Sunday, April 24, 2011

2011.04.23 - Easter Brunch

A special Sunday edition of Thursday Night Dinner!  I try to host an Easter brunch every year for as many people as I have plates and chairs for (and usually more than that).  Sometimes it is more on the breakfast side of brunch, sometimes more on the lunch side, sometimes very involved (homemade pop tarts...what was I thinking?), and sometimes simple.  It usually involves chicken salad, because I really like chicken salad. 

Rosemary Chicken Salad and Egg Salad in Carrot-Shaped Rolls

The carrot-shaped rolls made the rounds on Pinterest and I knew I had to make them.  Thanks to the wonders of Amazon Prime, I had the conical molds in time for Easter.  My only regret is that the molds were a bit on the small side, so I couldn't fit too much salad into the rolls.  I liked how the rolls turned out, although they were a bit difficult to make because I was unable to find seamless crescent roll dough, so I had to mush together the pre-cut seams.  The overall effect was very cute.

I despise hard boiled eggs and mayonnaise, so the egg salad was purely for the benefit of my guests who like such things.  They seemed to like the egg salad :)

I thought the chicken salad was good.  The almonds were an interesting crunchy alternative to celery and the scallions were an interesting touch.  I hardly tasted the rosemary at all.  I think this is a nice savory option.  For something a little sweeter, I prefer Ina's chicken salad veronique (which is amazing).

Modifications: I used all yogurt instead of a yogurt/mayo mix in the chicken salad.

Veggie Platter with Herb Dip

I love the look of the garden-like veggie platter from the linked Martha slideshow, but I didn't have time to track down a galvanized metal garden tub and perfectly tiny baby vegetables.  I used what I had and came up with a somewhat artful display of carrots, radishes, asparagus, tomatoes, and green cauliflower.  The radishes were my biggest splurge - French Breakfast radishes from my favorite vegetable store.  These radishes were so much better than conventional varieties I've had -- they were hardly spicy at all.  I was worried that the herb dip would be too dominated by dill (because that's all it smelled like), but it tasted very good and balanced.

Challah with Raspberry Jam

A got me a braided sesame challah from Blazing Bagels, one of our favorite local places.  Challah is one of my favorite breads, so it only gets broken out for special occasions :)  I was going to make strawberry jam, but realized that the red berries in my freezer were raspberries, not strawberries.  I therefore substituted the strawberries for raspberries and doubled the amount of sugar.  Because of raspberry's lower pectin content (I think), this didn't firm up much at all, but it was a nice "spoon jam".  Most recipes I saw for raspberry jam had a 1:1 fruit to sugar ratio, which I thought was crazy.  I believe it is mainly for preservation reasons, but I wasn't canning this jam, so I greatly scaled back the amount of sugar and it turned out properly sweet.

Dirt Cake

Dirt cake is a home ec favorite.  I'd love to make a "luxury" version of this someday with real pudding and whipped cream, but the box pudding/cool whip version has a sense of nostalgia.  I did not bury gummy worms in it because I don't like them, but apparently this was missed :)  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture, but my dirt cake had peeps hanging out on top.

White Wine Spritzer

A and I are obsessed with the show "30 Rock".  I've often been compared to Liz Lemon at work (which I realize isn't flattering...but can kind of explain why I quit that job).  In an episode this season, it is revealed that her signature drink is white wine with Sprite and ice cubs in a thermos, called "Funky Juice".  I thought that this white wine spritzer recipe sounded like a classy Funky Juice, so I had to make it.  It was delicious, even though I was drinking it from a glass without ice cubes.

Modifications: Trader Joe's was out of sparkling lemonade, so I used sparkling limeade, which I thought was even better.  I made a pitcher out of 1 (750 ml) bottle of "3 buck chuck" sauv blanc and 1 (1 L) bottle of sparkling limeade (a higher proportion of juice to wine than the recipe).

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