Passover and Easter usually coincide each year, which is why I am uniting the two in this blog today. Let me first give you a brief description of both holidays:
My version of Passover in a nutshell: eight days on a high carb diet – you can’t eat leavened bread and the alternative isn’t great – matzah is a flat cracker that resembles a piece of cardboard. When consumed, it stays in your body until next Passover UNLESS you counteract the remnants with a boat load of prune juice. FUN? WOW!
There are two celebratory meals – referred to as the first and second Seders. At these meals families gather, they laugh, they drink, they sometimes end up fighting for the last piece of matzah (NOT) and most of all we gather to read the Haggadah (and stuff our faces with macaroons) – The Haggadah is a book telling the story of Passover which speaks about all kinds of nice things that happened to us Jews way back before I was born….including the 10 Plagues:
4. Wild beasts
10. Death of the first born.
Isn’t that lovely dinner conversation?? As a small child, it used to scare the daylights out of me but now I’m accustomed to all the locusts and stuff. Along with all this fun, there is usually an empty space at the table for this guy named Elijah – here’s his story. We open the door for him (technically he is invisible), we take the opportunity to invite him in. Elijah is the one who visits the circumcision ceremony of every Jewish child, and testifies that the Jewish people are scrupulous regarding the commandment of circumcision. Males were permitted to partake only if they were circumcised. Thus, Elijah comes to the Seder to “testify” that all present are indeed circumcised. Isn’t this fascinating? Thought you needed to know this, especially if any of your guys aren’t prepared for a SPOT CHECK by Elijah. Now before this invisible guy leaves, he knocks back a shooter of wine. That way you know he’s been and gone. Trust me, this is all true……but I know exactly who drinks Elijah’s wine portion – my husband.
Okay….onwards to Easter.
In the Christian religion, Easter is the holiday that celebrates and commemorates the central event of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death by crucifixion. Today, other than church attendance, the holiday often involves Easter eggs for toys and candy as well as the imagery of bunnies and rabbits (I’m going to say it beats matzah and locusts…especially those cute little filled Easter eggs that ONLY come out once a year). Easter occurs the Sunday after Good Friday.
Typically a traditional Easter menu includes, hard-boiled eggs, hot cross buns, roasted lamb and ham.
Get this….The roast lamb dinner that many eat on Easter Sunday goes back earlier than Easter to the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, in hopes that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they naturally brought along their traditions with them. The Christians often refer to Jesus as The Lamb of God. Thus, the traditions merged. How cool is that?
Sorry for being so long winded, but once in a while a history lesson is important. This brings me to two dishes that I created today that can be intertwined with both holidays. An amazing potato gratin and some out of this world devilled eggs. You can serve both these accompaniment’s at a Seder or Easter meal. Wishing you all a happy PASSOVER/EASTER!!
Potato Kugal Gratin adapted from Martha Stewart
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
5 – 6 large Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes – I prefer Yukon’s btw
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup unsalted matzo meal or dry breadcrumbs
Sea or Himalayan salt for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in upper third. Combine 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.
Oil a large oval baking dish and sprinkle bottom with some salt-and-pepper mixture. Cut potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick slices with a mandolin or knife. Arrange slices vertically in baking dish, sprinkle thyme over the potatoes. Brush with oil and season between potato slices with a sprinkle of salt-and-pepper mixture. Place baking dish on a baking sheet with an edge.
Whisk together eggs, broth, 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add matzo meal or breadcrumbs and stir to combine.
Pour mixture evenly over potatoes, tapping baking sheet on the counter to ensure mixture settles to bottom of baking dish.
Cover with parchment, then with foil, and transfer to oven. Bake for one hour. Remove foil and parchment, rotate baking sheet, and continue baking until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 40 – 45 minutes more. Increase heat to broil and broil until golden brown, about 5 minutes. (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn….I have a tendency to check my phone while things are broiling and I end up with the smoke alarm going off). Garnish with thyme and sea salt. Let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
Moving on to Easter…
Sriracha Pickled Deviled Eggs
2 tablespoons of Sriracha mayo (can’t find it? Make your own with 2 tablespoons mayonnaise & 2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce)
pinch cayenne pepper
salt to taste
Ingredients for pickled eggs:
1 15 oz jar/can sliced beets with liquid
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup white sugar
½ cup water
Place eggs in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 15 minutes. Remove eggs from hot water, cool under cold running water, and peel.
This step is totally optional, but so beautiful you need to do it!
How to pickle eggs:
Take peeled hard boiled eggs and place in a glass or plastic container. In a saucepan, combine beets, vinegar, sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over eggs, cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
Cut eggs in half lengthwise; place egg yolks in a small bowl. Mash yolks with a fork; stir mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce and cayenne pepper into yolks until smooth; season with salt.
Spoon yolk mixture into a resealable plastic bag; snip off one corner of the bag (I used a piping bag to make them look super pretty)
Place egg whites cut-side up on a serving platter. Pipe the yolk mixture into egg white halves; sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate deviled eggs, covered, until ready to serve.
See ya next week!
xo, debi @thegardenofeatin
We are pretty psyched to be working with Gather Now. It’s a feed of photos, ideas and tips to give you an excuse to get together with your friends. Pretty brilliant right? We had the pleasure of styling a party shoot for them and today…we had music on our mind.
We found cardboard letters at our local craft store and sprayed them gold. While wet we hit ‘em with gold glitter. Perfect backdrop on our wall.
Make your microphones! We filled ice cream cones with brownie batter and baked them off in the oven like a cupcake. Once cooled we slathered them with icing and covered in silver non-perils.
