An Easter Affair
I love Easter! Maybe its the promise of Spring looming on the horizon, the fresh tulip and dogwood blooms or maybe it is just the chance to cook a lazy Sunday afternoon meal with my loved ones after church. I guess it is all of the above! I wanted to share a few of my tips and treats from this year, most importantly, keep the recipes simple! It is meant to be a leisurely holiday so don’t overdo it, a lesson hard learned by this Virgo.
1. Keep the table setting simple and elegant, not overly fussy. Guests will feel more comfortable if the table is clean and approachable, not sprinkled in Fairy Dust and Easter Grass…you know who you are!!!
2. Opt for single flower arrangements that you simply trim the stems and throw in a vase. Grocery stores can be excellent sources of fresh flowers and there is no need to go over the top and splurge on an arrangement by a florist that may or may not have the impact you can get from a few clusters of hydrangea and hyacinth.
3. Make ‘easy to pop in your mouth’ appetizers that are not overly filling so they are still hungry for dinner. This year’s menu included my world famous ~I could give you the recipe but then I’d have to kill you ~ deviled eggs, gouda cheese with honey, bacon wrapped dates and herb ricotta bruschetta. Dinner was a pork tenderloin, scalloped potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts with fennel. Each recipe had 4-5 ingredients and steps at the most. No rocket science, just straight up good food.
4. Even if you didn’t give up alcohol like me for Lent, plan a bar menu. Anyone can fill a cooler full of beer or open a bottle of wine, but a signature cocktail and a Rose Bubbly add a nice touch that shows your guest you made an effort. My featured drink this year was a French 75 ~ 1 pint Cognac, 1 pint simple syrup, 3/4 pint fresh squeezed lemon juice in a shaker with ice and poured equal parts into a glass with Champagne. It’s yummy and a tad more special than a simple Mimosa. Figure out how many drinks you will need and make a pitcher of the Cognac, lemon juice, simple syrup mixture to have at the bar with a Martini shaker, ice and chilled champagne. Designate someone to make each guest a drink fresh as they arrive, another nice touch. Don’t forget to include something like a simple infused water (I like lemon and cucumber) and an Italian soda for those opting for nonalcoholic choices.
5. Desserts are key! The best ending to anything is a happy ending (sorry, had to) ..so a meal is no different. I am not a big sweet tooth but I know that is rare and to most people, appetizers and dinner are just a way to pass time until dessert. So, with that in mind, it is important to fix crowd pleasers that not only look amazing, they taste even better. Don’t go all Martha Stewart with the decorating (wish I even knew how) and sacrifice taste. Use the simple, less is more philosophy like with your table setting and flowers. The taste should be what they remember most, not the elaborate bunny made out of disgusting fondant icing. After years of my husband lamenting he wishes his mom was around to make her good old fashioned ‘milk cake’ I finally decided to research it and give it a whirl. The results were nothing short of amazing! He added his homemade whip cream and chocolate ganache to rave reviews. Always have something fun and festive for the kids like chocolate bunnies or festive cupcakes.
Last but not least, have someone like my amazing sister to crack open a bottle of wine and help you cook the day before!