Easter brunch, the Polish-Bolivian-Brazilian-American way (plus some how-tos)

This calendar year marks the first time we are being grownups and spending the holidays at home, just the two of us… and our numerous guests. Since we hosted our first married couple Christmas just a little over three months ago, we’ve had what feels like ‘no vacancy’ in our informal bed-and-breakfast.

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Small wonder we’ve become the premier destination on the East Coast.                            It’s super cozy, as you can see.

So it should have come as no surprise to me that in addition to our 2 houseguests from abroad, a couple who met at our wedding (our only matchmaking success so far… and we didn’t actually do anything to make it happen), we ended up having 10 people at our Easter breakfast table. (Or rather, two tables – one hastily borrowed from our neighbors).

Given we spent most of Holy Week in church (tends to happen when your husband is in the choir), I was very grateful to receive a lot of support and many contributions to our Easter breakfast success from our family (cooking delicious food!) and neighbors.

It still didn’t mean that I didn’t spend almost all of Easter Saturday until the 9 PM Vigil in the kitchen… But it was all worth it.

I spared my husband and in-laws following the most sacred of Polish traditions – pickled herring with raw onions on Good Friday. I understand not everyone cares for vinegar-laden fish.

I was not so lenient with another tradition, that of taking Easter baskets to church on Saturday to be blessed.

Family was industriously put to work decorating mazurki (delicious, shortbread-type cakes with chocolate or caramel toppings, fashioned into various spring or Resurrection-related designs). I used the dough recipe from this site, and the dulce de leche tip from this site, although I actually did open the can and heat up its contents in a doubleboiler. It spread quite easily, and soon we had:

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The assembly line – apricots, cranberries, almonds, walnuts.

 

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Spring was in the air, and on our mazurki!

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Even the Easter bunny made an appearance.

I harnessed the decidedly superior-to-mine decorative talents of my in-laws and soon we also had a beautiful Easter basket, full of goods awaiting a sprinkling of holy water:

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To complete tradition, we had: bread, sausage, kabanosy (thin sausages), radishes, eggs, horseradish, butter, cheese, salt and a candle.

I could not remember the exact contents it should have so this page was very helpful in listing them and explaining their traditional significance.

Finally, we went off to church with our Święconka (“blessed basket”).

Our Spanish parish priest is perhaps not very well-versed in Polish traditions, and certainly the showing of baskets at the only blessing that day was minimal compared to the crowds that it draws in Poland or Polish communities elsewhere in the US.

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All baskets were eventually successfully blessed.

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It’s the objective truth that ours is the prettiest, right?!

Easter Sunday morning, once we opened our groggy eyes after returning from church well after midnight, was once again a flurry of activity.

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We started with one table nicely laid.

But soon realized we needed another one to accomodate the number of guests, and dishes.

We started the meal off with each person holding a small piece of one of the blessed hard-boiled eggs, and wished each other a Happy Easter. Happy it was, indeed, to gather our families and friends from so many different backgrounds to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ!

And our amazing menu helped the conviviality too. We ended up with:

-Asparagus mimosa (does not include champagne, but is an equally essential spring brunch item) – one of my specialties.

-2 kinds of “twarożek” (essentially, a spread for bread that you make with farmers’ cheese. I made one the way my Polish cousin does – a generous spoonful of tomato paste mixed in with chopped green onion, chopped dill pickles, and parsley/dill. The other one was more traditional Polish like in this recipe – I diced the radishes very finely).

-Fried Polish sausage with onions and green peppers (not traditional, but the way my Brazilian husband likes it)

-Ensalada rusa – my husband’s family is used to this version of a mayo-based vegetable salad popular in Eastern Europe. My mother-in-law made a beautiful dish with boiled potatoes, peas, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, and olives (the only I would have changed for a more Polish version would have been to swap the olives with pickles). It was delicious!

-Baked ham with pineapple slices – a slowcooker is your friend. I made a honey mustard glaze AND covered the ham with pineapple slices and juice from the can and it cooked it for about 5 hours on low (I think it was supposed to come to 140 F or so). It was extremely juicy.

-Lechon (Pork belly the Bolivian way) – deliciously savory with a little heat.

-Kabanosy – the dried Polish thin sausages that taste way better than beef jerky, and horseradish on the side

-My specialty green salad (lettuce, parsley, green onions, tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers with a light vinaigrette) – also not specifically Polish other than being served in every single Polish house I’ve been to

-My MIL’s secretly spiced broiled chicken drumsticks (marinated in cumin, oregano, garlic salt, and who knows what other deliciousness)

-3 kinds of bread

and for dessert:

-Mazurki, apple pie, and a delicious Brazilian coconut flan with plums called Manjar (made with condensed milk, of course, as any proper Brazilian dessert is).

Small wonder our table(s) looked like this:

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Desserts not pictured.

Small wonder braving the cold winds and blustery weather to see the cherry blossoms didn’t quite happen after lunch. Siestas, on the other hand…

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