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.
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."
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)
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.
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. :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chicken salad with grapes and pecans
Pizza Rustica/Easter Pie
Coconut-white chocolate pie
Hazelnut pound cake
I am going up North for Pesach
First nite my sister-second son's in laws
The menu consists of the usual
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!!!