Our Easter Dinner plans were changed when our guests announced that they could not attend. Disappointed but not deterred, I sent out a last-minute invitation to my local Facebook friends asking if anyone might be free the next day to share in what was way more food than my partner and I could eat. As I suspected, most people said thanks, they had other plans. But at the last minute a delightful couple that live in the neighborhood asked if the offer was still open. We enthusiastically said yes!
We had a yummy little pâté, salami, crackers, sparkling wine, and some good red ale for starters. I didn’t want people to fill up too much on hors d’oeuvres so this was just the right amount.
The main course was a 9½ pound, pre-cooked ham. I was determined not to dry out the ham this time, as they are want to do. I found a ham with a nice coating of fat to keep the moisture in and I further moistened it by brushing on some pineapple juice. I scored the fat and inserted cloves for a little extra flavor. After covering the ham with foil I placed it in a 350° oven at ten minutes per pound. With about 20 minutes left, I removed the foil and brushed on some brown sugar moistened with a little more pineapple juice. Delicious! One of the best hams I’ve served in a long time.
I love baked sweet potatoes served with just a little butter and salt and pepper. No sweet glazes or marshmallows to cover up the rich flavor for me. Scrub the potatoes, cut a tiny bit off of each end, and bake in a 350° oven for about 45 minutes. Test with a fork to make sure they’re tender. Remove the potatoes from the oven, let them cool briefly, then cut them in half lengthwise. Place a small pat of butter on each half and sprinkle with a little nutmeg and freshly ground pepper. Tasty and nutritious!
Sweet and sour green beans are a really good accompaniment to just about any meal, winter or summer. Of course, fresh beans from the farmer’s market are the best but you can usually find good quality beans year-round. Trim the stems from about a pound of beans, wash, and place them in a steamer insert over boiling water. Steam until crunchy tender – about 5 minutes. Meanwhile saute a small, finely-chopped shallot in a little olive oil, until tender, in a medium sauté pan. Lower the heat and add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the beans are tender add them to the shallot mixture, toss to combine, and serve. The vinegar adds a little acidic component that complements the rich and sweet characteristics of the other dishes.
The ever-popular dill bread was baked earlier in the day. The aroma of fresh bread, and baked ham made the house smell heavenly all day. This bread is quite easy, it requires no kneading and only one rising. Some of its richness comes from the secret ingredient of a cup of cottage cheese, and I like to amp up the dill flavor by adding a teaspoon of dill weed to the dill seed called for in the recipe. The recipe can me found in my June, 2014 post, Top Ten Recipes – 1 Through 5.
Dessert was a smooth, lemony soufflé with an intensely flavorful blood orange sauce. The batter can be prepared, and the ramekins filled before the guests arrive. Place them in the oven while the dinner dishes are being cleared and coffee is brewing. Twenty minutes later you have a wonderful dessert that makes people think you should have your own cooking show. Little do they know how very simple and fun they are to prepare. The recipe can be found in my April 6 post, Lemon Souffles for Easter Dinner.