French Up Your Weekend! With French Easter Traditions, Potluck Dishes, Leftover Ideas, and Great French Wines for Easter

Cloche de Pâques. According to Easter lore, church bells fly over France en route from Rome, dropping chocolate Easter eggs along the way.

Bonjour! Here’s this weekend’s Five Ways to French Up the Weekend:

1. Read about How the French Celebrate Easter

Here are a couple of interesting articles about the various traditions that the French observe at Easter. Among the most interesting tidbits:

• Maybe I’m the last to know this, but one of the reasons we love chocolate at Easter was because Catholics refrained from eating it during Lent, so on Easter, they went wild with it. So on Sunday, bring it on!
• The French are more likely to have chocolate Easter bells or eggs than Easter bunnies. Here’s why: The bells are silenced on Good Friday, then ring again on Easter. Parents tell their children that the ringers were sent to Rome, and that when the bells fly back, they drop chocolate eggs all their way home.

Three more pieces to peruse:

•  French Easter Traditions on Frenchneighbors.com
•  French People Reminisce about Easter Traditions in France on BonjourParis.com
•  The History of Easter in France on BonjourParis.com

Asparagus Cheese Tartlets–Cut into quarters for bite-size grazing

2. Serve a French Potluck Dish for Easter

So, you’ve been asked to bring a dish to Easter Dinner, and you’re thinking: Hmmmmm….maybe something French.  (That’s what I’d be thinking, anyway). Treat everyone to Asparagus Tartlets from The Bonne Femme Cookbook. Cut them in halves or quarters and serve them on a tray for appetizers. Or, serve them with a little side of vinaigrette-tossed frisée as a sit-down starter.

Go ahead and make them in advance. Refrigerate and gently reheat before serving. They’re great at room temperature, by the way.

Other great French potluck recipes:

French Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula and Blue Cheese (especially good if you’re serving poultry or lamb, and with the bonus that this will look beautiful on the Easter table).
Gratin Dauphinoise (French Scalloped Potatoes, you can’t beat them with ham).
• Roasted Asparagus (in the BF cookbook, but any really good cookbook will tell you how to do this).

3. Save Money like the French

A while back, Yahoo Shine! did a nice little interview with me. Writer Sarah McColl asked me how French cooks save money. Truth is, the French don’t like to talk about saving money, but fortunately, a couple French women were willing to talk (off the record!). Here are a few of their tips:

• Buy in season: The French buy what’s local and in-season so that they’re paying for the product, not the petrol.
• Flexibility is key: The French often go to the market looking for “the deal of the day.” You buy it, then you figure out what to do with it. Fortunately, French cooks know how to make a pan sauce for just about anything (you would too, if you had my book—there’s an entire chapter on quick ways to sauce and serve anything).
Use everything: The French are masters at using les restes (leftovers).  An extra bit of ratatouille goes into a soup or salad; a little ham and that odd chunk of cheese goes into an omelet; veggies in danger of going soft get tossed into a pasta dish. Nothing goes to waste in the traditional French kitchen.

By the way, I loved Sarah’s piece—she distilled so many of my best tips about French cooking in one great article.

4. Make a Great French Casserole from Your Leftover Easter Ham (or Turkey)

French Chicken and Noodle Casserole. You can also use ham. Photo by Richard Swearinger

Speaking of using up les restes (see #3), this French Chicken and Noodle Casserole is among my favorite ways to use up holiday leftover meats.It’s also one of my most-pinned recipes on Pinterest (and of course, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it, too). You can use ham or turkey, and it’s just so satisfying and good.

Also see my other French ideas for using up “les restes.”
French ways with leftover holiday ham (I wrote this post-Christmas, but it all applies to Easter ham, too).
French ways with leftover holiday turkey (I wrote this post-Thanksgiving, but it definitely applies to an Easter bird).

5. Choose a French Rosé for Your Easter Meal

I  love Rosé for day drinking, and in my experience, they’re a shoo-in for Easter. They provide the bright refreshment that goes well with a spring day; many have a little more heft than a white—they’ll mesh well with all that food, without weighing you down. If you’re serving ham, they’re especially amazing–they just go so well with the salty-sweetness of the meat. Here are a couple of my fave French rosés:

• HB (Hecht and Bannier) Languedoc Rosé: I love the bright red fruit that tastes even brighter thanks to hints of tropical fruits.  Total dry refreshment, and I also love the screwcap (great at larger gatherings when some joker misplaces the corkscrew).

• Monmousseau Rosé d’Anjou (France; $13): Great for those who have long graduated from White Zinfandel, but still want a little sweetness (sophisticated sweetness, French style, that is).

• E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé (France; $18): Find French elegance at a moderate price in this Grenache- and Cinsault-based rosé. Enjoy the zip of raspberries and red currants balanced by a firm, round mouth-feel.

Have a great holiday weekend. See you Monday, friends!

P.S.: Suivez-moi sur Facebook, SVP! (Follow me on Facebook, please). If you do, you may be eligible to win a signed copy of the Bonne Femme Cookbook. Voilà the details.

 

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3 comments to French Up Your Weekend! With French Easter Traditions, Potluck Dishes, Leftover Ideas, and Great French Wines for Easter

  • Rosemary McCaffrey

    Happy Easter, Wini. I just wanted to tell you (again!) how much I love your cookbook and your posts. I need to cook gluten-free for family members. Your cookbook is fabulous for a gluten-free household.

    Also, you mentioned going to Brittany. If you plan on visiting Mont St. Michel, the Chateau de Bouceel Is an amazing place to stay for a night or two. A day trip to Dinan is easy from the chateau also. chateaudebouceel.com

    Best regards, Rosemary

    • Wini

      Rosemary, thanks so much for this note and this information. Happy Easter to you too.
      Yesterday, I spent the day with the map of Normandy and Brittany pasted in front of my desk, finalizing my travel plans! Coincidentally, I had not found a place to stay in Mont St. Michel yet…we were thinking of just spending an afternoon there on the way to Dinard. But now that I’ve seen chateaudebouceel.com, I think it may merit an overnight!

      Thank you so much! I do appreciate it.

  • The chicken noodle casserole looks fantastic, I will be pinning that thank-you! 🙂 Didn’t know that about the bells but lovely tradition – it’s funny, grew up Catholic and my dad encouraged us to always give up chocolate at Lent. Not sure he knew it was so traditional, I think he just thought we ate too much of it. LOL Thanks for a delightful post, and happy Easter!

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