Wishing you a very happy and blessed Easter - Glory to God! This year, my table setting for Easter dinner is lilac and cream. I'm stringing lavender, violet and tones of cream colored eggs and tying them together with wide lilac satin ribbons for a festive garland. The centerpiece will be a large basket painted a lovely celery green color and filled with soft green moss, fresh pansies, violets and little yellow fluffy chicks (faux of course) peaking about with cascading lilac and cream ribbons. The tablecloth will be cream colored with lilac napkins and dishes are creamy white, crystal stemware with silver flatware. Also included in the gathering will be large chocolate bunnies surrounding the centerpiece. In addition, I have a few vintage Easter pieces to fit into the display.
On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We believe according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life and was raised from the dead three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter. Through his death, burial and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in Him, eternal life in Christ Jesus. What more of a blessing could you possibly ask for?
For bible passages in Scripture accounting Jesus death on the cross and resurrection, please read; Mark 15, Matthew 27, 1 Corinthians 15, Philippians 3:10, John 11:25 -26
After Jesus was crucified, Joseph of Arimathea had Christ's body placed in his own tomb. An extremely massive and heavy stone covered the entrance and soldiers guarded the sealed tomb. On the third day, a Sunday, several women including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome and Mary the mother of James, who are mentioned in gospel accounts went to the tomb at dawn to anoint the body of Jesus. A violent earthquake took place as an angel from heaven rolled back the stone. The guards shook in fear as the angel, dressed in bright white, sat upon the stone. The angel announced to the women that Jesus who was crucified was no longer in the tomb, "He is Risen" just as he said. The angel then instructed the women to inspect the tomb and see for themselves. Next he told them to go inform his disciples. With a mixture of fear and joy they ran to obey the angel's command, but suddenly Jesus met them on their way. They fell at His feet and worshiped Him. Jesus then said to them, "Do not be afraid, go tell my brothers to head to Galilee and there they will see me." When the guards reported what had happened to the chief priests, they bribed the soldiers with a large sum of money, telling them to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body in the night.
The Easter bunny which is also associated with Easter is not a modern invention, but has been around for some time. In the early 1700's eggs were dyed by Pennsylvania Dutch German Settlers. Today, children hunt for colored eggs and place then in pretty Easter baskets along with all types of chocolate candies, marshmallow chicks and various other candies associated with Easter. When my sister Kristin and I were children we would get up on Easter morning and like most parents, ours had hidden the colored eggs. Kristin and I would run around inside and outside trying to find the most eggs. I have older siblings, (Sandy, Terry and David) but they usually didn't partake in this activity, but still enjoyed the candy my parents had for all of us in beautiful Easter baskets my mom prepared. After all that excitement we would get dressed in our "finest" new Easter clothing. Kristin and I felt always felt special in our new black shiny patent shoes and new shiny patent purses and off to church our family would go. When we came home mom would always have a lovely Easter dinner; usually baked ham, hot rolls, scalloped potatoes, jello salads, tossed green salad, some type of fresh vegetable and always angel food cake with fresh strawberries and whip cream, pies and cake. Sometimes we had relatives attending; including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. What a fun and memorable time in our childhood.
I hope you enjoy the recipes listed below and remember the real reason for Easter.
Refreshing Springtime Raspberry Lemonade - easy
1 (12 oz.) can frozen lemonade
1 cup frozen raspberries
3 cups cold water
2 Tbl. fresh lime juice
1 (12 oz.) bottle 7-up
Add lemonade, raspberries and water to a blender and puree. Pour this mixture into a large bowl, combine with fresh lime juice, mix well. Stir in 7-up and place this mixture into a large pitcher. For each glass; add crushed ice, lemonade, a couple of fresh raspberries and garnish with mint leaf. For an adult version you could add some vodka.
Italian Sodas - love these
3 -4 Tbl. Italian syrup - (my favorites are; peach, raspberry, blackberry, pomegranate and blood orange)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup whole milk
whipping cream, whipped for topping if desired
To a large glass (16 oz.) add syrup, cream, milk and ice and mix well. Stir in club soda to top off glass then add a dollop of whipped cream.
Belini with Caviar (appetizer) - Best eaten shortly after being prepared, but you can make them ahead, cool to room temp and freeze in airtight containers. Place paper towels between layers and when ready to serve place frozen belini on baking sheet, heat in 200 degree oven until warmed through about 15 minutes. I have made hundreds of these for catering and making ahead is the best plan. This recipe comes from friend, Fred D. in Olympia, WA.
