A REALLY EASY FIX?

This time around, Jenny was not so compelled to make one large arrangement for the table. Instead, she arranged the floral in multiple smaller vases, and clustered them in the center of the table to act as a large centerpiece. This is a really easy and quick approach, and never fails! Our Grandmother has a beautiful collection of bud vases she likes to use to run flowers down her table for special events; the styling of the florals was inspired by how she often dresses her own table.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE PART OF A SEDER?

Keeping the tradition of sitting down to enjoy a special meal together with our family. We come from a family of eaters! Every year we take inspiration from the traditional Passover rituals and put a new spin on it with Spring’s fresh produce. The ritual of having a Passover Seder has been passed down in our family for many generations, it’s special that we continue to take the time every year to be together during this time.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU MADE HERE FROM A TRADITIONAL SEDER?

I feel like most Seder dinners usually serve the same dishes time after time. It’s not that I have anything against braised brisket or roasted chicken (our mother always made chicken on Passover), but felt inclined to show others what could be done outside the box of traditional Jewish cooking. The matzah fried fried chicken was a fun concept because people tend to overlook what can be done with this dry cracker-like product that only comes around once a year. The end result was a super crispy, country style fried chicken that is perfect for Passover and will have your friends and family in awe that this dish is kosher for the holidays.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE THROWING AN EVENT LIKE THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME?

Try to buy ingredients that are local and fresh, flowers too! This always helps us direct what is on the menu/ how we style the table. Another general idea of our is to try and prep as much as you can before the day of the event. Our mother sets her Seder table days in advance, and we tend to stick to this. As for the food, get as much done prior to the event as possible, so you can spend time entertaining your guests, rather than sweating over the stove in the kitchen.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

MATZAH FRIED CHICKEN

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • 1⁄2 cup matzo cake meal (or finely ground matzah meal)
  • 1⁄2 cup matzo meal
  • 1 tbsp. each kosher salt & freshly cracked pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp. each paprika, garlic powder, & onion powder1
  • (3-lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Honey & hot sauce for dipping

STEPS

Pour oil to a depth of 3″ in a Dutch oven or deep pot. Heat over medium-high heat until oil reaches 375°F.

Put egg whites into a bowl. Combine cake meal, matzo meal, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, & onion powder in another bowl.Working with one piece at a time, dip chicken in egg whites and press into matzo mixture to coat. Shake off excess; transfer chicken to a rack set inside a baking sheet.

Working in batches, fry chicken until crispy and cooked through, 10-12 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Transfer chicken to paper towels and season with additional salt and pepper. Serve with honey and favorite hot sauce, if desired.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

PISTACHIO & DRIED PEACH HAROSET

Yield: Makes about 3 Cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ cup unsalted pistachios
  • 1 ½ cup chopped dried peaches
  • 6 apples (Gala or Fuji) cored & roughly chopped
  • ½ cup sweet Passover wine
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange peel
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Fresh basil

STEPS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast pistachios on baking pan until lightly browned and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Combine peaches, apples, and wine in medium bowl. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in honey, lemon juice, orange peel, and spices. Chop pistachios; mix into haroset. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Garnish haroset with basil leaves.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

SIMPLY POACHED ASPARAGUS

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ lb. medium-thick asparagus
  • 1 lemon halved
  • 2 tbsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp. good quality olive oil
  • Coarse salt & freshly cracked pepper, to taste

STEPS

Clean and prepare asparagus. Holding bunch upside down, gently swish the asparagus tips in cold water. Then to snap off the tough woody bottoms, bend the stalk at the natural breaking point. Set aside.

Have a large bowl of ice water ready. In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil. Season with 2 tablespoons coarse salt and lemon halves, and add asparagus; boil until tender, 3 to 4 minutes (depending on thickness).

Remove with tongs, or drain in a colander, and immediately transfer to ice water for 1 minute to stop the cooking process. Drain and arrange on platter, or store in refrigerator until ready for use.

Drizzle asparagus liberally with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

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Photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK

(GLUTEN FREE) ALMOND JOY MACAROONS

Yield: About 1 ½ Dozen

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ Sliced Almonds
  • 2-3 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

STEPS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, coconut, almonds, egg whites, vanilla, and salt. Mix well, completely combining ingredients.

Using a small ice cream scoop or hands, form mounds with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of macaroon mixture; place on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack.

Melt the chocolates in a glass dish in the microwave on high power for 60 seconds. Remove, stir and microwave on 10-second intervals until the chocolate has melted completely. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly to thicken.

Using a spoon, drizzle chocolate over macaroon tops, or alternatively dip the bottom halves and set on new parchment paper. Allow to cool.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

CREDITS:

Flowers via Dutch Flower Line

Silverware via Sambonet

Dishes via Jenny & Dave’s Grandmother

Napkins via Anthroplogie

SEE MORE FROM JENNY & DAVE.