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April Religious Holidays 2013 - What's on the Menu?

Passover (Friday, April 6 through Saturday, April 14) and Easter (Sunday, April 8) are both rapidly approaching as is the Theravadin New Year (the 6th through the 9th). If you celebrate, what's on your menu for April's religious holidays?

If you haven't decided yet, what's your favorite food memory?

I probably won't be able to go "home" this year due to my university (and work) schedule, but my interfaith family usually hosted big, traditional meals for both.

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  1. Wow, 2013's a little far out to be planning yet. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing this year.

    2 Replies
    1. re: acgold7

      Based on the dates given, I believe the OP meant t write 2012.

      1. re: ttoommyy

        Oops! My mistake. Sorry about that~ <3

    2. For Seder, all the usual suspects, some with a twist or two. Mock chopped liver and matzos; a mushroom/veg.-broth matzo ball soup.. I'll be making Bialik chicken, which is basically chicken prepared as you would gefilte fish: a farce, quenelles, with consomme'd stock. Sephardic haroset for the matzos because we love the dried fruits and nuts in it, although I know people who chop hard-boiled eggs into theirs, and I don't care for that addition. Green salad with citrus (maybe grapefruit) vinaigrette; caramelized-onion brisket with a sweet/sour tomato and raisin chutney; several marinated herbed roasted chickens, poached salmon for the no meaty eaties; broccoli rabe with garlic, carrots roasted w/ orange and ginger, and a great big tomato salad with cucumbers, onions and dill. Bringin' up the rear, a flourless chocolate espresso cake and a Pavlova - which, funnily enough, my great-grandma made and made identically - but in her house, it was "Angel Torte."

      1. I can't say that I'm planning 2013 yet, but I am working on Easter for 2012. :) It is always a challenge for me to put together a holiday menu for my in-laws, but it is a challenge that I gladly accept.

        Here's what we're working with:
        Person 1 (me): vegetarian (no meat, poultry, or fish, but eggs and dairy are ok) since 13, so I am not that great or experienced at cooking meat, don't like mushrooms or cilantro, I like to use local/seasonal foods whenever possible
        Person 2: Doesn't love many vegetables, does not eat green beans, peas, beets, pineapple, blueberries, or most types of lettuce (baby spinach is sometimes ok)
        Person 3: Doesn't eat eggs (egg whites in dessert might be ok), onions, leeks, scallions, chives, shallots, sometimes eats dairy, doesn't really like ham
        Person 4: Severely allergic to mushrooms, doesn't eat dairy, can't eat spicy things, will eat most kinds of meat but is partial to salmon for health reasons, doesn't really like ham
        Person 5: Eats most things but is concerned about calories and carbs
        Person 6 (my husband): Eats just about anything (and boy, do I love him for that!) hehe :)
        Kitchen has one oven and one small toaster oven

        Obviously with this group there is no menu that would be able to satisfy all 6 people for every dish, so I usually make a variety of things so everyone is happy. At the moment, this is what I'm thinking of making (yes we always make tons of food and everyone loves leftovers):

        vegan spinach/artichoke dip with bread and pita
        cucumber sandwiches with dill OR 5 layer Greek dip (hummus, cucumber, olives, red bell pepper, dill, and feta on the side) with pita

        - Some sort of interesting, but not too difficult, salmon recipe (I have made a side of salmon before with capers, parsley, tarragon, lemon, and white wine and they loved it)
        - Possibly a pre-cooked ham, heated up? (Persons 5 and 6 requested ham for Easter) I am having trouble finding a ham small enough though
        - Possibly a vegetable quiche or vegan vegetable pot pie

        - roasted or steamed asparagus OR balsamic glazed roasted spring carrots OR stuffed artichokes
        - Israeli couscous with toasted pine nuts OR wild rice pilaf OR roasted redskin potatoes with rosemary
        - spring vegetable risotto OR spring vegetable pasta salad

        - Individual Pavlovas with toppings (cut fruit, berries, whipped cream) OR Strawberry shortcake OR Flourless chocolate cake (I made it for Christmas and everyone loved it)

        5 Replies
        1. re: kyoules

          You are awfully kind. I actively try NOT to know peoples' preferences else I make myself crazy and end up with either the most bland or the most eclectic menu. I only go out of my way for dietary concerns. Beyond that I feel my guests need to be responsible. If they are a picky eater, I simply feel sorry that they won't be partaking in my beautiful meal.

