Despite being in the trenches boiling and cleaning, wiping and soaking, the one defining moment for me when I am fully engaged in the holiday comes when I have ground the horseradish to put on the table for Seder night.

There is something about the sinus clearing, pungent condiment that takes me directly to the Seders, gathered around the table with family and friends. The horseradish (or maror) is so distinctly sharp and somewhat unpalatable but yet familiar and comforting at the same time.

I use horseradish throughout the year. My kids insist on it with gefilte fish. Sometimes I think the attraction for eating the gefilte fish is that it's the perfect vehicle for eating great spoonfuls of the strong stuff. When they were younger, they would have contests and garner bragging rights for the most overpowering condiment consumed.

I love horseradish spread, with tons of chopped garlic, herbs and olive oil, all over a rib roast. I also enjoy the herb, shredded and added to a crispy potato crust, all nutty and aromatic, atop a moist, succulent piece of salmon.

There is nothing more refreshing than a very cold Bloody Mary made snappy flavored by the addition of grated horseradish. Horseradish may firmly and tearfully “root” me to Passover and Seders, but it has many culinary uses.

Slow roasted horseradish-potato crusted salmon
Serves 4

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + additional for brushing the fish
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and grated on a box grater on the biggest hole with all of the moisture squeezed out of the potatoes
1/3 cup grated or prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chives
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
4 6-ounce salmon filets

Preheat oven to 300

1. Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the potatoes to the oil and spread them out to create a thin layer. You may need to do the browning step in batches.

2. Cook the potatoes until they are very crispy and browned on one side (about 7-10 minutes). Flip the potatoes and brown the other side. This side will brown much quicker (about 3-5 minutes).

3. Transfer the potatoes to a paper towel lined baking sheet and allow to cool. Once cooled, break up the potatoes into small pieces.

4. Place the browned potato pieces, horseradish and herbs in a small bowl. Stir the mixture together to create a thick and crispy paste. Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Brush the top of the salmon fillets (non-skin side) with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

6. Mound several tablespoons of the topping on top of each fillet. Roast the salmon about 20 minutes for medium rare.

Bloody maror

The idea of Passover cocktails seems pretty foreign to many Jews and I am not sure why. The liquor companies go out of their way to make kosher for Passover products. This refreshing and tangy cocktail gets extra punch with the addition of horseradish.

3 large stalks celery from the heart, including leaves, plus extra for serving
36 ounces tomato juice
3 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish
1 teaspoon grated yellow onion
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Lots of freshly cracked pepper
2 teaspoons kosher for Passover hot sauce or 1 jalapeno
1 1/2 cups kosher for Passover vodka

Suggested garnishes: celery stalks, carrot sticks, olives, pickles, salami, chopped sweet and hot peppers

1. Place all of the ingredients except the vodka in a blender and process until combined and fairly smooth.

2. Transfer the mix to a pitcher and stir in the vodka. Pour into tall glasses with ice and garnish with celery stalks, carrot sticks, olives, pickles, salami, chopped peppers.

Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.