Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Big Fat Crazy Easter

I said I would be a little more attentive about posting more blogs, but you may have noticed I've gone back to taking a few days off (although I did finally get to do some catch up with blog reading in the past day or so). Well, that's because I hosted Easter this year and I had a lot to prepare for.

I had assumed that Easter would be a small affair. These days my family has stopped making Easter a priority. Everyone has other places to go and other people to see. A big family dinner isn't always in the cards. Last year my mother and Kevin and I were the only people around to celebrate and we ended up having brunch at Crystal Springs and spent the rest of the day riding.

I was shocked to find that when I offered to host an Easter dinner that everyone said they would come. Even my brother and sister-in-law, who spent the morning at her sister's house in New Jersey still said they would come to my dinner. I thought the dinner would be small. I ended up with sixteen people. That's the same number I had at Thanksgiving. Not only did everyone I invited agree to show up, but those people wanted to bring more guests with them! This was going to be quite an undertaking.

It was a chilly day, but spring is showing signs of being on the way with buds on the trees peeking through. It was windy, but that didn't stop the ducks from hanging out behind my building.

So what did we eat? We started with cheese from Cato Corner Farm that my uncle brought, some Easter bread courtesy of Mom, and of course, Italian Easter Pie, using the classic family recipe.

To make this pie I doubled the crust recipe. I didn't feel the original recipe would make enough crust to cover the pie. I had more crust than I needed as the photo shows, but I didn't have time to muck around with recipe adjustments. Another adjustment I made was to add some sorpresata to the pie along with the yummy pepperoni and proscuitto.

For a main course I made two meats. We had Giada's Garlic and Citrus Chicken (because Sir Pickypants won't eat pork). This is a great roast chicken recipe.

I wanted to do pork instead of ham. We had ham for Christmas and I really prefer pork anway. This recipe was Ina's Fennel-Stuffed Pork Roast.

Cheese grits are a tradition at holidays in my family, particularly for Easter, but Mom served them at Christmas, so I decided to do something else for my Easter dinner. I came up with a recipe for a caramelized onion and gruyere bread pudding (keep reading for the recipe).

Other dishes included roasted asparagus tossed in hazelnut oil, green beans cooked with roasted peppers (Mom made those) and cranberry cole slow (also courtesy of Mom). Mom used an Ina Garten recipe for the beans.

I was too lazy to put the cole slaw in a nicer bowl.

I bought these cute little candy-filled eggs at Williams Sonoma for the kids. They began disemboweling them right away. Next time I wait until they go home to give these out. I had jelly beans all over the floor.

Dinner got to a late start because the men all wanted to watch the golf game first.

Penelope showed off her dance moves for me. I guess she was on quite a sugar high.
Who is your favorite aunt, Pez?

I forgot to take photos of the dessert buffet. I was so overwhelmed by the company that day that I took 10 minutes to slip away from everyone and lay down on my bedroom floor. I couldn't even lie on my bed because everyone's coats were on it (and it would be conspicuous). It didn't make for good photo ops. Anyway, I made homemade caramel ice cream and Ina Garten's Deeply Chocolate Gelato. My sister-in-law provided a beautiful cookie tray, my mother provided a homemade lemon pound cake (Ina Garten recipe again. It was a Barefoot Contessa kind of Easter), and my father provided an assortment of baklava.

Now for my new recipe....

Gruyere and Caramelized Onion Bread Pudding
About a pound of hearty bread (I used a multigrain), cubed
4 onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbl fresh thyme
2Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl butter
8 oz Gruyere, grated.
5 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch nutmeg

Cut bread into cubes ahead of time so they have a day or two to dry out.

Melt butter and oil in a pan over low heat and add onions. Cook them slowly until they are very soft and golden. Don't rush this. If you brown them too fast, they won't fully develop their sugars.

Toss bread chunks with cheese, onions, and thyme. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Place in a buttered baking dish.

Mix together cream, eggs, and nutmeg and pour over bread. Allow to sit several hours or overnight. When ready to cook, heat oven to 350 degrees and cook for 45 minutes or until custard is firm and top is nicely brown.


Anonymous said...

is that italian pie Pizza Rustica? It's FANTASTIC! it's the bomb of all pies! I first saw that pie in this movie called the Big Night, and still haven't been able to forget it.

Sue said...

Thatsa some pie!!! Wow, it's enormous and looks gorgeous.

Now see? You can have 16 people to dinner without a 4 inch binder to plan it all, although it's never a bad idea to make lists. It all sounds so good and you pulled it off beautifully. If you don't watch it, your house will be the go-to one for family events. I'm also impressed that some of the gentlemen were wearing jackets!

The Duo Dishes said...

You made amazing dishes...everything is amazing! The citrus garlic chicken and easter pie sound so good. But so does the caramel ice cream! Yum.

The Blonde Duck said...

PLEASE let me come over for dinner. I claim that pie pizza. All of it. Mine.

Jeff said...

Nicely done and hosting is always a nerve racking experience.

I want that Easter Pie badly.

Sara said...

Everything looks amazing - I have had my eye on that chicken recipe, glad to know it's good.

melissa said...

Oh yeah, that pie sounds crazy good.

I was so overwhelmed by the company that day that I took 10 minutes to slip away from everyone and lay down on my bedroom floor.I totally would have done that. I can only handle that many people for so long and then I MUST retreat momentarily.

Steve loves that chicken recipe, I've made it 3 times. Glad you enjoyed as well and that you pulled off such a lovely holiday.

noble pig said...

I am laughing so hard that you went and layed on the floor, that's hilarious!

And wow that's a big dinner you made and it sounds delicious!

Donna-FFW said...

What a great spread(not thinking dirty swear)Really a perfect layout. It all looks delicious. Lucky guests. That pie is awesome!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

B&S - Yep. I think of pizza rustica as the yuppie name. In my family, it always has been and always will be Easter Pie.

Sue - I didn't have a binder, but I did have about 16 pages of lists and game plans. I just neglected to put them in a little book this year. I just had loose pages. What can I say, I like everything in one place.

The men definitely outclassed me when it came to dress.

DD - I always highly recommend the caramel ice cream recipe. It is the creamiest ice cream ever.

Duckie - Okay. You can come over. I'll make an Easter Pie just for you. I'd love to have you over for dinner!

Jeff - Thanks. This time was especially nerve wracking because I had so many more guests than I originally thought I would!

Sara - I've done that chicken recipe a few times. It's the best roast chicken recipe that isn't my own. ;-) Definitely try it.

Melissa and Cathy - It is SO worth it to retreat and lie down for a few minutes when the kids begin making a mess and the adults are as unherdable as cats. They were so wrapped up in the food, the wine, and golf game that they didn't even notice I was gone!

Donna - Thanks. And I'd still take it as a compliment if you were thinking dirty.

Bunny said...

What a feast! I had to work on Easter and although I work in a restaurant it just wasn't the same as eating all the homemade food and being with family. I'm glad your dinner was a total success!!

Emily said...

WOW! Am I ever jealous! What a feast! I wish I could have been there.

How was the gelato? I noticed Bon Appetit had a recipe for strawberry gelato in the newest issue.

Peter M said...

A belated Happy Easter to and adults are both smiling here. Must be the food, no?