          1. re: bblonde

            I completely see your point. It definitely makes things a little more difficult knowing everyone's food preferences. However, when I eat a meal at someone's house and they have thought of my dietary preference (vegetarian), even something as simple as using veggie broth instead of chicken broth so I can eat it too makes me feel like I am important to that person, remembered, and loved. I think it also has to do with the fact that my in-laws like to eat in restaurants for holidays (last Thanksgiving was my first ever in a restaurant instead of home cooking with family and it made me kind of sad), so when my husband and I host holidays I like to go out of my way to make it special for everyone.

            To me, coming up with a cohesive menu that everyone will enjoy is similar to how some people like the challenge of doing crossword or sudoku puzzles. :)

            1. re: kyoules

              I would definitely have at least one dish in mind for someone with real dietary considerations (vegetarian, low sodium, gluten-free, etc.). But when I've had in the past no less than a grouping of a staunch meat-and-potatoes eater, a vegetarian, and a low carber, that in and of itself is enough to work around! Start adding in food preferences and I want to throw my hands up! People are usually pretty happy with the offering and can pick at it as they please. In my family I once tried to construct a menu taking into account everyone's likes or dislikes. Basically every fruit or vegetable was on someone's no-no list. I think it's incredible that you can do this! It would drive me batty.

              1. re: bblonde

                I've a guest at Thanksgiving who has a severe GI reaction from eating onions. Oi, try making T-Day dinner without a bag o' onions by your side, at least in my house.

                Everyone else coming to dinner is aware of the 'onion problem', so it's the only dietary consideration I currently accommodate. People understand the value I place on hospitality, but I'm not running a restaurant. So there are just onion-free and with onion versions of stuffing, green beans, etc., and we leave it there.

                My GF friend heads to her family's T-Day dinner, so I don't need to worry about that at the moment, but I'm at a quandry over what I'd do if she or someone else were invited to a group meal so heavily rooted in traditional foods that are gluten-rich. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the biggest celebrations around here that can be a minefield, at a time when a goal is for people to be able to relax and feel welcome at the table.

                The voices in the back of my mind keep saying "I'd work it out somehow", so evesdropping on conversations in threads like this is interesting to see how others deal with these situations. I figure in the case of the onions, I'm accommodating a medical issue, rather than someone just being picky.

                Just wanted to put that out there in case others have similar issues they face, to hear how they work it out.

          2. re: kyoules

            That does sound like a challenging crowd to cook for, but much like you I also enjoy the challenge and like to try and accomodate my guests whenever I can. I have very close group of 4 friends who have several dietary restrictions. One has celiac disease (no wheat, oats, rye, or barley), one is Muslim and observes halal dietary restrictions (no pork, no alcohol, and only ritually slaughtered meat), and another is a vegetarian.
            Given the fact that we have two peoplew with various meat challenges we often eat vegetarian when we are together. Since one of them can't tolerate wheat dishes are often Asian inspired since the carbohydrate can come from rice as opposed to wheat. It can be daunting, but I have found it works well to eliminate all the no no foods people hold in common, and then go with what is left. In our case, and in many cases I presume, that would mean a vegetarian menu.

          3. My mother and I are putting together a menu that's a bit souther, a bit traditional Italian, and a bit whatever we feel like.

