Easter is a unique kind of holiday, isn’t it? There’s the Jesus element, which of course is the origin behind Good Friday and Easter Monday - probably the most significant events in the Christian calendar. But for the majority of us who observe Easter more for cultural reasons (and to take advantage of the extra days off work), the religious backstory has been replaced, or at least eclipsed, by a curious narrative involving bunnies that lay pastel-coloured chocolate eggs in people’s yards. Aside from the confusion this must cause young children and people from other cultures who are unfamiliar with the holiday (for a hilarious take on this, have a listen to Jesus Shaves, an Easter essay by American humorist David Sedaris on NPR, it can make for an even more confusing approach to menu planning. Is Easter a turkey holiday? After a day of cute fuzzy chickadees, how do you explain the fowl carcass that’s roasting away in your oven? With this in mind, here are a couple of different ideas for alternative Easter entertaining.
Now that the days are longer and we’re less inclined to gather together inside to pass the long dark nights, Easter seems like the perfect holiday to observe over a midday meal. The advantages to planning a brunch are many: inexpensive, less labour-intensive menu items; ideal for groups with babies and young children who have early bedtimes; and, an entire afternoon to spend doing something outdoors after the meal like a family stroll, hike, or afternoon at the beach.
- Oeufs en Cocotte (baked eggs in ramekins)
- Simple greens with herb vinaigrette
- Muffins or Scones (or both - one savoury and one sweet) with stewed fruit and whipped cream
- Frittata, quiche or savoury tart
- Fruit salad
- Spiked coffees, mimosas, white wine
Luau Theme Dinner
Something I love to do for Easter dinner is a loosely-based Hawaiian theme. And why not? The weather’s getting better, sometimes a little Wishful Island Thinking is all you need to get everyone into a cheerful spring mood. Luau themes (or similar) can be easily adapted for both small or large groups, lend themselves well to potluck-type events and are a fun excuse to put up cute decorations and play different music. Hilarity ensues when family members (a few Mai Tais deep) start picking up instruments and ‘jamming’…
- Lomi Lomi Salmon Salad
- Braised Hawaiian Pork Shoulder or, Kabobs on the barbecue with ham, pineapple, prawns, bell peppers or mangoes
- Simple blanched or grilled greens like rapini, broccolini or kale
- Hawaiian Fried Rice in takeout boxes
- Waikiki Corn Bread
- Coconut Macadamia Bundt Cake (see my recipe below, adapted from Veganomicon’s “Coconut-Lemon Bundt Cake”)*
- Mai Tais, lager beer, white wine, Kahlua coffee
*If you’re making the corn bread as well as the fried rice, you might want to skip the coconut cake and do a lighter dessert like a simple fruit salad
Healthy Easter Basket Stuffers
If you don’t want to fill your children’s baskets with the usual roundup of processed “chocolate” and crappy candy, consider splurging on a smaller amount of good-quality chocolate such as Ginger Elizabeth’s Milk Chocolate Bar or Zotter’s Milk Cream Absolutely Normal, and melting it into Easter moulds, or making your own macarons in pastel shades and wrapping them up in cute cello packets or jars tied with ribbon. Sugar cookies in fun shapes are always a hit, too!
Coconut Macadamia Bundt Cake
(For a fun alternative, why not try making individual Bundt Cakes instead of one big one for your gathering)
Adapted from “Coconut-Lemon Bundt Cake”, Veganomicon (Moskowitz & Romero, p.256)
- 1 2/3 cups cane sugar
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 1 can coconut milk
- ¼ cup almond milk
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 3 T grated lime zest
- 2 t pure vanilla extract
- 1 T Cuban rum
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 t baking powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 t salt
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- ½ cup macadamia nut pieces, lightly toasted
- a few T confectioner’s sugar or pineapple rings for decoration
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8 or 10-inch Bundt pan. In a large mixing bowl combine the cane sugar, oil, coconut milk, almond milk, lime juice and zest, vanilla and rum. Stir to combine.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the wet ingredients in batches, mixing well after each addition. Fold in the shredded coconut and macadamia nuts.
Pour batter into Bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted through the cake comes out clean. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before releasing cake from the pan (try putting a cutting board on top and then gently flipping). Once cooled, sprinkle with icing sugar or garnish with fresh or canned pineapple slices.