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Joyful Easter menus

 

Last updated 4/5/2007 at Noon



Easter baskets, Easter bonnets and Easter brunches, lunches and dinners… what a lovely and joyful day for family and friends to share.

For cooks, this is the day to splurge on flowers for the house and table, the finest of linens and extensive, if not elaborate, menus.

A few years ago I created a series of menus that received oodles of praise, so here they are for you to enjoy this Easter season.

The preparation and serving notes are included so that everyone… cooks included… has the time to enjoy this blessed day, too!

As more and more area bakeries and supermarkets have an ever-increasing variety of convenience foods available, the cook doesn’t have to do “everything”… choose the menu, choose what you want to prepare and make arrangements now to purchase items to complete the menu.

For dessert, there would be umpteen choices. I suggest the simplest of all: Fruit, Cake and Whipped Cream Dessert. It’s easy, and delicious, and seems to be enjoyed by guests of all ages. The directions for Perfect Whipped Cream may seem unusual. It is an adaptation from Cook’s Illustrated magazine. However unusual it may seem, the method works. It was developed by the test crew at Cook’s Illustrated, who strive for perfection as assuredly as any devoted cook might.

With Easter’s most

joy-filled blessings,

J.B.

Fruit, Cake and

Whipped Cream Dessert

Strawberries, bananas, blueberries or raspberries (or any combination)

Angel food cake or pound cake, cubed

“Perfect Whipped Cream” (recipe follows)

Mint leaves

For the dessert, rinse and dry fruit as appropriate. Peel bananas and slice thickly. Sweeten slightly with sugar, raw brown sugar or Splenda.

Cut cake into large-ish cubes. Place cake cubes on platter; top with fruit. Frost thickly with Perfect Whipped Cream. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

Perfect Whipped Cream

1 pint chilled heavy cream

2 tbsp. super-fine sugar

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

Chill non-reactive (stainless steel or glass are good choices) 2-quart container and beaters for electric mixer in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Add cream, sugar and vanilla to bowl and start beating at low speed. Beat at low until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue beating until beaters start to leave a trail. Increase speed to high and beat until cream is smooth, thick and nearly doubled in volume. If necessary, finish beating by hand to adjust consistency. Avoid over-beating, as this could cause the whipped cream to become granular and separate.

If it is necessary to prepared whipped cream in advance: Whip cream as described. Transfer to a fine sieve or strainer set over a bowl and cover. Refrigerate up to 8 hours.

European Easter

Herb Roasted Leg of Lamb

Pan Gravy

Couscous with Pine Nuts and Chopped Mint

Sautee of Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper

Artichoke Hearts on Bed of Red Leaf Lettuce

Creamy Garlic Salad Dressing

Crusty French-style Bread

Butter, Olives, Pickled Crab Apples

Fruit and Custard Tarts

Notes: Day ahead set table, prepare couscous ingredients, wash and trim vegetables and salad. Remove lamb from oven and allow to rest 15-20 minutes, covered, for easiest carving.

Traditional Spring Feast

Honey Glazed Ham

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Green Peas and Tiny Onions in Cream Sauce

Chilled Asparagus Spears on Watercress

with garnish of roasted red pepper and chopped hard-cooked egg

Toasted Sesame Seed Salad Dressing

Sweet Corn Muffins

Whipped Honey Butter

Olives, Pickles, Stuffed Celery

Mixed Fruit with Lemon Yogurt Sauce, Fresh Raspberry Garnish

Notes: Make cream sauce for vegetables in advance.

Elegant Easter Supper

Roast Cornish Game Hens

Pan Sautee New Potatoes with Chervil and Sage

Carrots, Broccoli and Cauliflower

Cheddar Cheese sauce

Tossed Salad

with spring lettuce, grape tomatoes, pistachios, ripe olives

Vinaigrette Dressing

Parker House Rolls

Butter, Pickles

Fruit, Cake and Whipped Cream Dessert

Notes: Make cheese sauce the day before. Carrots, broccoli and cauliflower may also be made the day ahead by blanching in boiling water 4 minutes and a deep chill in ice water until no heat remains. Drain well and refrigerate overnight in plastic bag with paper toweling at the bottom. Warm only to serving temperature.

Simply Stunning Salmon Dinner

Baked Salmon Fillet

Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Herbs

Steamed Asparagus

Avocado, Orange sections, Hearts of Palm on Boston Lettuce

Honey Orange and Celery Seed Salad Dressing

Sesame Seed Breadsticks

Butter, Olives, Carrot sticks

Crème Brule or Baked Custard with Caramel Sauce

Notes: Asparagus will taste fresher and cook more quickly if peeled prior to steaming. Baked Custard may be prepared the day ahead and chilled overnight.

Joyful Easter Brunch

Sliced Ham, Sage Sausage and Apple-Smoked Bacon

Scrambled Eggs

Sliced sautéed Red Potatoes and Red Onions

Steamed Asparagus Spears and Broccoli

Hollandaise Sauce

(or melted butter with fresh grated lemon rind)

Hot Cross Buns, Croissants

Butter, Jam, Jelly

Pickles, Olives, Stuffed Celery

Desserts

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Meringue Pie

Strawberry Shortcake

Notes: Do preparation work for all vegetables the day ahead. Set table and items for serving the day ahead. Consider buying breads and desserts from bakery or supermarket.

 

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