I wanted to post our Easter Dinner Menu and the accompanying recipes, but I don’t have photographs for most of the recipes. I will do my best to include photos with the recipes, but I have a timing conflict. I really wanted to at least make the menu and recipes available before Easter, so I am posting without photos at this point. For table decorating ideas, check out “Easter Table” under the Tables tab.
Easter Dinner Menu (for 6-8)
- Cream of Sorrel Soup
- Spring Pea Shoot Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinagrette
- Grilled Leg of Lamb (Alton Brown’s “Silence of the Leg O’Lamb”)
- Roasted Asparagus with Crumbled Egg and Hollandaise Sauce
- Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
- Homemade Dinner Rolls
- Rustic Rhubarb Tarts with Gorgonzola Whipped Cream
Cream of Sorrel Soup
This is really Julia Child’s recipe which I have adapted for simplicity. Sorrel was one of my mother’s all-time loves. Most people are unfamiliar with this leafy herb. It really needs to be used almost immediately after harvesting, so you don’t often see it for sale in markets; in order to insure a supply of sorrel, you must grow your own. My sister recently told me that Julia Child, while in Chicago taping for the local PBS affiliate many years ago, visited my mother’s herb garden. I don’t remember the visit, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the timing of her visit happened to coincide with sorrel season. Sorrel will continue to grow throughout the summer, but it becomes increasingly bitter as it matures. Pick it in early spring and you will delight in the refreshing lemony taste. My sorrel (I believe it is a cross between Garden Sorrel and French Sorrel) winters over, but I do take care to cut it back in the fall. Read more about the herb sorrel . If you want to show off your “foodie skills” serve sorrel soup and thoroughly impress your guests.
INGREDIENTS: (Serves 4 or 6 as small starter soup)
- 1/3 Cup Minced Green or Yellow Onions
- 4 TBS. Unsalted Butter- divided
- 3 to 4 Cups Packed Fresh Sorrel Leaves -washed, dried, and cut into thin strips
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 3 TBS. flour
- 5 and 1/2 Cups Boiling Chicken Stock
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Warm up 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onions for 5-10 minutes, or until tender and translucent. Stir in all but a handful of the sorrel and the salt, cover the pot, and turn the heat down to low. Cook until the leaves are tender and wilted, about 5 minutes. Now turn the heat back up to medium and sprinkle in the flour. Cook for three minutes, then pour in the boiling stock, stirring well. Simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, blend the yolks and cream in a large mixing bowl. Slowly, drop by drop, beat in a cupful of hot soup. Gradually beat in the rest of the soup, pouring it in a thin stream as you beat. Return the soup to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Do not bring the soup to a simmer—you just want to cook the eggs. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter. For hot soup, serve immediately, garnished with the remaining sorrel leaves. For cold soup, leave out the final tablespoon of butter and chill before serving.
Spring Pea Shoot Salad
- 4-6 Cups Fresh Peas Shoots (if you really can’t find pea shoots, substitute Spring Greens or Boston Bib Lettuce)
- 15-18 Heirloom Baby Tomatoes – halved
- 3-4 Spring radishes – very thinly sliced
- 1/2 Yellow Pepper – cut into thin strips
- 1/3 English Cucumber- seeded, peeled and cut into thin strips
For the Vinagrette:
- 1 Meyer Lemon (can substitute regular lemon)
- 2 TBS. Champagne Vinegar or White Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/8-1/4 tsp. Salt
- Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
- 1 Large Shallot or Garlic Clove – finely minced
Divide the pea shoots or lettuce equally among six salad plates or bowls. Add all other ingredients to the plate in a decorative manner. To make the vinagrette: Combine the lemon juice, vinegar and minced shallot or garlic in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use. Re-whisk and drizzle over salad just before serving.
