With a full guest list of family and friends who are like family, Easter dinner prep began Saturday night with lemons bars, ice cream and marinades. Bright and not so early Sunday, (yes, I slept through Easter church) I poured some coffee and began marinading two huge chickens and baking tart crusts. Although the Asparagus Gruyere Tart called for frozen puff pastry, one walk through the freezer section and a strong brush with my food snobbery later I decided to make my own out of homemade pizza crust. It worked beautifully though perhaps it wasn’t a tart?
I discussed with my husband the Tuscan Grilling method in excruciating detail...he then insisted that smoking the two 8-pound chickens prior to grilling was the only way to cook them properly. As the neighbors were lured over to the gorgeous smell of slow smoking chicken I continued the cornbread baking and salad prep. Salad prep was a bit more adventurous than usual. Tired of the mixed greens with tomatoes served with good seasonings dressings, I raided my fridge of every vegetable, combined champagne vinegar, a few palms of Emeril’s seasoning mix, and some olive oil and called it Spring Salad.
A few hours later with the kitchen cleaned and food nearly ready, guests arrived bearing wine and questions as to the appropriateness of dressing in black on such a holiday. Every party seems to have a star-- at party #30 it was the Asparagus Gruyere Tart. Made on a fresh crust the size of a pizza stone, this appetizer was devoured piece by piece and described as an ‘asparagus pizza.’ Considering the ease of prep and the encouraging results, this recipe was safely filed in my midweek meal binder. Moving on to the Vichyssoise.... It was a bit more festive than delicious and away from the Easter spirit does cold potato and carrot soup really sound like something you would enjoy?
Time for chicken and salad. Aside from guests not wanting to place their salad directly on their dinner plate (I was trying to reduce the cleanup) the distinct taste of hickory combined with lemon and rosemary was pure heaven. Add the cheddar cornbread made with fresh dill and we had an elegant dinner of pure comfort food on a Sunday afternoon... How often can you say that? Dessert was also a success one platter of lemon bars and a quart of homemade vanilla ice cream later and I was glad to have given cupcakes a rest.
And, in the midst of this wonderful food sat a group of people truly happy to spend an afternoon together. I haven’t lived near my immediate family for nearly fifteen years. I still cry at the end of a good visit, and phone and email them daily. As someone familiar with the pain of loneliness, it is not without true gratitude that I acknowledge the people at my Easter table. The Easter holiday celebrates the core of the Christian religion; of all the blessings God has bestowed on me, my family is the most cherished...sometimes its the family I was born into, and sometimes it’s the one that I made for myself.
Winner Winner? The chicken from Party #30 and party #28 were so different it feels unfair to compare them... If I had to pick a winner it would be party #28 chicken but only because smoky tastes are not my favorite....
Asparagus Pizza: It is amazing how simple and delicious this recipe can be. If you have not made your own pizza dough not only are you missing out on incredible flavor, but one created with ease. My favorite recipe is from Williams-Sonoma http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/basic-pizza-dough.html easily completed with a KitchenAid mixer and dough hook. Toast this at 400 degrees until golden. Then, throw on some seasonal vegetables with salt and pepper and you have an easy dinner that comes with the joy of professing ‘I made it from scratch,’
Cornbread: seriously, have you made your cornbread yet? Here is yet another recipe, my girl Ina comes through as always. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cheddar-dill-cornbread-recipe/index.html
The Party in Numbers:
Parties Completed: 30
Weeks Before Deadline: 22
Bottles Consumed: 5
Justified Purchases: All things Easter from Williams Sonoma (thanks mom!)