Passover and Easter usually coincide each year, which is why I am uniting the two in this blog today. Let me first give you a brief description of both holidays:
My version of Passover in a nutshell: eight days on a high carb diet – you can’t eat leavened bread and the alternative isn’t great – matzah is a flat cracker that resembles a piece of cardboard. When consumed, it stays in your body until next Passover UNLESS you counteract the remnants with a boat load of prune juice. FUN? WOW!
There are two celebratory meals – referred to as the first and second Seders. At these meals families gather, they laugh, they drink, they sometimes end up fighting for the last piece of matzah (NOT) and most of all we gather to read the Haggadah (and stuff our faces with macaroons) – The Haggadah is a book telling the story of Passover which speaks about all kinds of nice things that happened to us Jews way back before I was born….including the 10 Plagues:
Death of the first born.
Isn’t that lovely dinner conversation?? As a small child, it used to scare the daylights out of me but now I’m accustomed to all the locusts and stuff. Along with all this fun, there is usually an empty space at the table for this guy named Elijah – here’s his story. We open the door for him (technically he is invisible), we take the opportunity to invite him in. Elijah is the one who visits the circumcision ceremony of every Jewish child, and testifies that the Jewish people are scrupulous regarding the commandment of circumcision. Males were permitted to partake only if they were circumcised. Thus, Elijah comes to the Seder to “testify” that all present are indeed circumcised. Isn’t this fascinating? Thought you needed to know this, especially if any of your guys aren’t prepared for a SPOT CHECK by Elijah. Now before this invisible guy leaves, he knocks back a shooter of wine. That way you know he’s been and gone. Trust me, this is all true……but I know exactly who drinks Elijah’s wine portion – my husband.
Okay….onwards to Easter:
In the Christian religion, Easter is the holiday that celebrates and commemorates the central event of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death by crucifixion. Today, other than church attendance, the holiday often involves Easter eggs for toys and candy as well as the imagery of bunnies and rabbits (I’m going to say it beats matzah and locusts…especially those cute little filled Easter eggs that ONLY come out once a year). Easter occurs the Sunday after Good Friday.
Typically a tradional Easter menu includes, hard-boiled eggs, hot cross buns, roasted lamb and ham.
Get this….The roast lamb dinner that many eat on Easter Sunday goes back earlier than Easter to the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, in hopes that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they naturally brought along their traditions with them. The Christians often refer to Jesus as The Lamb of God. Thus, the traditions merged. How cool is that?
Sorry for being so long winded, but once in a while a history lesson is important. This brings me to two dishes that I created today that can be intertwined with both holidays. An amazing potato gratin and some out of this world devilled eggs. You can serve both these accompaniment’s at a Seder or Easter meal. Wishing you all a happy PASSOVER/EASTER!!
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
- 5 - 6 large Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes – I prefer Yukon’s btw
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 1¼ cups low sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup unsalted matzo meal or dry breadcrumbs
- Sea or Himalayan salt for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in upper third. Combine 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.
- Oil a large oval baking dish and sprinkle bottom with some salt-and-pepper mixture. Cut potatoes into ⅛-inch-thick slices with a mandolin or knife. Arrange slices vertically in baking dish, sprinkle thyme over the potatoes. Brush with oil and season between potato slices with a sprinkle of salt-and-pepper mixture. Place baking dish on a baking sheet with an edge.
- Whisk together eggs, broth, ¼ teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add matzo meal or breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Pour mixture evenly over potatoes, tapping baking sheet on the counter to ensure mixture settles to bottom of baking dish. Cover with parchment, then with foil, and transfer to oven. Bake for one hour. Remove foil and parchment, rotate baking sheet, and continue baking until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 40 - 45 minutes more. Increase heat to broil and broil until golden brown, about 5 minutes. (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn….I have a tendency to check my phone while things are broiling and I end up with the smoke alarm going off). Garnish with thyme and sea salt. Let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar, plus 3 tablespoons, divided
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus a pinch, divided
- 2¼ teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch, divided
- 1 small red beet, peeled and halved
- 12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, tarragon, chives, plus more for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium pot, mix 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3 cups water. Add the beet and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour into a large heat-safe jar or bowl (including beet). Add eggs, stir, and refrigerate at least 3 hours (stirring occasionally) or overnight for a darker shade of pink.
- Remove eggs from liquid. Halve eggs (reserving the whites) and gently transfer the yolks to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar, mayonnaise, herbs, and anchovy paste to the yolks. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper, then spoon or pipe the filling into the egg whites.
- Sprinkle with additional herbs, if desired. Serve.