For lunch we served High school cafeteria style. Pizza bagels, mac ‘n cheese muffins and a tator tot bar with Hidden Valley Ranch, ketchup and mustard to dip.
Originally inspired by the series finale of Glee coming this week, we made these delicious grape slushies with cupcakes. Stick a straw with a musical note on it and bam! You’ve got the perfect dessert for your party!
We love a good DIY project so we included our record player cake stand which were so perfectly fitting to our rock ‘n roll theme.
Last but not least…don’t forget to make yourself look all glam. Have you tried the burts bees lip shimmer? Unreal. No seriously. Moisturizing while giving bright, shiny color to your lips! I always carry one in my bag no matter where I’m going.
Check out more on the Gather Now Tumbler feed here where you can also click to follow along.
More coming soon…..!!
So my family has come to expect my macaroons to make an appearance at Passover dinner now. For the past several years I have used the same coconut macaroon recipe from Martha Stewart (obviously) and it has never failed me.
Every year I try adding something slightly to change it up. Whether its dipping them in chocolate, using fresh vanilla pods (highly recommend) or maybe covering them in sliced almonds. Check out my step by step instructions below, they make a perfect gift anytime of the year and I promise, they will not disappoint.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.
2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I usually scrape a full vanilla pod as well)
2 bags shredded sweetened coconut (14-ounces each)
1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites and salt until frothy, about 2 minutes. Stir in condensed milk, vanilla and vanilla pods if using. Using a rubber spatula, fold in coconut until well combined.
2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Using a teaspoon and your fingers, form macaroons into 1 1/4-inch mounds about 1 inch apart.
3. Bake until macaroons are golden brown, about 20 minutes (usually takes a bit longer for me and I tend to make bigger macaroons). Transfer baking sheets to a cooling rack; let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Once they are ready to be eaten the fun begins.
Throw a couple in a cellophane bag and tie it them up! Check out the hangtags we got from Minted. Aren’t they adorable? Check out Minted.com for so many more party & décor items.
I love an easy dairy menu for the evening, it’s one of my favorite meals to make. The only issue is I need to buy shares in an EGG FARM when I prepare the dishes that are served at this meal.
When my youngest son found out what I was making, he ordered a truckload of blintzes to be added to the menu. So what’s a blintz? It’s similar to a very thin pancake or crepe. Making blintzes from scratch isn’t difficult but they are time consuming. You need to roll up your sleeves and get ready to stand in the kitchen preparing the “blintz assembly line”. BATTER, FRY, STUFF, ROLL & FRY AGAIN. It is a process of “blintz love” and totally worth it. My mom makes the best blintz batter ever, it’s simple and fool proof – with the exception of the FIRST blintz. I don’t know why but every time I make this the first one sticks to the pan and falls apart. I called it a “tester blintz”. It tastes good but looks like a hot mess.
This round of blintzes churned out two failures so I rolled them up, sprinkled them with powdered sugar, topped them with berries and my lunch was served while I took a break from the blintz factory.
What you need:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 package vanilla sugar (if you can’t find vanilla sugar you can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract)
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. oil
2 cups ricotta cheese
4 Tbsp sour cream
¼ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 jar of good quality strawberry jam – I use the one from France because my mother told me to.
The Blintz Assembly Line:
Blend all ingredients with a hand blender (or in a food processor) and let batter rest for a few minutes. To make the blintzes, heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Lightly coat with oil (you will only have to do this every other time).
Pour ¼ cup of batter into the center of the pan and lift the pan off the heat, swirling the batter around to coat the pan evenly. Return pan to heat and cook blintzes for a minute, carefully flip and cook for another minute.
After blintzes have cooled, be sure to wrap well until ready to fill.
Stir together ricotta, sour cream and sugar. Stir in egg, egg yolk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.
The Assembly on the Assembly line:
Place 2 blintzes on the counter, with the paler sides facing up. Place about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta or 1 tablespoon of jam in the centre of the blintz. Here’s where mine are a bit different from the rest. I roll my blintzes instead of making them into a parcel. It’s much easier than the standard origami style process and I have no patience to make those envelopes. Place on a platter until you have filled all the crepes. I made half with cheese and half with jam.
Once you have your assembled blintzes, pan fry in oil or butter on both sides (medium heat) until golden. Serve warm with strawberry yogurt, applesauce, sour cream or fresh berries.
Blintz bash done.
See ya next week!
Let me introduce you to my very talented friend Elyse Glaser.
Not only has she been my friend for over ten years but has also been a huge inspiration to me in the kitchen. Elyse owns her own catering business here in Toronto and has been cooking since before she could reach the counter.
You can see her work with LMP here where she catered the beautiful food for my shower and here where she catered the food for Seri’s youngest son, Luke’s Sip n See.
Elyse’s spinach dip recipe would be an absolutely perfect way to start off your St Patty’s day, paired with a cool glass of green beer and crisp veggies. Hopefully we will be seeing more of Elyse around here!
Warm Spinach, Artichoke and Asiago Dip
1 package (300g) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, excess water squeezed out (so many great options of frozen greens are available nowadays – for a twist swap the spinach for frozen chopped kale or Swiss chard)
1 can (398 mL) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ cup finely diced red onion
1 package (250 g) cream cheese, at room temperature (can sub in light cream cheese for a lighter dip)
1 ½ cups light mayonnaise
1 cup plus ¼ cup shredded asiago cheese
Your favourite hot sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place all the ingredients, reserving the 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese, into a large mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
3. Transfer the dip into an ovenproof baking or casserole dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.
4. Place in the oven and bake until heated through and cheese on top is melted and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
5. Serve with your favorite chips, flat bread, crackers, fresh cut veggies, etc.