Easter is merely days away, and if you haven’t had the time, energy or interest to dream up a fabulous Easter menu, Holiday Hints is here to help. Today is a tasty brunch menu; tomorrow is a simple, spring-inspired dinner menu. Take your pick, make your shopping list and cook up something delicious.
Easter Brunch Menu
Hot cross buns (store bought)
If you’ve never made a soufflé because it seems intimidating, fear not! They’re really pretty easy to put together. Once it goes in the oven, don’t open it until it’s time to test the soufflé for doneness. Once it’s out of the oven, serve immediately.
½ c. butter
½ c. flour
1 t. salt
½ t. dry mustard
Dash cayenne pepper
2 c. milk
1 ½ c. shredded hard cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, swiss or whatever you prefer)
6 eggs, separated
½ t. cream of tartar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart soufflé dish or casserole. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour and seasonings Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is bubbly and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Add cheese and stir until melted; remove from heat.Beat egg white and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form and set aside. Beat egg yolks until thick. Stir a small amount of the cheese mixture into the egg yolks to temper the eggs, then stir the eggs into the cheese mixture. Stir about ¼ of the egg whites into the mixture, then gently fold mixture into remaining egg whites. (To fold, use a rubber spatula and cut down the center of the bowl and lift the mixture from the bottom. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the cut and lift motion. The mixture should be combined, but not to the point of deflating the egg whites.)
Pour the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish and bake 50 to 60 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a knife halfway between the edge and center; it should come out clean. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Substitutions: If you don’t have dry mustard, use 1 t. of Dijon mustard and add it with the cheese.
his dish is super easy and very pretty. (And it tastes good, too.) This can be prepared before the soufflé and kept warm by covering with aluminum foil. It is just fine at room temperature as well.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
2 c. shredded Gruyere cheese (or swiss cheese)
1 1/2 pounds thin spring asparagus (about 1 bunch)
1 tablespoon olive oilS
alt and pepper
Herbes de Provence, if desired
Preheat oven to 400°F. Dust a work surface with flour. Roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle and trim to even the edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp paring knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. (This will create a puffy picture frame effect.) Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with the cheese. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper and the Herbes de Provence. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Hot cross bunsMost bakeries and grocery stores carry these spiced yeast rolls specked with raisins at Easter time. They were a staple at our house; my mom loved them, but she could never tell me why they have such an odd name.
Hot cross buns have been traditionally eaten on Good Friday for centuries to commemorate the crucifixion. Their name derives from the “x” or cross, usually made of icing, that decorates the tops of these rolls. Although the first reference to “hot cross buns” was recorded in 1733, there is some evidence that pagan lunar celebrations featured a yeast roll marked with an “x” to represent the four quadrants of the moon.
But it’s the Christian meaning, custom and traditions tied to these buns that caused a stir in 16th century England. They were so popular that it is reported that Elizabeth I passed a law banning the consumption of hot cross buns except at Easter and Christmas.