Easter Sunday Dinner

A few weeks ago, I shared with you an Elegant Easter Supper.  While I love that menu dearly, it’s “elegant” . . . sometimes we don’t feel like elegant, elaborate productions.  This menu is more down to earth, with the little ones in mind.  There’s plenty of goodies to choose from, but the presentation is more whimsical and fun.  There are appetizers, a full Easter dinner and two choices for dessert – one for the kids (and the kids at heart) and one for the grownups.  Some of the work can be done a day ahead of time, so that ‘s a big help.  Another idea would be to ask friends and family to fix a dish or two.  After all, who said you need to do everything?

In our family, I’m usually in charge of the appetizers (simply because I love making little bites of pretty or cute foods) and the desserts (another of my “specialities”).  For Easter, I always make the potatoes, too.  Whether people come to our house or we go to theirs, my Au Gratin Potatoes are always requested as part of the feast.  The main course is usually my youngest sister’s department. Jacquie and Marty always make an awesome ham.

Needless to say, nothing is ever carved in stone – from this menu do as much or as little as you like.  Add to this your own Easter favorites and family traditions.  Or ignore everything all together. If all I manage to do today is to inspire you, to get the creative juices flowing, then that’s enough.

Pax vobiscum et cum spiritu tuo.

  • Starters
    • Easter “Chick” Deviled Eggs
    • Ladybug Crackers
    • Sunny Spinach Pie
    • Calla Lily Tea Sandwiches
  • The Easter Table
    • Lamb of God Rosemary Bread
    • Easter Ham
    • Au Gratin Potatoes
    • Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
  • Sweet Ending
    • Easter Egg Flan
    • Easter Basket Cupcakes

The Starters:

03-31-2013 Easter (1)Easter “Chick” Deviled Eggs
16 Hard Boiled Eggs
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons Dijon-Style Mustard
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
Carrot Sticks for Beaks
Chopped Olives for Eyes

To Boil Eggs: Place eggs in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 12-14 minutes. Drain, then plunge eggs into ice-cold water to cease the cooking process. The results will be a perfectly cooked egg with a sunny yellow yolk.

To Peel Eggs: Gently roll eggs on counter. Plunge into hot water for about 1 minutes, then return to cold water to cool. CAREFULLY peel eggs. If not easy to peel, repeat. Set aside peeled eggs until ready to use.

Mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, red wine vinegar and seasonings. Taste mixture, adjust seasonings as needed. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Cut top (larger) ends of peeled eggs to expose yolks, reserve tops. With the tip of knife, carefully lift out yolks; place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Place egg whites into deviled egg tray, trim “bottom” if necessary to allow eggs to sit flat.

In food processor, pulse yolks until smooth. Add mayonnaise mixture, blend well.
Spoon or pipe yolk mixture into egg white shells. Use chopped olives for eyes, carrot slivers for beaks. Top with reserved whites, angled back to expose “faces”

Note: Filling can be made up to 24 hours in advance, store in refrigerator. Pipe or spoon into egg shells up to a few hours before serving. Keep Deviled Eggs refrigerated until ready to serve.

ladybugsLadybug Crackers (A Taste Of Home)
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sour cream
Black paste food coloring
1/2 teaspoon minced chives
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
36 butter-flavored crackers
18 cherry tomatoes, quartered
18 large pitted ripe olives
72 fresh chive pieces (about 1-1/2 inches long)

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Remove 1 tablespoon to a small bowl and tint black. Place tinted cream cheese mixture in a small plastic bag; set aside.

Add the chives, garlic salt and parsley to the remaining cream cheese mixture. Spread over crackers. Arrange two tomato quarters on each for the ladybug wings.

For heads, half the olives width-wise; place one half on each cracker. Insert two chives into olives for antennae. Use tinted cream cheese mixture to pipe spots onto wings.

sunnyspinachpieSunny Spinach Pie (bestyummyrecipes.com)
Dough:
17 oz of flour
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt

Place all dough ingredients in a stand mixer. Using the dough hook, knead until the dough is smooth and combined. Wrap in plastic while you make the filling.

Filling:
12 oz  of boiled spinach
12 oz ricotta
1 egg
3 oz  of grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
Bread crumbs

To create the filling, mix the spinach with the ricotta.
Next, add your egg, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Mix well. Set aside briefly.
Unwrap your dough from the plastic and divide it into two equal parts.

To Create the Sunny Spinach Pie: Using a rolling-pin, roll out each dough ball to create two circles 12 inches in diameter each.

On your first circle, sprinkle breadcrumbs over-top to help absorb the moisture of the filling and to keep the dough dry.

Next, on the breadcrumb dough, make two circles with the filling – an outer circle and an inner circle “mound”. Leave room between the circles and along the edge to seal the dough. Sprinkle the filling with grated Parmesan Cheese.

