A photo of sweet potato-ginerger souffle in a bowl with a portion on a plate

Easter & Passover Sides

Easter is my favorite holiday.

Starting with its meaning, the segue to food means enjoying things given up during Lent. Plus, I love the pastel linens, sugar panoramic eggs, chocolates, bunnies and assorted spring flowers that decorate the table.

I’m all about the sides; I’ll pass on the ham, roast beef, lamb or turkey. In the old TV series “Will & Grace,” talking about appetizers but I think the same applies for sides, Will’s father says, “I could make a meal out of them.” I’m with him.

If I’m hosting, I have to edit myself to not get carried away with the side dishes. How about you? Do you lovingly look at the entrée or choose the order you’ll savor everything else?

Whether you’re celebrating Easter, Passover or just the arrival of spring, your table is probably filled with a combination of family recipes and ones you’ve chosen to pass down.

The fun part of side dishes are they can be familiar or new. An homage to your food culture traditions and maybe exploring new tastes.

Just a few seats remain in next week’s bánh xèo – savory turmeric-yellow Vietnamese crepes with chef, food writer and photographer Jackie Tran.

It’s a rare opportunity on April 27 to join sommelier and beekeeper Noel Patterson to taste 6 of his Sonoran Desert honeys and learn how and why their flavors vary. It’s almost sold out.

Want to take a daytime class? On May 3, Join Chef Barry Infuso in partnership with Slow Food Southern Arizona for Italian heritage pastas and sauces.

How about letting kid and junior chefs show their love for moms, stepmoms, nanas or other role models in their lives in two Mother’s Day classes on May 7? For the 7-10 kid chefs, it’s floral cupcake bouquets and 11-15 junior chefs will decorate long-stemmed red rose cookies that’ll become a bouquet.

News & Notes
Check out Chef Kyle Nottingham’s episode of the TBS cooking competition show, “Rat in the Kitchen,” tomorrow at 7 p.m. MST.

Lots going on in the Main Gate Square food scene. The owners of Gentle Ben’s Brewing Co., 845 E. University Blvd., expanded their business with the purchase of neighbor restaurant Bacio Italiano, 943 E. University Blvd., and in the summer are expected to open Mexican-themed Casa Agave, also at 943 E. University Blvd., in space The Dutch Eatery & Refuge occupied. After five years at Main Gate Square, The Dutch relocated to 5340 E. Broadway Blvd., where Pita Jungle used to be. Smoothie/acai bowl restaurant Berry Greens, 245 E. Congress St., is opening its second location in the former Jamba Juice at 943 E. University Blvd.

Are you a Yelper? Tumerico, 2526 E. 6th St., and Urban Fresh, 73 E. Pennington St., have made the Yelp list of Top 100 Vegan Restaurants.

The Pit, Tucson’s first food truck park, opened last month at 7889 E. 22nd St. Currently, there are six regulars trucks – Homemade Mediterranean, Bemo’s Ol’ Joe’s, Hermanos Tacos, Cuppa GoGo, Mancho’s Mex and Harris Hotstuff – with more to come.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen,

Sweet Potato-Ginger Soufflé
Serves 6

1 ½ lbs. yellow sweet potatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 lemon, zested
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
¼ cup crystallized ginger, excess sugar brushed off and finely chopped
3 large egg whites

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Butter a 1-quart souffle dish.
2. Boil sweet potatoes in their skins for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Drain and peel, then mash. There should be a little more than 2 cups. Put them in a bowl and beat by hand, an electric mixer or hand blender until light and smooth. Add cream, zest, salt, nutmeg and ginger. Beat again until well blended.
3. Beat egg whites until stiff. Add a little of the whites to the potatoes and mix in, then add the rest of the whites and carefully fold in. Don’t beat.
4. Spoon into soufflé dish and bake 30-40 minutes, until risen and slightly golden on top. Serve immediately.

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