Despite the mounds of snow I still see around town, the birds have been gently chirping away and some mornings there’s even a hint of fresh dew in the air. Winter will soon be waving goodbye and making way for flowers, showers, tree blossoms and sunshine. Even though Spring hasn’t quite literally sprung yet, we can certainly turn our thoughts to warmer days and lighter meals. Planning our family’s Easter Feast always gets me in a Spring-like mood.
I look forward to this time of year with a sense of renewal… mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Being with the people I love makes this part of the year extra special. I love prepping the egg hunt for the little ones (that seem to be getting too big too fast), enjoying some time (and wine) with my sister-in-laws, hearing the chatter and laughter throughout the house, it’s just fantastic!
There are so many ways to go about cooking an Easter feast. I find it hard to nail down ideas and a menu! I know you might all think I have lost my marbles just a tad but I start jotting down menu ideas about a month ahead of time. Just to get the creative juices following. I think of something I saw in a magazine or maybe a new dish I tested. I just jot it down so I don’t forget it. I may cross things off and put them back on a few times but its all part of my process, for better or worse. I have about 3 different full menus constructed before I make my decision.
Easter feasts are meant to be grand, at least coming from my Italian heritage. Then again any Holiday or Sunday was an excuse to live large and eat up…haha! Big feasts tend to get a little overwhelming for the host/hostess, so just plan on something you know you can handle and totally knock out of the park!
If you are having some trouble thinking of a menu ideas, I have some great recipes to follow in this blog post that will help your Easter Feast not only taste delicious but be a day that you can spend with your family and friends instead of in the kitchen. When thinking about a menu think about all the dishes or even part of the finished dish, like the sauce for a pasta or dressing for a salad, that can be made ahead of time. This will make your day so much more enjoyable.
If you’re planning on doing a sit down with multiple courses, start off with some light hors d’ oeuvres for when your guests walk in, like a simple pear compote and cheese plate with crackers. The pear compote is so easy to make and the best part is that you can make it the day ahead. Put it in the serving dish that you are going to use, cover and refrigerate it. The morning off, take it out of the refrigerator and bring it to a warm room temperature. Use three different kinds of cheese for the platter… one soft cheese like a Maytag Blue, one semi-hard cheese like Manchego and last but not least, one hard cheese like Pecorino Romano. Some assorted crackers or homemade crostini’s and grapes…and viola! a beautiful presentation that is equally delicious!
While your family and friends arrive, settle in and chat (and of course dig into that delicious cheese platter you made) you can be back in the kitchen heating the water for your pasta course and gently warming its sauce. Another plus about this course…most every sauce can be made a day ahead! Make the sauce and leave it right in the sauce pan. If you are making a type of cream sauce let it cool completely then line the inside of the pot right on the top of the sauce and then up the sides of the pot with saran wrap. Put the cover on it and refrigerate overnight. The reason for the saran wrap is you don’t want the cream to harden and congeal and the saran wrap will take care of that. Take it out of the refrigerator and remove the saran in the morning and put it on the stovetop to come to room temperature first. You can then gently heat it through about 30 minutes before you serve your pasta course.
If you are thinking of serving a salad as a course before the main meal, try a baby spinach salad with my citrus vinaigrette. The dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in a mason jar with the lid tightly secured. The day of your gathering pour the dressing in the bottom of a large serving bowl (good for tossing) and put the baby spinach in the bowl on top of the dressing. Top the salad with mandarin orange segments and some sliced almonds. All you need to do is toss the salad right before plating or serving. This can be done and ready to go before your guests even step foot in the door.
Now to the main event! The Roast! I know, you are probably thinking… more food?! Yeah..why not! Some fancy a Crown Roast of Pork, others, a traditional Leg of Lamb. If you are not sure about your company’s liking of lamb (as I find it to be a very love it or hate it kind of meat) and you are not too sure how long to cook the a crown roast, try something simple and delicious like a Steak au Poivre. Some glazed carrots laced with tarragon and roasted fennel and potatoes…and your feast is golden!
Kick back and let your guests bring some dessert if baking isn’t your thing, like me. On the other hand, if you are totally into baking, I urge you to try Anne Burrell’s recipe for Tiramisu.
I made it one year and it was fantastic!
Whether your are celebrating Easter or Passover this Spring, may your Holiday be filled with the love of family and friends, the joy of new memories being made and some delicious food to bring everyone together.
~Enjoy your Holiday~