Place the second dough circle over the top of the filling. Seal the edges with our hands, then press with a fork. Place a small bowl in the middle of the pie over the center mound, and press lightly to make an indentation in the dough. Use your fork to press LIGHTLY around the bowl.

With the bowl still in place, cut the dough into pieces approximately just under an inch. Twist each slice and continue until each outer slice is twisted. Remove bowl and place on a cooking pan such as a clay pizza pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the spinach pie into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven, transfer to a round serving platter and garnish the center with roasted sunflower seeds before serving.

Calla Lily SandwichesCalla Lily Tea Sandwiches: (from Lilbitbrit.blogspot.com)
1 (5.2-ounce) package garlic and herbs cheese, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
48 slices white bread
Paprika
2 carrots, peeled
Green Onions for Garnish

In a small bowl, combine cheese, cream cheese, walnuts, red pepper, and black pepper. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Using a 2 1/2-inch cutter, cut 48 rounds from bread. With a rolling-pin, roll each bread round to 1/8-inch thickness.

Spread about 1 teaspoon cream cheese mixture on each bread round. Sprinkle center with paprika, and fold bottom of prepared bread round over, pinching end to seal. Cut small pieces of carrot, and place in center of each sandwich for flower stamen. Garnish with green onion tops to form stems, if desired.

The Easter Table:

03-31-2013 Easter (5)Lamb of God Rosemary Bread
1 package of frozen Bread Dough
Flour for kneading
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Rosemary
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
Olive oil for pan
Wilton’s Lamb Pan

Place frozen bread dough in a pan, cover with plastic wrap and let thaw according to package directions, about 16 hours in the refrigerator.

Lightly flour a flat work surface, add savory flavors such as rosemary and oregano onto the floured board to incorporate the herbs into the whole loaf.  Kneed dough lightly.

Use olive oil to grease a bowl, place the dough in the bowl and flip the dough over so it is coated on top and bottom with oil.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise until double in bulk, about 1-2 hours.

Punch dough down, form into desired shape or place in a pan of desired shape such as Wilton’s Lamb pan.  Let dough rise for about fifteen minutes. While bread is rising, preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Place bread in the center of the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden grown, with an internal temperature of 190-degrees. Check the bread about mid-way through if using a mold pan – the bread may rise up out of the pan.  Should that happen, don’t panic.  Simply remove bread from oven, press top mold down and place a weight (such as a small cast-iron pan) on top, then continue baking.  For those wondering – that little tip came from experience.

Allow bread to cool, then wrap baked bread in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.  The bread can be made the day before, and warmed just before serving if desired.

Place bread on a serving platter.  If desired, garnish with fresh Rosemary and tomato rosettes or egg-shaped pats of butter.

easterhamEaster Ham:
1 Turkey Size Oven Bag
1 Tablespoon Flour
12-16 lb Fully Cooked Smoked Ham
1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke

Preheat oven to 325-degrees
Shake flour in roasting bag, place bag in roasting pan at least 2 inches deep. Trim skin and fat from ham, leaving a thin layer of fat. Lightly score surface of ham in a diamond pattern; insert cloves.
Place ham in oven bag. Close oven bag with nylon tie; cut six 1/2-inch slits in top of bag to vent. Insert meat thermometer through slit in bag into thickest part of ham, not touching bone. Tuck ends of bag in pan. Place in oven to bake.
After 1 hour, check juices in the bottom of the bag. Using baster, remove some of the juices. Mix with liquid smoke and return juices to bag using baster.
Bake additional 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours or until meat thermometer reads 140-degrees.
Let stand in oven bag 15 minutes.

augratinpotatoAu Gratin Potatoes
6 Medium Russet Potatoes (about 2 lbs) peeled and thinly sliced
¼ Cup Butter
1 Medium White onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 Tablespoon Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper
2 Cups Milk
2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (½ cup reserved)
½ Cup Fine Dry Bread Crumbs
1-2 Pinches of Paprika for color

Peel potatoes and slice into thin disks using a food processor or vegetable slicer. Cut enough potatoes to measure 4 cups. Place sliced potatoes into cold water until ready to use, then drain.
Peel and finely chop onions. Grate cheese.
Heat butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions in hot butter until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly; remove from heat.
Stir in milk and 1 ½ cups of shredded cheese. Return to heat and cook until boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.
Drain potatoes in a colander and shake to remove excess water. Spread potatoes in an ungreased 1 ½-quart casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, 1 hour.
Mix remaining cheese, bread crumbs and paprika (just enough for a nice color). Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top of potatoes and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until top is brown and bubbly.

Asparagus-with-HollandaiseAsparagus with Hollandaise Sauce:
1 bunch of asparagus (about 1 lb)
10 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick plus 2 Tbsp)
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 Pinch of cayenne

Prep the asparagus. Break off the tough ends with your fingers. Bend the asparagus spears near the end and they will break naturally where the spear is no longer tough. For an elegant presentation of the spears, use a vegetable peeler to peel off a very thin layer of the outer skin of the lower two to three inches of the asparagus spears. Prepare a large, shallow pan (with a cover) with a half-inch of water and a steamer rack.

Prepare the Hollandaise sauce. Melt the butter in a small pot. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice, and cayenne into a blender. Blend the eggs for 20-30 seconds at medium to medium high-speed until lighter in color. Turn blender down to lowest setting and slowly drizzle in the hot melted butter while the blender is going. Continue to blend for a few seconds after all of the butter is incorporated. Taste the sauce and add more salt or lemon juice if needed. Keep warm while you are steaming the asparagus.

Bring the water in your steaming pan to a boil. Place the asparagus on the steaming rack. Cover. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender, but still a little crisp, definitely not mushy. The timing depends on how thick the asparagus spears are. Plate the asparagus. Pour Hollandaise sauce over them.

Steamed asparagus spears may be wrapped in a thin slice of deli ham to add additional depth and flavor. This is a nice touch to an Easter table.

Sweet Ending:

P1010215Easter Egg Flan:
Ingredients – Caramel Sauce:
1 Cup Sugar
3 tablespoons water

Melt 1 cup of sugar with water  over medium-high heat while stirring constantly to prevent sugar from burning. Continue to cook until all the sugar has melted and is a nice golden-amber color. Pour caramel sauce into the bottom of a large baking tin. (For best results, use a tin canned ham container.) Allow sugar to cool slightly before proceeding.

Ingredients – Custard Flan
20 Egg Yolks
1 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
2 Large Cans Evaporated Milk
1 Cup Half & Half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat Egg yolks slightly with a fork in a medium size bowl. Add vanilla and sugar, set aside.

Scald evaporated milk and half & half in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Pour in egg mixture. Mix slowly while stirring constantly. Once mixed; remove from heat and set aside. Should only remain on heat for about 1 ½ minutes – DO NOT allow eggs to cook.

Using a strainer, CAREFULLY ladle the custard mixture over the caramel sauce. Don’t allow sauce to bubble up into the custard.

Cover with foil and bake in a bath for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes or until firmly set and done in the middle.

Let custard cool in the pan for 1 hour. Invert onto oven-proof serving dish. Pour any remaining caramel from pan onto custard.

Ingredients – Meringue Topping
3 Egg Whites
½ Cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Cream of Tartar

Beat together ingredients for meringue topping with an electric mixer until firm peaks form.
Top custard with meringue.  Sprinkle with pastel colored sugar and lightly brown under broiler. Allow to cool slightly, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

03-31-2013 Easter (20)Easter Basket Cupcakes:
Materials:
24 Pipe Cleansers
Assorted Egg Shaped Candies such as jelly beans or Chocolate Malt Robin Eggs
2 Cupcake Tins
24 Cupcake Liners
Green Food Coloring Gel

Ingredients – Cup Cakes
1 Box French Vanilla Cake Mix
3 Eggs
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Water

Place eggs and oil in mixing bowl. Mix until frothy and well blended. Add water, mix until blended.

Add cake mix, blend for 30 seconds on low, 2 minutes longer on medium-high.

Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins with liners.

Divide batter into tins, filling about 2/3 full using a small ladle.

Bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes.

Let cool in tins for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

While cupcakes cool, make frosting. See below.

Buttercream Frosting
1/4 Cup Solid Butter-Flavored Vegetable Shortening
3/4 Cup Butter, Softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
4 Cups sifted powdered Sugar
3-4 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl between additions and after the last of the sugar has been added. When all sugar has been mixed in, the frosting will appear to be dry. Add corn syrup one tablespoon at a time and beat a medium speed until light and fluffy. Color with green food coloring gel to desired color. Keep frosting covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

To Assemble: Bend pip cleaners into a U shape to fit just inside cupcake. Make sure cleaners are bent in such a way as to hold their shape. Set aside.

Spread a small amount of frosting as a base over each cupcake. Place remaining frosting into a pastry bag fitted with desired tip such as a leaf a star or small strait hole to “pipe” grass.

Place a few egg-shaped candies onto the center of each cupcake, press down lightly to secure in place. Insert U-shaped pipe cleaners to form handles for baskets.

Place on a large serving platter and set aside until ready to serve.

Note: Cup Cakes can be made up to 1 day in advance to the point of frosting. Place candied eggs and pipe cleaners on cup cakes just before serving to avoid damage.

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope you have a blessed Easter Sunday filled with much joy and spiritual renewal.

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