Easter falls on March 31 this year, which makes us wonder: Is it playing hard to get? It certainly seems so; we’ll have just dipped a toe into spring at that point, and that makes it difficult to plan a menu around late-spring staples -- strawberries, asparagus, artichokes, sweet English peas -- as we typically would. So back to the drawing board we went, swapping blushing berries for sweet citrus, diminutive peas for lanky leeks, and so on. You know what? This might be the best Easter menu yet.
Recipe: Virginia Willis' Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs have never looked so elegant. A speckling of fresh herbs is to thank for the welcome addition of color, while just a tiny bit of soft butter mixed into the filling renders each bite impossibly creamy. A few classic players -- mayonnaise, Dijon, and cayenne -- hover at the edges, so the richness of the yolk can shine through.
Recipe: Shaved Celery and Fennel Salad
Deceptively simple at first glance, this salad exhibits depth of character through a toasted celery seed and peppercorn finishing salt and finesse through the use of a mandoline, which produces the thinnest-possible slices of celery, radishes, and fennel. A must-memorize sherry-shallot vinaigrette ties everything together.
Many people insist on heavy cream for a gratin, but we’re loyal to the method of using garlic-infused whole milk. With the cheese and the starch of the potatoes, the dish is rich enough, and we find that cream mutes the delicate flavor of the Gruyere and garlic.
You'd think a dish with "buttery" in the title would be overwhelmingly rich. And you'd be wrong. Lemon and parsley don't let all of that butter steal the show; they keep the whole dish in check. You'll need to keep going back for more, just to see how good these leeks really are.
Recipe: Spiced Leg of Lamb on the Grill
The title of this recipe conjures up a lengthy process in your kitchen and on your deck, but it's actually one of the fastest recipes around. The marinade takes about 10 minutes to make and the lamb, because it's butterflied, cooks in about the same time. If you don’t have a grill or the forecast calls for rain, feel free to use your oven broiler – the results will still be spectacular.
Recipe: Mint Sauce for Lamb
Before you recoil from your computer screen in unbridled horror, let us assure you that this mint sauce bears absolutely no relation to that cloying, emerald green goop commonly known as "mint jelly." This version is a simple showcase for the bracing quality of fresh mint, made lively with the tang of vinegar and mellowed by a little sugar. It is fleet-of-foot, capable of cutting through the richness of lamb with just the right mix of acid, fragrance, and sweetness.
Recipe: Aunt Mariah's Lemon Sponge Cups
This classic lemon pudding cake won us over with its evocative name, mellowed lemon pucker, and bare sweetness. In one fell swoop, you get two desserts: a delicate, airy cake that rises to the top and browns handsomely, and a lush, lemony custard that pools at the bottom, waiting for your spoon.
Are you dining at home this Easter? What’s on your menu? Share your comments below!
Visit our spring gatherings site for more expert tips on what to cook and how to cook it, being the host- or host-ess with the most-est and fun ideas for cooking with kids.
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