EASTER IN THE EMPTY NEST

Easter bonnets, Easter baskets, Easter dresses and all of the colors and promise of Spring.  In Virginia, the crocuses, daffodils, irises, and dogwoods announce that winter is over.  Spring comes to Virginia when it is supposed to, and this year it is right on time.  We remember buying Easter outfits, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, peeps, and little presents to bring big smiles.  Coloring eggs meant messy tables, messy clothes, arguments over who had more eggs, who used which colors and who got the blue in the orange and made brown.  We hid the eggs after they went to bed and they rose with excitement.  They found eggs, shared eggs and fought over eggs.  No matter how many we hid, there was always that one elusive egg that was determined not to be found.  By then the kids had moved on to the chocolate bunnies and potential stomach aches and did not care to look anymore.  But the thought of that one hard-boiled egg turning into a sulfur bomb, made us search for hours.  Days later it would turn up in plain sight. Did we really find it or did it just roll itself to that spot to gloat?   When everyone else’s basket was empty, one basket remained full-the hoarder.  Better to taunt your siblings with when they ran out.   And there was the mom who raided the basket while the kids were asleep and blamed it on the dog.

Easter isn’t really a come home for holidays holiday for us.  But this year we have one of the kids with us in the empty nest.  She may be 24 but she’s coloring the eggs.  We buy fresh eggs from a farm now and while they make better omelets, better cookies, better salads, better everything than grocery store eggs,  they do not take dye.  Our egg dyer is not happy.  She looks at the colored eggs in the carton and sighed, deeply.  We don’t know how much fun her hunt will be without the competition but we will hide them in places that might challenge her and we will probably have to write down where we hide them.     She remains hopeful too that the the Easter bunny won’t forget to drop off a basket.  We are hopeful that the Easter bunny won’t visit the garden.   When the egg hunt is over and the basket explored, it will be time for dinner.

THE MENU:  BAKED HAM, PANZANELLA SALAD, SCALLOPED POTATOES, ROLLS, PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Panzanella Salad

  • 1 lb asparagus, blanched and cut in 2″ pieces
  • 2 small kohlrabi, diced
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium shallots, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup croutons
  • shallot vinaigrette

For the croutons:  Preheat oven to 450.  Slice half a loaf of Italian or French bread in 1″ slices and cut in to 2″ pieces.  Coat in olive oil and sprinkle with grated romano cheese.  Bake on cookie sheet until browned.

For the dressing:  Dice two shallots and saute in olive oil, over medium heat until lightly browned.  Remove from heat and cool.  Combine 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar with 4 tablespoons olive oil with cooked shallots.

Assemble salad.

Scalloped Potatoes

  • 3 lbs. Russet Potatoes peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • freshly ground black to taste
  • 2 tsp. bavarian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 2/3 c. grated gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place potatoes, garlic and salt in large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until tender but not mushy about 6 minutes.  Drain, with slotted spoon transfer half to a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Pour half of the cream over the potatoes, season with 1/2 the spices:  black pepper, bavarian seasoning and salt.   Sprinkle with 1/2 the gruyere cheese.  Top with the remaining potatoes, pour the rest of the cream over the potatoes, season with the rest of the spices, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.  Bake uncovered until cheese topping is crisp and brown, about 1 hour.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake based on David Lebovitz‘s upside down cake recipe

For the fruit layer:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • fresh pineapple slices & dried cherries

For the cake:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature

1. Melt the 3 tablespoons  of butter in a cast iron skillet, or cake pan. Add the brown sugar and cook while stirring, until the sugar is melted and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Once cool, arrange the fruit in a pinwheel design. Set aside.

3. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350F.

4. Beat the 8 tablespoons of butter and sugar until fluffly. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.

5. Whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

6. Stir in half of the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients. Do not over mix: stir just until the flour is barely incorporated into the batter.

7. Spread the batter over the fruit, then bake for 45 minutes to one hour (depending on the size of the pan, and the thickness of the batter.) The cake is ready when it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center feels just set.

8. Remove from oven, let cool about 20 minutes, then place a cake plate on top, and wearing oven mitts, flip the cake out on to the plate.  Serve warm with whippped cream.

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One Response to EASTER IN THE EMPTY NEST

  1. i want to be an empty nester in your house. Dinner here did not look anything like this gorgeous feast!

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