Grilled Leg of Lamb (Recipe by Alton Brown)
I take zero credit for this recipe – normally I can’t resist adding my own personal touches to a recipe to make it my own, but in this case, I wouldn’t change a thing. Click on the link above to go to the original recipe and read some of the nearly 100 five star reviews. Many people comment that, like me, they were skeptical of the mustard, but you just can’t argue with the results. Alton’s recipe calls for a charcoal grill, but you can make this on a gas grill, just turn off the center burner when cooking. It’s important to buy good quality lamb meat; if you don’t find what you’re looking for, ask your butcher. As I’ve mentioned before, we happen to have a farm we buy from, so even though our lamb is frozen, the flavor is always outstanding. This recipe is too good to only serve once a year – it would be great to serve at any occasion.
- 1 Boneless Sirloin Leg of Lamb
For the Paste:
- 4 Cloves of Garlic
- 8 Fresh Mint Leaves
- 1 TBS. Brown Sugar
- 1 TBS. Kosher Salt
- 2 tsp. Black Pepper
- 5 TBS. Strong Mustard, such as Dijon
- 2 TBS. Canola Oil
- 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
Roughly chop the garlic cloves in the food processor. Add the mint and repeat. Add the brown sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, and oil and blend to a paste. Spread the paste evenly on the meat side of the roast. Roll the leg into a roast shape and tie with cotton butcher’s twine. Fire 2 quarts (1 chimney’s worth) of charcoal (natural chunk is best). When charcoal is lightly covered with gray ash, split the coals into 2 piles and move them to the far sides of the cooker. Close the lid and allow the grate to heat. Then, place the lamb, skin side up, on the middle of the hot grate. Add the rosemary sprigs to the charcoal briquettes and close the lid and grill. After 20 minutes, flip the roast and rotate it 180 degrees. Insert the probe thermometer into the roast and continue to grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the roast at 135 degrees. Remove the butcher’s twine from the roast. Cover with foil and rest it for 15 minutes before serving.
Roasted Asparagus with Crumbled Egg and Hollandaise Sauce
Serving asparagus with crumbled boiled egg (and even a sauce made from boiled egg) is a very traditional Italian (Roman, to be specific) side dish. The flavors are very complimentary and the yellow and white color of the egg adds a nice contrast to the deep green asparagus. In our house, we happen to be obsessed with hollandaise sauce, so any opportunity to add the rich delectable sauce to anything is seized. And who can deny that asparagus, although readily available year-round, is one of the classic spring vegetables. I have a few very thin stalks coming up in my garden – certainly nothing worthy of the Easter table, but I know I can find a beautiful bunch at the store. I roast my asparagus in the oven, but you can certainly grill it or steam it depending on your preference.
- 2 Bunches Fresh Asparagus
- 3 Large Eggs – hard boiled and peeled
- 2-3 TBS. Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 Cup Hollandaise Sauce (recipe follows)
Prepare the hollandaise sauce (see below). Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Finely chop eggs and set aside. Trim the woody ends of the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a single layer in an ovenproof baking dish or on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss to ensure all asparagus is coated, season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 7-10 minutes or until asparagus is tender and slightly browned. To serve: divide asparagus evenly among plates. Spoon 1-2 Tablespoons of crumbled egg over the center of the pile of asparagus, drizzle with hollandaise. Serve immediately.
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 2 TBS. Lemon Juice
- 1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- Pinch of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Combine egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne in a blender; blend until combined. In a small saucepan, heat butter until bubbling, but do not allow to burn.With the lid on, turn the blender to medium speed; remove the blender lid insert, and, in a slow, steady stream, add butter to blender. It is important that the hot butter be added slowly so that it cooks the eggs in the sauce. Taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice if desired.
* You may find that the blending sauce splatter; I recommend placing your blender in an area of the kitchen that is easy to clean.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
These mashed potatoes have a great flavor and they’re actually lower in fat than most regular mashed potatoes. I like these potatoes whipped very smooth – no lumps. If possible, put the potatoes through a potato ricer before using the hand mixer, this will allow you to whip the potatoes smooth without them becoming glutenous and sticky.
