Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Dinner

My kids have always had Spring Break the week of Easter. It is a great time of the year for a trip so we have celebrated Easter in Florida at the beach, in NYC, cruising the Barrier Islands off the coast of Mississippi, and camping in Big Bend National Park. This year, their Spring Break was cut to a day and a half because of the huge number of snow days this winter. We had planned on spending the long weekend down at the lake but when W came down with his brother’s chicken pox, plans changed.

So I planned my first-ever Easter dinner:

Deviled eggs
Spring Greens with Warm Goat Cheese
Marinated and grilled rack of lamb
Minty roasted potatoes
Roasted asparagus
Coconut cream pie
La Crema Pinot Noire

I’ve been making a variation of our first course salad for a really long time. I think the original recipe I used was cut out (see, it was a long time ago!) of Food and Wine. Here’s the version I made last night.

Spring Greens with Warm Goat Cheese (4 servings)

4 cups of spring greens

For the cheese:
4 oz. log of goat cheese
4 T. of mixed fresh herbs (I used parsley, chives and lemon thyme)
¼ cup of olive oil
6 T. panko

For the dressing:
2 T. best quality balsamic vinegar
6 T. best quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the log of goat cheese into 4 rounds and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle both sides with herbs and drizzle with1/4 cup of olive oil. Let the cheese stand for one hour at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dredge the goat cheese rounds in panko, then place them back in the baking dish and bake until soft, about 10 minutes.

While the goat cheese bakes, whisk the remaining 6 T. of olive oil into the 2 T. of balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the greens in a salad bowl and toss with enough of the dressing to season to taste. Divide the greens among 4 salad plates. Top each with a round of baked goat cheese and serve.
I wasn’t sure whether the kids would like this – they eat a lot of different kinds of cheese, but I don’t recall ever feeding them goat cheese before. They loved it! Yeah!

I kept the seasonings for the lamb and asparagus very simple. On Saturday, the lamb was rubbed down with a combination of pink Himalayan sea salt, fresh rosemary, garlic, olive oil and pepper. It spent the night in the fridge before going on the grill. The asparagus was tossed in olive oil, fresh ground pepper and kosher salt then baked for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Minty Roasted Potatoes is a recipe out of The New Basics that everyone in my family has been making since that cookbook came out in 1989. This is a great do-ahead recipe since we love them best served at room temperature.

Minty Roasted Potatoes (4 servings)

8 red new potatoes scrubbed and patted dry
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse (kosher) salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves or Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the potatoes with the tines of a fork and arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Cut the potatoes into quarters and place them in a serving bowl. While they are still hot, toss them with the oil, coarse salt, pepper, and garlic. Gently toss in the mint. Serve hot or at room temperature.
On Saturday afternoon while watching Melissa D’Arabian make a butterscotch pudding on $10 Dinners, I was inspired to make my first-ever cream pie – a coconut cream pie to be exact. B and I have made the easy version of coconut pie, and we’ve perused the recipes for more complicated versions – so this time I made the one that we had categorized as hard. And it was not! The only thing I screwed up was baking the pie crust. I cheated and used Pillsbury. When it came out of the oven, one side had crumpled so that it was unusable. I had another one, but decided instead to make a graham cracker crust because I knew I couldn’t mess that up.

The pie was delicious last night and even better this afternoon, although a little on the sweet side (even the kids agreed!). I’m going to work on the recipe and make it again before sharing it.

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