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Happy Easter Everyone!

For us Episcopalians, Easter is a season and not just a day, so we are still singing Easter hymns and decorations still fill our home.  I love filling our home with symbols of new life and renewal: eggs, rabbits, lambs, and gorgeously freshly colored spring flowers. I cover the table with a vintage, printed Easter tablecloth, and each year I try to buy some potted flowers like hydrangeas and tulips to set out in our dining room.

Gladys' China Teapot with Tulips

This year I decided to try and get maximum effect out of each dollar spent by ordering blooming cherry tree branches from the florist at our local King’s market.  She told me that year the trees bloomed abundantly this year.  Lucky me!  I set them on the side board in a tall, narrow vase, so the room felt filled with flowers.

My mother and I have collected rabbit figurines in natural textures, like straw and feathers.  (I have one white velvet rabbit I picked up last year which looks so charmingly old fashioned that I couldn’t resist him.)

Every year this adorable bunny and its mate grace our Easter feast as salt and pepper shakers.

For our centerpiece, I refilled this nest made of dried flowers with chocolate truffles, coated and painted to resemble with robin’s eggs.  (I bought the nest last year from Williams Sonoma and stored it in its original box to reuse because replacing the liquor flavored truffles cost only $6.50 per package, and shipping them was free!)

Speaking of feasts, after attending church, my father treated our entire family to a lovely buffet brunch at The Brick House restaurant, a short, sunny walk from our house.  Thank you Mom and Dad!

So, I planned a light but luxurious Easter supper for later that night.  I chose dishes I could mostly prepare during the week before Easter. That way, I could celebrate and enjoy the day with our gathered family.  Our celebratory, Spring menu consisted of:

Our First Course

  • Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans

Our Second Course

  • Cream of Broccoli Soup

Our Main Course

  • Salmon in Green Sauce
  • Scalloped Potatoes
  • Steamed Asparagus with lemon wedges and butter on the side

Red Grapefruit Lillet Cocktail

  • Chocolate and Vanilla cupcakes (from Baked in a Cup in Ramsey, NJ)
  • Red grapefruit and Lillet Cocktails
  • Sparkling Mineral Water

This menu satisfies our vegetarian without the salmon, my health conscious hubby without the scalloped potatoes, and my dad who needed the potatoes to feel happily satisfied.

Scalloped Potatoes with Cheddar Cheese

I made scalloped potatoes with onions, cheddar cheese, and heavy cream and froze them a week ahead.  3 days ahead, I cooked the broccoli and made the soup right up until the point you add the cream.  (I stored that in the fridge.) I made the green sauce 2 days ahead and stored it in the fridge, too.  So, on Easter, all I had to do was cook the salmon (which takes just a few minutes on an oiled griddle), steam the asparagus, heat the soup and add the cream, and assemble the salad.  I had all courses ready to go in less than half an hour, before I sat down to join everyone at the table.  My helpful hubby mixed the cocktails, which were refreshingly tart and light, sliced the lemon, and filled the water glasses.  Fast, easy, and delightful!  This menu would also make a lovely dinner party, if you felt inclined…

Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans

Strawberry Salad

Steven Tyler used to own a restaurant in Norwell, MA called Mount Blue where, about 15 years ago, I had a delicious salad made with strawberries which inspired me to create this one…

1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)

1 quart of strawberries (hulled and halved)

Approximately 3 oz Chavrie, goat cheese (I used about half the 5.3 oz container)

1 cup pecans (halves or pieces)

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

  1. Combine the lettuce and the strawberries in a large bowl.
  2. Using your fingers, pinch off small pieces of Chavrie and sprinkle them generously over the strawberry mixture.
  3. Sprinkle the pecans over the salad.
  4. Combine 1 part balsamic vinegar with 3 parts olive oil, and whisk together. Drizzle over the salad, and serve.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Broccoli Soup

25 years ago, my then housemate, Natasha, took me to a book sale of the Public Library in Washington, DC where I stocked up on old, used cookbooks filled with fabulous recipes.  This recipe comes from The Family Cookbook: Italian by Charlotte Adams and Alvin Kerr, which still is still encased in the crinkly plastic from the library…

1 lb firm broccoli (about 2/3 of a bunch)

7 cups chicken broth, heated

6 Tbsp butter

1 medium onion (peeled + thinly sliced)

2Tbsp flour

¼ tsp ground coriander

Salt + pepper

1 cup heavy cream (half and half works, too)

  1. Wash the broccoli thoroughly. Trim off about ½ cup  of small flowerets and cook them in tiny pot in 1 cup of the broth for 10 minutes, or until tender.  Drain them, set them aside, and store them to use later as garnish.
  2. Trim the stalk ends of the broccoli, and chop stalks + buds coarsely.
  3. In a large pot (I use my Dutch oven), heat the butter over moderate heat, and in it cook the onion until lightly browned.
  4. Add the chopped broccoli and stir it until it is well coated with butter and heated through.
  5. Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and blend in the heated broth.  Add the ground coriander and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cover the pan, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour or until they are very tender.
  7. Puree the soup in 2 batches in a food processor (or a blender).
  8. Reheat back in the pot, then stir in the cream just before serving.
  9. Garnish with small florets. (if you remember, which I didn’t. Oops!)

Salmon in Green Sauce

Salmon in Green Sauce

Oprah’s Magazine, O, featured an entire spring brunch menu several years ago, which I’ve always wanted to make and which inspired me to create this Spring Supper menu.  So far, I have only made this green sauce which I served over salmon which I cooked on our griddle over the gas stove in a little canola oil and served hot, instead of going through the trouble of poaching it as the professional chef in her magazine recommends.  I make the whole recipe for the green sauce although I never cook as much salmon as the entire menu in O recommends; we have a small family.  The sauce keeps for several days in the fridge so you use any you have left over on chicken, or more salmon later in the week.  I bet it would taste great over eggs, too, for brunch…

 

Red grapefruit and Lillet Cocktails

Red Grapefruit Lillet Cocktail

I found this recipe in Everyday Food magazine, and simply HAD to try it. It tasted delicious, refreshing, light, and looked so pretty in my hand painted glasses.  Instead of making it by the glass, I made it by the pitcher full (in a grass green, vintage, pressed glass pitcher from my great-grand aunt).  The recipe is so simple, you can modify it, too, to fit whatever size container you wish…

1 cup chilled Lillet (a spiced, French, aperitif wine)

1 cup chilled fresh red grapefruit juice (I got mine at King’s in the produce section)

Mix (with ice if desired) + serve. (I mixed 3cups Lillet with 3 cups juice to fill my pitcher.)

May God bless you and yours

Christina

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