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water (110)
1 cup whole milk
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. butter, melted
Vegetable oil for frying
In a small bowl, combine whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, 1 cup of all purpose flour, yeast, sugar and warm water, stirring until blended. Cover with plastic warp and let stand in warm place about 1 1/2 hours.
In small saucepan, over medium, scald the milk (cooking to just under a boil) and let cool to room temperature.
In large bowl, whisk egg yolks and salt until light in color, then whisk in butter until smooth. Stir in scalded milk, 1 cup all purpose flour until smooth. Fold in the whole wheat flour mixture until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm place to rise 35 minutes. In mixing bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form. With a spatula fold egg whites into the batter and let stand for 10 minutes. In large nonstick saute pan or griddle over medium, add a little oil to coat pan and with a Tablespoon drop the batter into pan. Do not overcrowd and cook about 3 minutes per side.
Fill serving pretty bowl with crushed ice, and place caviar in it's tin on top of ice and serve with mother of pearl spoons. Note: keep caviar in frig and take out 15 minutes before serving. If you have any left, place caviar lid back on top and place in frig.
Melon Balls with Prosciutto (appetizer) - always a hit for caterings
18 thin slices of Prosciutto or Serrano ham
1 honeydew or cantaloupe melon
Peel melon, remove seeds and slice into thin wedges. Wrap slices of ham around melon slices, place on platter and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper if desired. Note; you can also slice the melon pieces and ham in half to serve more.
Creamy Asparagus Soup
2 lbs. fresh asparagus
1/2 stick butter
1 leek, cleaned and sliced (use only white to light green part)
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry vermouth
3 cups chicken stock - good quality - I like Kitchen Basics
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Snap off tough ends of asparagus spears. Chop asparagus into 1-inch pieces. In a large Dutch oven, melt butter and add onion, leek and garlic cooking until tender and soft. Add vermouth and cook until almost evaporated. Add asparagus and stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium low. Cover and cook about 25 minutes or until tender. With an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Pass the soup through a sieve into clean saucepan if desired or otherwise leave as is, I usually do this. Add cream and more stock (if desired) and cook to a thickened consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with homemade croutons floating on top. For croutons; thinly slice a French baguette, lightly rub slices with a garlic clove and spread with some butter. Place onto baking sheet and place in 350 oven until lightly golden brown.
Olive Rosemary Bread - hubby Jerry loves making this bread
3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups warm water (110)
1 Tbl. cornmeal
2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbl. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 heaping cup of Kalamata olives, chopped (not too small)
3 Tbl. olive oil
3 Tbl. fresh rosemary, chopped
Note: you can also use sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped up if desired
In large bowl mix flour, yeast, sugar, salt, olives, rosemary, olive oil and water. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (10 minutes) if adding sun dried tomatoes add them now. Set aside lightly covered with clean kitchen towel and let rise about 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch down, knead again about 10 minutes. Let rise (lightly covered) about 30 minutes until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place a pan of water in bottom shelf of oven. Turn loaf out onto a sheet pan that has been lightly oiled and dusted with cornmeal. Bake in 500 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 30 minutes more or until done. Remove to cooling rack and let cool before cutting into. I know it's hard, but just wait. Get out the softened butter so when you cut into that warm bread you can smear it with butter. I can taste it now!
Roasted Pepper Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts
6 bell peppers - red, orange, green
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbl. red wine vinegar
2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
3 Tbl. capers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small saute pan add pine nuts and lightly toast for a couple of minutes, remove and set aside. Rub peppers with a little olive oil and place over a grill and char until blackened. Remove to either a paper bag or bowl with plastic wrap. Let cool, then peel, seed and slice into large strips. In a bowl, add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, Dijon, vinegar, lemon juice and whisk in olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper adjusting flavors if needed. I like more vinegar to olive oil taste. On a serving platter, add sliced peppers, sprinkle on capers, parsley, nuts and feta cheese. Drizzle dressing over mixture and lightly toss.
