Seasonal Recipes

Easter and Passover

 

Pear and Apple Recipes

Saturday
Apr192014

The Blessing of the Easter Basket

When I was growing up, our holiday celebrations were firmly grounded in Polish traditions. Hopefully this year, I will have the opportunity to write more about a traditional Polish Christmas Eve meal, Wigilia.  But for now, my thoughts turn to spring and Easter. 

For Poles, the blessing of the Easter Basket, Swieconka, continues to be an enduring tradition. The blessing takes place on the Saturday before Easter, and the basket typically contains a sampling of traditional food: hard-boiled eggs, ham, sausage, salt, horseradish, fruits, bread and cake.  Just like the seder plate, each food in the Easter Basket has symbolic meaning.

 Eggs symbolize life and Christ's resurrection
 Bread symbolizes Jesus 
 Lamb represents Christ
 Salt represents purification 
 Horseradish symbolizes the bitter sacrifice of Christ
 Ham symbolizes great joy and abundance 

This is my (93 year old) Grandmother's version of the Easter Basket or what she commonly refers to as "blessed food".  The dogwood is from her garden on Eastern Long Island. Happy Easter everyone!

Tuesday
Apr152014

The Enchanted Garden Cake Deconstructed

Because the devil is in the details.........

Dark chocolate bunny and marzipan vegetables

Carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, coconut "grass" and (crushed) chocolate wafer "soil"

 

Monday
Apr142014

The Enchanted Garden Cake {Easter 2014}

Saturday
Apr052014

Coconut Macaroons

What would Easter (or Passover for that matter) be like without macaroons? Now mind you, I don't mean just any macaroon.  I mean the type of macaroon that is a small mound of coconut, chewy on the outside and moist on the inside -- mysteriously held together by something.  The big question is what?

Most recipes suggest that the coconut is held together by a combination of sweetened condensed milk, beatened egg whites and vanilla extract. (Some even go so far as to suggest flour, which is just odd. Flour in a Passover dessert?)  I have tried many variations on this theme, and have never been happy with the results.  In particular, I have found that the macaroons are:

  1. too sweet
  2. too dry
  3. do not hold their shape (i.e. the batter is too thin)
  4. stick to the baking pan

But this recipe, loosely adapted from the Baker's Royal blog, is spot on.

The recipe contains 4 ingredients (coconut, egg whites, sugar and vanilla), which cook over simmering water until the the egg white/sugar mixture thickens and turns from translucent to opaque.

It takes about 15 minutes for the mixture to thicken in a stainless steel bowl; a little longer if you are using a glass bowl. In any case,  don't stress about the time. Just cook the mixture to the point where it "holds its shape without a puddle of syrup forming around it".

You can use a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon to drop the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I baked this batch of cookies approximately 15 minutes, but I would start to check the cookies after 13 minutes.

These are delicious dipped in semi-sweet chocolate, but are also good plain.  The macaroons are best eatened the same day, but will stay in an airtight cookie tin for several days.  Avoid putting plastic wrap on them, as it will make the cookies soggy. Enjoy!

Here is the printable recipe.