Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Dinner

Tuesday last week I realized I didn't have plans for Easter dinner. And, given that I don't have a church home here yet, I wasn't going to be adopted by anyone.


Time to do some growing up and host a dinner of my own.


Sidebar to note that Easter Dinner to me is obviously the big meal after church in the morning. It's up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas for major meals.

Apparently dinner = supper to my friends. (Granted some of the invitees are international students.) Clarification, in my book, dinner is the biggest meal of the day. But not breakfast. Breakfast just isn't allowed to be the biggest meal of the day.



Strawberry Salad
Delicious Co-op bread
Spring Green Risotto
Lemon Cream Tart and Chocolate Bunny Cake with whipped cream and strawberries

New resolution to start taking photos to put up here. Not that I'll be good. But to have something to start from.


Cooking Logistics (because the cleaning logistics don't belong here)

I started the risotto Saturday night.

Spring Green Risotto

Adapted from Annie's Eats who adapted it from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten

5 cups veggie broth
1½ Tablespoon olive oil
1½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
2 leeks, white and green parts, chopped
1½ cups Arborio rice (medium grain rice)
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 lb. asparagus (thin spears preferable), cut into 1-inch pieces and tough ends discarded
10 oz. frozen peas, thawed (or 1½ cups shelled fresh peas)
zest from one lemon
dash kosher salt
dash pepper
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (I just used half a lemon)
3 Tbsp cream cheese


Find a pot large enough for your stock and heat the veggie stock to simmering. You really just want to keep it warm, so if you want to put it on medium low heat, cover it up, and call it good while dealing with everything else, it's a good plan.

Pull out your largest saute pan, or at least my largest saute pan. This is the one everything ends up in. Heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Add the scallions and leeks to the pan and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until tender.  Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat well with the oil and butter.  Add the white wine and turn down to heat to medium-low, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed.  Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more.

Meanwhile, in yet another pot, blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop cooking.  (If you're using fresh peas, blanch them too.)

By this point the risotto's probably been cooking for 15 minutes. Perfect! Add in the asparagus and peas. Stir in the lemon zest, salt and pepper.

*This is where I paused for the night. I had about two ladles of stock left. I added them to the risotto and put them in a medium pot (the one I used for blanching) and put them in the fridge overnight. Please note, the rice will absorb the liquid. It's what rice does. Also, the rice should be pretty much done by this point. Right about at the balance of tender and firm that's good eating.

Coming home from church on Sunday, I put the pot on the stove. Medium-low heat to warm it up. Stirring periodically. (You should stir more than I did because I burned the bottom. Ooops.) Once it's warmed up, mix in the lemon juice and cream cheese. I forgot to mix in Parmesan. It'd be good, but, not knowing better, I didn't miss it.

Salad and Bread

I got home from church. Before I got the risotto back on the heat, I cut two red peppers into halves and popped them into the broiler.

My broiler's under the oven. Since my oven was warming up anyway, I put the delicious co-op bread on a pan and let the muffins and rolls warm up. Fooled people into thinking I made the bread.

About this time was when I figured out the risotto should be heating up too. Done.

Heat up some oil in a pan. Cut up an onion and start sauteing it over low heat.

Open door for first guest.

Wash spring greens mixture. Love my salad spinner. Sometimes Oxo things are weird, but whoever redesigned the salad spinner to be push-button fun is a GENIUS.

Have guest rinse cut up strawberries while I stir everything and check on the red peppers. Oh, black skins. Turn off broiler and pull 'em out. Skin 'em, slice 'em. Spin 'em all around. Put in salad bowl.

Buzz second guest in.

Decide risotto is warm. Stir in things that are supposed to be stirred in. Answer phone. Second guest failed at being buzzed in. Send down first guest to retrieve second while I juice the lemon and measure cream cheese.

Greet second guest and thank first guest. Let first guest stir risotto. Add onions, which should be softened by now, to salad. Mix honey and balsamic vinegar to be dressing.

Sometime in here, set the table. Mismatched silverware. White china. Linen napkins. And all. Risotto in casserole for serving. Bread in bread basket. Just as finishing off table, let third guest in. When he calls back remember that he hasn't been here before. Play Marco Polo to let him in.

Realize people still need drinks. Offer whatever there is. Pour. Serve. And enjoy the fellowship of friends.


The dessert was premade. Lemon creme tart from Dorie. Though I'd make Lemon Curd Tart in the future instead.

Chocolate bunny cake was brought by guest one. If you think eating chocolate bunnies is difficult because they're cute, don't try taking a knife to this cake.

And that's all I have to say about that.