Monday, April 25, 2011

Cooking up an Easter

Easter breakfast was a baked french toast recipe that my aunt gave me.  Very simple and very easy.  This was what it looked like the night before.  It took 1/2 loaf of white bread, cubed, 4 oz cream cheese cubed and softened, 1/2 dozen large eggs , 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/2 cup milk - the night before serving line the bottom of a 8 by 8 baking pan with half of the bread cubes, layer the cream cheese on top, add the remaining bread cubes.  Beat the eggs, maple syrup and milk together. Pour the mixture over the bread, cover and refrigerate over night.  The next morning bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until lightly browned.

This is how it looked right before serving.  It was more then enough for the 3 of us.

Now for dinner - The main course was Nigella's Ginger Ham which I've made before.  It's so simple and always comes out great.  I was very happy to actually find ginger preserves to glaze the ham with this year.  Last time I had to use marmalade with powdered ginger mixed in, which was delicious, but it's definitely better with the ginger preserves.

This is a horrible picture I know, but believe me, it was very good!
The sides were a green bean and celery dish that I got from Williams & Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook.  From the "Autumn Sunday Supper" section.  I had about 3/4 lbs of green beans, trimmed, 1/8 cup unsalted butter, 1/2 cup yellow onion, 2 large celery stalks cut on the diagonal and salt and pepper to taste.  I quickly boiled the green beans for 5 minutes and dunked them in ice water to keep them crisp.  I melted the butter and sauted the onion until tender and translucent then I added the celery and stir fried for 3 or 4 minutes.  Last I added the green beans and seasoned with salt and pepper.
My other side was yam, sweet and white potato au gratin which is a recipe I found at by Marguerite Henderson.  This dish consisted of a yam, a sweet potato and a russet potato, all peeled and sliced.  A 1/2 red onion, two tablespoons cubed butter 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  1 cup cream and 1 cup gruyere - I think I should have added more gruyer, or found a stronger cheese.  The dish was very good, but I love cheese and would have liked something that stood out a little stronger.  I think an asiago would be good. First I mixed the potatoes, and then lined half of them in the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 baking dish.  I topped that with half of the sliced onion and the butter.  I layered the remaining potatoes onion and butter.  I mixed the thyme, nutmeg, salt, pepper shredded gruyere and the cream together and pored it over the potatoes and onions.  I covered the dish in foil and baked at 375 degrees for an hour - it could have gone a little longer, maybe 15 to 20 minutes, but it was still good.  I pulled the foil off and cooked it another 5 minutes uncovered.  At these measurements this is  enough for 5 to 6 people.
Oh, and I can't forget my bread.  The bread was the biggest hit with my daughter's dinner guests.  I used the same recipe I've used to make my flat bread pizza's.  It's a basic brioche recipe from the awesome book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  If you wish you could make bread but feel intimidated by the process - get this book - you'll be making delicious bread at home guaranteed!

 Then there was dessert.
Another great recipe from my Williams and Sonoma cookbook.  This one came from the Mediterranean Easter section at my oldest daughter's request.  Citrus and honey cheesecake with a hazelnut crust. 
The crust was 2 cups of hazelnuts, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
I chopped the nuts in a food processor with the sugar and cinnamon, as finely as possible with out letting them turn to a paste.  I added enough butter to hold the mixture together, then pressed the mixture into the bottom an half way up the sides of a springform pan.
The cheese filling was 1 1/2 lbs of cream cheese - at room temp.  1/2 cup sour cream - at room temp, 3/4 cup Loleta wildflower honey, 6 eggs separated and at room temp, 1 tbsp each of lemon zest and orange zest, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 3/4 cup sugar.
I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, then placed the cream cheese and sour cream in the bowl of my mixer and beat until smooth with my paddle mixer.  I added the honey and beat some more, the I added the egg yolks, lemons and orange zests and the vanilla. Mixed well.  I set this aside and then beat the egg whites until frothy and gradually added the sugar and beat until the peaks of the egg whites were almost stiff.  I stirred 1/3 of this into the cheese mixture, then folded in the rest.  I poured this into the prepared springform pan and baked it on the middle rack of the oven until set.  45 to 50 minutes.  Then turn off the oven and let it set in the oven with the door ajar for 2 hours.  This is what I ended up with:
The girls seemed to enjoy their dinner
Time to relax after a long day of cooking - time for a little bubble break.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! 

No comments: