One lovely tradition of Passover is the annual ritual of bringing out cherished family possessions to set the Seder table; this year, Sam Hamilton of SF kitchen shop March in San Francisco is offering an aesthetically elevated limited-edition Seder plate.
Created in collaboration with master weaver Jonathan Kline and California potter Victoria Morris, the limited-edition plate consists of six handmade turquoise ceramic dishes, designed to hold the various symbolic foods of the Seder, nested in a woven black ash basket.
N.B.: Former Chez Panisse chef Brian Espinoza, a longtime friend of Hamilton's who has shared a number of Passover dinners with her, has created his own version of charoset, the aromatic staple of the Seder service. We're pleased to share the recipe below.
Photography by Aya Brackett.
Above: Inspired by the idea of making rugged baskets from native trees with a few simple hand tools, Jonathan Kline makes splint baskets in a variety of sizes and shapes; visit Blackash Baskets to learn more about his work. Victoria Morris' pottery emphasizes the beauty found in subtle, random imperfections and organic forms; see Victoria Morris Pottery. Their collaboration has resulted in a limited-edition Seder plate; $1,100 at March.
Above: The Seder plate holds six symbolic foods, each playing a significant role as the story of the Jews' exodus from Egypt is told each year at the Passover table. Charoset is a mixture of fruit and nuts that stands for the mortar used by the Jews in captivity to build Egyptian storehouses.
March Pantry Charoset
Says chef Brian Espinoza: "This charoset recipe is a nod to a traditional Sephardic charoset. The spices can easily be varied to suit tastes. I've included a few options below."
2 Asian pears
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup dried slab apricots
1 cup dried sour cherries
1/2 cup (approx. 10) pitted barhi dates
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed pink peppercorn
3/4 cup Manischewitz or sweet red wine
1 cup walnuts
Optional: ground ginger, clove, nutmeg, black pepper, or red pepper flakes to add a bit of heat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Dice the pears and apricots into 1/2 inch pieces and halve the cherries. Heat a saute pan over medium heat; add the olive oil and diced pears and saute until they just start to release some of their juices. Then, sprinkle the sugar and salt over them to help encourage them to caramelize a bit. Once they are golden and caramelized on the edges, add the dried fruit and stir the mixture gently for a minute or so. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the fruit and toss to distribute the spice. Taste the mixture to determine if you want to add additional spice (see options above).
Once the dried fruit is warmed through and begins to swell, deglaze the pan with the wine. Mash the dates with a fork or edge of a chef knife and add to the pan to help thicken the wine. Once the wine has reduced a bit, pull the fruit off of the heat to cool. Toast the nuts in the oven on a low heat for about 10 minutes or until the kitchen is filled with the aroma of the nuts. When using walnuts, I like to just break them up by hand rather than use a knife. Mix them into the cooled fruit mixture and enjoy.
Yields approximately 5 to 6 cups. Store covered in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.