For those of you who celebrate Easter, this week may be spent busily preparing your menu for the upcoming holiday (as we know one particular dear friend and reader is doing at present). Whether serving a casual brunch or an elegant supper, packing for a church picnic or simply contributing a dish to a collaborative family affair, Easter is a brilliant opportunity to work with some of the gorgeous produce spring has to offer. Nothing against good old winter (the hus-b thanks you kindly for all of the fresh pow), but by the time the daffodils begin to bloom we’ve usually had quite enough of beets, brussels spouts and clementines, thankyouverymuch. For those of you lucky enough to have access to a well-stocked farmers’ market, an April visit means tender English peas, sweet strawberries, masses of greens both delicate and hearty, and early vegetables like baby carrots and green garlic.
In the spirit of celebrating the bounty of spring (as well as satisfying the traditionalists at our own holiday table), we’ve created two Easter menus composed of tried-and-true personal favorites as well as new recipes we can’t wait to try out. Today we’re featuring our brunch menu, and tomorrow we’ll set our sights on a rustic Easter supper!
Priss & Vinegar’s Easter Brunch
- French Breakfast Puffs. It doesn’t get much more old-timey than a recipe that uses shortening and comes from my mother’s vintage edition of “Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook”. My mother has been making these incredibly tender, cinnamon-and-sugar topped muffins for our family for ages, and even now my sister and I can’t imagine a brunch without a warm basket of “puffs” on the table. Our riffs on this classic recipe? Baking them in a mini-muffin tin so they are a more appropriate size for a buffet table or pre-brunch appetizer, and baking them the night prior to the event but waiting to sugar them until immediately before serving.
- Frittata with Spring Peas, Green Garlic & Goat Cheese. We have a decidedly checkered past with this puffed Italian omelet, having scorched the bejesus out of one on our first visit to our now mother- and stepfather-in-law. This mortifying incident led to our ultimately perfecting the dish, a happy ending both for our morale and our guests’ stomachs. As we are fortunate to have a Calphalon frittata pan set (a thoughtful gift from our mother-in-law following Frittata-gate 2009), we like to use this recipe from Williams Sonoma specifically intended for such pans (recipes calling for a frittata to be finished in the oven will not work in such pans). As for the ingredients, we prefer to play it fast and loose with this recipe, working with whatever looks most appealing at the market.
- Oven Roasted Bacon. Once you make bacon in the oven, you will never, ever fry it on the stove top again. The mess is negligible by comparison and the results are crispier and decidedly less greasy (especially if you cook the bacon on top of a cooling rack set on a rimmed baking sheet). This dish is all about the quality of the bacon, so we encourage you to splurge on some truly excellent product (P&V is partial to Zoe’s). You may be tempted to up the ante by trying Ina Garten’s recipe for maple-glazed oven bacon, but we don’t think the maple syrup adds much and prefer to serve this divinely perfect bacon as-is.
- Citrus & Strawberry Salad with Fresh Mint. We make some version of this elegant fruit salad for nearly every brunch we throw — guests appreciate having a lighter option and hostesses adore make-ahead dishes that allow them to do the heavy lifting in advance. Our favorite iteration involves supremes of citrus (tangelo and grapefruit would be perfect spring choices) and berries (strawberries are a natural choice, although blackberries are a personal favorite), tossed in ginger simple syrup and topped with mint. (And be sure to save some of that wonderful syrup for sweetening iced tea or mixing up ginger-spiced mojitos for another occasion!)
- Papa’s Ramos Gin Fizzes. On the subject of libations, my grandfather is a staunch purist who abhors flavored liquors (he was horrified by my collegiate flirtation with Malibu Rum), weak pours and anyone who requests wine during cocktail hour. His personal bar is his exclusive territory (prepare a drink for yourself at your own peril) and the house specialty is the Ramos Gin Fizz, which he has been expertly preparing for his grateful family for decades. Papa’s recipe is quite similar to this classic preparation featured on Epicurious except that he omits the seltzer, blends rather than shakes, and serves the finished cocktail in a chilled glass rimmed with superfine sugar. (If available, he also prefers fresh snow to ice cubes). Squeezing all of that lemon and lime juice as well as working with raw eggs can be a bother, but trust us when we say that this frothy, citrus-scented treat is decidedly worth your trouble.