Orthodox Easter often occurs after Western Easter. This year, it will be celebrated on April 12. As an Eastern European immigrant, Easter (or "Pascha" as they call it in my hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia) was always one of the most important — and delicious — holidays. As with any holiday, the meal was an opportunity to catch up with family and share some amazing traditional dishes. Here three of my favorites.
Dyed eggs are often the centerpiece of an Eastern European Easter table. In many Russian or Ukrainian households, eggs are colored with a dye made of onion skins. The process of crafting the dye is surprisingly easy! First, boil the the outer, dry peels of yellow onions in a saucepan until the water turns brown. Next, place white-shelled eggs into the hot water and boil for 7 to 10 minutes, turning the eggs frequently. The eggs can then be removed, dried and cooled. Luckily, this holiday tradition is healthy too, providing the highest quality protein, about 7 grams, for relatively low calories (70-80 per egg).
Every Easter, this tall yeast bread would dominate my family's holiday table. Even though the cake may be on the higher end of the caloric spectrum, the addition of raisins, almonds and orange zest can increase the flavor, texture and nutritional value of the treat. There are multiple variations of this recipe, perhaps as many as there are families in Eastern Europe.
This dessert is not only delicious, it's also easy to make as it requires no baking. The main ingredient in this dish is farmer's cheese. Families will also add almonds, walnuts, raisins and citrus fruits for flavor and nutrition. This fact that the dessert and the holiday are so similar in name is no accident — it the standard treat of the Eastern European Easter holiday meal.