gourmet file: a cook's guide to the web

Spring Holiday Recipes - Easter, Passover & Persian New Year

gourmet file:  a cook's guide to the web

New Beginnings

Spring is in the air and one can't help but feel a sense of optimism, as the first buds and blossoms make their appearance. Regardless of cultural & religious origins, the spring holidays share similar symbols - the egg, for instance, and other symbols of rebirth, fertility and abundance. There is something about this time of year when we all feel the urge to clean house and start fresh. Naturally our desire for new beginnings extends to our culinary traditions, with foods that celebrate the season.

Norooz, Persian New Year Recipes

The oldest of the springtime celebrations is the 3,000-year-old Persian New Year, known as Norooz, which began this year on March 21st and lasts 13 days. Jessica Yadegaran, in Inside Bay Area, writes about the history and culinary traditions of her Persian roots, and shares some delectable recipes to celebrate the season.

Recipes for Passover

For those celebrating Passover, which begins tomorrow evening, there are more recipes and cooking advice on the web than ever. In the New York Time's food section, Joan Nathan, the cookbook writer and authority on Jewish cooking, answers readers' questions about cooking for Passover and offers a number of interesting recipes, including "Potato Kugelettes" (which can be made in advance & reheated) and "Passover Brownies."

One of my favorite recipes for matzo balls appears on Arthur Schwartz's Food Maven website. Not only are they light and delicious, but they happen to freeze very well. This allows you to make your matzo balls in advance and just pop them into a hot pot of chicken soup anytime. I always like to sprinkle my soup with lots of chopped fresh dill.

In her cookbook, The Gefilte Variations, Jayne Cohen offers creative interpretations of traditional Jewish recipes (all kosher). For anyone looking for a brisket recipe for Passover, Ms. Cohen's "Brisket with Thirty-six Cloves of Garlic" based on the French classic, chicken with forty cloves of garlic, sounds like a tasty option.

For more Jewish recipes, take a look at the Jewish-Food Recipe Archives, a well organized and comprehensive collection of recipes submitted by home cooks. This site is not-for-profit with a mission to serve as a record of the cuisine of the Jewish people.

If you are looking for the perfect wine to serve for Passover, the Kosher Wine Guy reviews the latest Kosher wine offerings on his website.

Easter Dinner Recipes

For those planning Easter celebrations there are many options. This month, Martha Stewart's Easter menu suggestions include a glazed ham dinner, a Greek Easter dinner, and an Easter Brunch Buffet.

Kyle Phillips, the Italian Food editor at about.com, grew up dividing his time between the U.S. and Tuscany. Here he writes about Italian Easter food traditions, and gives us menus and recipes for a traditional Roman Easter.

Another delicious Italian Easter food is Pastiera di Grano (Neopolitan Easter Cake). It's a ricotta and wheat berry pie, flavored with candied orange & lemon peel, cinnamon, and orange flower water. It's a perfect dessert for this time of year - light, fresh and not too sweet. Epicurious has a recipe by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.