Garlic and Rosemary Leg of Lamb
1 (6 lb.) leg of lamb
10 garlic cloves, sliced in half
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
3 rosemary sprigs, chopped
2 fresh lemons, juiced
1 cup olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
12 whole shallots, peeled
Wash and pat dry the lamb. With a sharp paring knife place incisions all over the lamb and stuff with garlic pieces. Season well with salt and pepper over entire lamb. In a bowl, whisk together oregano, rosemary, lemon juice, white wine and olive oil. Place lamb in a large roasting bag and pour in marinade, seal well and place on roasting pan in frig to marinate for overnight, turning once. When ready to cook remove lamb from marinade and place on roasting pan (discard marinade). Place in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and roast for 20-25 minutes per pound or 30 minutes per pound for well done. About 30 minutes into cooking time, add shallots and drizzle with olive oil and let roast along with lamb. When lamb is done remove from oven and let rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Remove to serving platter, surround with roasted shallots and garnish with fresh parsley and rosemary sprigs.
New Potatoes with Lemon and Herbs
3 lbs. small new potatoes, unpeeled
2 Tbl. butter, melted
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 Tbl. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 Tbl. fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbl. fresh chives, chopped
2 Tbl. fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, olive oil, lemon juice, and paprika. Add potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir together with your hands. Remove to baking sheet or roasting pan and cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning about every 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove to serving platter or bowl and sprinkle on fresh herbs, mixing together. Note: If desired you can also sprinkle with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Creamy Raspberry Cheesecake
1 cup graham cracker crumbs or you can use chocolate crumbs
3 Tbl. sugar
1 Tbl. fresh lemon zest - only if using graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (10 oz.) package frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 cup cold water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, soft
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to almost stiff peaks
Fresh raspberries - garnish
Whipped cream - garnish
Combine crumbs, sugar, butter and zest and mix well. Press into bottom of an 8-inch springform pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and cool. For filling; drain raspberries and reserve juice. Set berries aside. In a small saucepan, combine juice, cold water and gelatin. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cook and stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes. In a bowl of electric mixer beat cream cheese and sugar until blended. Add berries and gelatin mixture; beat on low until thoroughly combined. Chill until partially set. Watch carefully as mixture will set up quickly. By hand, gently fold in whipped cream to mixture. Spoon into crust and chill covered for 8 hours or overnight. Just before serving, run a thin sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove sides of pan. Top with piped rosettes of freshly whipped cream and a raspberry in each rosette or just lavishly cover entire cheesecake with freshly whipped cream and scatter fresh berries on top.
Frozen Fruit Terrine - absolutely love this and it's a great catering menu item
4 egg yolks
7 Tbl. superfine sugar (Note: also called castor sugar. If you can't find make your own by using a clean dry spice grinder and adding a little more granulated sugar than recipe calls for. Grind about 1-2 minutes then measure out for recipe)
5 Tbl. water
6 moist dried figs cut into 4 pieces
2 Tbl. candied ginger, chopped
1 Tbl. candied orange peel
1 Tbl. candied lemon peel
7 candied red cherries, halved
1/3 cup pistachios
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamon
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped to almost stiff peaks
2 Tbl. kirsch
In a saucepan over medium combine sugar and water. Heat, stirring to dissolve sugar then bring heat up and boil. Boil without stirring until mixture reaches 240 degrees (soft ball) on candy thermometer. In a bowl beat egg yolks with mixer, when sugar mixture is ready, pour into eggs in a slow stream while constantly beating. Beat until the mixture has cooled and doubled in volume. Fold in figs, ginger, lemon, orange, cherries, pistachios, cinnamon and cardamon. Gently fold in the whipped cream and fold in kirsch.
Pour this mixture into a loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours. Run a warm knife blade around sides of mold and invert onto a serving platter. Soak a kitchen towel with hot water, wing out and place on bottom of mold to release terrine and lift off mold. Return to freezer, covered to firm up. Garnish with sliced figs, cut into slices and serve.
Greek Butter Cookies - These are similar to Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
1 Tbl. orange zest, finely minced
1 cup powdered sugar (plus extra for rolling cookies into)
1 egg yolk
1 Tbl. brandy (not extract, the real stuff)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer bowl of electric mixer add butter and powdered sugar mixing until lightly and fluffy, stir in egg yolk, zest and brandy. In a small bowl, add flour and baking powder and mix together. Mix this mixture into the butter sugar mixture a little at a time until dough doesn't stick to your fingers. Add almonds and mix them in. If too dry, add a little bit of milk, 1 tsp. at a time. Knead dough and make into small balls. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Roll in powdered sugar, then cool and roll in powdered sugar again.
Praise be to the God Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy
He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection
of Jesus Christ from the dead... 1 Peter 1:3