Easter is two days from now, and to aid in the hassle of organizing your family festivities, here’s the And Cuisine For All recommendation for the menu!
Formal or semi-formal dinner affair
By this, I mean a seated dinner with something nice on the table rather than a barbecue or a dinnertime party with just “nibblers”. For the main dish, I would recommend ham, the traditional Easter meat. Mashed potatoes compliment the fuller flavor of the ham well, and for vegetables – asparagus is fresh and in season! After cutting off the bottoms, gently steam the spears in a steamer basket, or wrapped in double-thickness cheesecloth and hung into a pot with boiling water – but not into the water itself. This way, they retain a better texture rather than if you boiled them inside the water. Alternatively, wrap them with thin bacon slices (usually half a strip is enough), and bake them in the oven for another amazing treat. Be sure to serve fresh bread with the dinner – in my family, the traditional Easter bread is always a success. For a dessert, if you have fresh strawberries available, a strawberry shortcake is not only delightful, but easy to assemble and just the right level of fancy to top off your dinner.
Less formal lunch or dinnertime party
Here I’d just mention the more “buffet-friendly” options. Deviled eggs are an Easter classic. If you never had the opportunity to make them, now is the perfect time. Just hard-boil all the eggs you will need, then peel them. Cut each of them in half, and gently pop the yolk out – be careful not to tear the sides of the whites. In a bowl, mash the yolks with a fork, then mix in the other ingredients to the filling. For 6 eggs, consider approximately 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 2-3 teaspoons of mustard, a tablespoon of sour cream and spices to taste: salt, black and/or white pepper and nutmeg. Spoon, or for a nicer look, with an icing bag, pipe the yolk mixture back into the “shells”. Dust the top with parsley flakes or paprika, and chill for a few hours before serving. For a different way of deviled eggs, try mixing in 2 strips of fried, crumbled bacon with the yolks; or add some pesto, mashed canned oysters or smoked salmon, or by adding paprika and both onion and garlic powder to the mixture. If you still want to see ham on the table, prepare it the day before, and serve it sliced on sandwiches or as kind of a sandwich buffet: sliced ham, possibly some other meat (homemade roast beef is a great idea), different cheeses, accompanied by pickles, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and whatever else you would want to put on a sandwich. For party like this, chicken salad, potato salad or macaroni salad is also a definite hit.
Breakfast or brunch
I personally love Easter brunches, even though I don’t see many of them around here… An easy make-ahead dish is a breakfast casserole in a slow-cooker. Just put down a layer of fresh or frozen shredded potatoes (hashbrowns), then add bacon, sausage, and if you like, fresh spinach, and enough eggs to the top to cover the last layer. Top it with shredded cheese, and let it cook on a low heat overnight – 8 or 10 hour setting. Quiches are always a great idea, too. In a deep pie or casserole dish, lay down a layer of pie crust, biscuit dough rolled thin, canned crescent dough, or for the most flavor, puff pastry. Top this with any vegetables and/or meat you desire – ham chopped to pieces, cooked bacon, sausages; and spinach, asparagus, corn, green olives, leeks, onions, and even more – then top it with a mixture of eggs and milk. For a nice and fluffy quiche, use 3 eggs and about 1/2 cup of milk. Beat the eggs and milk together, like when making an omelet, spicing it with salt or garlic salt, black or white pepper and a bit of paprika. Pour this over the fillings of your quiche, then cover it with shredded cheese – Swiss cheese is the best, but you can use a mixture of Swiss, cheddar and jack cheeses as you like. You can also put different, more flavorful cheeses under the eggs instead of or along with the veggies or meat, such as blue cheeses, goat cheese, or jalapeno jack cheese. Serve plenty of coffee as well as pastries: I posted a recipe for bagels and for croissants earlier; but you can also use the Easter bread’s dough and top it with sweet toppings like walnuts and sugar, poppyseeds, or cinnamon and brown sugar. Consider also adding a hashbrown or French toast casserole as well. Don’t forget to put a gravy boat of warm syrup next to the French toast!
Enjoy your Easter meals!