Easter is one of my favourite family holidays. I enjoy it because it has close to the same festive atmosphere as Christmas, and allows you to focus on just being together and sharing good times and a good meal. That’s probably because the Easter ‘season’ is much shorter than the Christmas season and it’s without work parties, neighbourhood parties, presents, baking, decorating, etc. I do enjoy the Christmas prep and Christmas season, but I have to say, I love the simplicity of Easter and the fact that it takes place mostly in Spring weather. Everyone is cheerful and looking forward to brighter days, and there is a short window to get the family together for a festive time, but minus the big lead up…it’s a slower pace to a similar end goal.
When I was a kid, my very large extended family lived in close proximity and we were a party of over 20 people every Sunday, as well as Easter Sunday. As kids, my siblings and I loved these fun family times with grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. As individual families grew and everyone’s life got more complicated maintaining these large gatherings that often was not possible, but the big family still connects for major events. And, our smaller family of parents, siblings, nieces and nephews and grandchildren on both my side and my husband’s side of the family make our best efforts to connect for the holidays and regularly throughout the year. My husband and I love to host both our families whenever we can. For this year’s Easter dinner we hosted my husband’s family. The question at this time for hosting is usually “Do we serve turkey or ham?”. We did go with turkey this time and tried to lighten up the side dishes with lighter, spring flavours such as grilled asparagus and roasted cauliflower. (In a future blog post, I’ll feature my Mom’s classic Italian Easter dinner, which is based on foods her Mom used to make at Easter…lots of eggs are involved in that!!)
As you may have read in my January 5, 2018 post, I always cook the turkey a day ahead, so we followed that plan for this dinner too. It’s a lot of work no matter when you cook the turkey, but doing it a day ahead means you have time and energy to socialize with your guests on the day of your dinner. And, if you follow the tips on my post, your turkey will be moist and tasty even when cooked a day ahead.
If you are reading this blog, you are likely a person who is interested in food and cooking, so like me, you probably have lots of food at every dinner you host and are just looking for a few tips and ideas to prompt your own creativity for meal preparation. Even though we did a mostly traditional turkey dinner (turkey, stuffing, gravy), we lightened up the side dishes for spring with grilled asparagus, roasted cauliflower and baked mashed sweet potato with a drop of maple syrup to signal spring flavours.
The ‘bookends’ to our meal were our appetizer plate and a moist, delicious chocolate cake made by my sister-in-law, L. Dessert is one course of the meal that I can always skip, but I can never resist L’s chocolate cakes! This time she decorated it with gourmet chocolate Easter eggs. It was a big hit as usual!
Our appetizer plate was fresh with prosciutto, a delicious Chianti salami, sheep and goat’s milk firm cheese, asiago cheese, simple crackers along with multi-grain breadsticks, olives, grapes and dried apricots. Often, we will roll the prosciutto around the breadsticks, but this time we left them on their own and un-fussy. Whenever we had family get-togethers in the 70’s and 80’s my parents would serve plates like this…they were always tasty and it’s quite amusing to see them being trendy again. Call it a cold cut platter, call it a charcuterie board….no matter what you call it, good food never goes out of style! I hope you are enjoying some time with your family this spring. Leave a note and share details of your family’s spring festivities! Happy cooking…eat well and be well…