Easter, Passover bring family and food together

April 16, 2014 

Easter is Sunday, and Passover began at sundown on Monday. I personally like it when Passover and Easter are in the same week. I love the traditions of Passover and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I enjoy the spiritual and, yes, the social gatherings of both Passover and Easter. We have friends who host a wonderful seder, and we do an Easter dinner with our family, complete with Easter egg hunt for our grandbaby, who is now old enough to enjoy the festivities.

My daughter and I like to make unleavened bread and charoset for Passover. We also make meringues that can be used for either Passover or Easter. We fill the meringues with fruit filling and whipped cream for a light dessert. The meringues can be turned into nests for jelly bean eggs or chocolate eggs for the children.

Another of our favorites is chow mein noodle nests filled with jelly beans. These are similar to haystacks, but use peanut butter instead of butterscotch morsels.

I hope you enjoy these Yeager favorites, whether you are observing Passover or celebrating Easter -- or both.

UNLEAVENED BREAD

3/4 cup scalded milk

1 egg

1/4 cup honey

2-1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon salt

Beat egg, milk, honey and butter together. Add the flour gradually. Knead until smooth. Roll the mixture to1/4-inch thick, then cut in shapes (rounds or squares). Prick with a fork. Bake on baking sheet for 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

CHAROSET

1 cup walnuts

1 Granny Smith green apple

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup raisins (let plump in water to cover; drain water when adding to mix)

Red wine or grape juice to moisten mixture

Chop the nuts and apples to the consistency you want. I used a food processor. Add the plumped raisins. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and moisten with wine or grape juice. This recipe can be doubled or tripled depending on the amount you need.

EASTER NESTS WITH JELLY BEANS

8 cups chow mein noodles

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup sugar

1- 1/2 cups peanut butter

72 jelly beans

Break chow mein noodles into small pieces; set aside in large mixing bowl.

Combine sugar and corn syrup in large saucepan. Cook on medium heat until the sugar is melted and there are bubbles at the edge of the pan.

Add peanut butter and stir until smooth. Pour peanut butter mixture over crunched up noodles; toss until completely coated. Let cool slightly to avoid burns.

Butter hands lightly and use approximately1/4 cup mixture to form a compact ball. Make indention in the middle of each ball to resemble a bird's nest. Place on waxed paper and let cool completely.

Place 2 to 3 jelly beans inside each nest. Serve on a bed of green-tinted coconut for extra festive look.

-- Recipe from www.food.com in 2004

MERINGUE SHELLS

4 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup sugar

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Mix on high speed adding sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Make little "nests" with meringue. Put in preheated oven at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave in oven for at least 1- 1/2 hours. Fill as desired.

Vegetable soup

"Here is a quick vegetable soup recipe I created that I think has more flavor than most," Linda Clower said.

QUICK VEGETABLE SOUP

2 (32-ounce) boxes beef or vegetable broth

1 or 2 packages frozen vegetables for soup (with or without tomatoes)

Other fresh, diced vegetables as desired (i.e. turnips, cabbage, beans, potatoes, peas)

1 can diced tomatoes (if not included in frozen pack)

1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni

Instant mashed potatoes, plain

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine broth and vegetables in a stockpot, bring to boil and reduce to simmer about 30 minutes or until any fresh vegetables added are tender.

Add macaroni and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.

Add enough instant mashed potatoes to slightly thicken the soup. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.

-- Submitted by Linda Clower

Need help with rising bread

"Lately I have gone back to baking bread but am having problems," Jane Ogurek said.

"The dough rises perfectly on the first rise. The rise on the loaves are also very good. In fact, they come over edges of the pans. When I put them in the oven, they flop. Normally, they would rise even more. I have my oven at 375 degrees. What am I doing wrong?"

Ogurek said she is proofing the yeast, so she knows the yeast is good.

All right, bread bakers, what should Ogurek do to improve her bread baking? Please let me know.

You can mail or email me. She needs help now.

Have a blessed Passover and Easter.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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