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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.
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.
Roast Lamb with Steamed Green Beans (if you like lamb, I’m assuming you know how to either roast it or google a recipe)
Dessert: Spiced Lemon Walnut Rosemary Cake, which you can supplement with Baklava, as well as lemon sorbet or vanilla ice cream
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And whatever you do, may your springtime be filled with joy.