spring has definitely sprung, and that means there are lots of reasons to celebrate. here at the shop, we're busy prepping for passover and easter festivities, so we're sharing our favorite tips to keep your spring holiday hosting game strong.
passover seder hosting 101
there's the dinner, the décor, the rituals, and the rules (so many rules), but breaking it down to a few simple steps is the best way to tackle your seder.
- the table - set one long table with your favorite dishware. if you don't have tabletop décor handy, just rent it. place a haggadah at every seat and dress it up with a sweet garnish like fresh parsley or a personalized place card. add cute cushions to the back of each chair for a pop of color that is recline-ready! complete your tablescape with under-stated florals that won't distract from the main event - the seder plate.
- the seder plate - the seder plate is the visual representation of the story of passover and centerpiece of the event. the main components include: one hard boiled egg, a few stems of parsley, one broiled shank bone (which you can buy or request at the meat counter in the grocery store), and small portions of charoset and horseradish.
- the food - serve bite-sized matzo appetizers and crackers with traditional dips like eggplant and chopped liver. display a few matzo baskets on the table so guests can help themselves during the meal. for a sweet twist, prepare matzo toffee and serve with dessert or wrap up for a fun takeaway. if you have little ones, make sure to save a few pieces for the afikoman. other favorite meal items include roasted chicken, beef brisket, peas and mushrooms or string beans with almonds, but the show-stopper is always the matzo ball soup. every good jewish girl thinks her mom's recipe is the best, but my mom's actually is the best, so i'll share it with you. (pro tip: the flavor comes from the turnips!)
nana ellen's matzo ball soup
ingredients: 1 small chicken (about 3-4 lbs) cut into pieces (discard giblets), 2 large onions, 3-4 celery stalks with leaves, 6-8 small–medium turnips, 1 bunch of curly parsley, 1 bunch of dill, 1 pkg mini carrots, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
place chicken parts and all vegetables in large stock pot. cover with water to about 2 inches from the top of pot. season liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. cover the pot and bring to a boil. reduce heat to simmer and uncover. simmer for about 2 hours until the vegetables are soft and the chicken falls off the bone.
remove from heat, uncover the pot and let the soup cool. with a large slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces and set aside in a large bowl. discard the bones and other inedible bits from the soup. strain, remove, and discard all vegetables except carrots. strain and remove carrots and then set aside. strain the soup broth through a small mesh sieve or colander to remove stray vegetable/chicken bits. take about half of the chicken parts and cut into bite size pieces, making sure they are free of all bones. return bite sized pieces to the strained soup. (save the rest of chicken parts for another dish. the cooked chicken makes a delicious chicken salad!) return carrots to strained soup.
either serve soup with matzo balls (see instructions below) or store in plastic containers in the fridge (if soup is refrigerated, fat will rise to the top of the container so skim and remove the fat before heating and eating.)
easy matzo balls
you can make these from scratch or buy packaged matzo ball mix (which is just as good!). if using a mix, you will need eggs and canola oil. follow package directions to combine. refrigerate mixture for about ½ to 1 hour. roll into small balls (about the size of a walnut) and cook them in chicken broth. remove with a slotted spoon and discard broth. either serve immediately with chicken soup or refrigerate for later.
easter hosting 101
easter's a day for pastels, sweets and fun, so making this holiday light and easy is key.
- the décor - call us predictable, but flowers are a simple way to add pops of pastel to your table. bud vases are great for a casual cocktail party, while a seasonal arrangement complements the heck out of a brunch table. when it comes to floral selection, tulips are classic, but we're game for anything vibrant and seasonal.
- the food - whether it's a colorful cheese board, a brunch spread or juicy honey-baked ham, savory flavors are just the sideshow when it comes to easter fare. anything chocolate or sugary usually headlines the menu. but the above items are some of our favorite easter flavors and melanie's mom makes the meanest ham in town. (check it out below!)
honey-baked hambuy a ham at your local grocery store (a whole ham, not pre sliced). open holes in the ham. cover with a bottle of maple syrup (you could also use guava or mango jam). spread dark brown sugar all over the ham and insert cinnamon sticks throughout. insert into a plastic cooking bag and leave it in the fridge overnight. on easter morning, put in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour and fifteen minutes. the secret is in the overnight marinating!
- the fun - easter egg hunts are always hits with the little guys, but cristie's mom ups the ante for the older ones with money-filled eggs (genius!). arts and crafts projects like egg dyeing, coloring and cupcake decorating are also lovely kid-friendly activities.
- the gifts - the perfect easter gift can truly make the party and we've got loads of 'em. if it's sweet, furry, floral or adorable, chances are he/she is taking it home with a smile. outsource your easter basket for babies, toddlers, kids, tweens or hostesses with our special edition easter collection.
happy passover/easter, everyone!
use the code EASTER10 for 10% off the entire easter collection. hand deliveries and shop pickups are available from march 26 through march 31.