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Our Easter Dinner Tradition

April 8, 2010

Yesterday I alluded to our Easter Dinner, consisting of Spaetzle and chicken Schnitzel.  I imagine most of my readers will be somewhat unfamiliar with these dishes, and some of them might even be curious as to how they became our traditional Easter meal.

Most people I know do a ham for Easter.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with ham, per se.  But Dear Wife and I approached Easter dinner from this perspective: most people in the U.S. do a Turkey for Thanksgiving.  By Christmas, many are weary of Turkey so opt for a ham instead (some still do a Turkey, others do both).  So far, we’ve spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas together with family, so whether we do Turkey or Ham or both during those holidays has depended largely on how our respective families approach those holidays.  But Easter, since we’ve been together, has always been our Holiday.  We spend it together, but not with family.  So, we wanted our own tradition.  Dear Wife is not so avid a meat-eater as myself (neither is she a complete vegetarian, but ham is not on her self-approved list anyway).  However, Dear Wife does have a traceable German heritage, and grew up in a home in which certain German dishes were not unusual, among them Spaetzle and Schnitzel.

Spaetzle

Spaetzle with Ham in a Casserole - minus the ham similar to what we ate for Easter

I don’t recall whether it was just happenstance that our first Easter together she made Spaetzle and chicken Schnitzel for me.  But whether it was intentional or accidental, we’ve made that our tradition every year since.

Now Spaetzle (or Spätzle with an umlaut, if you prefer) is a type of German pasta.  I can’t link the exact recipe we use, as it’s a family recipe passed down through Dear Wife’s family.  But that google link ought to give you the idea.  It’s basically a pasta dough that’s dropped into boiling water to cook.  We then prepare the cooked spaetzel in a casserole with cheese and sautéed onions.

Schnitzel

A Schnitzel that looks a lot like what we had for Easter dinner. Notice the lemon: it's not just for garnish!

Schnitzel is basically a breaded and fried meat dish.  It’s pan-fried rather than deep-fried.  We use a bit of olive oil in the pan for ours.  Traditionally, Schnitzel is made with veal, but we use chicken both because it’s easier to obtain and because veal isn’t something Dear Wife would be overly fond of.  The meat has to be pounded flat, or thin-sliced.  Once cooked, the schnitzel is finished off by squeezing juice from a lemon over the top of the meat.  We usually do this using fresh lemon slices at the dinner table.

On the side we may have a salad or some fruit, but it’s the Schnitzel and Spaetzle that make it our Easter dinner.

Then we top it off with something we call our Easter Cake.  This uses chocolate cookie wafers – which we usually find near the ice cream aisle in our grocery store, among all the ice cream toppings – which are arranged with whipped cream between the cookie slices to make a white-on-the-outside, chocolatey-on-the-inside “log cake”.  The recipe for this particular treat is probably on the box for the chocolate cookie wafers.

So, I thought I’d share those few details about our Easter dinner, since it’s something a little unusual from what I suspect is the experience of most of my readers.

UPDATE: Dear Wife told me I should include pictures.  So I reposted this morning with pictures!  If you stopped by while that was “under construction” and saw it look a mess, my apologies!

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