Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Easter Feast Post, 2008

Happy Easter everyone! For those of you who don't celebrate Easter, I hope you will enjoy it this post also. It was posted in real time, originally, as I was preparing each dish.

I should have time stamped this post. The reason it shows Saturday is that is when I started with the flower arrangement. I began cooking at about 8:30 am on Sunday and finished food preparations around 6:50 pm. (I noticed the clock on the beam next to the side board.) Everything, from eating to clean up was done by 8:30, about 12 hours.

The Easter table emerged. I folded napkin swans, but Byron dubbed them the Easter turkeys! He's a crazy man.:

The first order of business, the holiday cocktail. This makes the cooking fun, don'tcha know!

The Holiday Cocktails:
Byron prefers mimosa's (champagne and orange juice) but I am having a poinsettia (champagne and cranberry juice). Each of them is made special by the addition of a "flavor enhancer," for the mimosa add a splash of Cointreau (orange liqueur) and for the poinsettia add a splash of Chambord (raspberry liqueur):

A toast to Easter!

Now on to the cooking.

The first dish is a family favorite, tomato aspic. I will say, it's an acquired taste. It's a savory jelled dish; I love it. Think of it as a congealed bloody mary!

Tomato Aspic
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 6 packages of Unflavored Gelatin
  • 2/3 water
  • 1 Tbs Worchestershire
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbs vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups green pepper, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced

Dissolve gelatin in water.

Heat all of the ingredients, with the exception of the gelatin and water, in a large sauce pan until almost to a boil. Remove from heat and add the gelatin. Stir until all the gelatin is dissolved.

Pour into a mold that has been sprayed with oil (or just a bowl if you prefer) and refrigerate until set.

Next, what is a Southern feast without deviled eggs, you ask? It isn't a Southern feast, that's what.

Deviled Eggs
  • 6 Hard-cooked eggs (I always make spares...details later*)
  • 1/4 cup mayonaise
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • Paprika or parsley sprigs (optional)
There are tricks to easily peeled hard-cooked eggs. The first is to buy the eggs a week or so ahead of time. If you forget to do so, as I did, just add about 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the water in which you boil the eggs. I only had one that gave me fits this time.

Deviled Egg Ingredients:

Cut the eggs in half, length wise and remove the yolks. With a fork, mash the yolks and then add the other ingredients and stir:

You can just spoon this mixture into the egg halves, but I always pipe mine:

Garnish with either a sprinkle of paprika or a sprig of parsley. *The extra ones I have on the deviled egg tray are for the person who likes to steal a few before it's time to serve them. (Looking at you, Byron!)

Garlic, Onion, Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
  • 3 large baking potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 box vegetable stock
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 4 Tbs salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 4 ounces cream cheese

Peel and dice the potatoes, onions and garlic and place in a large sauce pan with the vegetable stock, rosemary sprig and salt. Boil until the potatoes are soft, approximately 40 minutes. I use vegetable stock to cook the potatoes in because they add to the rich taste of the final product. Additionally, I am making a rotisserie leg of lamb, so I will use that stock for a gravy later.

Drain the potatoes in a colander into another pan. Remember, the stock is being used later for a gravy. Notice that rich, golden color they took on from cooking in the vegetable stock.

Add butter, cream cheese and pepper to the pan the potatoes cooked in. Put the drained potatoes back in the same pan and roughly mash. Cover and hold for later.

This next dish I have been making for over 20 years. It may well be one of the reasons Byron married me, since it is just like his mom used to make. It is a must have on any of our holiday menus. While the original recipe came from Southern Elegance, the Junior League Cookbook from Gaston County, North Carolina, in 1987, I am giving you my portions.

Oyster Casserole:
  • 6-8 oz containers of fresh oysters
  • 3 sleeves of saltine crackers, crumbled coarsely
  • 12 ounces butter, melted
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg
  • parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup oyster liquor
  • 1/4 cup milk

In a plastic bag, crumble the crackers and add the melted butter. This starts the first layer of the casserole:

Pour the oysters into a bowl, chop the parsley and get your salt, pepper and nutmeg ready.

Layer the oysters onto the layer of crackers, sprinkle with salt, pepper, nutmeg and parsley:

You will have two layers of oysters ending with cracker crumbs. Pour the oyster liquor (the reserve oyster juice) and milk over the layers. At this point, this casserole will hold. Bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes when you are ready to serve it.

Have I mentioned that Byron is nuts? He was snacking on smoked mussels and crackers. This is his way of telling me he's getting hungry and ready for me to start the lamb:

Rotisserie Lamb with Garlic, Rosemary, Mustard Glaze:

Make the glaze with:
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Rosemary, fresh, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • pepper
  • salt
  • dry white wine

Salt and Pepper the lamb; put some slits in the roast, stick some extra garlic cloves into the slits. I line the rotisserie with foil for easy clean up, cause rotisseries are a pain in the tush to clean.

Turn on the rotisserie and baste the lamb with the mustard glaze. Notice I have inserted a meat thermometer, this will ensure a nice rare lamb roast.

After just a few minutes, you can see the browning and caramelizing of the fat and the glaze. Brush on more mustard glaze every 15 minutes or so.

A mid-way through glazing:

Almost done:

Sherried Peas with Mushrooms:
  • 1 package frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 1 tsp dry marjoram
  • 1/2 package of sliced mushrooms
Melt the butter in a skillet and add the sherry, marjoram and mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are softened:

Add the peas at the last minute to heat through.

For the just winged let me tell you what I did. First I took the vegetable stock that the potatoes cooked in. To that, I added about a cup of port wine and heated it. Then, I took about 4 Tbs of flour and added about a cup of the hot stock/port and whisked it.

I added that to the pan with the rest of the liquid and whisked. When it came to a boil it was thickened and lovely.

Added the water and the wine to the table:

Set it all out on the side board. [Note: I love that portrait of the pups and me. That was an anniversary gift to Byron from me many years ago; it was painted by our friend, Bob Cloyd]:

A close up:

Nom, nom! It was so wonderful! Thank you for sharing Easter with me and joining me as I cooked and dined...



Seams Unlikely said...

Wow. That looks like quite a feast. Happy Easter.

Paula Dines said...

Thank you, seams unlikely. It was wonderful.

Currently, I am sipping some wine and relaxing. Tomorrow, I am off and we are having left overs. Another nice thing to be said about feasts is the left overs!

Hope you had a lovely day.

Taina said...

So lovely! Your cooking seems fit for a feast table from the first step on, it is not only clean of crumbles and grease-spots, but aesthetically appealing! No wonder somebody sneaks the extra bits... they look so inviting!

Happy Easter after the event - just back from the woods myself!

Paula Dines said...

Thank you, Taina and welcome back!

Hope your trip to the woods was wonderful!