Feels Like Spring

24 day ago By Christine Sahadi Whelan
Feels Like Spring

In our home, Easter is a huge holiday. My family practices a mixture of religions, so we celebrate both the Greek and the Roman Catholic Easters. It makes for a fun and long spring season. Pat and I traditionally have an open house for Easter with around 40-50 people. And we truly mean open house — guests bring their own extended family and friends to celebrate with us! Our home was intentionally designed with an open floor plan and deck that extends to an outdoor living room in the yard, so when the weather cooperates, the party can spill outside to the couch and firepit.

Hospitality is one of the defining characteristics of our Mediterranean family and Pat and I love to entertain. For Easter, we do a large family brunch. Brunch is forgiving in its timing, making it a lot less stressful for people traveling a long way to celebrate with us. I like to start with an “Epic Cheese Board.” It can sit out for hours and people can nibble while waiting for stragglers.

This year I wanted to shake up the menu, so I’m adding Aleppo pepper rims to my zaatar Bloody Mary’s and mango to my mimosas. I’m also thinking of doing an enormous platter of lamb merguez. Lamb is so traditional for Easter and sausage fits into the brunch theme. A tremendous applewood smoked ham and my natural vegetable dyed eggs will brighten up the look of the table. Mom will bring an amazing fancy salad with toasted pine nuts, cranberries and giant shards of Reggiano parmesan cheese, tossed in prosecco vinaigrette. A bagel tower with homemade vegetable cream cheese and a smoked fish platter will complete the meal.

                   

All we will need besides that is a tray of sweet treats. Usually I buy a giant Greek Easter Bread with red dyed eggs nestled in it. It’s traditionally seasoned with mastic and braided. This year I am going to try to recreate my cousin Sonia’s sweet bread rings. We call them Kaak. They are amazing little yeast sweet dough rings seasoned with mahlab and nutmeg that always make me think of Easter. She is so generous to share a dish with me each year, but I thought I would give them a try myself since we all love them so much. I have been playing around with the recipe but they have a long way to go until they are anything like Sonia’s!