            Pulled Pork
            Chicken salad with grapes and pecans
            Potato salad
            Roasted asparagus
            Pizza Rustica/Easter Pie
            Coconut-white chocolate pie
            Hazelnut pound cake

            1. I am going up North for Pesach
              First nite my sister-second son's in laws

              The menu consists of the usual
              gefilte fish
              chicken soup-my sister also adds flanken
              matzoh balls made by here m-i-l usually delicious an fluffy-
              i unfortunately for some make sinkers. She also makes delicious cucumber sala.
              My sister makes brisket with onion soup which I don't like-I like brisket but without soup.
              My b-i-l grates horse raddish with beet juice
              Cakes, etc my sister bakes
              Sons m-i-l makes basically the same thing
              she makes good tsimmes and salad
              I will make passover muffins an kugel for pesach.
              Some of sisters Christian friends will not be attedning since it is also Good Friday

              Have a sezon paseach!!!

              1. Like someone else replied, we have challenges for a group meal.

                1. Vegetarian, will sometimes eat chicken if it is in something
                2. one who is low-carb, doesn't really like ham, beef, etc. will eat it but. . . . not much into fish except sometimes salmon if he has to. prefers chicken, white meat chicken. also no mushrooms.
                3. one who is allergic to nuts and seafood. very allergic. but she likes ham and salmon and chicken.
                4. one diabetic who is low carb, likes nuts, seafood, ham, chicken, but not so hot on salmon.
                5. one low carber
                6 & 7 pretty much eat anything

                plus FIVE children. we're still working on it, but there will be ham, salmon, and chicken involved

                1. There's a 10# whole turkey sitting in my freezer that needs a purpose, so Easter it is! I always buy an extra turkey at Thanksgiving to cook over New Year's, but I was sick and in bed for the long holiday weekend this year, so the bird is continuing to take up precious freezer space.

                  Our local Sunday Farmer's Market will be open by then, so I won't be tied to winter vegetables trucked in from Mexico, or flown in from South America in order to get something fresh. I plan to pick up whatever sides I'll be serving with it that morning. So who knows, pan-creamed spinach harvested at dawn with sautéed quartered mushrooms? Maybe even baby artichokes? We'll see. Spring hasn't arrived in the Pacific Northwest just yet.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: RelishPDX

                    Summer arrived about a week ago in Chicago but I am still planning a Spring Easter. Asparagus parmesan sformatto/flan to start followed by rack of lamb with lamb demi-glace with tomato & kalamata sauce. With the lamb I am planning on a morel mushroom and ramp risotto and an additional side of curried roasted cauliflower. Haven't decided on dessert but I am leaning towards something with lemon curd.

                  2. Whole Roasted Leg of Lamb, Lamb Jus, Spring Vegetables, Flageolets, and Mashed Potatoes

                    The lamb will be marinated in thyme and garlic. The lamb jus will be lamb stock reduced with more aromatics, including tomatoes and garlic. We're having a really light winter and early spring up here in New England so the first of the spring vegetables will hopefully be in by then. I could do ramps, asparagus, baby carrots, artichokes, sugar snap peas, red and white pearl onions, or whatever else looks good. Flageolet beans cooked with garlic confit go great with lamb. Wouldn't get away with not serving a starch to my family so mashed potatoes are in there too.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: schoenfelderp

                      That sounds heavenly. I dream of lamb for Easter but I'd have to do just chops for me since I'm the only one who likes it. Sigh...

                      1. re: schoenfelderp

                        Slow roasted leg of lamb at our house too. It's a tradition now. I use garlic, rosemary and dried Coleman's mustard for the seasoning and then we slow cook on the Big Green Egg, usually asparagus on the side.

                      2. I have a leg of lamb in the freezer but I'm pretty sure there would be an uproar if anything other than ham was served. I had a though to serve both but I'd rather let the lamb be the star of a Moroccan menu later on. Besides, our other challenge is church. Either go to early service and have time to cook for a couple hours or arrange the menu so that everything is essentially done after the late service, save for some finishing touches and slight reheating. We will probably go to the early service, though the later one is really beautiful. It just makes me nervous sitting through the service going over my oven times!

                        My menu is as of now a jumble of ideas. I'd like to do some kind of potatoes, carrot in some form, strawberries in some form.

