I spent the better part of last week preparing for my annual Easter Eggstravaganza. Shortly after Mason was born I claimed Easter as MY holiday to host. After all, I am the only one in all of the families who still likes to cook big meals.
So this year I planned an ambitious menu:
- 22 pound Ham with Mango Chutney Glaze
- Gratin Dauphinois
- Haricots Verts à l’Anglais
- Spinach Gratin
- Braided Italian Loaves
- Cherry and Pecan Pies
- Fresh Fruit Flans
- Lemon Cakes
- Caramels with Fleur de Sel
Everything was prepared from scratch, including the pie crusts. It was a beautiful and delicious meal. Only problem…hardly anyone came.
The only thing more annoying than relatives at a holiday is hardly any relatives! I was ready to start waving down passing cars to see if they were hungry. Next year I may have to take applications for substitute family members who will show for dinner. So if you are slightly crazy, a wee bit annoying, but can show up to dinner somewhat on time and eat without complaining you just may qualify.
Frequently I am asked how I manage to get everything done. Yes I sleep, knit just about every night and work in a TV show or two. My secret is simple – ORGANIZATION!
I can’t take off work to cook like I used to, so I have learned to pre-prepare as much as possible. At least a week before I copy all of my recipes, make notes, and break down the recipes into steps that can be prepared in advance. For example, early last week I grated all of the cheeses.
A day or two before the actual food preparations can begin, I measure out as many ingredients as possible and store them in clearly marked containers. The measuring process becomes like an assembly line. I measure everything that needs flour, then sugar, etc.
Then when it is time to prepare the dish, it is like cooking on a TV show. The amount of time saved is incredible. This allows me to prepare many dishes in a short amount of time.
But before you start thinking I’m superwoman or something, despite all of my pre-preparations at midnight on Easter Eve I realized we forgot to dye eggs. I even had them boiled and ready to go. Boy was I peeved.
So at 5pm on Easter we finally dyed our eggs. Keith brought home farm eggs so we dyed a mix of regular white with the brown eggs from the farm. One year every store in town ran out of PAAS, so we had to resort to using regular food coloring. Needless to say, we’ve used it every year since. I love the way our eggs turned out! Better late than never I guess.
With all of the cooking, egg hunts, parties and such it was a very busy week!
I linked many of the recipes above in case you want to give them a try. I’m still working on perfecting my pies. It is my least favorite dessert, but everyone always makes such a big to-do over a pie that I thought I’d see what all the fuss was about. Plus I just bought a new leCreuset pie bird & pan and was itching to use them.
I’ve had excellent luck with Ina Garten’s “Perfect Pie Crust” recipe in her new Foolproof cookbook, and am messing around with fillings to get them just right. I’ll be sure to share when I’m finally happy.
Meanwhile, I’m back to the grindstone. Hopefully I’ll finish another big hunk of our website makeover and will have cool stuff to report soon.