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Friday, March 18, 2016

EASTER BRUNCH!!!



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MENU:

BOURBON BAKED HAM
BEST CHEESE GRITS
TRUFFLED DEVILED EGGS
CHERRY TOMATO AND ASPARAGUS SALAD
SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
CITRUS FRUIT SALAD

DESSERT:
LEMON SQUARES

I'm enjoying Easter brunch this year with family and serving some classic dishes (of ours), but I'm also adding some new dishes to liven up the meal.  The ham is ubiquitous with Easter, but this year I'm preparing a bourbon basted version.  And the Deviled Eggs are du riguer as well, but this year's version is made with a bit of truffle oil AND truffle peelings (!!!) for a fun twist.  The asparagus salad is a crunchy healthy new addition as is the dessert - a batch of lemon squares.  The dessert is a family favorite, but I've never prepared it for Easter, and this year it just fits!

BOURBON BAKED HAM
(Adapted from Taste of Home)
tasteofhome
1 bone-in fully cooked ham (7 to 9 pounds)
1 cup honey
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup orange juice
2 TBSP Dijon mustard


Place ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Score the surface of the ham, making diamond shapes 1/2 in. deep. Bake at 325 degrees F for 2 hours. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients; cook and stir until smooth.

Brush ham with some of the glaze; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 140 degrees, brushing occasionally with remaining glaze.



 CHEESE GRITS
(Adapted from The Atlanta Journal)
These are absolutely the best! The secret is the chicken broth...

Photo Credit: Google Images
6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 cups regular grits
16 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
8 oz. grated white cheddar cheese

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Bring broth, S & P and garlic powder to a boil. 

Stir in grits and whisk.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick (8-10 minutes). Add shredded cheddar and milk and stir. 

Slowly stir in eggs and butter. Pour into casserole dish, and sprinkle with white cheddar.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Bake at 350 degrees F about 35-40 minutes until set.
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TRUFFLED DEVILED EGGS
(Adapted from Food Network)
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9 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
1 TBSP truffle oil
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 TBSP finely chopped black truffle peelings
Chopped chives, for garnish

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Place the eggs in a pot and cover with tap water. The level of the water should be about 1 inch above the eggs. Bring the pot to a boil and cover. And turn off the heat and let sit for 13 minutes. Uncover and run the eggs under cold water if using right away or refrigerate until ready to use. Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks from the whites.

Mash the yolks with a fork.

Add the mayonnaise, truffle oil (and go easy on the truffle oil - it's RICH!), cayenne and truffle peelings.


Whip until very light and fluffy. Spoon the yolk mixture into the whites. Sprinkle with chopped chives.

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CHERRY TOMATO AND ASPARAGUS SALAD
(Adapted from AllRecipes)
all recipes
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and halved
6 cups halved cherry, grape, and pear tomatoes in varied colors
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1 ripe avocado, cut into cubes
1 cup sliced basil leaves
DRESSING:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
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Boil asparagus in a large pot of salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Mix dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Mix asparagus, tomatoes, and basil together.  Toss with dressing and top with chopped avocado and gorgonzola.
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SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
(Adapted from Food Network)
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3/4 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)
1/3 to 1/2 cup whole milk, as needed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
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Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (with butter, oil or cooking spray). In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato and 1/3 cup milk with a whisk or potato masher. Set aside.
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In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
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Cut in the butter with your hands, a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add the sweet potato mixture and fold gently to combine.


Add the remaining milk a little at a time until all the flour is moistened. The amount of milk you will need will depend on the moisture of the sweet potato. Sprinkle a small handful of flour on a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead lightly 2 to 3 times with the palm of your hand until the mixture comes together. Pat the dough out into a 1/2-inch-thick round.


Using a 2 1/2-inch-round biscuit cutter (or an upside-down glass), cut the dough into biscuits. Gently reroll the scraps and cut out more biscuits. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet.

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Bake until light golden brown and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve these fluffy biscuits warm or at room temperature.

***NOTE: I'll be making these in advance.  Here's how to store them if you make them ahead of time.  Mix and cut biscuits per the directions above. Place them close together, but not touching, on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Cover them with plastic wrap and freeze until hard, then transfer them to a freezer bag. Then, when you're ready to eat them, bake as many as you want, directly from the freezer; they will take up to 5 minutes longer in the oven.

CITRUS FRUIT SALAD
(Adapted from Baked Bree)
bakedbree
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
1 pound strawberries
2 oranges
3 TBSP honey
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP lime juice
2 TBSP orange juice
1 TBSP fresh mint

Rinse berries under cold water. Drain. Slice strawberries.

Segment two oranges. Start by removing the top and bottom of the orange. Remove the peel and pith from the orange by cutting it off starting at the top and working your knife down the sides of the orange. Cut in between the membranes, and remove the flesh of the orange.



Add the fruit to a large bowl. Add the zest from half an orange, the lemon, and the lime.

In a small bowl, add citrus juices. Whisk in honey and mint.
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Pour the dressing over the fruit. Toss gently. Garnish with more mint.
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DESSERT:

Not that we need dessert, especially after eating Easter chocolate (a requirement I think), but this lemony dessert is a favorite of ours that I haven't made in eons.

LEMON SQUARES
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I've been making these gems for years - they're my husband's all-time favorite dessert.  The recipe below is from The Pioneer Woman, because I like her use of fresh lemons.  But the recipe has been around a LONG time.  It never fails to be a huge hit though!  And lemons, to me, are synonymous with  Spring - fresh, tangy and aromatic.

Crust:
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 sticks (1 Cup) salted butter, cut into small cubes
Filling:
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup flour
4 eggs
zest and juice of 4 lemons
powdered sugar, to sift on the top
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For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter. Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter to the bowl and use a pastry cutter to cut it all together until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
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Press into the prepared pan.
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Bake until lightly golden around the edges, ~ 20 minutes.
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While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

For the filling: Stir together the sugar and flour.
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Add the eggs, and whisk to combine.
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Add the lemon zest and juice, and mix until combined.
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Pour over the cooked crust, and bake about 20 minutes (until set).
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Allow to cool in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, then sift powdered sugar over the top before cutting into squares.
Hmmm...now how did a corner go missing??? ;)
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We also got together late morning and enjoyed a charcuterie board to hold us over after church, while we were prepping the food for the brunch.  The ploughman's (pub food) nosh was a hit! Here's the list of what I served:

*Rosemary flatbreads
*Cracked pepper water crackers
*Roasted red peppers
*Marcona almonds
*Irish butter
*Gherkins
*Trout pate
*2 different kinds of mustards
*Fig preserves
*Grapes
*Fresh farm cheddar
*Assorted other sliced cheeses
*Spiced salami

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Oh, and check out the stunning flowers that my son brought me for Easter: