Wow – guess I’m becoming a bit of a rebel in my own kitchen. First with Saint Patrick’s day; and now Easter . . .
This year for Easter I wanted to do something without the traditional Ham. One alternative via a quick internet search would be to make some sort of Lamb. The association between Lamb and Easter should be obvious – not only are lambs associated with Spring, but Christ is the Lamb of God – the “perfect” sacrifice. The problem with lamb is that Kiddo and I are the only ones that would even consider eating it. Hubby does not like lamb. I’ve talked him into sampling lamb a few times now when we have been out and I’ve ordered the lamb. It is an acquired taste and as great a sport as he’s been, he never gets beyond the first little bite. No one else in my extended family will eat lamb which is amazing since I’m not sure they have even tried it. So lamb was out. There were roasts and chickens and all sorts of other “suggestions” out there – but I’m deeply rooted in tradition, and none of the other offerings struck a chord with me. Ham is pork. Although I wanted to venture away from Ham, it could not be very far – at least not yet.
And then it struck me – during the Christmas Holidays, I had already made the perfect alternative to the traditional ham in the form of a beautiful pecan crusted pork tenderloin. All that I needed to do was to build a new Easter menu around the tenderloin. It’s a recipe I’ve already shared, but for the sake of easy planning, I’ll share it again as part of this year’s Easter Menu. Main course selected, it was time to build a wonderful Easter Supper around the Pork Roast. We’ll need Easter Themed Appetizers, a few side dishes, a nice spring salad and an assortment of desserts. . . .
***** On the Menu *****
- Easter “Chick” Deviled Eggs
- Calla Lily Tea Sandwiches
- Easter Bunny Spinach Dip
- Asparagus Ham Roll Ups
- Lamb of God Rosemary Bread
- Brown Sugar Pecan Glazed Pork Tenderloin
- New Potatoes with Garlic Cream Chives
- Haricots verts à l’étouffée (Stewed Green Beans)
- Provence Spring Mixed Green Salad
- Lemon Buttercream Tea Cakes
- Angle Food Cake with Assorted Berries
- Assorted Pastries and Cookies from a local bakery
***** The Recipes *****
The Appetizer Table
I know – I know – deviled eggs, how cliché. Hey, the fact that I’m not going with an Easter Ham is about all the change from tradition I can handle. Baby steps, here. Besides, deviled eggs are such a crowd pleaser and they are something I can whip up in my sleep.
Just a quick tip to keep you sane – we’ve all seen those picture perfect Chick Eggs on the internet. If you can make yours “perfect” my hat is off to you. The first time I tried, mine looked nothing like the pictures. In frustration, I scrapped them. The following year, I made a second attempt (pictured below) – still not perfect. Then I realized, they don’t need to be perfect – just cute. So have fun with them and don’t worry about perfection.
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.
I made the Calla Lily Tea Sandwiches last year for Easter – another “big hit”. And oh so pretty. This year I’m kicking around the idea of using a baguette to create a “vase” for the flowers, trimmed with a pretty bow made from a bell pepper. . . . just a thought.
Calla Lily Tea Sandwiches
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
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.
Of all the appetizers we’ve served at Easter over the years, the Easter Bunny was by far the cutest. Hubby and Kiddo did the “assembly” work, and I made the face. It was a team effort that we really enjoyed making, serving (lots of praise) and eating.
Easter Bunny Spinach Dip with Vegetables
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 package Knorr Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 Large Sour Dough Bread Round (body)
1 Small Sour Dough Bread Round (head)
1 French Bread Loaf (Ears)
1 Bag baby carrots
2 Cucumbers, sliced thin
Olives for garnish
Celery for garnish
Combine ingredients for Spinach dip. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Cut the top from the large sour dough round and hollow out to form a bread bowl for the dip.
On a large serving platter, place large hollowed out bread bow. Place smaller round above large round to create the bunny’s head. Form the eyes and nose from olives. To give the eyes and nose more depth, fill with a little cream cheese that has been colored. I used pink for the nose, blue for the eyes. Create the whiskers from strips of celery. Use a slice of celery to form the mouth. Cut the French Bread Loaf in half to form ears. Secure pieces with small cocktail picks.
Arrange sliced cucumbers, bread from the body and baby carrots around the bunny as desired. When ready to serve, fill body with dip. If desired, additional sourdough baguette rounds may be served with the bunny for those who like bread with their spinach dip.
Since I won’t be cooking up a ham, having ham as part of the appetizer table was a nice way to retain the tradition of serving ham on Easter.
Asparagus Ham Roll Ups
16 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into 16 strips
8 ounces Havarti cheese, cut into 16 strips
8 thin slices deli ham or prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
16 whole chives
In a large skillet, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place asparagus in ice water. Drain and pat dry.
Quickly blanch chives. This will make them easier to work with. Pat dry and set aside until ready to use.
Place an asparagus spear, red pepper strip and cheese strip on each piece of ham. Roll up tightly; tie with a chive. Refrigerate until serving.
The Main Table
While we won’t be serving a “lamb”, it does not mean the Lamb of God isn’t ever-present (in spirit and in bread). This bread is wonderful, flavorful and can be served with a nice garlic-infused butter for additional flavor. Simply press garlic into softened butter, blend, cover and let sit to infuse that beautiful garlic flavor to the butter. If feeling ambitions, using a pastry bag with a large tip, pipe the butter into a ramekin dish in a circular motion to serve alongside the bread.
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 brown, 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.
As promised, the Pecan Glazed Pork Tenderloin. The Brown Sugar and Pecan mixture will slowly become a wonderful, candy caramelized glaze. It’s both sweet and salty at the same time and oh so delicious. The perfect pairing with a moist, tender pork roast that will dazzle your guests.
Brown Sugar Pecan Glazed Pork Tenderloin
3 1/2 pound pork loin roast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 cup roughly chopped raw pecans
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Trim the fat from the roast, leaving only a quarter-inch of fat on top that will melt away, creating a nice golden under crust while basting the meat in its flavorful goodness.
Season the pork loin with salt and pepper. Place pork on a roasting rack over a shallow foil-lined rimmed baking pan. (Easy clean up). Roast pork in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. (It doesn’t hurt to brush the rack with a little olive oil to prevent pork from sticking and to help with the clean up there as well).
While the pork is cooking, combine the brown sugar and Dijon mustard into a paste. Fold the chopped pecans into the paste and set aside until ready to use. (To chop pecans, work in small batches. Lay pecans in a single layer on a chopping board. Chop with a hand-held food chopper – about 5 or 6 “wacks” should give you nicely chopped pecans. My food chopper is from Pampered Chef – had it for years and love it!)
After pork loin has roasted in the oven for 30 minutes, remove the loin from oven. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Spread prepared baste evenly over the of the top of the pork loin and return to oven.
Baste the roast about every 15 minutes, scooping up the glaze and nuts that fall off back over the top of the roast.
Continue to roast pork loin until the internal temperature reaches between 145 to 160 degrees on a meat thermometer. (That’s about 20 to 25 minutes per pound). The pork will still have a little pink at 145 degrees, which is safe to eat. At 160 degrees, the pork is well-done.
If the glaze starts to burn, simply cover loosely with foil and continue to cook.
Remove pork from oven, tent and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
This recipe is a Southern style twist for New Potatoes that has been doubled for a larger family gathering. I knew my gang would be looking for some sort of creamy potato dish such as Au Gratin Potatoes. The problem with Au Gratin Potatoes were both the cooking time and temperature that would conflict with the Pork Tenderloin. Mashed potatoes were a thought, but I wanted to elevate the potato dish just a little for the holiday. These potatoes seemed the perfect solution to the problems at hand. Cooked on the stove top, served warm in garlic cream sauce. Yum!
New Potatoes with Garlic Cream Chives
4 pounds new potatoes
3 teaspoons salt, for the cooking water
6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
4 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons snipped chives
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place potatoes in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover with about 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and keep at a gently boil for about 12 to 14 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain off the water and return to pot. Cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan , skillet, or sauté pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the pressed garlic. Sauté, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the cream to the butter and garlic; bring to a boil. Add the chives and continue cooking for 30 seconds. Taste and add kosher salt and black pepper, as needed. If you use salted butter, you might not need more than a dash of salt.
Pour the hot cream mixture over the potatoes. If the potatoes have cooled, reheat them with the cream until hot. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.
Typically, I like to serve Asparagus at Easter. Since we’ve already had asparagus as part of the Appetizer Table, I thought green beans would give that “Spring Green” I was looking for. Fresh green beans would be wonderful. Just blanch them first to retain their lovely color.
Haricots verts à l’étouffée (Stewed Green Beans)
2 pound fresh or frozen green beans (the skinnier the better)
2 good-sized shallot, peeled and sliced paper-thin
4 tablespoons butter
salt to taste (a good finishing salt such as a gray or blue sea salt will impart a superior taste – just a few twists of the mill should do it)
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Garlic Clove, pressed
Melt the butter in a sturdy skillet on low medium heat. Add the shallots and pressed garlic, saute for about 1 minute.
Add the green beans, give a few twists of the salt and pepper mills. Toss to coat, cover tightly and allow to cook on low for about 15 minutes.
The salad can be served at the beginning of the meal (American Style) or at the end of the meal (European Style), which ever works best with your table and the overall flow of the meal. Personally, I like to serve the salad at the end. The recipe below has been doubled to feed a crowd, but can easily be made for a smaller setting.
Provence Spring Mixed Green Salad
16 ounces mesclun (8 large handfuls)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon truffle oil
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Feta Cheese, if desired
Mesclun is the Provencal word for ‘mixture,’ and this salad is composed of a mix of tender shoots.
- A traditional mesclun salad has at least seven varieties of greens chosen from among the following: chervil, arugula, dandelion, chicory, radicchio, curly endive, Boston lettuce, romaine, lamb’s lettuce, feuille de chêne, tarragon. Other tender spring greens may also be selected. The only one that is absolutely essential ingredient for a true Mesclun is the chervil, member of the parsley family. Chervil has a mild flavor with hints of licorice or anise. If you absolutely cannot find chervil, use a blend of parsley and tarragon – the parsley will give you the look and texture of Chervil, while the tarragon will impart that hint of licorice.
Wash the greens and spin dry. Press garlic over the greens and mix with your hands, gently “rubbing” the garlic onto the tender leaves.
Mix the other ingredients together in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Set the greens on top and refrigerate.
Mix at the table when ready to serve. Pass the Feta table-side for those who want a little something extra.
The Dessert Table
This recipe for Lemon Buttercream Tea Cakes comes from Tea Time Magazine. The lemon flavor is wonderful with the added zest, and the primroses are the perfect spring-time touch for an Easter dessert table. The beauty of this light and pretty dessert is that it can be baked well in advance, requiring only the finishing touches on Easter. Using a boxed mix with a few added ingredients is also a plus.
Lemon Buttercream Tea Cakes
Lemon Cake Rounds
1 (18.25-ounce) lemon cake mix, such as Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme
3 large eggs
1 cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
⅓ cup sour cream
Zest from 1 Lemon
Garnish: fresh primroses
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Line a 17-x-11-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, water, oil, lemon zest and sour cream. Beat at low-speed with an electric mixer until moistened, approximately 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium, and beat for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Pour batter into prepared pan, and level with a spatula. Rap pan on the countertop sharply several times to reduce air bubbles.
Bake until cake is golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan.
When cake has cooled, cut 24 rounds from cake, using a 2¼-inch round cutter.
Place Lemon Buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Wilton #1M). Pipe a circle of buttercream onto 12 cake rounds. Top each with another round of cake, pressing lightly to adhere. Pipe a decorative rosette of buttercream onto top of each cake round.
Garnish each cake with a fresh primrose, if desired.
- Note: Cake may be baked in advance, cut into rounds, and frozen in an airtight container, with layers separated by waxed paper, for up to a week. Let come to room temperature before frosting. Store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
1 cup salted butter, softened
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoons lemon extract
Yellow paste food coloring, such as Wilton lemon yellow
In a large bowl, combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract.
Beat at low-speed with an electric mixer until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Increase speed to high, and beat until light and fluffy. Add food coloring until desired shade of yellow is achieved.
Use immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container until needed. Let buttercream come to room temperature before using, and beat at high-speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute.
Another great idea for a stress-free dessert would be to set up a “serve yourself” bar of sorts. Simply cut a loaf or two of store-bought angle food cake. Place sliced cakes on a serving platter. Offer an assortment of berries and fresh whipped cream to serve with the sliced cake.
Angle Food Cake with Assorted Berries
Angel Food Cake
1 or 2 loaves Angle Food Cake, sliced
Slice and arrange Angel Food Cake on a serving platter. Keep covered with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
Fresh Berry Topping
1 Pint Fresh Strawberries
1 Pint Fresh Blueberries
1 Pint Fresh Blackberries
1 Container Strawberry Glaze
Haul and slice strawberries. Place strawberries into a mixing bowl. Gently fold in strawberry glaze. Transfer to a nice serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
In another serving bowl, mix blueberries and blackberries. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
While berries are chilling, place mixing bowl and whip into the freezer to chill well before making whipped cream.
Sweet Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup fine granulated sugar
1 tablespoon french vanilla extract
Remove chilled bowl and whip attachment from freezer. Pour cream into mixing bowl and whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla. Continue to whip until stiff. Transfer to a serving bowl.
To serve: Place sliced cake and dessert plates at one end of the table. Place strawberries, the whipped cream and finally additional berries. Invite dinners to build their own dessert, topping the cake with strawberries, whipped cream and more berries as desired.
Assorted pastries and cookies from your favorite bakery is a nice way to round out the selection of desserts and make for an easy, less stressful table.
May the Peace and Harmony of Easter be with you all.