                        Deviled eggs
                        grandmother's rolls
                        Ham with mom's sweet-hot mustard sauce (the sauce!!)
                        Ham Loaf with red currant-mustard sauce
                        potential sides:
                        green beans with bacon and new potatoes
                        creamed peas
                        honey-glazed carrots
                        cheese grits w/ green chiles (very likely)
                        potato and vidalia onion gratin
                        Gert's slaw (vinegar-based slaw)
                        strawberry, spinach, and hearts of palm salad
                        rhubarb sauce
                        Potential desserts:
                        rhubarb pie
                        strawberry shortcake
                        lemon meringue pie
                        lemon tart
                        lemon cake
                        banana cake with raspberry filling and lemon icing
                        carrot cake

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bblonde

                          Oh, how about sharing the sweet-hot mustard sauce recipe? Sure sounds like something we would like.

                        2. I have been doing the same Easter/Spring Has Sprung brunch for about 15 years, with a couple of years off for various reasons... I think I am doing it again this year, deciding this week.

                          Menu looks like this:

                          I make; boneless butterflied leg of lamb, marinated overnight in red wine/orange/dijon/garlic/thyme. That goes on the grill till MR.
                          Alongside is roasted asperagus salad with a lemon viniagrette,
                          baked eggs in cream,
                          pans of spanikopita - a great make ahead

                          Guests bring;
                          fresh fruit platters
                          assorted breakfast breads, pastries
                          OJ and inexpensive champagne for mimosas

                          Voila! A great meal with variety, but easy enough on the hostess that I have had 40+ people over for that, and I could manage to enjoy the easter egg hunt with all my friends & family.

                          A tradition I have been happy to keep up for years:)

                          1. I always say I am going to make gumbo z'herbes for Good Friday, but the way things have been going, I am pretty sure I will slack off, which means I am doomed to repeat my self-inflicted tradition of fish sticks for the Triduum.

                            In the meantime I plan on reprising the cardamom and rose white chocolate truffles I made for last year's Easter Vigil reception and am still thinking about savory baked goods I can add to the menu with the caveat that they will be unrefrigerated in the church hall for several hours. All I know is that I am not making gougères since I have yet to meet anyone offline who actually likes the things.

                            Easter Sunday lunch depends largely on whether or not I will be performing at the morning service and how the weather cooperates. Right now, the plan is for the same roast leg of lamb we make every year, spanakopita and börek since they can all go in the oven at the same temperature. If it is not too hot, I will make flatbreads as well, otherwise we will go with paella or pilaf. Depending on how asparagus looks, we may add that to the side, otherwise I lean towards vegetable escabeche or malai kofta. Red Easter eggs are a non-negotiable and will be repurposed as deviled eggs or a potato salad after we've finished playing our pre-meal party games.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: JungMann

                              JungMann!! That's absolutely lovely....thinking about the truffles made me drool. The last truffle-y thing I made were Nipples of Venus, for a chocolate party my friend had for New Year's Eve '09, I do believe. Sad, because I love working with chocolate and candymaking in general.
                              Dinner sounds delicious. How many do you expect? If a small crowd, I'd go for the pilaf, if larger the paella. But you wouldn't want me at your party 'cause I'd snarf that spanakopita and borek like nobody's business. Have a wonderful day with your friends and family.

                              1. re: mamachef

                                I can't imagine welcoming the catechumens with Nipples of Venus, but then again, the friars are witty classicists, maybe they'd enjoy it.

                                For Easter I expect 6-10 in total. Pilaf is probably the best option, but truth be told I don't have a recipe tucked away for what should be an easy staple. Paella, on the other hand, was a staple at our holiday table growing up so I could make it in my sleep. And I'm with you on the pastries -- anything with phyllo is addictively snarfable.

                                1. re: JungMann

                                  Then paella it shall be, unless you want a pilaf recipe that goes nicely with your main dish. Ooh, phyllo. I found a deconstructed baklava the other day that's just beautiful, and I think it's the next pastry I'm going to do.
                                  Happy Easter!