Recollections of Easter baskets brimming with brightly colored candies, frilly dresses worn with white patent shoes and congregating at my grandmother’s house for a southern potluck feast are all woven together to create fond Easter memories from childhood.
Gathering family and friends for an Easter meal is a time-honored ritual, especially in the south. After the Easter egg hunt and bunny hop, everyone will be hungry so be ready with an elegant menu that’s packed with traditional flavors without being too fussy.
The key to easy entertaining is doing most of the work the day before and with this do ahead menu, all you will have to do is pop things into the oven and enjoy. Pear and Endive salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette has the perfect bitter, sweet tangy flavor to balance the other dishes like the rich velvety Au Gratin Potatoes and tender juicy Bourbon Marinated Pork Loin. The perfect sweet finish for any Easter menu is Carrot Cake, my simple recipe will be a crowd pleaser and it’s even better if it is made a day ahead.
See my bi monthy posts at Town Square Buzz
Pear and Endive Salad
1 head of romaine lettuce chopped
2 ripe pears, cored and sliced into wedges
1 head of endive chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 recipe balsamic vinaigrette
½ cup candied pecans
Combine ingredients toss and serve. Serves 6
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 large shallot minced (can substitute 1 clove of garlic)
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste.
Combine all ingredients in a shaker, mix well.
Potatoes Au Gratin
3 pounds baking potatoes
½ medium onion chopped finely
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
¾ cup fat free half and half or milk
¾ cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice potatoes very thinly and uniformly, using a mandolin if you have one. In a glass baking dish, layer potatoes with onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with cheese; last add cream and half and half. Cook uncovered for 1- 1 ½ hours or until potatoes are fork tender and cheese is browned. If cheese begins to brown too much, tent with foil. To make a head, prepare dish and instead of putting it into the oven, cover tightly with foil and hold overnight in the refrigerator, add 20 minutes to baking time. Serves 6
Bourbon Marinade Pork Tenderloin
¼ cup bourbon
¼ cup brown sugar
3 cloves garlic pressed
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh ginger pressed
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup olive oil.
2-3 pounds tenderloin
Salt and pepper
Pour first 8 ingredients into a gallon zip top bag and mix well. Add meat and marinade for 2-4 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat grill pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper meat and sear pork for 2-3 minutes on all sides to create a caramelized crust. Place loin in the oven for 25-35 minutes or until you meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving to serve.
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
Dash ground allspice
1 cup canola oil
4 cups finely shredded carrots (about 1-1/2 pounds)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and allspice. In a large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until light. Add cooking oil in a stream while beating on medium speed, add vanilla. Beat in flour mixture until batter is smooth. Stir in carrots by hand. Pour batter into 3 pans that have been greased and floured. Cakes will be thin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. When cooled completely frost with cream cheese frosting.
2 8 ounce package of cream cheese softened
1 stick of butter softened
6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine butter and cream cheese and vanilla in a bowl using an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Slowly add sugar until all is incorporated. Frost cakes when cooled.