Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Tentative Easter Menu
My parents are out of town yet again this year, so it's up to us at the Kentbury Kompound to host an Easter egg hunt and accompanying brunch/dinner. It's at 3pm. What do you call that mealtime? I don't like the portmanteau "linner" -- it doesn't sound like what it's supposed to mean; it sounds to me like a vulgar combination of "inner" and "linger," or maybe I'm the vulgar one.
Anyway, Easter was always my favorite holiday as a kid, and now that I'm older (but not wiser) I still get really excited about being surrounded by pastel colors and wearing a church-appropriate dress and, of course, all the springtime-y food involved (not to mention, egg hunts are still just as fun as they were when I was a wee one, now that I'm allowed to drink). I took a kitchen inventory, and here's what I'm thinking for the menu this year, but we'll see if I can get everything done:
-Roast leg of lamb (only because I found one sitting in my parents' freezer; I can't afford no stinkin' sheep. Not that I'm stealing, per se, only helping: this animal would continue to freeze for all eternity if I didn't use it.)
-Various quiches or frittatas that use up whatever veggies and cheese I already have or can find on the cheap. Most likely, I'll make some frittatas -- that way I don't have to bother with the crust. To make one, you simply preheat the oven to 450, heat whatever veggies or meat you are using in a cast-iron pan over the stove, add 6 or 7 beaten eggs, let them continue cooking for two minutes or so over low-medium heat, until the mixture begins to set in the pan, sprinkle some cheese on it if you want, and then transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 9 minutes or until the frittata is puffed up and brown.
-Some kind of white bean salad, since I have a whole bag of dried. I also could cook that lamb with the beans in the crockpot...the wheels are turning...
-Some kind of salad with quinoa (not a grain, as I mistakenly called it awhile back, but a seed), since I also have a whole bag of that. I'm thinking about riffing on my Sprightly Spring Couscous using quinoa; 'twould be good and good for you!
-An asparagus or green bean dish -- maybe with the veg mixed in with some roasted potatoes. Though I'm also interested to try the peas with poached eggs from today's Times article on Newark, New Jersey's Portuguese section -- where I can say I've happily eaten a few times!
-My Aunt Mary's awesome broccoli salad. I definitely need to post this recipe soon, but it deserves a whole post of its own.
-For hors d'oeuvres: I'm planning to make Almost-No-Knead bread again and toasting it for crostini. Or, if I run out of time, just serving it with some garlicky olive oil. I have a big hunk of goat cheese left over from Nana's birthday party; homemade bread with goat cheese and honey sounds very tempting right about now. If time lets me, I would like to make Dorie Greenspan's gougeres (cheese puffs), always a hit at my parties, and, conveniently, I happened to find a big bag of pre-shredded (horrors!) cheese that also needed to be rescued from my parents' black hole of a 'frigerator.
-For dessert: definitely flourless chocolate cake, an Easter tradition in the Owen family, for which I'll follow Alice Medrich's recipe again. I'd like to try a rhubarb crisp, too, since rhubarb is in season and I haven't cooked with it before. If I remember, I will also make Key Lime pie. I don't have an interesting recipe for this; we always follow the one on the back of the Key Lime juice container that you buy in the grocery store. I don't even remember the brand, but it's usually the only one of its kind. It's really good and really easy, and requires only three ingredients if I remember correctly: a frozen pie shell, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and the Key Lime juice.
-For libations: white wine sangria -- I mix together two big bottles of the cheapest white wine, a cup or so of club soda, another cup of triple sec, a bag of Trader Joe's frozen Fancy Berry Medley, some lemon or orange juice, and a quarter cup or so of sugar. It pleases a pretty big crowd. Once we run out, I guess we'll get creative with our bizarre assortment of liquors and liqueurs, or finally take care of those PBRs in the fridge.
-For the egg hunt: I'll be putting the family collection of plastic eggs to use by filling them with homemade truffles (all you do is mix together 2 cups of chocolate chips, a stick of butter cut into pieces, and a teaspoon of vanilla in a heat-proof bowl or double boiler, melt it over a pan of boiling water, stir it together, refrigerate it for an hour, form into balls, and roll in a mixture of 1/2 C cocoa powder and 1/2 C powdered sugar), which I'll wrap individually in tin foil. The eggs will probably also contain things I find around the house, such as pennies, cat toys, q-tips, used Post-It notes, barrettes, staples, and safety pins. What, you want me to go buy pastel M&M's? Times are tough, people!
So, all this seems like a lot, but nothing I'm making is very difficult and most of it just requires ingredients that I already have. The only things I will have to buy are broccoli, asparagus or green beans, some fresh rosemary, some potatoes (maybe), rhubarb, and the three Key Lime pie ingredients. Probably some more eggs for dying, too. I happen to have a pretty well-stocked kitchen, but I'm also not using any particularly expensive ingredients (with the exception of that free lamb -- score!). I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope to see you there!
And, lastly, if you'll pardon my horn-tooting, this blog was mentioned by the Chicago Sun-Times Food Section, in a feature on two of my favorite blogs, Cheap Healthy Good and Casual Kitchen, and is also listed on the Culinary School Guide's Top 100 Blogs for the Frugal Gourmet. I'm getting fatter -- and this time it's not just my waistline!