- 1.25-1.5 lbs. Potatoes (Yukon gold preferred, but any boiling variety is fine)
- 3/4 – 1 Cup Buttermilk – warmed
- 1-2 TBS. Unsalted Butter
- 1.5 tsp. Salt
- Fresh Ground Pepper
Set a large pot of water on the stove over medium/high heat. In the meantime, peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch cubes. When water reaches boiling, add potatoes; boil until tender – about 18-22 minutes. In the meantime, heat the buttermilk in a small saucepan over medium low heat – heat to just below a simmer, do not allow to boil or scald. When potatoes are fork tender, drain, but reserve 1/4 cup of boiling liquid. Pass potatoes through a potato ricer, or mash with a potato masher. Add salt and pepper and about 3/4 cup of warm buttermilk. Whip with an electric mixer, adding additional buttermilk or potato water until potatoes reach desired consistency. Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired. Add a dollop of butter to each serving of potatoes just before serving. Potatoes can be kept warm in a double boiler for up to an hour before serving.
Rustic Rhubarb Tart (Galette) with Gorgonzola Whipped Cream
Rhubarb is another spring treasure. I find it irresistible. I bought a bunch at the market last weekend (unfortunately, it was a small bunch) and couldn’t wait to use it. I love rhubarb pie, crumble and cobbler. For Easter, however, I wanted to make individual desserts, so I settled on tarts. Certainly you can use small individual tart pans, but in this case, I went for the rustic free-form tart. If you’re short on time, you can use a pre-made crust, but you’ll want to add some sugar to it, which means you’ll have to knead it a bit to work in the sugar and re-roll it. So, in other words, it’s just as easy to make your own Pate Sucre. Let’s talk about the Gorgonzola whipped cream – I think it is amazing and compliments the sweet/sour flavor of the tart. However, if you don’t like Gorgonzola, or blue cheese in general, you won’t like it. You can certainly omit the Gorgonzola, or you can substitute the whipped cream for mascarpone cheese or just vanilla ice cream. No matter what you decide, these tarts are easy and delicious.
For the Crust:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup ice water
For the Filling:
- 6 Cups Fresh Rhubarab
- 1 Cup Sugar – plus extra for sprinkling
- 1/4 Cup Flour
- 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
- 1 TBS. milk
Prepare the Crust: In a food processor, combine flour and sugar. Add butter and mix until the mixture consists of large crumbles (about 15-20 seconds). In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks and cold water. Turn the food processor back on and, in a slow steady stream, add egg mixture. Turn machine to pulse and pulse until a dough is formed (about 30-40 seconds). Check dough for consistency, if too crumbly, add more water – only a few drops at a time. Divide dough into 8 balls. Flatten each ball slightly, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Rinse rhubarb, cut off ends and cut into 1/4 inch pieces. In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, flour, sugar and vanilla. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. One at a time, roll out dough discs to a thickness of just under 1/4 inch. Dough does not need to be a perfect circle, but it should be symmetrical. Using a slotted spoon (to drain off excess liquid) put one spoonful of filling in the center of the dough. Pull dough up around filling. Transfer tart to a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat process for remaining discs of dough. Brush crusts of tarts with milk. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes – until crusts are brown and filling is cooked. If filling has overflowed during baking, remove tarts immediately from baking sheet and allow to cool on a separate plate. Sprinkle with additional sugar. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or mascarpone cheese.
Gorgonzola Whipped Cream
- 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1/4 Cup Gorgonzola Cheese
In a small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat – bring to a simmer, do not allow to boil or scald. Add Gorgonzola and simmer, stirring frequently, until cheese most of the cheese is melted. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate overnight. Place electric hand mixer beaters in a small metal bowl and put in freezer at least one hour before ready to whip cream. Remove cream from refrigerator, pour into chilled metal bowl and, using hand mixer (with chilled beaters) whip cream to stiff peaks. Best served immediately.