Traditional or Innovative? It just needs to taste good

We all have those family recipes.  The ones that you serve at a specific time (Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Arbor day, whatever) that only one person (Grandma, Aunt Betty, Dad) knows how to make properly.  Soon it is now “Dad’s Potato Salad” and 4th of July wouldn’t be the same without it.  In my house it is Charoset, a mixture of chopped apples, walnuts, cinnamon and sweet concord wine. I have made this dish for Passover since I was old enough to hold the knife. This is “Jen’s Charoset”. 

My husband did not grow up with Passover or Charoset. To him this is not tradition so he looked at this like he looks at any dish – as an option open for variation and discussion.  Many dinners have been spent with the two of us discussing the dish in front of us deciding how it could be changed for different occasions.  “Wouldn’t this be great on fish?” “Fresh oregano – that’s what this needs.” But this conversation had never been pointed at one of my signature dishes. Now most people proudly making “the dish” for 20 some odd years would look at this as a threat.  I know many a grandmother who took recipes to the grave, or close to it.  There are mothers who will not pass down a recipe until the child is married, has kids or some other milestone.  This is to protect the value of the recipe and in-turn their value in the family gathering.

I share. I share recipes.  I share spotlight. More importantly if you’re in my house, I share food.

Matt took a crack at updating my Charoset.  First he swapped the apples for pears, then the walnuts were replaced by almonds.  Nutmeg takes over for the cinnamon and a far less sweet white fills in for the concord wine. The texture and taste are both very different and very good.  The apple version is softer, sweeter and rich.  The pear is crisp, refreshing and light. 

Both have been served at my table for 5 years and disappear quickly.  The chef’s prefix is dropping and is being replaced by the fruit name but I am always happy to pass the pear or the apple charoset. Since you may not be at my table next year I have included the recipes below. These both make a large amount.  Feel free to reduce portions for a small snack as amounts are not specific – mostly to taste.

Apple Charoset:

5 Granny Smith Apples Diced 1/4 or smaller

1 1/2 cups Walnuts crushed

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Cup Concord Grape Wine

Toss together – wine should stain apples with a rosy color but shouldn’t puddle too much in the bottom.  Eat right away or let sit for a few hours to mellow and soften. Keeps for 3 or 4 days in the fridge.

Pear Charoset:

5 Green Firm Pears (do not use soft pears or too under-ripe pears) Cut to short sticks the same size as almond slivers

1 1/2 cups silvered (not sliced) Almonds

1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg

1 Cup lightly sweet white

Toss together – wine should wet fruit but shouldn’t puddle too much in the bottom.  Eat right away or let sit for a few hours to mellow. Keeps for 3 or 4 days in the fridge.

Until we eat again,



About Jen The Nerd

Nerd that likes food - What else do you need to know?
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