Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Dinner

I had a wonderful Easter and I hope you did too! You may remember my menu planning post a while back where I outlined our recipes for the recent holiday. My mom and I always team up when cooking big meals for the family. I pick out the recipes, she does the shopping and then we cook together. It's our way of being efficient and spending quality time together in the process. Originally, the plan included a traditional lamb dish. However, our plan changed to prime rib, which turned out to be just as delicious.

Although I own several great cookbooks, I've found that the Internet also has tons to offer. My favorite site to visit is Bon Appetit, which provides pre-planned menus of different themes for large parties.
Instead of copying these menus exactly, I like to use them as guides and add different twists to make them uniquely my own. It's all about what you want for your holiday as well as as what you can handle. If you have too many baked dishes and not enough oven space, keep that in mind. Try to pick dishes that you can make ahead and re-heat just before serving. You also don't want to be in the kitchen so much that you have to ignore your guests!
I felt this holiday menu was quite simple to accomplish. Two of the dishes I made the day before and another two dishes were made several hours before the feast. This made all the last minute preparation much more tolerable.

Before I list the recipes, I have two more suggestions when cooking a large meal. First, always have a helper you can rely on, especially towards the end. I always find I need someone to help carve the meat, fill the glasses or bring dishes to the table. Second, set your table ahead of time! Hopefully, you already do this :)

1. Fresh Pea and Mint Soup
** Can be made the day before
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 2/3 cups chopped shallots (about 6 very large)
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 5 pounds peas in pods) or two 16-ounce bags frozen petite peas, unthawed
5 1/2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth (preferably organic)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint plus additional for garnish

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic. Saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add peas and stir 1 minute. Add 51/2 cups broth and bring to simmer. Cook until peas are very tender, about 8 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Puree soup and 1/4 cup chopped mint in batches in blender until smooth. Return to same pot; thin with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if desired. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.
Rewarm soup over medium-low heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls; garnish with additional mint.

1. Sisi's Corn Pudding

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided, plus additional for dish
1 cup chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 15- to 16-ounce cans corn kernels, drained, divided

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes; cool in skillet.
Whisk milk, eggs, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons butter in large bowl. Scrape in onion mixture. Add 2 cans drained corn. Puree remaining 1 can drained corn in processor until smooth. Add puree to bowl with custard mixture and stir to blend well; transfer to prepared dish.
Bake pudding until set in center and beginning to brown on top, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm.

3. Garland of Spring Vegetables

12 ounces carrots, peeled, cut on slight diagonal into 1/4 -inch-thick slices
12 ounces turnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 2 pounds in pods) or 2 cups frozen peas (10 ounces), thawed
8 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed
1/4 cup herb butter
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

Cook carrots and turnips in pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes. Add fresh shelled peas, if using, and sugar snap peas; cook until all vegetables are just tender, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Drain vegetables; return to same pot. Add thawed frozen peas, if using. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Add herb butter, tarragon, and mint to vegetables. Toss over low heat to melt butter and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon around lamb or mound in bowl.

4. Asparagus, Green Onion, Cucumber and Herb Salad

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 pounds medium asparagus, trimmed
4 cups thinly sliced green onions
3 cups 1/4-inch cubes peeled seeded Kirby or English hothouse cucumbers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

5. Chive Mashed Potatoes

Peel Idaho potatoes and boil in well-salted water until soft. Drain and transfer to an electric mixer. Add butter and milk by eye starting with a very small amount. Also add salt pepper and fresh chives for color. Potatoes should be creamy but not mushy when finished.

6. Prime Rib

To cook prime rib, begin by coating the meat on all sides with kosher salt and pepper. Estimate baking for 20 minutes per pound at 325-350 degrees (our meat took about 3 hours to roast). Test with a meat thermometer when it looks done.

We like our meat quite rare as you can see, but we had guests that preferred a more well-done slice of beef, so they were served the end pieces that were cooked more thoroughly.

7. Horseradish Sauce

This was very simple. Just mix mayonnaise and horseradish to taste.

8. Shrimp

For those who don't eat meat in our family, we quickly sauteed shrimp in butter and white wine.

9. To Drink

My sister-in-law whipped up a refreshing concoction of white wine, orange juice and sprite. It was a delicious and thirst quenching cocktail for our lovely meal!

Here's a picture of the soup prior to being pureed.

10. Carrot Cupcakes

To finish things off, I made Martha Stewart's yummy carrot cupcakes.

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