The Spring Feast Planner

Have you signed up for our email list? (It’s easy; fill in the form in the green square on the right side of the page.) Do it, and get the Spring Feast Planner (as well as the worksheet “Know Yourself as a Cook”) for free. As well as my heartfelt thanks.

spring feast planner

Through my childhood, we had a lot of big holidays. The holidays were fun, but I never liked the food. For one thing, my mom was a classic Mom-of-Baby-Boomers cook, wedded to the Glamor with a Can Opener approach. For another, at our house, holiday tables groaned with a big old slab of meat: ham, roast beef, turkey. The sides weren’t particularly interesting or important.

Well, when I began to cook it myself, I realized I could change all that. And, in April 2004, Bon Appetit, the magazine that was one of my primary cooking teachers and which I continue to love, featured a Greek Easter feast. I loved everything in it—except for the lamb. So I skipped that, and decided I was doing my own Greek Easter.

Well—not by a long shot. I recently spoke with my friend Callie Floor, of 100% Greek descent. “Easter is THE most imporant holiday of the year for Greek families,” she told me.

“What are the essentials?”

“Lamb and red eggs. And the bread with the red eggs.”

“What about spanikopita? Pastitsio? Baklava?”

Nope, it turned out. The lamb, representing Christ, and the eggs dyed red to represent his blood, are the two essentials. “And we’d usually eat it at, like, 3 in the morning,” she told me, due to a midnight mass the day before.

OK. So I wasn’t doing Greek Easter. But….I was (and still am) doing some sort of spring feast. Hence the title of my new party planner, which I’ve been working like mad on. It’s late for western Easter—as I write this, it’s April 18, 2019, and the holiday falls on Sunday, April 21. But I’m pretty much on time for eastern Easter, on the 28th this year. And, since a lot of folks like lamb for Easter, the planner easily allows you to add it in. It’s got all the recipes, with links to the related web posts if you want more pix (and, in the case of Spanakopita and Greek Easter Bread, video). There’s a scheduler so you can make about 80% of the meal ahead of time, something I always dig if I’m having some big celebration.

And seriously, Greek food is superb for parties. Vibrant, veggie-centric, sunshine-y, and comforting. So you can pretty much bust this one out any time you want a good party.

The Menu

Appetizers/Noshables: If you want, create a mezze platter with olives, cheese, dip like hummus, taramasalata, skordalia, or tzatziki, and/or a mix of marinated and fresh veggies. I don’t include this in the planner, because honestly, there’s already a ton of food. But it’s certainly easy if you want to throw one together. Here’s a lovely example.

Greek Salad

Moussaka or Pastitsio

Roast Lamb with Steamed Green Beans (if you like lamb, I’m assuming you know how to either roast it or google a recipe)

Greek Easter Bread

Dessert: Spiced Lemon Walnut Rosemary Cake, which you can supplement with Baklava, as well as lemon sorbet or vanilla ice cream

spring feast planner dessert

If you’ve subscribed, you’ve already received the Planning Guide, which includes a shopping list and timetable. If you’d like that, well, my friend, please consider subscribing. (Once again, it’s easy; fill in the form in the green square on the right side of the page.)

And whatever you do, may your springtime be filled with joy.

autumn road food

Autumn Road Food: 2018

A road trip in autumn requires autumn road food. (I had to write that sentence or my search engine plug-in gives me a crappy score. You have to basically state your title in an artful way somehow in the first paragraph. Usually, that’s easy, but today….aw, hell with it.)

autumn road food

S and I pack up our Toyota this week to see some family on the western side of the state. And we like to be well-equipped gastronomically. Look, I enjoy a jolt of toxic shock courtesy of a MacDonald’s breakfast as much as the next Baby Boomer. But those occasions are rare and private, and I throw the trash away in a public garbage can so that no one knows my shame. Steve is not so big on the toxic shock thing. So we bring along some healthy organic stuff that I make the day before, which is how I spent my Monday. If you have to get on the road for Thanksgiving, it might work for you, too.

Autumn Road Food: Breakfast/Brunch

I do love me a good quiche and/or frittata. A couple of weeks ago, I bought some potatoes to riff off a Cooking Light recipe, Potato Gratin Quiche with Spinach Salad. Browned potato slices stand in for a wheat pie crust, a fine idea. But instead of serving the spinach on the side in a salad, I just chopped up some leftover arugula and tomatoes and mixed them right in with eggs and cottage cheese. Honestly, I didn’t really follow the proportions too closely. The end result’s more of a portable frittata than a quiche. But it’ll give the man and I a brunchy snack, much better than the crappy breakfast burritos we’ve been getting on the road.

autumn road food fritatta

Autumn Road Food: Dinner

You know that autumn greens salad I’ve been making such a fuss over lately? That’s going on the road, topped with some salmon, manchego and walnuts.

autumn-greens-salad

Autumn Road Food: Snack

Finally, I really dig these matcha biscotti. They’re supposed to be topped  with drizzled chocolate, but I was too lazy. These are pretty much verbatim from this Cooking Light recipe. Warning: Mine are PLUG UGLY. That’s because our matcha is a weird olive color, partly because it has some turmeric, which you really don’t taste, but which is supposed to be healthy or something.

autumn road food biscotti

The magazine version found a MUCH prettier matcha, one closer to pistachio green than the rather ghastly color that our matcha yielded. 
Guess what? They look so much worse before you give them a turn in the oven. Another note: the magazine recos 20 minutes of toasting at 300º. I achieved a more classic biscotti texture at 250º for about 45 minutes. I like my biscotti really, really crunchy, the better for dipping.

autumn road food

Last step was to sear that salmon on both sides, then give it a quick stint in the oven. But of course, if you’re vegan, you could use tempeh or tofu or more nuts.

So that’s it. We got our Autumn Road Food (see what I did there, search engine plug-in?). We enjoyed our quick trip safe and secure in the knowledge that I would not have to wince while Steve asks the server if the salmon is farm-raised and she looks at him like he’s got an alien bursting out of his head, and then gives me a look of, who the hell is this guy, and I sort of shrug and smile sheepishly. As for you, my muppets, just remember: sturdy salad with protein, tasty baked good that’s still somewhat healthy, and quiche goodness, and you will not have to stop someplace and get a heart attack.